Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Art of Slowing Down


 
I feel humbled and grateful every time someone asks if I’m writing a sequel to CAPE MAYBE or PEACE BY PIECE, or hopefully inquires if I’ve started another book.
So why do I also feel guilty each time I admit I’m not?
It’s not that I’m not writing—a blog post here, an article there.
When I was still working in my day job, I faithfully wrote at least eight or ten new pages a week. For several years, I belonged to a small writing critique group with a few retired men. Week after week, I’d bring a new chapter to the group. The retired guys might have a few new pages. I didn’t get it and once said something like, “I work 50+ hours a week and commute 100 miles a day and still find time to write. You have all day. How do I always find more time to write than you?”
In a voice that felt like a pat on the head, one of them said, “Time is different when you’re retired, you’ll see.”
I love writing and always envisioned that when I retired, I’d write full-time. The thing is; loving writing doesn’t change the fact that writing is hard work. I’ve worked a lot in my life. Is more hard work the best use of my retirement time?
When I first retired, slowing down was harder than I expected. I couldn’t imagine how I’d fill my days. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I am surprised to find how much I enjoy life without appointments and deadlines—how much I relish quiet time with Jim, and just doing one thing at a time.
Waiting for hummingbirds to flint by my office window, or dolphins to break the water’s surface, is a pretty amazing gig.
Am I rationalizing and being lazy, or is my job right now to learn and embrace the art of slowing down?

17 comments:

  1. As much as I would LOVE to read another story by you, I recognize the work that it takes. And, really, I am jealous that you are relaxing now! You've worked hard and been through a lot. Your time has come to be able to chill out and enjoy life!

    Julie V

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    1. Julie, I know what I've been through this year influences how I'm feeling about not working. Not sure how much is that and how much is "normal" retirement. For now, I like the idea of just chilling and enjoying

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  2. If you are relaxing and enjoying life, that is your answer <3

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    1. Mare, thanks for the reminder to keep it simple

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  3. I've discovered the same thing. Now that I have more time, I seem to write less, and I'm feeling guilty about that. But I also have a 4-year-old granddaughter, a retired husband, exercise class, quilting, a garden, and so many other things that add joy to every day. So maybe we're both rationalizing and being lazy, but that's okay. We've earned the right to slow down!

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    1. Sandra, nice to hear I'm not the only writer feeling this way and to be reminded we've earned the down time. Like you, I'm finding lots of joys to fill each day.

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  4. Carol, I think about how writing may fill some of my day when I retire, but I fully appreciate where you are at this time. Writing can be made into a routine -- which you did when you had the goal of a book to finish. But if you aren't ready to do that now, it's great to take your writing vitamins in blog posts, articles and talks about your books. I so look forward to a time without an Outlook calendar telling me what I'm supposed to be doing. Looking forward to sharing the beach with you next week, and maybe even a little writing.

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  5. Chris, love the concept of writing vitamins.
    and, can't wait to spend lots of time together next week.

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  6. Well, they say our answers lie within … the whole concept of ENJOYING has become foreign to us. I find myself still wanting to get my "feel-good points" by performing to some false inner standard, so can really resonate to your dilemma, Carol. Thanks for sharing - and the amount of understanding/relating comments here must tell you something! To everything there is a season, girl.

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    1. Hi Gail, thanks for reminding me the answers lie within. One of the things I love about blogging is the chance to mine the "inside stuff" for those answers.
      thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
      best,
      carol

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  7. Hi Carol, thanks for your self-exposure and honesty. In this age of reinvention, yours is not a popular stance. Having written 25 books, I honestly thought I'd used up all my words but after lying fallow for a few years, the well is filling up again. The thing that I'm going with is living in the present moment and not making decisions that use the words "never" or "always" and whether I wake up on any particular day only wanting to sit by the river or dying to begin a new novel, let myself be surprised! I don't think of this lifestage as retirement, but freedom!

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    1. Carol, I hear you on always and never statements--one of my favorite commercials right now is the young couple who is; never getting married, never having children, never moving to the suburbs :)

      Letting surprises happen day by day and retirement as freedom are great insights.
      thanks for stopping by and for sharing,
      best,
      carol

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  8. Carol, I'm far from being retired, but since my cancer diagnosis October 2014, I have not been working. Luckily, I am in a position where I can do so with the help of my family. I am awaiting more surgery, and then I will go back to work. In the meantime, I am enjoying going attending meditation, Chi Kung, Art therapy classes, coming to cape may to blog (www.beautythroughthebeast.com) and sun bathe, take long walks....then I got tired. I realized it's ok to not have my days planned out. it's nice when I get to ask myself "What do I feel like doing?" and then I go with that feeling, whether it's taking the dog for a walk, spending time helping my widowed mother, calling a friend, seeing a movie, or just sitting to feel the sun on my skin. I had to allow myself to enjoy these moments. it seems Americans like to rush to appointments. Since I have Italian blood, and have spent much time abroad, I'm familiar with "la dolce vita." Enjoy, Carol!

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  9. Chaira, I am so glad you stopped by this post. I'm having an especially busy time and the reminder to slow down "la dolce vita" is perfect timing.

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