Apr 17

Slow Living: What We Have Time for

For me, slow living is all about figuring out exactly what it is that you have time for.

As I write this, I should be grading. Hell, before I started writing this, I was walking the dog. And during the time I was walking the dog, I should’ve been grading too. I’m a college instructor. There are precious few hours in the day when I shouldn’t be grading.

Slow Living: What We Have Time For

And as a writer, there are precious few hours in the day when I shouldn’t be writing. Even if I count every idea scribbled on a Post-It, every notebook bleeding ink, Word Docs filled with rambling prose, and every last stolen minute I took to write, I still wouldn’t write enough.

But that’s the thing of it, isn’t it? Whatever we do isn’t enough, and we always feel like we’re running out of time.

Whatever we do isn't enough, and we always feel like we're running out of time. Click To Tweet

I had this thought on the dog walk, and knew I needed to get home and write it.

For me, I don’t feel like there aren’t enough days left in my life. I’m 31, which is relatively young. I do worry about the hours in the day, though. How is it already 3 PM? How did Tuesday pass me by? I swear, I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. Even though I still feel like there is plenty of time left in my life, I can easily see how it’s all slipping away, and getting me to a point where there won’t be enough time.

So I slow down. I don’t wish days away. I don’t live for deadlines or benchmarks. And even though I feel like I should be further in my career right now, I’m very content with where my life is.

I think we all see what’s possible and we want it immediately. We all see what others were able to accomplish with relatively little time, and we think we should do that too.

I definitely used to feel that way. I’ve been slowing down a lot lately. I’m obsessed with slow living, especially as I see others scrambling their way through life.

(Slow living, for those who don’t trawl the blogosphere/podcastosphere for content about how to take a chill pill, is living life at a slower pace. It’s taking a step back and enjoying life. It’s refusing to be manic, even when every other aspect of daily life would have you believe that you need to keep up. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend checking out The Art of Simple and No Sidebar.)

I’ve stepped back and realized that I’m supposed to be here. I am embracing the marathon mindset, because I know everything is a slow burn. I’m making time for picnics. I’m saying no to things I don’t need. I’m creating space to breathe when the rest of the world is underwater. I refuse to choose busy. I’m setting my own agenda. I’m living my own damn life, y’all.

This got me to thinking about the things I value, and the things I have time for. It made me realize that the only reason I want to be further in my career is because I want writing to be the day job, not the side hustle. It made me realize that I’ve been valuing that paycheck and health benefits more than I have the very thing I was meant to do with my life.

And while I can’t very well quit my day job (unless some rich benefactor wants to pay for my existence while I hole up in my house and write my butt off), I can focus more on what I have time for.

Even though I know what I want, I haven’t made time for it. I have, however, made time for Netflix, fast food, too much social media, and Tetris. I’m shocked by how much time I’ve spent zoning out while staring at the TV, or poisoning my body with garbage or just scrolling through my phone, or just rotating those little tetrominos. (That free app is killer. I’ll delete it, but add it one afternoon when I want to shut my brain off — usually after grading like a fiend. If there’s a way to completely block an app from your phone, I’d love to know because I don’t have that level of willpower.)

Even though I’m not happy I’ve spent time doing that, I know why I have. It’s easy to shut down your brain. It’s easy to zone out. It’s easy to consume. But that’s the thing about slow living. It’s hard. It’s deliberate. It’s focused.

For me, slow living is figuring out everything that is important and vital to my existence, and letting the other things fall away.

This realization is one thing, taking action is another.

So for today, I’m starting. I’m taking stock of the things I have time for.

I have time to write. I have time for Chris. I have time for family. I have time for dog walks. I have time for daydreaming. I have time for deep conversations about magic and spirituality. I have time to listen to my favorite records over and over and over. I have time to read poems in the middle of the day because that’s what I need to do. I have time to cook a meal made of real food that won’t put me in the hospital or give me a heart attack.

I’ve been taking stock of privilege lately. I have benefited immensely from the privileges I possess. And yet, I’ve operated as if everything I have will someday be taken away from me. I’ve been overly hungry. I’ve been like Smaug the Dragon laying on my hoard. I’ve been manic. I’ve believed that I needed to work myself to death. I’ve believed that I don’t have time to take care of myself. I’ve believed that I needed all the things that were being sold to me.

This is all fairly woo woo and vague. But if you’re here, then I have to believe that 1.) you know that’s who I am and what I write about, and 2.) you’re here for that.

I’m here for that too. This is what I have time for.

Slow living is what I have time for. Click To Tweet

P.S. The whole time I was writing this, Non-Stop from Hamilton was running through my head.

Have you ever stepped back and wanted to slow down? Why do you write like you’re running out of time? What do you have time for?

Oct 16

Why I Can’t Walk My Pit Bull Anymore

Rosie the pit bull and her soccer ball

Yesterday after work, I took Rosie for a quick walk through our neighborhood. Regardless of how many times I put her leash on her, every single time I reach for it, it’s literally the best moment of her life. Seriously, she’s that excited EVERY SINGLE TIME. And that’s fine. I’d like to be able to get that excited about walking, but I pretty much only exhibit that kind of excitement when Chris asks if I want to order a pizza.

Anyway, our neighborhood is a loop, so it’s easy to do a quick walk and wind up right back where we started. So we set off west until we hit the curve and turned south.

It’s worth noting here that the curve is where Rosie, my sweet angel of a pit bull-beagle-boxer mix “sexts” her boyfriend. I mean, not really because she doesn’t have a phone. But there is one specific spot on that curve where she pees every single time. And I like to think she pees there, and then some boy dog leaves her a message back. And since kids don’t pass notes anymore like we did in the 1990s, I’m sure she must be sexting.

After making her mark, we continued around the curve and headed back east. Then, rather than take the full loop around our neighborhood, I picked a street covered in shady trees and we headed back north. And that’s when we came upon Rosie’s playdate.

I had seen him before, since he’s always in the front yard without a leash. He’s definitely a mix breed. If I had to guess, I’d say he is part pit bull, part pony keg. Seriously, this dog is a barrel on four, short legs. And he growls VICIOUSLY.

Now, Rosie is a pit bull, amongst other things, so I make an effort not to judge other pit bulls. In my experience, pits aren’t mean. In fact, they are cuddle beasts. But let’s be real. You have no idea how other people are raising their dogs, and there is a demographic of dog owners who purchase pit bulls for all the wrong reasons.

So, as he growled louder and louder, Rosie tackled him. And that was that. Because they just played like two furry goobers. I wanted to have a panic attack, but I didn’t have to. Luckily, little pit keg is just as good-natured as Rosie. And I wish the story ended there with me and Rosie going home after a fun little wrestle, and pit keg staying at his house. But it didn’t end there, because I got to meet pit keg’s owner.

I looked up and saw pit keg’s owner smilling and walking my way from his garage. On the wall in the garage were no less than two rebel flags, one of which had an AR-15 screenprinted on it with the phrase “If you want it, come and take it.”

Naturally, I assumed he was going to murder me.

“Trigger! Did you find yourself a friend?” He asked as his dog rolled on the ground while Rosie continually tackled him. (She doesn’t know when to quit.)

Of course this man would name a perfectly adorable and sweet pit keg “Trigger.” It’s also worth noting that this man was wearing jeans, black shoes, no shirt, and a hand gun in a holster on his hip. (If you haven’t mentally filled in the blanks with a terrible farmer’s tan and patchy mustache, please do so now.) I don’t know a single person who gets home from work and makes sure they have their open carry weapon on them as they chat with the neighbors, but this dude did.

Anyway, I’m telling you all this because I can’t walk my dog anymore. At least, I can’t walk Rosie in our neighborhood. Because Mr. No Shirt Handgun Farmer’s Tan Creepy Stache wants me to bring Rosie over any time so she can play with Trigger. (Can I rename Trigger something better, like Hector or Buff? He’s not a Trigger.) And if I have to have another conversation with him, there’s a big chance that I’ll ask him if he insists on adorning his person and his home with symbols of over-the-top masculinity because his dick is that small.

And that’s not really something you ask someone with a gun, now is it?