The week has begun and so has the hustle and bustle of it all. So join me and let’s chat about life’s rhythms and cultivating slow, purposeful and intentional living every day, in every season.
With Spring in full swing, the calm, stillness and hibernation of winter is now behind us. Well, almost. But these days, I’ve taken to be an observer of nature and have been just fascinated by what I’ve seen. Silently watching its rebirth around the city has made such an impression in my heart.
Nature has its rhythm. It’s marked by the seasons. With each season comes specific manifestations that signal its arrival or departure. Observing nature’s rhythm, I can’t help but turn inward and think of my own rhythms. And like nature, to find that my rhythms, both internally and externally change. Our lives are a beautiful symphony that has its staccatos, crescendos, and decrescendo. Some days are pianissimo and some forte. And it’s this dynamic and the rhythms of our days that make our lives what it is.
With summer fast approaching, things get crazy pretty fast. Because the season is so short-lived (well, here in NYC that is), we sort of cram a bunch of activities together to make the most out of it. So how do we prepare when life’s song speeds up? How to we cultivate slow and simple into every day when things seem to be going so fast?
Well, in thinking of the rhythms of our lives and in asking these questions, I can’t help but focus on the most important rhythm of all – our internal rhythm. I say this because, first and foremost, our lives (and consequently our family life) are an expression of what’s inside us. In our hearts and minds. Our external realities do not dictate our internal realities. It is most certainly the other way around.
As I, myself strive to slow down and savor my every day, I’m learning about the discipline of silence and solitude and how taking the time to be still, can actually be of great benefit in all that I do. Our inner quiet allows us to be present where we are, no matter what goes on outside of us. I’m also learning the importance of setting your own rhythms by being intentional and mindful (and of course, having some sort of plan in place).
With the new season, come new opportunities to set our pace, make plans (and change them), and to enjoy life and our loved ones. So today, I want to share a few things I’ve been learning as I seek to set a rhythm for the new season that is to come:
– Take advantage of the “little solitudes”: As a parent, I know first-hand that moments of solitude are not just handed to you. But you don’t need to be a parent to know this fact. Rather, instead of getting sucked into hustle, seek out the small moments of silence and solitude throughout your day. This could be a few minutes right after you wake up, or being stuck in traffic. That train ride into work. While you shower. Any moment (big or small) that allows for some rest and refreshment. For me, it’s been nice to wake up a bit earlier on some days and have some time to meditate and plan out the day.
– Take a deep breath: This one kind of goes hand in hand with my previous point but it’s so important. Stopping wherever I am, taking in a long deep breath, becoming aware of my surroundings, allows me to be more present and mindful, and be silent. I can listen more and speak less. Savor more too!
– Embrace the silence: Like I mentioned before, I’m naturally not one to embrace a slower pace of life. Neither am I comfortable when it’s too silent. All my life, silence has felt awkward. But recently, I’ve been embracing the silence around me to listen to what’s really going on. To practice this, I’ve been embracing nature. Sometimes this means simply sitting by the window to hear the birds. Other times, it’s a walk in a forest or park near our home. Any place quiet that’s surrounded by nature that allows me to live in the moment – without timetables or schedules. A minute to just BE!
– Set your home’s rhythm by putting things on paper: I’ll confess that this point sounds redundant, but when I think about our home’s rhythms (cleaning rhythms, meal time, family time, etc), it’s hard to manage without some outline. What I’ve been doing is, as to not overcrowd my days with obligations or any other activity, I spread them out throughout the week. Because cleaning our apartment in one day may eat up a few hours, I try to spread out my cleaning during the week. One to three areas per day. That way, I have time to enjoy my little girl, perhaps go for a stroll and deal with other weekly obligations, like meal planning. Setting our daily rhythms on paper has cleared a major fog in my head and taken away all the unnecessary anxiety.
I’m so happy to share what has been working for us in setting our rhythms for a slower, more intentional life. These are in no way laws that are firmly established. The struggles some days are real. But they most certainly are guiding principles that have given us more peace of mind and empowered us to keep on keeping on living slowly and simply.
I’d love to hear about your rhythms and how they change or remain with the arrival of new seasons.