August 31, 2018

The art of taking time

I was in France last week, earning continuing education credits for my interior design license. Yes, you read that right, credits. But before you get lost in thoughts of escargot, fois gras and cheese, let me tell you that this was more. It was an art, antiques and architectural tour and as fate would have it, only my husband Philip and I signed up for it. So we had a fabulous French tour guide and the sanctuary treasures of south France basically to ourselves. Magical? Decidedly.

We saw ruins, museums, immersive art experiences, wineries, quaint hotels and cafes, historic buildings, chateaus and castles, and more pigeons than you can imagine. It was truly a glorious week. We ended up in Paris for a few days, sans guide, so we could do a bit of celebrating (yes, still dragging out the last possible breath out of that milestone birthday) before we headed back to Florida. On those last days in Paris, I finally had time to reflect a bit and realized something. The French have mastered an important life skill. An eloquent truth. A certain…je ne sais quoi.

I call it the Art of Taking Time.

And they really do. They take time to cook the delicious meal. To make the homemade sauce. To sit down and enjoy their lunch. To rest a bit before they dig back into work. To stroll and chat and linger over a particularly good cup of coffee. They take time to actually weave stalks of fresh lavender together with ribbon to make homemade sachets. Well, not everyone does that but watching a woman do that along the sidewalk in a small village really gave me a pause. I could see this was a labor of love for her. She was so happy when I paused to notice and give an appreciative sniff. During a weekday, I saw people around midday actually sitting and relaxing in a public garden before heading back to work. I do not see this where I live. Now admittedly, it’s also 400 degrees in the shade of Florida summertime right now, but still. You know what I mean.

I lingered over lunch when I was there, but I was on vacation. Of course you linger when you’re on vacation. But during my normal workday? I rush around like a banshee on a broom and gobble a few bites of a semi-creepy salad, or worse — a handful of peanut butter filled pretzels because I feel too pressed for time to even order myself something to eat.

What is that? Why don’t I take the time to sit and enjoy a few minutes? To breathe and calm down? I am afraid that somehow, despite my belief system and my efforts to stay aware of it, busy has become a lifestyle for me.

It was interesting, the languid feeling of intentionally moving slower. Taking the time. I wondered if I would be able to bring it home with me. I’ve only been back one day, and there is a holiday weekend starting tomorrow, so there is hope! But the question remains — how do I hold onto this understanding? How do I not get caught up in the rush and habit of being busy?

I suspect the answer lies in my morning ritual, my meditation practice and simply returning to this awareness over and over and over until it becomes as natural to me as breathing. Not hair-on-fire panting, BREATHING.

I’ll let you know how I do. But tell me, how do you stay away from the trap of busy? I’d love to hear. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

With gratitude (the slow-release kind of course),


Logo flourish

2 responses to “The art of taking time”

  1. Kathy Stafford says:

    This subject is so important! I can be sitting and doing nothing, but my mind is running around without me. It is a constant struggle to be still. My spiritual practice in the morning and evening, and checking in throughout the day, is my saving grace.
    Thank you Lisa!

  2. I have worked on this a long time. Since having broken my neck and had to spend 6 months in bed, learning how to control ones’s Mind became pretty important. Now, I really enjoy the bed that that tragedy built, and I retire there before sleep to relax, read, enjoy my sanctuary before and after sleep. In fact, I am there now, taking time to read my prayer books, and to enjoy posts like yours, as I rest and slowly awaken with my ultra green juice, my latte, & my water. I simply do not answer the phone nor leave my sanctuary until I am ready, fulfilled, nurtured.

    When my mind starts to wind up and the guys and girls on my shoulders begin telling me what to do, what I did not do, I tell them to go to sleep, I pray for God’s sweet sleep, and I give those things to Him….I refer to my calendar, and then I forget it until the reminders come through. I try to drain my mind before sleep, by relaxing, allowing my body to unwind, and gently go into a deep and uninterrupted sleep. I pray a lot that my weaknesses, fragility, memory, creativity, and the ability to accomplish is in His hands, and I give it up.

    Of course, occasionally even with practice I get wrought up or over booked, and then I return to my daily readers. They always seem to put me in my place! And then I start again..until I feel I am ready to greet the world out there.

    Long ago, someone called it lazy, but for me, it’s a necessity. I rest in my great big pillows, with a huge one in my lap to hold my various books or electronics I want to have access to without getting up. My kindle is on the bed, my phone is under the last pillow, my prayer books and ipad are on my lap. I gain so much from those Daily readings, and from sharing them as well. It takes me through the day. I don’t take calls til I am ready, and sometimes that’s 11:02 as it is now. My phone stays on DND from 8 pm til 10 am, and instructions are to text in emergencies, so in one look, I can tell if I need to respond quickly. In fact, it rang as I was writing to you, Lisa, and I declined the call. A text dropped in and I will call back when I am ready. Thank you for inspiring us to take time. Its’ really all we have.

    I look at the gulf, and listen to it. Today I am watching it rain. It’s so beautiful to see the Lord cleanse the earth, and to know I can go sit or walk with all that nature when I want. I love France, history, architecture. The tour you spoke of speaks to me…the singular experiences, but I am no longer a crowd sharer, preferring smaller tables with fewer dining friends, to get to know and hear and laugh and form lifelong relationships.

    I live in a resort, a pretty big and busy one, with more than one could ever do, and sometimes I just don’t. I enjoy the landscapes I have collected, the beauty of my grand angels faces on my walls, and the silence. It levels me out, and it inspires me.

    Having worked and travelled for 52 years, I no longer feel selfish by not answering the telephone, or declining an invitation to something fun or expected. Loving myself, and enjoying me is as fun as having time with friends and family, and I enjoy both, just not every day, every moment.

    I used to be a planner, a real financial planner whom planned for everyday, every moment, every client and so on. It was extremely hard to stop that…to stop planning ahead for every moment! Now, I ask God what our day will be. He makes my plans. The only interruption to that are pre made Dr. appointments, and sometime I cancel those if I am not ready to go. Funny, but I love the beauty of home, the beach, and I enjoy the voyages, adventures, developments, designs, and achievements of all my friends and clients through eyes like yours, Lisa, through photos and laughter and shared times.

    Thanks for writing.

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