Like many people, I have a tendency to rush around trying to pack things in, one after the other. A typical weekday might include a full day of teaching, an hour of work on a freelance assignment, a trip to the gym where I fit in 40 minutes of reading (God bless the elliptical), some work on my current writing project, cooking or cleaning up dinner (Josh and I switch off), and maybe an episode or two of our current favorite show before collapsing into bed and starting all over again the next day.
It all seems so important. Until you’re forced to slow down.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the NESCBWI Whispering Pines retreat. Picture acres of pines (whispering or silent in the melting snow), cozy lodges warmed by fires, and hours of friendly conversation in the company of new writing friends. Each day began with a series of panels and presentations by the remarkable faculty, including agents John Cusick, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and Erin Murphy, and editors Mallory Kass, Sylvie Frank, and Kendra Levin. After lunch on Friday we splintered into smaller groups, attending informal group critiques or meeting one-on-one with our mentor about our work. For a whole weekend I focused on nothing but writing and children’s books and other people who feel the same way about them as I do, and it was glorious. I came back refreshed and full of ideas to strengthen my current WIP. (It didn’t hurt that spring break started that same weekend.)
Then, on Tuesday, I had some minor surgery on my wrist that I’d been putting off and really needed to have done. I’m recovering well, but I’ve had to curtail a lot of my regular activities in order to heal. The first few days I mainly read, and yesterday my biggest accomplishment was getting outside for a walk (tying your shoes with one hand isn’t the easiest thing in the world). My body’s tired, telling me to slow down, and I’ve been trying to listen to it. That means accepting help from friends and family, too, no matter how self-sufficient I wish I could be.
So in the past week I’ve been slowing down, in more ways than one. First out of desire, pausing to focus on nothing but writing and craft and books. Then out of necessity, pausing to do only the most manageable, low-key activities that will help me heal. And I’m finding that despite minor physical frustrations, plus the nagging sense that I could be doing more, this full stop is helping me find my equilibrium again.