Monday, January 7, 2013

Slow Down.... pare back...

The long days of Winter are times when our lives should naturally slow down.

The bare days of Winter are time when we should be able to see the structure and bones of our existence and be better able to see what is worth our efforts when the the world warms up and the trees leaf out.

Take your time and read this Article from Mother Earth News.
The italicized quotes below are from the article.

"No matter how fast we go, no matter how many comforts we forgo in order to quicken our pace, there never seems to be enough time."

"Curiously, there has been scant public discussion about this dramatic speed-up of society. People may complain about how busy they are, how overloaded modern life has become, but speed is still viewed as generally positive — something that will help us all enrich our lives. "

This is so much like my day:
"The alarm rings and you hop out of bed. Another day is off and running. A quick shower. Wake the kid<snip>. Down a cup of coffee. <snip> Hurry out to the car, <snip>. Reaching work, <snip>. You take a couple of deep breaths, then remember that the project you didn't finish last night must be <snip>. Meanwhile, you've got five voice-mail messages and seven more e-mail messages, two of them marked urgent."
Until I got to the seven more email messages! Seven! Seven! Only Seven!
And what about Instant Messages? I stopped taking voice mails a long time ago. People ramble and you just have to call them back anyway to figure out what they really want.
And 1 project due! Please. I never have fewer than 7 project going, any 1 of which might need special handling on any given day. And then there are the walk-ins. And the meetings. The meetings you go to only so that either your time is wasted or you end up with more projects.

Americans have become more productive but I'm not sure how much more we can really take.  
“The major cause in the speed-up of life is not technology, but economics,” says Schor. “The nature of work has changed now that bosses are demanding longer hours of work.” Harvard economist Juliet Schor,Author of the 1991 best-seller The Overworked American
I too have found that without concerted effort that it is too easy for anyone "working for corporate america" to end up with a life that just gets faster and faster until it spins out of control. I can speak from experience as I work for a Fortune 500 company.

Then there is Neighborhood Organization stuff which is important and rewarding in that I now have a cadre of amazing friends who care about our city its future... but it's time consuming. Taking photos, posting photos, tracking issues: water leaks, blight (yes we are still recovering from Katrina), potholes, the grinding impracticality of some city services, crime. Tracking successes: Trees planted, streets & sidewalk repairs, Houses renovated and or sold, ....

And then there is my commitment as 3rd degree to the Tradition, the Ways, the spiritual path I walk and an obligation to ensure that it stays alive, is passed on. Which happens to be the primary reason for this blog.

In the Spring of 2012,
after being interviewed and providing documentation for review to someone who was working on his PHD at Oxford (yes the one in England),
I read the draft of his PHD and realized that,
in addition to some very interesting ideas about collaborative government,
this doctoral student had put his finger on my personal issue.
Like many of the other individuals who picked up the neighborhood recovery torch PostKatrina, I was burned out!

Everything I was doing was "Good":
Job=$ to provide for my family and there are days when I really like it,
Neighborhood work = better environment around me, great new friends
Blog = true to my spiritual path
But I couldn't continue the ever quickening pace and ever increasing responsibilities.

"Yet it seems that the faster we go, the farther we fall behind. Not only in the literal sense of not getting done what we set out to do, but at a deeper level, too."

"But it has gotten to the point where my days, crammed with all sorts of activities, feel like an Olympic endurance event: the everyday-athon."

Yes.... I needed a break. Not total abdication but a break.

So I "took a break" in 2012 from some of the responsibilities with which I had burdened myself.

I lightened up on the neighborhood work and either let others take the lead or let go of the need to "participate' as often as requested by city government leaders or non-profits. And as a result some folks stepped up and some things slid by and all in all it all worked out. And I have a better plan for how I encourage others in 2013.

I "took a break" from "StregaNola". I took vacation time with my daughter and visited with my teacher. I set some blog posts up to post intermittently throughout the year and then logged off as StregaNola in March and didn't log back on until 2013. And surprise. It's still hear. Just like I left it.

My pace at work is something I'm still working on ... but everything starts somewhere.

So while we are still in what should be the slow, dark, part of the year, ask yourself:
What can you pare back? What do you want to focus on? What do you value enough to keep and what can you let go?

The 1st step in any Magic, before you ACT, is to meditate on your intent and idea and to listen to the feedback the Universe will give you.  But to really do this you have to slow down. 
And if you are working with the Gratitude Jar and a Yearly Jar of goals take some time to slow down and pare back and before you just start filling that Jar up with things you want to accomplish this year.

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