I am practicing the discipline of being unhurried (insert long sigh here).
After launching a counseling and organizational business with my husband, managing a private practice and a team of ten practitioners, starting Courageous Girls, publishing my first book, raising two girls, living life-on-life with our community and church, carpooling, doing laundry, laundry, laundry and squeezing in a date here and there, I had just about come to the point where all I needed was a partridge in a pear tree. But then, I had an awakening; I realized I needed to return to the days of margin, the days of saying “no-thank you” and breathing a little deeper as I wait for the next thing on my calendar (instead of tripping on my shoes and running into the wall on my way out the door).
It’s a word, but also a state of mind and a state of being.
“What does that really even look like?” one may wonder.
I can geek out a bit on the neurobiology of the brain and what it takes to have a healthy brain. I will not do that now, though. Here’s a simpler suggestion: Dr. Carolyn Leaf, an expert cognitive neuroscientist, says 16 minutes a day, doing nothing but letting the mind wander and think freely, can significantly change brain chemistry. It can prevent dementia, increase intelligence, memory, and focus (https://drleaf.com/blog/the-benefits-of-alone-time/). No matter what kind of leader you are: soccer mom extraordinaire, CEO, CFO, advocate, teacher, writer, etc. — we can all benefit from slowing down in the middle of this whirlwind called life. In the digital age this means stopping the noise, the screens and input for just a moment. Being bored seems like a thing of the past, but I am determined to take Dr. Leaf’s advice. Sixteen minutes of nothing, every day, is going to be my new “necessary,” rather than a periodical luxury.
“How do I accomplish this?” you ask.
Someone recently asked me what I needed to unlearn in order to move into my next season of life. Seasons are changing; there is a fresh wind stirring. The unlearning needed in my life is really about trying to undo always being needed somewhere — by someone or something. Can you relate? What is it that YOU need to unlearn in your life to create space and margin?
Maybe you have too much time and you are reading this with little empathy. Good for you. Enjoy it. Time is a valuable commodity that we often take for granted, until it’s gone.
Being unhurried, for me, means I put less on the calendar to begin with so that I can leave blank, white space between one responsibility and the next. It means I space out my big tasks and say ‘no’ to all the little ones that seem to eat up all my extra time. Similar to how a slumber party with my girls feels the following day, after little sleep, stolen covers and feet in my ribs, over-crowding my calendar never feels as good on the flip side as it did when I first said yes!
My girls are growing up. Our parents are aging. Life is full and rich and so often my eyes are on the calendar preparing for the next thing rather than focussing squarely on the thing right in front of me. It’s time to be present. To breathe deeper. To linger longer. To chew slower and maybe actually read a book for no other purpose but pure enjoyment — even if only for sixteen minutes per day. Here’s to a season of unhurried!
Written by Terra A. Mattson, M.A. LMFT, LPC, Co-Founder
Author of Courageous: Raising Daughters Rooted in Grace