Slowing down

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The past three weeks the kids and I have taken turns being sick, and our pace has slowed down in a way that would have been hard to implement if I’d set to it deliberately.

I always kind of appreciate those illnesses that leave me to function, for the most part, during the day, but knock me out at night so that I can’t help but stop all of my puttering around and just go to bed. Go to bed, sleep, dream, and maybe let my mind and body do its work without so much intervention from me.

The past few weeks my body has been on patrol. Any sign of me pushing too hard, and the sore throat and cough and tiredness come back. They’re waiting on the periphery, creeping up on me, ready to pounce.

Part of me wants to fight against slowing down. I don’t like this molasses in my brain, my body’s desire to curl up under a blanket and hibernate. I want to be outside, moving my body, exploring the world. I want to write – every day, about everything. I want to work my way through all the tracking journals I need to finish to complete my apprenticeship. I want to dig deeply into more naturalist skills. I want to dig more deeply into everything. I want to have some kind of plan for our homeschooling each day. There’s so much to do, so much to learn, so much on my list to cross off.

But I don’t actually have control over this.

And some kind of deeper body wisdom is at work here, keeping my patterns of over-enthusiasm and over-commitment in check. We’ve made so many choices that are about living intentionally and deliberately, and then so often, I don’t actually slow down. The inner math doesn’t add up in how our days and weeks play themselves out.

In some way, the past few weeks have created a rhythm much more in tune with what I want our daily life to look like than it actually has in recent years, especially in this darkening season, as we move into winter. Fewer casual social commitments – although our intentional weekly commitments have remained intact. More time with the kids at home: reading out loud, sitting and doing math together, playing board games, involving their participation in cooking and baking and cleaning up. More time for intentional “schoolwork.” More time to go deeply into their learning. And my learning. More time to work with my hands, do the stitch by stitch work of knitting sweaters and hats and things that meet my need for warmth and beauty to get me through the cold days. More time to observe my kids’ patterns, to talk through big questions with them, to work through their emotions, to understand them better. More time to follow through in getting their participation in household tasks, instead of taking the faster route of doing it myself. More time for walks around the neighbourhood, observing, playing games. More time for me to be playful – playfulness requires taking one’s presence seriously. More evenings at home with Conan, talking about what matters to us right now, supporting each other’s goals. More evenings for me to read good writing that inspires me.

The kids are getting in the rhythm too. They’re playing together more peacefully. They’re thinking and dreaming, and telling me their grand theories about life. They’re going deeper into their own interests. They’re making up games and alternate worlds. They’re not waiting for something to happen, something to entertain them.

And the work that I want to do? It’s getting done, bit by bit, just because I’m here and present. I chip away at it day by day.

Writing is different. Writing takes bursts of inspiration and a clear head and some time alone, and all those have been in short supply. With that, I need to stay patient.

But life is long, and I’m seeing that my projects are life-long projects. Mastery at anything takes hours, and months, and years of practice. Like committing to a life-long love, savouring a relationship day-by-day, the satisfaction is in greeting it anew each morning, waking up and remembering what hums a song deep through your being. Why hurry?

Or else life is short, and then my presence to the beauty of this moment is the only thing that matters.

tracking homework

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