Month:

July, 2012

24 Jul 2012, by

Speed Demon

Last Day on Set - Exhausted, but Happy!

Last Day on Set – Exhausted but Happy! (photo by Ben Wong)

Thirty second stories, five second countdowns, the constant push to go live now, now, now…don’t dare trip on the way to the news set!  For twenty years, my life in tv news was dictated by increasingly short deadlines and a rush to be first.  When my mother in law once visited me, she observed a working mother with a wildly varying schedule and two young children at home, and concluded I ran around all the time with my adrenal glands wide open.  No wonder.  My children rarely saw me sit.  Some found it exhausting just to listen to my schedule.

Every few years, I had to remind myself just to stop and breathe while I was work.  All the running around in tightly altered suits and heels, trying to be and look perfect meant I literally was only taking shallow breaths, as if I were hyperventilating.  Even knowing that, it was a struggle to “waste” the time it took to allow myself a few deep breaths – unless I was multitasking.

Over the years I found I couldn’t keep up that pace.  I fell ill time after time. By the last few years I was on the job, I was so burned out that much of my time away from the office was spent simply trying to keep it together: get enough sleep, exercise and good nutrition just stay healthy and slim, in order to keep on working.   It was an unrewarding cycle for everyone. My doctor finally made me sit up and take notice.  And fate gave me a chance to change.

I’ve said this in different ways before.  There’s a reason I’m saying it again.  Apparently, it needs to be repeated…at least to me.

I’ve written about my reasons for moving to New Zealand…to slow down and reprioritize. But this move’s also allowed me, for the first time, to develop parts of myself and my life that were neglected.  Though I’ve made progress toward those goals, I’ve also learned how easy it is to fall back into step with a twenty year pattern.  I’ve signed on for more than I anticipated.

Volunteering at school and in the community, performing with a chorale, training for that walk I mentioned in my most recent blog, cooking for friends and family, and playing hostess.  All good things, all rewarding.  But when my mother left after her first visit here, she observed that I was still in a hurry most of the time.  Stressing. Only now, it was voluntary.

Not one to do exactly what my mother tells me (at least immediately)  it took some other hints before I succumbed: two dumb mistakes, only attributable to not paying close enough attention as I sped-read through texts and emails.  It was when I was trying to explain and apologize for these missteps that I finally took my mother’s words to heart, took a deep breath and tried again.

Today, I got up early to make my children’s lunches. My younger son and I covered his spelling words and my older son and I coordinated his after-school schedule. When they left to catch their respective buses, I sat down to read.  Eight years after it was published, and after promising to do so in an earlier blog, I’ve finally started to read a book called “In Praise of Slow” by Carl Honore´.  It’s about a growing movement.  Honore´ likely was one of the first to disseminate the philosophy behind “Slow Food” to a worldwide audience.  The California town in which I lived (Davis) has held “Slow Food Village Feasts” for years in a public park.  I never had time to attend.

After my reading, I took a slow walk in the rain to an exercise class.  Having fought my way back from a bad few weeks of illness, (yes that was another sign) I didn’t push.  And on the way back home (all uphill) I paused to read the signs identifying all the plants blooming in the Botanic Garden: Paper Bush, Quince, Hydrangea, Magnolia.  Daffodils are everywhere and the air is fragranced.  Now I know what I am inhaling.

As I walked, I also allowed myself to do some thinking.  Mulling over a poem I’m submitting for a competition, considering a few ideas for a talk I was asked to give to a sales force and reminding myself to edit a short story I am writing to submit to an online journal.  I picked up vitamins and coffee and listened to the shopkeepers explain their many benefits and nuances.   I learned about a natural pain reliever called MSM, and a “Robusta” bean that is much like “Arabica” but of which I’d never heard.  I even pondered the idea of submitting articles on the debate over some nutritional supplements and similarities of coffee and wine tasting.

Less than six hours had passed between the time I woke up and arrived back home.  And I didn’t rush through any of it.  I spent quality time with myself and my kids.  And I was productive.  Who would have imagined?

I would love more inspiration.  Clearly I need it…at regular intervals.  Will you share some stories with me?  I may end up talking or writing about them…spreading the message that you can wean yourself off a speed addiction.  It just may take trying to stare down the speed demon…again and again and again.

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