Slowing down as a Sign of Life

snail along meadowlark trail, manhappiness, kansas

This morning I tackled a small…mound of dishes and felt it.

Yesterday, while sorting out my banking and budget, while working, and listening – I felt it.

It is the too familiar:
not good enough
you’re a jerk
you’ll never
how could you
no wonder you’re alone
you’re so stupid…


I caught myself tipping over the edge of that spiral…just in time.

A little back story

My brain works at mach 10 and sometimes lacks a filter. Fortunately, years of living among kind humans has helped to teach me to slow down a bit before I say or do something. This has been working well for years until I feel stressed.

Aparently, I live in such a soup of stress that I don’t recognize it anymore.

I learned this while at the doctor’s yesterday when she explained that all of my recent physical quirks were related to stress and not old age or the likelihood that I’ll stroke out any day now. Stress. What stress?

Early life fostered a long-battled and shame-germinating PTSD. As a pre-teen, I had ulcers and a well-developed sense that I had to be perfect or else. As a young wife and mum, I believed that it was all my fault – I’d been raised that way so it was convenient. After so much heart-filled attempts and hopes and hard work to find myself in a starter-life, the question begs to be asked. Why? And always, it is happy to fill in the answers.

Never enough.

If they knew you like I do, they’d hate you, too. 

You’re so smart you’re an idiot.

Even as I stopped eating after Pat died, I was too curvy and wearing even the highest collar and stark clothes were viewed as immodest (some things, folks, cannot be helped.) I learned to wear black and – socially – park in the shade.

Always…always, always was the thought that “if only I’d _________” or “I’m so stupid to have…” This is not uncommon, especially among kids who grew up with terrible secrets.

What does this have to do with this morning’s dishes?

Rain had cancelled our run, the covers had been cozy, and I’d tried to listen quietly to the inner and outer workings of the day. I’d also promised myself that the dishes would be done before I left for work. In my tiny micro-kitchen, resourcefulness is part of each recipe and process. Things take longer than they would in a larger kitchen (like in a camper). Lost in my thoughts, I rushed.

Things fell out of the balance.

They fell and crashed.

They made big noises. Noises that shattered quiet and made my little heart pound in my ears.

Suddenly, I caught sight of my thoughts leaning too close to the edge of those hateful things I learned to tell myself.

And I stopped them.

Slow down, Al. 
This is just dishes, not the Versailles treaty.

I finally understood.
As kale bits swirled in the squash soup dish
and time kept jogging towards 8 am

Stress is the miasma in which I live, move, and have my being.
Even in the quieter life that I now live.

Good stress: kids, celebrations, sunny days, kayaking with M3, Monday night meals, and a chance to run with my best friend.

Destructive stress: fear, procrastination, more fear, harm, not knowing, remembering, holding on, letting go, demanding damning people who forfeit their place in my life, unforgiveness, deceitfulness, feudal battles…loss-of-faith, shame, loneliness, fear again.

I can do something about this.

We can do something about this – our over-busy under-fulfilling discomforting lives.

One decision, one moment, one thought or action rescued from the brink of harm at a time.

Today, I am listening to my favorite mellow Carbon Leaf. This morning, it was the Wailin’ Jennys.

I will do work and do my best.

I will remind myself that there is no need to be perfect.
There is a need to fling arms wide open
a heart posture of openness
of listening
and speaking

and inviting good company.

I’m not sure I’d recognize all of that good stuff, but I am willing to try.

Fling some of that kindness and joy around in bumbling honesty.

Drink more coffee in good company.
Invite people out
or in
even if the dishes are an Andean peak in the sink and I’ve got to kick my running clothes out of view.

Slow down and keep searching for signs of life.


About allielousch

Engaged in everyday adventures and derring do.
This entry was posted in Happiness-es, Signs of Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Slowing down as a Sign of Life

  1. Seth Barnes says:

    Amen to all of this. Of course, I’ll probably never get there – I’m calibrated for running and jogging or resting gets boring. But as a concept, I love it!

  2. Paul Wilbern says:

    Excellent read! Unfortunately I have found that slowing down a bit requires more work and stress than keeping up with the pattern I’ve set for myself.

    • allielousch says:

      I’m hoping that – just like ramping up towards a 1/2 marathon takes time and stress and effort, the “slowing down” will be gradual and inertia will kick in a bit. Cheers!

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