Monthly Archive: October 2018

Slow Down

Originally published as a TinyLetter

I’m someone who likes to move fast. I walk fast. I talk fast. I drive fast. One of my biggest pet peeves is being stuck behind a person who is moving at a snail-like pace. I’ll even go around Darren when he’s ambling around the house, as if we’re cars on the interstate and I’m zooming by on the left. Beep beep, slowpoke!

I zip between point A and B, because why walk when you can run? Well, because moving like Speedy Gonzales gets me into trouble on the regular. For example, the countless times that I’ve:

  • misplaced an item (phone, keys, shoes…) and had to tear apart the house looking for it
  • bumped into someone or something
  • missed what was happening because I was thinking about the next thing on my To-Do list
  • skimmed an article so fast that I didn’t retain much and had to start over
  • executed a task so quickly that I made an error, or
  • tried to multitask while listening to an automated phone menu and had to listen to the whole thing again (ugggggh).

Any time you save on the front end by rushing will probably be lost down the line, and then some, with a heaping dollop of stress on top. It seems counter-intuitive to “go slow to go fast,” but if you move purposely and mindfully, you’ll be more productive in the end — and enjoy it more.

To be clear, this is NOT EASY for me. It’s the very essence of “like I always say…” because while I know it’s the wisest approach, in the moment I struggle to follow my own advice. It seems like a waste of time. And often, I feel like I have to hurry because I’m running behind.

Here’s the practice I’m working on:

1) Plan ahead.

Often, the die is cast several steps before the moment you find yourself in. Darren compares this to Llewelyn Moss taking the briefcase of money in the beginning of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men; everything that happens afterward is set into motion by that initial action. Less dramatically, this morning I was yelling at Evan to get dressed so he could get to school on time, which made him pouty and even slower-moving. If I’d put out his breakfast and his clothes earlier, we wouldn’t have been in a bind in the first place.

2) Breathe.

I’ve been stopping myself throughout the day to take a three-breath pause, which Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh advises: in and out, deep and slow. It’s especially useful as a transition from one activity to another, like moving from my car to the office in the morning, or as a buffer between a stimulus (e.g. my kids’ tantrums) and my response. Breathing slows down your nervous system and puts distance between what happens and how you react to it. It allows you to make a conscious choice instead of an automatic one, which can prevent you from freaking out or lashing out.

3) Remind yourself that you might rush yourself into a mess that creates hassle and heartache.

If you road-rage your way to a meeting and arrive on time but wound up and frazzled, or if you get into an accident on the way, you’ll end up doing more damage than if you’re a few minutes late.

Besides saving yourself time, stress, and damage control, slowing down lets you actually enjoy what you’re experience instead of barreling through it to get to your next destination. Lately, I’ve slowed down enough to observe my kids while they’re playing together and really take in how incredible these little humans are. At the suggestion of Elizabeth Craft and Gretchen Rubin from the Happier podcast, I’m consciously staying present as I enjoy my first cup of coffee in the morning, and as I sink into bed at night and feel the coolness of the sheets on my skin. This habit guarantees that I bookend my day with gratitude.

In the timeless words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

what’s fueling me


I haven’t seen A Star Is Born yet (soon!!), but I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on loop. My “recently played” feed is pretty much all “Maybe It’s Time” (written by Jason Isbell), and “Shallow” (Lady Gaga’s voice gives me goosebumps). I’ve been learning both on the guitar and am just obsessed.

A splash of Nestle Coffee-Mate’s Natural Bliss in my coffee starts my day with a little treat. It’s real cream and milk with sugar, and the flavored options use real-food ingredients. I can’t wait to try the seasonal Pumpkin Spice and Dark Chocolate Peppermint flavors.

One of my favorite things in this world is Zumba, a group dance class that combines hip-hop, Bhangra, Latin, and more, and I still long for the pre-children days when I went to class three times a week. The next best thing to class is Zumba at home, via playlists on YouTube (here’s my favorite). The kids love to join me, which is fun but also challenging because 27-pound Avery wants me to carry her on my hip the whole time. She laughs and laughs as I spin her around, and at least my arms get a workout.

Find Beauty in the Face of Ugliness

Originally published as a TinyLetter

Last weekend, it felt like everything was chaos. The car was in the shop for wheel bearing damage, thanks to the wealth of potholes in Jackson, and a dead battery. A leaky section of the roof needed replacing, so a crew noisily worked away on it for most of the day. (Neither of these repairs was cheap.) Meanwhile, the Senate went ahead and confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in spite of knowing exactly what kind of person he is.

My soul felt tired.

After picking up the car, I sat in the driver’s seat with the kids in the back, waiting for Darren to join me so we could all go to dinner and rescue an otherwise draining day.

The live broadcast of Austin City Limits happened to be on the radio, and I heard Brandi Carlile’s voice. She’s one of my new favorite artists, and this felt like a little gift from the universe.

Introducing her song “The Mother,” a gorgeous tribute to becoming a parent, she addressed “what we’ve done today to the Supreme Court” that could affect her family; she’s married to a woman, and they have two young children. She said that although same-sex couples have won significant victories in recent years, “progress is not a one-way street. We shouldn’t think what we’ve done is final.”

She urged people to vote in November and introduced her band, twin brothers whom she’s been playing with for nearly two decades. Together, they performed “The Joke,” a song for “unloved, unaccepted, unnatural or illegal” citizens. They sang in three-part harmony, and the crowd sang with them.

Overwhelmed by this beauty in the face of such ugliness, I felt the tears begin to flow. They were tears of disappointment and anger over what’s happening right now in our country, but also of gratitude for good-hearted people like Brandi Carlile and the crowd who lifted their voices to meet hers. Listening to them sing, in spite of it all, renewed my hope.

Even when I’m deeply disillusioned by humanity, I believe in my heart that the forces of love will win out over fear, evil, and greed. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It’s hard to see that arc while we’re in the thick of it. But I hope that our children will look back at this period of history as a turning point, a time when we changed things for good.

So how do we keep from desparing in the meantime? We speak out. We sing. We gather strength together. We savor moments of beauty, kindness, and art to renew our energy for the next fight. We don’t give up until we vote these mofos out. And eventually, even if it’s slower and more costly than it should be, goodness will prevail.

what’s fueling me

Evan loves the Justin Timberlake song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” He’ll be hanging out in the living room when he’s suddenly inspired to hear it. He’ll say to the Amazon Echo, “Alexa, play ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling,'” which means everyone stops what they’re doing and joins in the impromptu family dance party. Even Avery, at 2 years old, knows what to do when that song plays. It’s impossible not to laugh when all of us are jumping and spinning around like loons.

I’m loving Spotify’s Daily Mix, a set of playlists that combine my favorite songs with recommendations based on what I like.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s post about her 11-year-old godson creating a piece of art to help him find courage in a scary new situation has stuck with me. She wrote, “I happen to believe that my brave and beautiful godson, as he drew this, was merely taking dictation from the divine. I believe that this mantra — ‘you are safe, you are safe, you are safe’ — is the sound of the universe breathing. Every mystic who has ever entered a transcendental state comes back with this same message to report: ‘You are safe.'”