The blog has been silent this month because October is ridiculous, and because I say yes to All The Things.
My inability (or refusal) to learn from this repeated mistake borders on insanity. Or stupidity. I’m not sure which is worse.
Thank the merciful Lord for inventing Fall Break, and putting it into my addled brain to plan a camping trip that would remove our family from home, work, friends, wi-fi, and cell reception for a glorious 4 days.
A week ago we loaded our kids and a dog into Ole’ Blue, I turned off my phone, and we headed south to Shenandoah National Park.
If you’ve never experienced Skyline Drive in autumn: Why not?
Tim and the kids outvoted me when we arrived at the campground, choosing a walk-in site down a steep path from the parking area, approximately 17 miles from the bathroom. Despite my thimble-sized bladder, the spot won me over with its seclusion from RV generators and easy access to the Appalachian Trail.
This sunset view was literally steps from our tent.
I won’t lie, it was cold. The last morning we woke up to frozen water bottles. But what good is camping if it doesn’t make you appreciate a soft bed and hot shower when you’re done?
Having learned from last October’s camping trip, I resisted the impulse to Instagram our memories, choosing instead to schlep my giant Canon and embrace the moments as they happened. It was easier this year than last because I planned for it, and because I’ve been quietly drifting from social media for months now. I love my online community, but all those sweet and not-so-sweet voices drown out the soft-spoken moments of life, and I don’t want to miss those anymore. I crave silence so I can listen for whispers.
Last year, I grabbed for silence by declaring a November Slowdown (no screens, no social media, no extraneous plans), and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. While not the idyllic month of peace and tranquility I anticipated (those internal voices get loud when everyone else shuts up), it opened my eyes and tilted my perspective in ways that stuck far beyond the calendar month. A year later I’m still practicing the habits of resting in the evenings, making reading a priority, and protecting sleep. What once felt like laziness is now my survival routine, allowing for greater daytime productivity and emotional stability.
Still, I get worn out, especially after the ridiculousness that is October. So I’m doing it again: November Slowdown 2015. This time my focus is on a scheduling overhaul. I’m going to build margin into my November days, even if it means I’m less productive for a few weeks. I need room to breathe, walk, pray, and (God forbid) maybe even nap.
I have productive goals, too. Namely, writing. Is it counterintuitive that the same month I’m declaring a slowdown I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month)? Really, I’m pseudo-participating, because I have no intention of accomplishing the proposed daily word counts, nor am I attempting to write a brand new novel in a month. I do, however, want to make progress on the revised draft of my Rwanda-based novel, which has continued to evolve in not entirely comfortable ways throughout the year (more on that in a future post).
And then there’s this body of mine. Since I began fighting Lyme Disease holistically in July, I’ve experienced changes beyond my highest hopes. But I still have plenty of healing to do, and the regimen is tough. It requires time, discipline, and motivation, all of which have been slipping as my schedule has gotten out of hand. Slowing down in November will allow me to take time with food prep, experiment with new recipes, and get my newly limbered joints moving again.
Bottom line, #NovemberSlowdown2015 is about pursuing quiet and rest through healthy habits for body, mind, and spirit. For me, that looks like solitude, silence, nutrition, exercise, hot baths, and the written word.
If I’m missing an ingredient, let me know. How do you slow down? What helps you quiet the voices so you can hear the whispers?