When Your Soul Needs A Slower Pace

If you’re anything like me, then your favorite part of January is the prospect of a fresh new year stretched out before you, full of promise and hope.

And if you’re anything like me, then your least favorite part of January is that it turns into February all too quickly and without incident. Unless you count distractedness and a general sense of overwhelm as “incident.”

And if you’re still anything like me (at this point let’s just go ahead and assume you are, just for the sake of this piece, okay?) then that weighs heavily on you.

The distractedness and overwhelm, I mean.

Because at the end of the day you yearn for simplicity and focus, you just aren’t sure how to stop it from slipping through your fingers.

Finding that inner quiet you crave can be hard enough, but carrying it with you throughout the day is even harder.

The day is loud.

The day is full of to-do lists, commitments to meet, mouths to feed, and places to be.

Meanwhile it’s all set to the fast paced narrative of social media. That constant buzzing in the background; the pings and dings that remind you not only what you’re supposed to be doing, but what everyone else and their Aunt Fay is doing.

As humans living in an Internet era we’re expected to take in and process a huge amount of information at an alarming pace.

Like, an unnatural amount of information.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed. And I don’t mean to feel overwhelmed, I mean to actually be overwhelmed.

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January brought a lot of sickness to our home, more than one surgery, and a whole lot of unexpected “down time”.

It was an abrupt and complete stop, and while it came with it’s own set of challenges, it reminded me how much I prefer simplicity over busyness, singularity over multi-tasking, and connectivity over productivity.

So I’ve decided to do a little experiment in February.

An experiment against distraction.

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If you too, are finding yourself in need of more white space and less white noise, I hope you’ll join me in a little bit of soul-care this month.

Here are 3 small but practical ways I’m going to practice slowing down and eliminating distraction.


1. ANALOG MANUALLY


As in, pen and paper.

I’ve always scoffed at the idea of bullet-journaling but y’all, I think I’m about to change my mind.

I spent all of January using my brand new monthly planner, color coding to my heart’s delight, and carrying it in my purse with me everywhere I went. But I realized that I hardly ever actually wrote in it. I wanted to write in it more, there just weren’t enough spaces for my meandering words so I also carried a separate journaling notebook.

At the end of the month I discovered this bonus blank page hidden in my planner (I know! So exciting! 🙌🏽) So I filled in a “January Recap” where I jotted down a few categories – Spiritual, Relational, Financial, Health & Fitness, and Creative Projects, and then wrote a few notes on each topic.

It was my favorite part of the whole month, and as I closed my planner I gasped with sudden understanding…

IS THIS WHAT BULLET JOURNALING IS LIKE EVERY DAY?

I think it might be, so I’ve decided I’m finally ready to dip my toes in the BuJo pool. I’m eager to ditch all my separate notebooks in favor of one space where I can journal, track projects, and keep a calendar.

We’ll see how it goes.

Startup Stock Photos

I have a feeling it could be a time consuming hobby, (and this might just be my inner nerd talking here), but I’m actually excited about that. I look forward to the slower rhythm of handwriting.

Plus, I really do believe there is power in writing your things down.

It keeps them real.


2. SCRUTINIZE SCREEN TIME


Usually I find social media to be a fun and useful tool, but every so often I’ll start to recognize a rising sense of anxiety and inner disquiet, which is always the first indicator that an imbalance has settled somewhere between my right-now life and it’s right-now distractions.

When my soul offers up these gentle reminders that it’s time to recalibrate, the first area I scrutinize is the amount of attention I’m giving to social media.

I start filtering all screen time through one question:

Is it valuable?

Am I scrolling for a reason, or as a reflex? Is this actually valuable or am I just ingesting copious amounts useless information?

Adversely, am I offering anything of value? Or am I just another voice in an already noisy space?

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The Internet is a fabulous tool for communicating and connecting, but it’s also a double edged sword. It can be chaotic, loud, and stressful when given too much room in our lives.

You open an app and before you know it there are hundreds of voices in the room with you.

Remember that you don’t have to play the generous host, entertaining everyone’s words and cooing over all their pictures. It’s okay to excuse yourself from the party for some fresh air.

That being said, there’s still a lot value to be found online, and your soul will recognize it when it’s there.

Listen to that and follow it.

Doing so will in turn, help you be more mindful of what you yourself are bringing to the party.


3. PRACTICE SILENCE


Yesterday my girlfriends and I were talking to each other about that elusive inner quiet, and how we want to get better and carrying it with us throughout our day.

We talked about practicing silence, and how it can be foreign and difficult at first, but how there might actually be something to it.

Then Amber B. pulled out the book she’s reading about Mother Theresa and read us a whole chapter on silence and prayer. (Before you roll your eyes at how deep I’m making us sound, just know that we’re usually talking about last weeks’ Bachelor episode or how to make the best beer flavored cheese dip.)

But I digress.

Back to Mother Theresa. It surprised me that so many of her ideas about prayer were centered around silence. I grew up as a pastor’s kid in the evangelical church, and for as long as I can remember my idea of “quiet time with God” has been built on the staunch and sturdy pillars of prayer and bible reading.

Of doing more than being.

As someone who’s tendency is to be a rule-follower, I cannot tell you what a refreshing concept it is to allow myself to simply BE with God. With no agenda, no lists, no chatter, no requests, no avoidance, no rules.

Just silence and companionship.

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I’ll be honest and tell you that it doesn’t come easily. My mind is prone to wandering, my hands to fidgeting, and my subconscious to accusing me of not doing it right.

But I’m finding that practicing silence makes room for possibility. It clears space where I need it the most- inwardly.

It creates margin. 

Margin for things like dreaming, listening, inspiration, prayer, clarity, and simply just rest. 

Even when it’s only ten minutes. Even when I spend the whole time listening to my stomach growl or chasing my thoughts down a rabbit hole. It helps to push back the noise enough for my soul to quiet and exhale.

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I’d love to hear the ways that you practice soul care when life gets full and loud. What works for you, friends?

❤️

9 thoughts on “When Your Soul Needs A Slower Pace

  1. Tammy

    This morning I was reading in Jesus Calling and the thing that stuck out to me was to say “Jesus, help me” when I am bogged down in my circumstances. Incredibly simple idea, but so powerful. I don’t have to beg, plead, recite copious amounts of prayer or scripture to get God’s attention. I am learning that sitting before God and being silent and just resting in Him is a good thing. It only took me nearly 30 years 😬😂. There is hope for everyone

  2. Lori Mehan

    So good and timely right for me right now. I find myself with no music or TV on. I’ve stopped using FB and am enjoying quiet. My mind and spirit need this rest. Thank you for sharing !

  3. KATHERINE LEVERENCE

    Thanks for this, Amber! I love your writing, your heart and your humor. I decided to take a break from FB and then last month deleted my profile. I’m happy to have the time back that I spent on there, but I’ve miss seeing you! I resonate with all of this and I too started a BUJO! I love it! Mine’s not fancy or artistic but I love having my calendar and plenty of empty pages for writing. 🙂

  4. Debbie Burdick

    I’ve used a “Today is the Day” pocket planner for the last four years. Found it by accident and was taken with its charmingly retro fonts and layout. It has just enough structure to keep me on track. (I love Bullet Journals. I have one. I just don’t know how to…well…start.) And it has margin. Lots and lots of margin. I may like margin best of all, because of its potential. All margin and no structure doesn’t work for me, nor does all structure and no margin. But your soul-care challenge? That resonates, and your timing is impeccable, and thank you for sharing not only your thoughts, but your heart, so beautifully.

  5. Carrie Rogers

    hi Amber! I’m going to be thinking about your words each time I get on social media: reason or reflex. I already know my response a majority of the time. 🙂 And Yes! I’ve been practicing silent companionship for about a year, and it’s changed the pace of my days. I also like to start my days with “What shall we do today Jesus?” This simple prayer helps me to align my heart and mind to His agenda instead of my own. Great post!

  6. Sue Tell

    YES!!!
    What book about Mother Theresa?

    Perhaps I’ll put learning those new places on line that are going to save me so much time (really?) off for at least a month … or never!

    Sign up for my blog and I’m giving away my little “quiet time” practice outline … it includes silence.

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