​Greetings from the beautiful, waveless shore of Scusset Beach on Massachusetts' prided Cape Cod! I'm blessed with some R&R time with my family this week and I'm reminded of a recent conversation with one of my good friends who is Columbian.  She was describing to me how in her native country, people take a slower approach to life than here in Los Estados Unidos.  At her comparison, I mused that I stand to learn a great deal from the Columbian people.  The school year just came to a close here, and it left me to reflect on the schedule I've kept: daily school drop-offs and pick-ups, homework and extra-curriculars, grocery shopping, meal planning, chores, work, relationships.... The list goes on.  If I've ever been tense trying to leave my house with four little ones in tow, it is because I've literally scheduled my life down to minutes in some cases and, well, there is often not a minute to spare.

​I might be embarrassed to admit the way I pack most of my days full, but I'm no different than most people I know.  Honestly, I've been aware of this tendency to go, go, go long before the conversation with my friend.  Several years ago, I was not at all surprised when my step sons asked, at the dawn of summer vacation, not to go to any camps.  When I was a child, summer camp looked like a privilege. I thought that if I could send my kids to camp, I'd be giving them something I never had and something I coveted.  Yet when my oldest step son told me, "I just want to stay home," I realized that he could be craving the opportunity to just spontaneously play with his own toys at a relaxed pace.  Out of the mouths of babes, as they say.  I theorize that since children aren't as driven as adults to make a social impression, they have an easier time expressing and going after what they truly need.  In this case, my kiddos made a point about something we all need: down time.

Frankly, I think we are all craving down time in a way that we sometimes don't even realize.  It is common for people to feel guilty about taking time away from their work.  Some company cultures make time off seem frivolous, but many experts argue that time away from work is actually beneficial not only for the individual, but also for the company.  We are not the only country tending to work too much, either.  As I learned from one of my favorite authors and speakers, Tony Robbins, the Japanese actually have a word for people who die from over-work, "karoshi."  Lesson: take advantage of your paid time off, it is good for you! As a society under pressures, time constraints being just one of those, I think it is entirely possible that our repressed desire for a slower pace erupts in ways we should be embarrassed about, like road rage.

Rushing from one place to another doesn't seem to allow me to enjoy myself much, either.  More often than not I am focusing on the time constraints I face or the next task at hand.  Some of the best and most memorable days are those with very few planned activities, or no plans at all.  These are the sort of days that leave room for spontaneity, like swinging by my best friend's house for an impromptu visit, playing with the kids, hunting for yard sales with my husband, or not worrying about how long I go our jogging.  Or, maybe most important, down-time allows for rest and recuperation.  I have to remind myself often to leave time for these things.  With the pace of life what it is, sometimes it's worth it to just stay home and rest- or go to the beach and rest. Cheers!

 


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    Jennifer Loebel

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