Slowness vs. Stillness

I’m learning that time is precious. Time with people, Time with yourself, time with Jesus. How I spend my time determines whether or not I am fueled. Often I spend it consumed by something: people, social media, homework, TV - you get the picture. I'm always in this revolving door, moving from one thing to the next. Missing in the equation is time that is slow and still.

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There’s this idea I have, that slowing down doesn’t equate to being still. Slowing down is a change in the pace, but not a change in the heart. Your heart and soul can still grow rubbery, like an office rubber band. You can slingshot it across the room; it can snap oh-so-easily, one moment sturdy and reliable, yet another all over the place.

Slowing down is essential – yes, sometimes you need to just lie around your house all day, lose yourself in a book, or a TV series. Sometimes you need to step out of this instant, on-demand world and participate in the things that take time.

But stillness stops the creeping calcification of your being and answers the ache. Slowing down is often easy, but stillness can be a battle. Sometimes it feels like you’re putting yourself in timeout when you sit alone without the noise, with your thoughts and God. When you set aside the stream of technology to reflect, to submit, to listen.

Stillness is a practice too easily lost, cast aside when there’s no motivation or schedules fill up – yet there’s still time to watch an episode of your favorite show or make that time-consuming dinner. I’m learning to prioritize stillness, because it rebuilds me. I am weak, but in the stillness I find my strength. It’s like a reverse Jenga: the pieces of me are placed back in their proper place.

Slowness and stillness often layer on top of each other – yet I’ve come to this conclusion: you can have slowness without stillness, but you can’t have stillness without slowing down. Stillness is the IV we often rip out, rejecting the drip containing our lifeline. Why, I can’t comprehend. Being still keeps you alive. 

What's Inspiring Me Lately

Reading... Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

I'll be the first to admit that I fell off the writing wagon this summer. But near the tail end of summer, this book landed on my reading list. Granted, I haven't finished it yet - half way through! - but I'm loving it. Her prose is easy to read - teaching you the essentials of writing while also telling you a story. I'm underlining every other sentence, taking notes, feeling challenged. 

Get your own copy here

Listening... CreativeMornings Podcast

Any fellow Creative Mornings fans out there? Well, if you've never been to a Creative Mornings (there's no shame), you can get a taste of the experience through the Creative Mornings podcast. Creative Mornings in a free monthly breakfast talk with 151 chapters worldwide. Each month, chapters meet and listen to a creative talk inspired by a monthly theme - i.e. Chance, Risk, Empathy, etc. The podcast's got the best of the best talks, with the same fun environment as every Creative Mornings. 

Try this episode: Debbie Millman's The top 10 things I wish I knew when I graduated college OR Lulu Miller's Catapulting Chance Into Your Stupid Head!

Liking...Sara Combs' Instagram feed

I'm not quite sure how I stumbled upon Sara Combs' feed, but if you're a fan of cacti, or Joshua Tree, you'll love it. She's in her second round of the #100daysproject, where she selects an focus to create art around for a year. This year is, you guessed it, #100daysofcacti. Her past project was 100 days of San Francisco patterns.  Her work demonstrates the value of cultivating the habit of creating daily.

Visit her feed, or see more of her design work on her website.

(Side note: She and her husband also remolded the Insta-famous Joshua Tree House)

First Days.

“Stand still! Hold it up higher.”

Three little girls, stair-steppers in height with matching blue eyes, each one grabbing an edge of a pencil-lined poster declaring, “First Day of School 2002.”

The shutter clicked, clicked, clicked, while they fidgeted away.

It was a big first day for mom and those girls – the first day of homeschooling after caving into the begs of big sister.

“We’ll just try it one year,” Mom said.


Beep. Beep. Beep!

I throw off the covers, feet meet the carpet.

It’s my last first day of college – potentially, my last first day of school. I cheered at the thought – almost done! No more school!

But trucking my way to class that morning, a series of thoughts landed on me.

First days never end – the emotions of first days at a new job or being jobless, of marriage or singleness, of motherhood or loss, of homes, of vacations or retirement.

The list could circle the globe – our lives are made up of “first days” – they can be met with dread or excitement, delight or anxiety, indifference or indignation.

Silly senior-in-college me was a little slow to the realization – thank God first days don’t end with a diploma.

Each day has the potential to be marked as a “first day.” With a heart filled with wonder, today could be the first day I find joy in walking to class. With a heart bent towards God’s, today could be the first day I delight in washing dishes.

  August 2014: First day of college

August 2014: First day of college

Today could be my first day.

--– Not to be confused with first time. First times can be thrown into the trash bin like yesterday’s junk mail. First days are the launching pad for habits and regularities and patterns – our lives.

Exhibit A: Today could be my first time longboarding, but not my first day. First and I don’t do it again for three months. But first day, it becomes a pastime – I longboard to school, to work, to the store.

[Note: I’ve only longboarded once.]

A first day is a childlike outlook on life – no matter the circumstance of your first day, you can say, “I choose to keep learning and leaning into all the potential this first and the days to follow hold. I put on this teachable, wonder-seeking spirit.”

Learning doesn’t stop with school. Life is an opportunity to see first days, new things – externally and internally, within me and outside of me.


Fourteen years after that first day of homeschooling, Mom’s graduated two of the three, with one year to go. She leaned into the challenge, going beyond mother to be a teacher, and beyond teacher with mentor. She took the days at home to build women and relationships. She embraced the journey and the adventure, the what-am-I-doings and I’m-so-glad-we-homeschool. Even fourteen years in, she’s still learning and soaking up wisdom. She embodies the spirit of first days.

The challenge I present to myself is this: not to 'Seize the day', but to 'Seize the first days'. To embrace the uncomfortable. To develop holy habits and mindsets. To never stop learning. 

Metaphors.

Having sat in an English class the better part of my life, the concept of metaphors is ingrained in me. As I’ve grown older and closer to God, I’ve seen how metaphors surround me daily – oftentimes, they point to God.

That's what I think "the whole world will be filled with his glory" means. Every piece of creation holds an opportunity for a metaphor, a metaphor that glorifies God. 

As I ran through my neighborhood last weekend, I saw a little girl biking in my direction.

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