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A side effect of slowing down

I’m not a swimmer.  So I apologize to those who are, as this analogy many not be perfectly articulated.  If while swimming, the current is strong or there are lots of waves or you have been swimming for a long time and are getting tired; you turn your focus to staying afloat.  You don’t worry about if the strokes are perfect (or even if you are doing an official swimming stroke), if you look ‘pretty’, or even if you are really getting anywhere.   In these situations and at these times, you just make sure you don’t drown.  But in calmer waters, or when you have more energy, or when you haven’t been swimming for hours; then as you swim you might think about how you are kicking your feet, if you are swimming in a straight line, what is in the water beside you, etc..  It’s when you “slow down” (or you change the environment around you) that you can focus on what you are doing and the world around you.

It’s been almost 2 months since I reduced the hours I spend at work (by this I mean my official, out-side the home, paid job).  This was a change I welcomed and was excited about.  I’m still happy to be working few hours each week.  The positive side effect of this change is that I feel less rushed overall in my life, have time to explore new activities, and am spending more time connecting with the people who are important to me.  In keeping with the swimming analogy, you could say the waters are calmer and I don’t constantly feel like I’m treading water.

A more challenging side effect of this change is that I have more time to reflect on so many things.  I have more capacity to notice and reflect on my interactions with others, the choices I am making, the way I respond to various situations, the emotional wake I may leave with my words (and in many cases what I’m noticing is not always positive).   And given that I have more capacity and more time these days, that means I can’t give my self any excuses or let myself off the hook.  It means I need to try and do better.  It means I need to try and be better.  It appears I need to start changing my swimming strokes.  And hence the challenge.  This is a side effect of slowing down that I had not anticipated.

 

hiking – change of plans

Due to the unpredictable weather forecast these past few days, we made some changes to our hiking plans.  We had originally planned on hiking for two days (Monday and Tuesday) and finishing up the Beaver Valley section of the trail (near Markdale).  But the risk of thunderstorms resulted in some changes.  Instead we choose to hike only 1 day (Monday), and so with this change, also changed the hiking location.

We spent a beautiful, hotter than expected, Monday hiking through parts of the Dundas Valley and then into the west end of Hamilton.  While we had been to the Dundas Valley to hike several times in the past, perhaps our recent hiking pattern of being on less traveled sections of the Bruce Trail, caused to forget how well maintained and “easy” the trails are through the Conservation area.  The first portion of yesterday’s hike was on wide, gravel packed trails.  No worries about roots, no worries about brushing against poison ivy, no long grass with the risk of ticks.  All these positive features, also means there were lots of people, bikes, dogs, and babies.  We were out of the habit of seeing people when we hike.

A highlight of the hike was meeting a couple of hikers who were from Vancouver.  They had come to Ontario just to do the Bruce Trail. It was day 7 of there month long of hiking.  We celebrated that they identified us as fellow “hikers” (vs dog walkers – their words).

It was a beautiful day for a hike.  And today while I write this and look out my window at the gray, overcast, sky that looks like rain, I’m happy with our decision to only do one day.

The photo below is of Sherman Falls – which is visible from the trail, but apparently privately owned.  Thanks to the waterfalls owners for letting the trail pass by this beautiful site.

The Beaver Valley

We did some hiking on Friday and Saturday.  Well 27.2 km to be more specific.  There is a section of the Bruce Trail where the trail goes south along the Beaver Valley and then turns north and goes along the west side of the Beaver Valley.  We are now hiking along the west side.  While it’s kind of neat to look out over the valley and see the places we hiked and looked out on the east side; it also feels like we have been in hiking in this part of the province for a long time.  We are starting to feeling like Flesherton regulars.

The sections we hiked on Friday and Saturday we a mix of roads, fields, grass lands, wooded areas, wet areas, and hills.  So I guess you could say a good representation of the entire trail.  And our feet and muscles are feeling it.   And despite some other challenges, we focused on the fact that the weather was perfect for hiking.  To keep that positive feeling going, we choose to only do 2 days of hiking and not hike on Sunday as we had originally planned.  When we have a moment when we aren’t sure about our decisions to hike (or in this case not to hike), we remind ourselves that this is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.  We like hiking and we liking hiking the Bruce Trail, and we are happy be working towards our goal of doing the entire trail.  But we no longer feel obsessed with doing as much as we can, as quickly as we can.

And perhaps there is the wisdom from these couple of days on the trail.  To quote Linda from one point during our Saturday morning “Sometimes you hike up a mountain when you don’t need to”.  I wasn’t sure of the life lesson at the time, but now I think perhaps the learning in that statement is that it’s not about doing as much as you can, as quickly as you can; sometimes it’s just being not about achieving.

The waterfall where we had lunch on Friday.  There was a newly built deck with benches here.  And so even though we had only begun hiking 7 minutes before we got to here, we stopped to have lunch and enjoy the view.

I think perhaps I took pictures of these red roofed buildings from the other side as well. The ridge in the background is the East part of the trail, just north of Old Baldy.

we’ve all got them

Again passing on some deep thoughts from Seth Godin…  Some of his blogs just need to be shared.

 

Pre-existing conditions.

We all have them.

By the time we get this far, we’ve got bangs and bruises, things that don’t work quite right, experiences that have shaped us, sometimes for the worse.

It’s starts early. We’re all born with them and into them. Sometimes we get lucky and we’re surrounded by positive role models and people who believe in us, and other times we’re stuck in an uphill climb that’s unfair and unproductive.

But we all have them.

And all we can do is wrestle with them the best we’re able. And realize that everyone else has them too, and give them the support they deserve.

Lean In

What do you need to “lean into” right now?

Maybe it’s a project, maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s trying that activity or hobby you always wanted to try.  It can be easy to make justifications (aka excuses) for not leaning in, for staying on the edge, for maintaining the status quo in a relationship (even when the status quo isn’t great).

Leaning in, will likely result in change, change in yourself, change in others, change in your work or home or neighbourhood.  Change can be scary.  But nothing gets better without change.

So lean in, and see what happens.

move too fast

I’m working to embrace the moments in life that show me that I “move too fast”.

Moments like having slow car ahead of me on the Town Line (for those of you not from the “GTA”, the Town Line is the 2 lane road I take to get pretty much every where I might be going which is often used by slower moving vehicles), the traffic back up that causes me to stop when I drive home from work, and cancelled flights (that end up being cancelled again).

I’m working to embrace these types of moments and not be frustrated by them.

I’m working to embrace them because The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) by Paul Simon is frequently playing in my head.

“Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy”

To help me embrace these moments, I sing the song during them.

(FYI – until just now when I googled them, I thought the lyric was “got to make the moment last”, I’m going to keep singing it that way)

Slow down, you move too fast….

 

 

deep thoughts on a Friday night

“The difference between who you are now and who you were five years ago is largely due to how you’ve spent your time along the way.”

With that in mind, how are you going to spend your time over the next 5 years?