getting to the heart of the matter

A friend asked me about unhurried living the other day. Every time someone asks me to give advice or talk about unhurried living, I chuckle inside at God’s ironic sense of humor in choosing me as a spokesperson for this topic.

I am also very grateful, because each time I write or think about unhurried living, it reminds me how important – and necessary – these truths are for my life. Living in an unhurried way is a constant struggle for me. Not only can I easily over-fill my schedule, but I also regularly over-pressure my heart.

“Hurry is not just a disordered schedule.
Hurry is a disordered heart.”

–John Ortberg

Down deep, there are reasons why we hurry. Empty places in our heart cause us to feel that a busy, full, hurried life will make us more valuable, more important, or more useful to others. We hope that our frantic pace will gain us a sense of belonging, acceptance, or goodness in the eyes of those around us. Or the continual busyness ensures that we never have time to sit still and feel the weight of our loneliness, our fears, or our pain.

I believe that we will never truly experience the peace of an unhurried life if we do not face the deeper heart issues that drive our frenetic pace. 

Which of these may cause you to hurry?

  • HABIT | Rushing is your M.O.
  • WORTH | When you are in a constant state of urgency, you feel valuable.
  • GUILT | You feel bad when you slow down or if you are not doing something.
  • FEAR | You are afraid of being still and facing your disappointments.
  • PRESSURE | You feel the need to perform to earn love and prove yourself.
  • COMPETITION | You sense if you slow down, others will move ahead of you.
  • CONTROL | You think that you have to do everything or life will fall apart.
  • FOMO | You fear you will miss opportunities by slowing down.
  • You’re truly BUSY and need some help.

I relate to a number of the issues on this list. In the past, pride was clearly the culprit. I also have the guilt voice in my head from some of my upbringing influences. Recently, I have also seen FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) push me to always want to do more.

We all have reasons that compel us. If you can recognize and name some of what causes you to hurry, you will have taken the first step to overcoming that driver. As you face the truth – without shame or self-contempt – you will also be moving towards healing. You will find new strength and power to make life-changing choices that unhurry, not just your schedule, but also your heart.

This is not a quick, easy fix of course! We can not hurry growth like that. However, taking time for this reflection may help you take the most important steps on your journey to unhurried living. 

What causes you to hurry?

What’s love got to do with it?

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We are in the “love month” – a perfect opportunity to talk about how love and unhurried living intersect. What does love have to do with unhurried living? E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

Love has everything to do with unhurried living.

Our ability to love others well requires unhurried living. We demonstrate love through thoughtful intentionality, quality time, patience, focused attention, engaged listening, perseverance, and undistracted presence… all of which require a lack of hurry.

I do not love well when I hurry.

Some of the things I try to do to unhurry my time with others:

  • remember people are valuable
  • put my phone facedown and lock eyes with the person
  • ignore the to-do list in my head
  • breathe deeply and be present
  • remember all those times when someone took time to listen to me
  • stop multi-tasking or invite the person (child) to help
  • relax and enjoy the time together
  • If I am truly unavailable temporarily because of a deadline or lack of emotional bandwidth, ask to schedule a time as soon as possible
  • leave margin in my day for unexpected interruptions
  • trust that God is ultimately in control of what I do in a day
  • repeatedly read over this list

Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.

Living unhurried has all kinds of benefits for our health, our reflective thought processes, our decision-making, and our productivity. It only makes sense that unhurried living can also greatly benefit those we love. 

How can you unhurry your love for others this month?

Life is better savored.

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I love this beautiful photo taken by my amazingly talented photographer daughter. Even a quick glance at the majestic mountains, rolling hills, pine trees, and green grass makes me take in a slow deep breath and relax in my soul just a little bit.

The photo reminds me of trips when the scenery around us took our breath away and, even if we had an arrival deadline, we could do nothing less than slow down and enjoy the incredible beauty.

savor. the. moment.

THINK ABOUT IT:

Is a book better if you speed read it, or if you take your time and get lost in it?

Is a song better if you skim through it, or if you take the time to really listen?

Is the view better from the window of a speeding car, or if you take time to pull over to the scenic overlook?

Is your conversation with a friend better if you have a rushed meeting interrupted by your emails and text messages, or if you can relax and really focus on the person?

Today as I write, I remind myself that I do not need to travel far away to savor a moment (although that is really nice when it’s possible!).

Just this week I had an opportunity to savor the aroma of fresh vegetables roasting in the oven – a special treat meal created by my daughter. I had a few minutes to walk out on the back porch and feel the gentle breeze and the warm sunshine on my face. I enjoyed my coffee while it was still hot. I put my phone away and intentionally engaged in a refreshing and invigorating coaching appointment.

The moments to savor are everywhere around us.
We just need to see them.

I confess I also missed many opportunities this week to savor the moment: I ate on the run. I forgot details discussed with my husband because my eyes were glancing back distractedly at my notifications. I gave up reflective time for another appointment and did not reschedule it in my calendar.

Savoring must be intentional.

Today I am going to remember that gorgeous mountain photo in my mind and intentionally keep my eyes open to what I can savor.

What can you take time to savor today?

Where is your white space?

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Henry Cloud is one of my favorite teachers and authors. I began reading his books many years ago, and I now grab every new one he publishes as soon as it comes out. I have written a few summaries of his books on this blog (see links below). Now that I think about it, I may write some more this year!

Recently, I read a short post by Henry Cloud on the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) blog (which is a great blog, by the way!). Henry was talking about the importance of having WHITE SPACE (or rest) in our life.

too much stuff + too long = overwhelmed and tired brain

Henry was endorsing the valuable research and work done by a woman named Juliet Funt. Juliet spoke at the GLS, and you can find some excellent short video clips of her ideas on YouTube. Her company, WhiteSpaceAtWork.com, helps organizations reduce their busyness, schedules and digital habits so that people can be more engaged and creative at home and at work.

Research has shown that the highest performers in life
have a pattern of not being “on all the time.”

Henry Cloud

Juliet shares some great tips for protecting the WHITE SPACE in our schedules:

  • Take some thoughtful time and inventory your motives for saying yes.
  • Try to separate the emotional (the enjoyment of being asked) from the practical (will this opportunity truly move your goals forward?).
  • Attempt to mentally envision and realistically consider all of the inevitable to-dos and busyness of the time around the date of the request.
  • Make “No” your default answer. Let “less” be your guiding principle. You will  never regret having too much time.

Which of these tips could you apply in the next few days to find some WHITE SPACE in your week?


Henry Cloud book summaries: Integrity  •  Necessary Endings

Just drink your coffee.

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I am an avid coffee lover. I first appreciated the aroma of coffee as a child. Each morning when my parents’ percolator bubbled as I entered the kitchen, it told me everything was well with the world.

I have progressively adjusted my taste – beginning in college with a milky, sugary-sweet, beverage; I have “matured” to being a fan of the strong, pure-black, nothing-added variety.

I especially relish the warmth of a full steamy mug in my hands, especially when it is cold… but even when it’s hot outside – a tip I learned living in tropical Costa Rica. The “Ticos” taught me a hot drink warming up your inside makes you feel cooler outside. 🙂 My many years in Latin America conditioned me to be able to drink coffee at all times of the day – caffeine rarely affects me.

I collect coffee mugs from all over the world. Even my blog boasts a coffee theme.

However, as much as I love my coffee…
I lose my enjoyment of my coffee when I hurry.

Maybe you prefer tea or coke over coffee. The principle is the same. We lose our enjoyment of many things when we are not fully engaged, when we are distracted, and when we are not focused. Conversations are forgotten, food becomes tasteless and people feel less valued.

Victoria Sweet, MD understands how hurry works. She wisely says:

“You don’t have to have your coffee and read the paper
and talk to someone and text. Just drink your coffee.”

Slow down. Take care of you. Take time to replenish.

Today, just drink your coffee.

Or try one of these:

  • listen to music or play your instrument
  • go on a walk
  • work in a garden
  • write a card or letter by hand or journal
  • be creative – paint, draw, craft, build something
  • go to a spa, get a massage, exercise

How would doing just one thing at a time increase your enjoyment of that experience today?

What are you missing?

Living life unhurried is not easy.

A few months ago, I committed to spending three hours a week reading, reflecting and writing. It has already been a struggle, but so far I have been able to enjoy that time most weeks.

When I am trying to develop a new habit, it helps me if I remember WHY I am trying to make the change.

I discovered an excellent WHY video while I was researching content for the “31 Days of Unhurried Living”. I never tire of watching this video, and it continually motivates me to unhurry my life.

Kimi Werner is a champion freediver and spearfisher. She has learned an important lesson that is valuable for us also.

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CLICK HERE to watch the video. If you are in a hurry 🙂 , just watch the first part (0:00-4:20). It really is worth your time. The video continues – and it is all good – so watch the full recording when you have time!

These are the questions that came to my mind after watching Kimi’s video. They help me to remember WHY I want to live unhurried. How would you answer them?

What do you miss when you speed up?

What might you experience if you were to slow down?

Life is not a Marathon

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“People like to say life is a marathon, not a sprint,
but it’s actually more like a track workout.
We run hard and then rest hard.
We charge a hill and then chug some Gatorade.
We do some stairs, then some 200s, and then a few 400s.
In between, we rest.”

–Kevin DeYoung

I learned something interesting while doing research on unhurried living… elite athletes practice a rhythm called “periodization” — which means they give as much priority to rest and recovery as they do to practice and competition. 

I decided to apply this rhythm and give priority to my rest and refreshment this week. I left my normal surroundings for a few days and traveled to a place where I could enjoy God’s creation; I spent memory-building time with special people and took more time to read than normal.

This is not easy for me to do. I often feel guilty for taking time off. There is a age-old condemnation inside of me that says “work is good, rest is bad” (more about that later).

Thankfully, I have enjoyed running over the last few years, so I understand the idea of rest being important – even essential – to athletes. I could not run every single day or I would injure myself or burn out. I needed to care for my diet, my sleep, and my emotional state in order to run regularly.

I also understand the need for variety in the pace and activities of my workout. I alternated distances on different days and mixed in stretching, cycling, walking, and strength-building exercises as part of my well-being routine. That rhythm kept me healthy and helped me look forward to running.

This week, I am stronger, more energized, and more motivated because of the time I took to rest and recover.

Periodization is essential for athletes. It is essential for unhurried living also.

TRY THIS:

Think about your next week as a workout. How can you adjust your schedule to ensure you “run the stairs”, get refreshment, and also rest?

Feeling like a hypocrite

Well… three weeks into my renewed blogging rhythm, focusing primarily on unhurried living… and I can’t keep up! Or – better said – I didn’t slow down enough to do what I said I would do. I was too busy, not sleeping enough, and too tired to sit and reflect and clearly express my thoughts.

Ever feel like a failure? Ever feel like a hypocrite?

My guess is that your answer is a resounding “YES!”

The truth is that none of us is perfect, and we often set unrealistic goals for ourselves and leave no margin for unexpected interruptions or changes of plans. Learning to live unhurried continues to be a work in progress for me – it will be for you too.

One strong motivator for me to continue on this journey is recognizing the impact of my choices – not just for me, but also for the others connected to me.

Mark Buchanan says, “My biggest regret in life… being in a hurry… getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all that rushing.”

When I am doing well with unhurried living – or any other positive life choice, my attitude, energy, and interactions with others benefit also. I feel better about myself, and that improves the optimism, motivation, patience, and hope that I have and I reflect to others.

When I am not doing as well, I am typically more discouraged, frustrated, irritated, and ashamed. These attitudes inevitably get projected onto others through my critical spirit, impatience, withdrawal, and distracted interactions. I do not live in a bubble, and when I am not rested, refreshed, and at peace… others pay the price.

So, I am getting back on track today and looking forward to my reading time tomorrow. I’ll leave you with a great quote from a new book I started last Monday called “The Sacred Slow” by Alicia Britt Chole. I’ve just started it, but I liked it quite a bit already!

Ours is a hurried age in which speed is deified and waiting is demonized. 

Ours is a cluttered age in which noise is the norm and images constantly clamor for our attention. 

And in our hurried, cluttered age, faster has become synonymous with better, and experience has become a substitute for relationship.

The problem, however, is that faster experiences do not produce better relationships with people or with God.

How do you overcome feeling like a hypocrite and get back on track with your good goals?

What choices can you make today so that others benefit from your unhurried life?

The irony of an “unhurried” post on Black Friday

I have never really been a big fan of Black Friday shopping. Some years I couldn’t consider walking the stores with my belly still so full of Thanksgiving dinner. Often I have not yet thought through my Christmas gift list. It has never been because I have already finished my shopping, that’s for sure!

This year, I have been content to unhurrry my way through Thanksgiving, fully enjoying the special people who came to visit, without any plans for Christmas shopping yet. I know I will get drawn in to the festivities, the decorating, and even the present buying soon enough. However, I want to practice unhurried living as much as I can this season.

I have learned this… unhurried living has to be intentional. Scattered, frantic, boundary-less busyness comes naturally. Healthy rhythms of work and rest require planning. An unhurried pace requires commitment and it requires discipline. 

Kevin DeYoung says it well:

“We all know we need rest from work,
but we don’t realize we have to work hard just to rest.”

During our Thanksgiving prep, I worked hard to relax about what time we would eat and how things would look. We took time to get outside together, enjoy God’s beauty, and to thank Him for it and for the special people He has brought into our lives. We put our phones down more often – except for the mandatory beautiful food documentation 🙂 – and played games together. 

It wasn’t always easy, but it was intentional and that was progress.

How can you be more intentional about unhurried living?

SAVOR the moments. FOCUS your mind. REST your body.

Do you have hurry sickness?

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Have you got hurry sickness?

That has become a regular question in my home whenever anyone is impatient or irritated with another’s slowness. Sometimes I am asking myself. That is a rhetorical question! Some times I am asking my husband or someone else.

The symptoms have become all too familiar to us. We are more self-aware than we were years or even months ago. I’ve been told that self-awareness is a good thing, although sometimes I wish I was not so knowledgeable of my flaws and weaknesses.

Hurry is characterized by
continual rushing and hustle;
an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency and anxiousness.

As I have shared the message of unhurried living with others, some are quick to recognize and admit their own hurry sickness. Some are resistant to the idea, but become more convinced the more they think about it. Some people are VERY sick while others are less affected.

THINK ABOUT IT

Do you…?

  • work extra hours or finish work at home
  • hear from people: “I don’t want to bother you because I know how busy you are”
  • get flustered with delays and interruptions
  • often exceed the speed limit or weave to find the fastest lane
  • skip vacations
  • feel like you are always in the slowest line

WATCH THIS:   Mice Queue Video (1:37)

No matter the gravity of the sickness, the side effects are serious, so the question is worth asking… Do you have hurry sickness?