When I moved to Austin, I was struck by the slow pace of life. The summers make every activity languid or halted – crowds of people stand and sit drowsily in fancy complex pools, linger over their melting frozen drinks, and skip afternoon runs in exchange for naps in front of fans.
Lately, I find myself frustrated with the slowness in my life. I’m ever-so-slowly modifying my activity and diet habits. It takes me approximately 10 years to write a blog post or read a book. Most of all, I’m frustrated with the halting start-stop of self-care progress: one giant step forward, two baby steps (ice cream cones) back.
Don’t get me wrong, my heart still races. There’s this feeling I get when two major parts of my personality crash into each other: anxiousness and playfulness. I get it when I’m power walking from the bus stop to work at 6.45 am to make sure I can leave early for an event. I get it when I’m waiting for a friend I haven’t seen in years at arrivals in Austin-Bergstrom. I get it, non-stop, during the music portion of SXSW. And lately, I get it at 5 pm, when I arrive home and I see that beautiful beacon, my tiny oval shaped pool, staring back at me, and I know there are dishes in the sink, plants to be watered, and poop to be scooped. My relaxed Austin attitude is replaced by a heart-pounding feeling of FOMO and immediacy.
Leave it to me to be anxious about fun.
I’ve been pondering a piece of self-care advice about slowing down that I got from the inimitable Zelda. She says:
When I really don’t feel like cleaning/doing tasks that will make my tomorrow better, I do the thing(s) and count to 100 aloud. Sometimes when I hit 100 I go okay cool fuck this and sometimes I have momentum and can do more.
Yesterday, I got home in the beautiful, temperate (for Austin in July) 95 degree heat and all I could do was picture me on my mac-n-cheese-colored float, sipping a seltzer. I debated if I’d wear my tropical swimsuit or my other tropical swimsuit as I turned the key in the lock. I opened the door and saw litter on the floor, dishes on the counter, a full dishwasher, and shoes everywhere. Shopping bags obscured my beautiful mac-n-cheese float. That SXSW flutter in my heart that tells me (Aerosmith voice) “I don’t wanna miss a thing” began to rise up in me.
I remembered two things in this moment: Zelda’s advice for slowing down and Caroline’s note that it usually only takes one song to unload a dishwasher. I imagined myself putting off the tasks until after the pool, and then after the pool wanting to take another drive in the relaxi taxi, putting it all off to tomorrow. So I decided to be an adult.
I counted to 30 (I do not have the attention span of Zelda) and felt my momentum rise. In the span of 15, count em, 15 minutes, I watered Nicole’s plants, my succulents, made sure all the dishes were where dishes live, made the floors look like humans are in charge of cats and not vice versa, and put the shoes in a new pile, this time in my closet. It wasn’t so bad.
The moral of the story is, I conquered that panicky fun-anticipating feeling and was actually able to have unadulterated fun because I slowed down – what a concept. I slow cook, I slow walk, I slow shower, so why wouldn’t I slow fun down a little bit?