Time to See

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time.” Georgie O’Keefe

Less than two weeks until Christmas and the pace of everything has ratcheted up about twenty notches. Everyone’s lists are full with thousands of things to do before the holiday as time escapes them. Yet this is the season full of small wonders that if we slow down as Georgia O’Keefe suggests, we can see, enjoy, and experience more fully. 

I’m an avid walker typically walking anywhere from 2-5 miles a day at a good clip. Right before Thanksgiving, I injured myself and haven’t been able to go for a power walk since. When I do walk, I now move at a much slower pace. My main exercise has been stretching to allow the injury to heal.

This shift in pace over the last few weeks has been challenging. I saw this forced “slowing down” as a frustrating setback, but I’m trying to approach it as an opportunity to reflect and learn. I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with the pace, but it has given me space to see that I need to practice the following skills:

  • Patience: As I sat stretching slowly one day, I realized why I like walking as a form of exercise - I’m an impatient person. Walking requires no setup, equipment, etc. I can do it anytime, anywhere. I just put on my sneakers and my headphones and go. That’s good because I can do it even when we travel. But my impatience limited me from exploring other forms of exercise. I go for fast and easy. As a result, I’m pretty sure that’s why I injured myself - because I didn’t use enough of my other muscle groups. So, now I’m trying to enjoy slowing down, stretching, and strengthening new muscles. I've also been thinking about what other forms of exercise I can add to my routine once I’m healed.
  • Asking for Help: For the first week after it happened, I thought I could fix myself. I’ve pulled muscles before - no big deal. So I switched from walking to doing yoga and went about my business trying to convince myself it was getting better. When in fact, I probably made it worse. Finally, after two weeks, I accepted I couldn’t fix it and got help. I went to the doctor and realized I was wrong in my assessment. People close to me had been trying to offer me help in that time that was aligned with the doctor’s advice, but I wasn’t asking for it or willing to hear it. Now I know I need to ask sooner and listen.
  • New Routines: Walking has been such a part of my daily routine for years that it left me a little lost at first. But I'm now realizing that it's an opportunity to freshen up my habits. Last week, I decided to try a few social media free mornings. I switched up what time of day I do the stretches, eat meals, and when I meditate. It’s been a fun reason to play around with routine. I haven’t found anything new that I love yet, but still playing. And as O’Keefe states, things take time.

Which brings us back to the quote. I’ve always loved O’Keefe’s work and recently went to an exhibit of her work at our local art museum where I saw this quote displayed. Of course, I thought about pairing it with a flower since they were the subject of much of her work. But then, I remembered this image and thought about what could be seen when looking closely at rocks. There used to be a rock formation in New Hampshire called the Old Man in the Mountain which appeared to be the jagged profile of a face. When I took this picture, I saw two profiles of creatures coming up out of the water. You may not see it, but maybe you see something else. Take a moment. What do you see?

What could slowing down give you the space to practice and stay open to experiencing this holiday season?