Hurry Up to Slow Down
I can remember working for a major nationwide financial call center many years ago. One of the things I remembered most about my experience working there was trying to avoid being in the red. I can still see the vision of the lights on the phone now that reflected our call volume. I don’t remember the specifics of the amount of calls for each light, but I do remember the basics. No light was the best because there were no calls on hold, green was a few, yellow was a warning that the call volume was getting heavier and red was the warning that there were a large amount of calls on hold that needed to be tended to ASAP. We never wanted to be in the red. I was slower than most and in the company’s eyes not as good as I should be at 17 calls per hour. The expectation was that I had to be faster at taking the calls, but also attempt to sell a product before ending a call. It was something very difficult for me to achieve.
I use this example because most of my life, I have spent rushing. Hurried to come into the world at my birth, hurried to start walking before I learned to crawl, hurried to be the first one finished when I ate, hurried as an adult to meet ridiculous deadlines, etc. It was always hurry, hurry, hurry!!
As I got older, I realized that I was just a product of our rushed society. We mustn’t have the patience to wait, we must have things right now! Cooking on the stovetop takes up too much time. We must risk our health through radiation by microwaving food and drink for immediate results. Who has time to cook when we have all these places to be? Fast food is so much easier and faster because we need food in a hurry!
We are constantly seeking instant gratification. I get the instant part, but is it really gratification when we are overextending ourselves and our families because of our constant hurried state? Why can’t one dance class or outside extracurricular activity a week for our children be enough? Why must there be a necessity to take every single class that is offered in order to be noticed? It’s hard enough to be an adult being rushed not only in our jobs but other activities that we choose to be involved. Now we are passing the torch onto our children? Are we really benefiting nutritionally in our mind, body and spirit by being rushed around from one thing to the next? It’s no wonder so many young people feel stressed in their lives because of being in a rush from all the activities that they are involved in.
I remember growing up how my father would be so annoyed with my mother because she always ate slow and took forever to finish her meal. Now as I have gotten older, I realized my mother was practicing mindfulness, an Eastern practice that I have now come to appreciate. She took the time to enjoy what she was eating rather than rush through it. She would savor every last morsel, especially if it was something she really enjoyed. One thing my mother has always said to me since I was a child in everything I did was to “Slow Down!”
When I got sick, that’s essentially what I was forced to do. Slow Down. I had over extended myself with my job, my family, my activities so much so that my body paid the price for it and literally shut down through dis-ease. I allowed toxic relationships and environments that weren’t for my greater good to take precedence over my happiness and chose instead to hide in the shadows of my own sunshine. I wasn’t being mindful of what my body was telling me because I lived in a state of hurriedness and certainly didn’t have time to listen. But my body made me listen. Sure diet played a huge role in my sickness and weight. But why was my diet so poor? Stress. My lifestyle centered around stress and the hurried state of chaos ended up taking priority over my health and well-being.
But rather than see dis-ease as the be all end all of my life, I chose to fight back by going out of my comfort zone and finally listening to what my body was telling me. I was in the red. Period. No more clear, green and yellow lights. Dis-ease was my body’s way of saying, “Warning Will Rogers, you are in THE RED! This is your knock you to your knees 2×4 reality check that you are in the RED of your life and this is NOT how you want your story to end.”
Hence, the start of trying to live a simpler more mindful life. It hasn’t been an easy process but one that has been most rewarding. My husband and I had to cut back on many things and gave up a lot of things but essentially we have gained more than we let go of. Mostly a better peace of mind. Did we at one time live above our means? Sure we did. But at what cost? Hindering the health and wellbeing of our family by staying in unfulfilling stressful jobs so that we can hurry up to spend our decent hard earned income on a certain lifestyle to keep up with everyone else?
Not anymore. In the beginning stages following my illness, we started off by making changes with our diet which helped to transform our physical health from dis-ease to wellness. We later began working on the other lifestyle changes that were causing stress on our health and well-being such as making the necessary job changes more in line with our goals and dreams of a rewarding career. This caused us to look more closely at our finances and our spending habits in order to carry us through to a successful transition. While most would look to add more debt to their plate, we were worked hard at eliminating it.
We began cutting simple things like cable because why should we pay extra money for a luxury item that did nothing to benefit our overall health and well-being? So what if we didn’t watch the VMA awards, Honey Boo Boo or The Kardashians? I get much more enjoyment using the money saved to pay for my daughter to go once a week to her aerial circus class to perfect her chosen art form rather than spending it on the mindless dribble of cable TV.
It’s hard to make such a transition like this especially while raising a teenage daughter who didn’t always understand why her parents made such a drastic shift from the lifestyle that she was accustomed to. The thing is, we felt that by having her see her parents less stressed and happier, it would positively impact her so much more than it would by watching us suffer from the effects of a hurried stress filled lifestyle. Although I don’t know exactly what she might have been thinking when she would have to help me walk across the room or use my cane and eye patch because I couldn’t walk on my own without assistance, I do know it was hard on her.
I often speak of when I was at my sickest my daughter came into the bed with me and hugged me. I will never forget the words she said to me. She said “Mommy I wish you weren’t sick anymore”. Hearing this come out of her mouth at the tender age of 10 was the most heart wrenching words I needed to hear in order to realize that I needed to make a change. Not just for me but more importantly, for her. She needed her mommy in her fullest capacity which led me to make the lifestyle changes I have and why we have done so as a family. Lastly, I wanted her to learn that it wasn’t by some quick fix miracle drug, diet or money driven product that got me well. It was about slowing down and being mindful of what areas of my life that were broken and needing attention, then working to fix those areas little by little, step by step.
Rev Diana Pfeuffer