Lessons From the Reading Room: Slowing Down

Recently I learned a lesson. While it was not directly from the “Reading Room”, it did lead to an incredible interview with the lovely Hazel McGuiness.

My original lesson?

Well, it’s that I was doing too much too fast, and essentially just spinning my wheels. While not paying attention to all of the signs telling me to slow down, the universe decided it would make that decision for me. I literally stepped into a hornet’s nest, and was stung multiple times. Yep, I slowed down alright, laid out in emergency for several hours connected an IV tendril of a morphine and steroid cocktail, and anything else the doctors could think of to slow down the reaction that was quickly spreading from the base of my foot up my leg to my knee. Not only was I slowed down, I was “taken out of the game” for a few days. It was painful, and scary.

So, it was no surprise that when I walked through the door of the Reading Room, a place I instantly feel at peace, and saw the lovely face of Hazel (who also makes me feel instantly at peace), the lesson I was about to receive was all about “slowing down”.

As Hazel and I begin, it very quickly became clear that many of us have struggled this year for various reasons, and are very much looking forward to a new start. So what do we need to do, to stop rushing and living by our smartphones and day timers? “So many of us are defined by our calendars”, explains Hazel. “Who wrote the rule that we need to be busy all of the time? We can be organized, which is a good thing, as organization creates order, which in turn creates flow. We need that flow so we can create some time just for ourselves. But we can’t forget that life is meant to have balance — ‘busy’ creates chaos, while ‘order’ creates space and time.”

This notion brought me to another question. Could “ego” be driving our need to be, and or look busy?

Do we believe that the busier we are, the more successful we are? If I’m always contributing, professionally and personally, am I “better than”? If you ask a person who’s just been given some bad news, they’ll most likely say that being so busy takes away from enjoying life, and by not slowing down to enjoy your time here, we’re actually failing. The great thing is, is that this is a choice, and a choice that can be changed quite easily.

Some points Hazel shared were simple, yet poignant:

Ease in to the day. When you wake up think about what you have in life that you’re grateful for.

Acknowledge the places in your world that need help. Find out what, and who can help you, and get the help.

Tune out. The media has a large impact on how we feel each and every day. We are constantly bombarded by hurricanes, devastation, violence, social injustices, etc., and these are very difficult issues to be constantly inviting into our “beings”.

Simplify. What can you eliminate out of your busy day, to find some moments of quiet and peace?

It’s larger than just us. It’s how this lifestyle of chaos and hectic activity affects those around us, the environment, our culture, and ultimately the universe. Life is much bigger than just our immediate surroundings, and how we choose to live has greater impact.

Listen to yourself. When you know you’re too busy, when you know you are missing out on the enjoyment of life, listen to yourself, and make a choice.

Slow down now. Don’t wait. You need to live your life in the moment. Growing old is a privilege, we never know what’s coming tomorrow. Every day is a blessing.

The next time you’re looking at your calendar, make sure life is scheduled in there as well. Hazel shares a personal piece of her calendar with us. “Mars and I love watching Grand Prix. Formula One racing is on our calendar, and we never stray from it.” As if I could not love this woman more, my husband and I do the exact same thing!

It’s interesting as I listen back to my recorded interview with Hazel; my voice is slower and lighter, as we’re having a bit of a laugh with each other. We are clearly “in the moment”. Hazel never rushes me; she never looks at her phone or watch. She creates an experience for the time I’m there with her.

Beyond the wonderful lessons we learn from this talented, inspiring lady, just having a quiet moment in the Reading Room is a lesson all on its own.

WRITTEN BY: KELLI M. MADDOCKS | RESOURCES: HAZEL McGUINESS, THE HAZEL TREE, ORANGEVILLE

Author: Living Spaces

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