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The soft, gentle voice inside has grown louder and more fervent over the past several months.
Its gentle nudge has turned into a desperate plea—and it won’t shut up.
At first, I ignored it completely. There was too much to do.
I had a funeral to plan, a business to run, and kids who needed me to walk them through their first experience with grief. The idea of slowing down, at that point, was just not an option.
After all the urgent matters were tended to, I took a week off to go on vacation.
And it hurt like hell.
Slowing down and eliminating distractions made me face my own grief, and it came raging through like gasoline dumped on an open fire.
If slowing down felt like that, I decided, count me out. I’ll keep busy every second of every day for the rest of my life.
As the months passed and I settled into a more consistent routine, life seemed more normal. It felt like I was moving on and healing…but the voice was still there.
I felt annoyed and confused. Why?
I’ve always been a go-getter. Ambition, drive, and motivation are huge parts of my identity. To slow down would be to lose a part of myself. To slow down would be to give up on my goals and become lazy and worthless.
As those thoughts entered my mind, I realized how ridiculous they sounded, and how messed up it was that I equated slowing down with giving up.
This prompted some serious self-reflection, and I discovered that the ambition, drive, and motivation I’m so proud of are just more distractions. A ruse. A mask. A diversion.
Labeling myself as a “hustler” and a “workaholic” kept me solidly in those roles, with no exceptions, not even to step aside and grieve.
The belief that I had to continue maintaining those roles kept me from listening to my inner wisdom and giving myself what I desperately needed.
Why did I believe that doing those things was equal to doing nothing?
Why did I feel that slowing down and noticing the beauty of the world would reduce my worth to nothing?
Reconciling these beliefs, that so obviously were causing me harm, was one more reason to slow down, but I didn’t really need any other reason than that voice inside me asking me to do it.
Finally, I listened to that inner calling and slowed down.
Instead of setting lofty goals, marking up my planner with color-coded to-do lists, and filling my days to the brim with busyness, I’ve decided I have just one intention for the year: live fully.
To me, living fully means being present in the moment. It means savoring hot cups of coffee while gazing out the window and watching the tree branches sway in the wind.
Living fully means playing American Girl dolls and fidgets with my daughters instead of telling them I don’t have time.
Living fully means resting, reading, meditating, and soaking in hot baths.
At first, slowing down felt so indulgent and uncomfortable. But that’s only because I’d never really done it before.
Now, it feels like breathing in new life, loving myself more deeply, and plugging into a higher power.
Sometimes feelings of guilt and worthlessness creep in. How can I justify spending the afternoon listening to birds chirp while my husband is working so hard? Who am I to step away from work in the middle of the day to do yoga?
Then I hear that inner voice again:
“You were given life to live it. Live it fully.”
The soft, loving voice kindly reminds me, daily, that I am mortal and this human experience won’t last forever. Because of that, I’m motivated to make each second of my life count.
My priorities used to be achievement and productivity. Now they are peace, contentment, and presence.
I’m still figuring out how I can stay in this slower, present mode of being while tending to my responsibilities and earning a living. It’s not an easy balance.
But what I know now more than anything is this: when my inner voice gently nudges me to do something—or nothing—I’ll do it.
And I won’t make her beg me ever again.
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