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Taking Things Slowly

Sourdough bread-making. It often takes me more than 24 hours.

Brewing chai tea on the stovetop, sometimes preceded by grinding some spices.

Washing dishes by hand. Taking my time with the more soiled pots and pans.

Driving on surface streets. Relishing the scenic route. Often driving at the speed limit, or sometimes even below. (So un-Californian!)

These last couple of years, I often find myself taking things slowly. And when I am not, I often long for a "pause" button on my life.

This is in stark contrast to the Me That Was Mike's Wife. The one who was always "on the go". Whose spinning plates seemed innumerable, but which she kept spinning at all times.

The lead-footed driver that always won the race home even when her husband never agreed to race with her to begin with.

The one who was an efficiency expert at work and prided herself in how she managed her busy life.

So yes, this me that no longer multi-tasks, who takes her time in the shower? She is someone I have just recently met.

But more than this, I marvel at the person I once was: How did she do it all?

It would be as if my feet were all of sudden wading in sand, when they used to glide on polished surfaces.

Although to say that this was accidental would be untruthful.

Because, I have, for the most part, chosen this slower pace.

I sometimes think this is because I am trying to make the seconds count, knowing now how many moments of my life with Mike I took for granted. Or how many things I missed while I whizzed through my days, enjoying the feeling of accomplishment.

Other times, I think it is because I feel the need to slow my life down so I can catch a breath.

Time predictably marches forward, even as I sometimes feel stuck in place.

No, I know that I am not really stuck in place, as I do let the details of my life sweep me forward. I cannot afford to be stuck. Life continues to call to me to participate. To take part. Sometimes, even to lead.

I am, after all, head of the family. The lone parent. The decision-maker.

Also? I have responsibilities to the generation before mine.

There is much that goes on in my life that pulls me forward, even as I sometimes feel the need to resist.

Because all this forward movement means inevitable change.

Good or bad, I am called to adjust. And often, I am called to lead others through the change so that they will not be so anxious.

I am called to have courage even when I feel doubt and fear. Even when I have no foresight into outcomes.

Even when I know that some outcomes could be more losses.

So it is no wonder to me that I slow some things down so I can be in the moment. I find myself sometimes going into "overtime": doing four sets of stretch-and-folds instead of three; letting dough rest in bulk fermentation for 12 hours instead of 6.

It is a need to control some aspect of my life, as well as seeking small pleasures in it.

It is choosing to be myopic for a small amount of time when one is called to always think in big pictures. Because my thoughts mostly center on the good of the family. Or for the child's future. And certainly, for that payback I pray will ultimately come for all this perseverance and difficult forward movement.

So I take my blessed time to brew, then sip my chai tea and think of nothing else except for how this moment is pure bliss. Because I need this time for my brain to reset. To indulge my whims for a change, even for just a few minutes. To enjoy this small thing and not worry about context.

To hit "pause" on the reminders of my losses and the worries of the future.

To thank God for now. For the opportunity to catch my breath. And to acknowledge that, no matter what comes, God has equipped me with all that I need. That I can do hard things. That I will do my best.

And truly, that is all that I can expect of myself.

The Me Before Loss seems to have glided through her life in secure, blissful ignorance. I kind of miss her.

But boy, did she miss out on the pleasures of that riverside drive on CA Route 160!


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