In January, I posted this update relating to my site and my thoughts on future writing plans. At the time, I chose a new title for my site. That was not to imply I wasn’t happy with the previous title, The Writing Studio. It didn’t seem to fit my online persona as well as it did the actual studio my husband designed and built for me.
Today’s post, I hope, will give you a look into how I chose the new title, Life in the Slow Lane. My explanation is long in coming but with this bit of change, my desire to write grows stronger each day. And so it is that I share the origin of the new name.
Living in the slow lane is a beautiful gift. A gift of time. Time for planning and dreaming and reflecting. Each of these processes brings a special gift. These gifts conjured up images of trips down long and winding country roads, thus the title “Life in the Slow Lane” was born.
One day, while struggling with chronic pain, I realized that I pushed myself in ways I could give up. Overload, perfectionism, and social media took precious time from my family and faith. Without either of these, I am lost as an individual.
Slowing down is hard for a perfectionist. The detail-oriented tend to bury themselves in overload. My thoughts gave me a sense of humility and raised questions. All this forced me to take a good look at what I want the next decades to look like. Asking yourself questions can be scary and humbling but it also guides and directs you.
One of my biggest writing battles is with myself. I love the craft and process of scripting words together to tell a story, my story. I have completed a manuscript of my memoir. But I’ve reached a point where I can’t make up my mind about publishing it. I know it’s well written although it needs some restructuring. It tells my story with truth, love, and faith. With very little work, it could be ready for submission in a few days/weeks.
I’ve wrangled with myself like a cowboy trying to rope a calf and brand it. Bob and I have had discussion after discussion about what I should or shouldn’t do. In all honesty, there are many points under my “shouldn’t” column. And if anyone ever needs someone to coach them into doing something, I’ll hire Bob out.
The biggest part of my problem? I’ve finished the fun part of writing this book–the writing and researching. I don’t want to deal with launching, marketing, selling, and putting myself in front of the book. It’s not that I’m not proud of what I’ve accomplished. I am. However, I did what I’ve always said I would do: Write the story of my difficult relationship with my mother. It seems others have always assumed I meant I’d publish it too.
During the last three years, my inability to focus on writing has taught me several things. First, I could have spent many more years sitting or lying in pain than I have. Diagnosed at age 12 with scoliosis, I was fortunate to not suffer from back pain until I was in my late 30s/early 40s. Luck was with me all those years.
During this time, I’ve enjoyed the love and companionship of a caring husband and one of the best nurses I know. He’s cared for me through more surgeries than either of us wants to count. Despite this, we have enjoyed the activities we enjoy both at home and in our community.
My thoughts next turned to once the recovery from this recent surgery is behind me. What do I really want to do with my life? Lots of things came to mind, but the best and most important are below:
Wake up every morning looking forward to spending each day with the love of my life, 24/7, no less.
Listen to classical music every day, whether via radio, CDs, or Bob practicing one of his many horns.
Love our home and care for it as I have always done, except when unable to because of pain.
Spread our love to our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids despite the miles separating us.
Gardening! I haven’t been able to dig in the dirt and garden for so many summers now. I’ve watched Bob do it all and longed to be out there with him.
Volunteer my time as I am able, especially with the Mothers of Preschoolers program.
Ride in our red convertible come spring and summer down those long, lazy country back roads.
Write, write, write! Whatever I choose to write. Whatever I want to write. Simply because I want to write. Not because I’m looking to make a name for myself as a writer, or get rich as a writer, or whatever. I love words and writing them down. And I love telling stories.
And whatever I’m doing I want to do it all giving the credit and glory to God.
There you have it—the name behind this site is a short summation of my life from here until God calls me home. Nothing more, nothing less than who I am and believe I should be.
Ever notice how memories slip into the activities of our everyday lives? Things we don’t think of until something or someone triggers that long ago memory and it rushes to the forefront of our minds.
Several years ago while caring for my mother, near the end of her life, I wanted to help get her to eat. She’d suffered another of several congestive heart failure episodes, and the nurses encouraged some fruit. I brought bananas, something I knew she enjoyed.
Recently staff had begun mashing her food, so I mashed the bananas. Their aroma overwhelmed my senses. You know…that smell only a fresh banana has.
As I continued mashing, I remembered doing the same for my son when he was an infant. No doubt Mama had mashed bananas for him, and other grandchildren, and for her children.
My next thoughts moved to contemplate how the cycle of life catches up with us in the mundane. As my mind wandered back through generations, I imagined my grandmother engaged in the same activity, and her mother, and on and on.
Among my thoughts was the process of aging. As we age our bodies and our abilities revert to how we were as children. Unable to care for ourselves. Unable to read or write. Even in our eating things change.
The word “writing” above could refer to many forms of writing. Handwriting, cursive writing, writing checks, writing the grocery list, writing a book, and I could go on.
But the writing I’m talking about isn’t listed above. I wonder what happened to handwritten letters and notes. You know–the kind you place in an envelope and mail with a stamp?
I remember as a young woman in college in the mid-1960s running to the student union where our mailboxes were built into one wall. A peek into the small glass window revealed whether or not to waste your time unlocking the box.
Most of us longed for letters from anywhere or anyone, even our parents and siblings. Letters from our parents were at the top of the list if a check was also enclosed.
Favored above all were letters from high school friends or friends serving in the military. For me, it was a cousin serving in the Navy who told of exciting days and nights while stationed off the coastline of Greece.
Wayne could tell me of things he saw and visited that I would never travel to see. He wrote of Greek meals that made my mouth water. His description of life on the aircraft carrier was almost as foreign as the culture of the Greek people.
I rarely receive a handwritten letter or note anymore. It’s an element of our social upbringing that I truly miss. Email and the Internet have effectively almost eliminated this custom.
Image attribution: Via Pixabay; no attribution required.
Lots of folks make resolutions each new year. Others set specific goals. I’ve never been successful with either. As I attempt to live in the slow lane, I’m putting aside such organized planning for my life.
Instead, I’ve chosen the word “contemplate” to guide me through my next year.
Slowing down has shown me areas in my life lacking attention. Examples include God’s teachings, prayer, reading, music, and more. When we center on a given activity, we hear more, see more, sense more, and learn more.
The word “more” in that last sentence excites me. Why? Because in this fast-paced, recognition driven, madcap social media world, I run to keep up. If I slow down and allow myself space to focus on the important things, I receive boundless gifts in the form of “more.”
All that translates to slow down, think, contemplate.
About the time I reached this conclusion, Mary Oliver left us for a better place. Yet, during Oliver’s life, she gave us many gifts in her poetry and other writings. I began to scour the Internet reading about her life and her poetry. While doing so, I came upon one of my favorites, thanks to a high school English teacher, The Summer Day.
It’s my belief God has slowed me down for a reason. Perhaps so He could shine a light on what I need to be doing more often and with greater intention. And He’s probably asking Himself, “What is taking so long?”
Well, there are a few things over which I have no control currently. I firmly believe in God’s understanding and patience much more than I do my own. So, I’ll push forward with this new lifestyle and way of thinking and writing to see where they take me.
Have you ever noticed it doesn’t matter to a cat where it rests or naps? Or when or on what piece of furniture? Or in what position–belly up, draping its legs this way and that? Oh, to be so relaxed that it doesn’t matter.
We humans live under too much stress to act like a cat. Yet, I’m going to try. I managed to do it once before and then lost it.
In 2005, I enjoyed a three-month sabbatical with my last employer. Obviously, it was to my credit that my temperament improved from the law firm and its lawyers. At the end of my time off, my husband announced he had enjoyed my time at home with him. So much so, he had decided it was time for me to retire.
In a few months, I retired.
I haven’t looked back with any regrets. With one exception, retirement has been everything I hoped for. However, I tend to take on too much too often to enjoy any time for me. I’m learning to say the word “no” more often, but not yet well-practiced at saying the word “yes” to myself.
I’ve enjoyed the time to write, but life has gotten in the way of publishing my memoir. And I’m growing tired of blogging and social media. I don’t find joy in any of them at the moment.
That’s why it’s time to pause. Like a cat–right now–today.
November 15th is the beginning of personal time for a while.
I will not be posting to the blog for approximately six weeks. There won’t be a quarterly newsletter until after the first of 2019. I will not be on social media for reasons other than family and keeping up with church and volunteer activities.
I am hoping to get some work done on my manuscript, but I’ll also be preparing myself for a third spine surgery. I want to be in the best physical state possible as I want this surgery to work in easing my pain to some degree and to experience a good recovery.
Thanksgiving and Christmas
To each one of you, I send Thanksgiving and Christmas greetings. I hope the season of gratitude and the season of His birth bring hope, joy, and love in abundance to you and yours.