Slowing Down

Photography: Katherine Heise

By Megan Stonelake

I’m officially renaming this autumn, “The Season of the Endless Cold.” We’ve been sick almost continuously for about two months, and it has really thrown a wrench in our regular routine. We’re constantly holed up in the house and missing our regular outings with friends. Our current cold kept us home from yet another play date this week. It was the last straw.

“We have to get out of this house,” I told my five-year-old. We’d spent too much time on the couch watching TV; enough was enough. He suggested we take a hike in our favorite woods, and I agreed.

Since we were both still nursing a cough, we took it easy. We meandered, we observed, and we talked. We took our time. We spent a solid ten minutes watching a deer eat grass near the trail. At one point my five-year-old stopped in his tracks to listen to the wind in the trees. He just wanted to take it all in.

I had to consciously make the choice not to rush things along or get impatient. I followed his lead and chose to just be present.

I work really hard to live mindfully. As a therapist, I know practicing mindfulness can reduce stress and encourage healthier self-talk. Practicing mindfulness is also positively correlated with empathy and compassion. Mindfulness can even make us more effective parents. I’m for mindfulness. I work hard at it, but it will always be a struggle for me.

Yet here was my small child living it so effortlessly and with rapture. I had to consciously make the choice not to rush things along or get impatient. I followed his lead and chose to just be present. In doing so, we created one of my favorite memories.

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