As much as I enjoy relaxing and the art of doing nothing at all, sometimes, getting to that point is nothing short of a miracle. In my quest to be at my best and to give my best in both my personal and professional worlds, I can get so caught up in tasks, goals, and progression that I do not slow down long enough or often enough to be still and to enjoy the daily moments that make life sweeter. Today, though, I slowed down to take time to do something kind for myself and others.
One week ago today, I had outpatient surgery on both of my legs, and part of my recovery for the next few weeks involves trading in my regular workout regime of trail running, interval training, and using my elliptical trainer for walking. Even after all of the changes in my life, I still do not readily embrace change, especially when it involves something I regard as therapeutic as exercising. That said, I also do not want to compromise my recovery, so, I have been following my doctor’s orders, or rather, I have been sulking about not being able to do what I want to do, so, I have not been walking as a form of exercise . . . until this morning.
I finally overcame my “all or nothing” thinking and set out before the sun came up to take a walk. At first, I decided to cheat by attempting a light jog, but when the pain of even just a few steps took my breath away, I decided that walking briskly was good enough. For some reason, I decided to leave my iPod at home on my walk, so, I walked in silence, except for the sound of birds, crickets, and cars in the distance. It was a cool morning, and the dark sky sparkled with some lingering twinkling stars. It was beautiful and peaceful, and I instantly forgot about “feeling the burn” and focused on feeling and enjoying the serenity of my morning walk. I definitely am not a fast runner, but when I run, I don’t always take time to notice the passing scenery, so, it was a treat to take in the sights of my lovely neighborhood. Slowing down was anything but a let down this morning!
Slowing down in my personal life is difficult, but slowing down at work is next to impossible. Leave it to one of the guys at the day shelter for homeless men where I work to make the impossible possible. I found it quite fitting that on Labor Day, one of the men, whom I affectionately refer to as “my Stan Man”, slipped me a note. Usually, a note from him is a simple list of basic items, like socks and underwear, that he needs, but this particular note not only slowed me down, it stopped me in my tracks.
I am relieved that I read it in the privacy of my office, as my eyes welled up with tears as soon as I understood the gist of the letter, which is that my Stan Man misinterpreted my recent increased time in my office working on projects and decreased time spent out in the shelter with the men to mean that he had “smothered’ me or “annoyed” me. His perception could not have been further from the truth, and it certainly gave me pause, as I reflected on putting projects before people lately. My Stan Man asked me to write him back to confirm whether or not his perception was correct, and I couldn’t write my response to him fast enough. In my note to him, I reassured him that he had done nothing to offend or bother me and apologized for not taking enough time to chat with him recently, and I vowed to him and myself to slow down. As soon as I gave him my response, I gave him my word that I would take time each day to check in with him, and I have kept my word.
This morning, when I stopped to talk with my Stan Man and some of the other men in the day shelter, I really listened to them and enjoyed the conversations that ensued, and I stayed present in the moment. No, I am not any less busy than I was before I read my Stan Man’s note, but I am much more aware that taking the time to be present is as important as any project I ever will have. As my chat with my Stan Man concluded, he squeezed my hand in his and said, “I love you”, and I replied, “I love you right back.” That moment reminded me that slowing down is truly priceless and precious, and I am so grateful that my Stan Man brought the need to slow down to my attention.
Just one thing each day . . .
Categories: Just One Thing Each Day