One of my goals this year was to sit down and do more reading. I used to read so many books as a child that my parents had to give me a monthly book budget and I never came short of spending all my money. These were all supplemented by library books available in the stacks. I carried bags around with me from a very young age not to stow fake lipsticks and barrettes but to tote along my current read. The practice continued on through adolescence and into my adult years where it became less frequent to find a novel or collection of short stories nestled amongst my coin purse and checkbook.
When I think back over my life, my most trusted companions have been paper ones. They challenged me to learn more, to think harder and they brought me to new places where I was able to meet the most interesting people. Books brought an expansion to my vocabulary, carried me to foreign lands and inspired me to be a strong, self-assured, independent woman.
Somewhere along the way, reading moved from second nature to second hand. These days I’m lucky if I get through a few books a year which pales in comparison to the stacks that would pile up in corners of my childhood bedroom. It’s a problem I’ve wanted to remedy for a few reasons. One of which is that I can feel my attention span shrinking day by day. The age of iPhones, laptops and Netflix has challenged the way my brain has functioned for my entire life in just a few years.
The first time I noticed this, I was sitting in the doctor’s office (as one does for the umteenth time as a pregnant lady) and I couldn’t even bring myself to read a magazine article. I preferred scrolling through my phone again and again: Instagram, Facebook, Email, repeat. The constant scrolling confused my psyche into believing it was being entertained when in reality, I was just running myself in circles. One 45 second phone check in the 15 minute wait would suffice, leaving 14 minutes to learn something new. Nothing earth shattering, but something. Even if it was just who People Magazine deemed “best dressed” during award season- I was missing out on learning something.
For my birthday in February, I made a wish list mostly comprised of books. I had a craving to learn so I carefully browsed Amazon for titles that I felt might bring a little lift to my search for knowledge. I set my love for novels aside as I curated a list of cookbooks, parenting books and memoirs. Among the titles was Erin Loechner’s Chasing Slow. And while I did admittedly enjoyed seeing the soft aesthetic of the book in my Instagram feed day after day, I was captivated by first of all the title and second of all the the description on the back of the book:
“You’re here, but you want to be there.
So you spend your life narrowing this divide, and you call this your race, your journey, your path. You live your days tightening your boot straps, wiping the sweat from your brow, chasing undiscovered happiness just around the bend. Higher! Faster! Better! Stronger!
And on and on you run.
Viral sensation and HGTV.com star Erin Loechner knows about the chase. Before turning 30, she’d built a fan base of one million women worldwide and earned the title “The Nicest Girl Online” as she was praised for her authentic voice and effortless style. The New York Times applauded her, her friends and church admired her, and her husband and baby adored her.
She had arrived at the ultimate destination.
So why did she feel so lost?
In Chasing Slow, Erin turns away from fast and fame and frenzy. Follow along as she blazes the trail toward a new-fashioned lifestyle—one that will refresh your perspective, renew your priorities, and shift your focus to the journey that matters most. Through a series of steep climbs—her husband’s brain tumor, bankruptcy, family loss, and public criticism—Erin learns just how much strength it takes to surrender it all, and to veer right into grace.
Life’s answers are not always hidden where they seem. It’s time to venture off the beaten path to see that we’ve already been given everything we need. We’ve already arrived.
Those lines grabbed the attention of my technology loving, scrolling addicted brain. When I started Rosemary & Thyme, I hoped that it would be an experiment for myself first and my readers second. I wanted to see what happened when the flurry of modern life was stripped back to easy, uncomplicated tasks. The concept of a “simple life” rooted itself so deeply in my soul that the project has continued now for nearly three years. While I attempt to stick to my guns and not get caught up in the rat race, I’ll be the first to admit that I fail- often. It’s so easy to get caught up in the constant need to be checking things- calendars, Instagram and Facebook feeds, Emails, what else is playing on TV, when that new movie is coming out, if there are any sales happening that I can’t miss out on… The list truly never ends and I find myself lost in it more often than I care to admit.
Upon receiving the book as a birthday gift from my parents, I began to carve a little extra time each week to read through it. This is the sad truth- I had become so out of habit of quieting my mind to make room for 30 minutes of uninterrupted focus, that I had to force myself to read in the bathtub. While this may sound like an intentional time for relaxation, it was in fact a practical decision. Once in the water, I couldn’t be distracted by technology for fear of dropping my devices and ruining them. All I could do was set up some music, pop my phone on a shelf and let all the (un)important information wait until I was out of the water before I could respond.
So amongst the water, bath salts, essential oils and bubbles, I started to read again. Sometimes with quiet music, often in total silence. The warm water brought buoyancy to my aching pregnant body and encouraged me to stay as long as possible, taking in every word to heart. Erin’s honest words charmed me and allowed me to let down my defences. Her success as a blogger and creative intimidated me, but with confessions like, “While others count sheep, I count transgressions, and when I reach the hundreds, I roll over and turn off the bedside lamp, emptied.”, I suddenly felt closer to par as I continued to read.
While I was hoping to find inspiration on how to slow down my day to day living, reading through Chasing Slow showed me how to take halt the noisy world around me to spend an hour alone, in the quiet with nothing but words to soak in. And these words weren’t what I was used to. They weren’t quick or abbreviated. They were weren’t accompanied by flawless images that made me question my own adequacy in life. They were rather honest and full of truth. They were challenging and inspiring. They helped me to see beyond myself and realize that “Sometimes when we’re not looking for what we want, we find what we need.”
Since reading through Chasing Slow, I’ve done my very best to continue to force a gentle focus upon myself each and every day when it comes to reading. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, the time has been invaluable and I already feel my attention span expanding and my need for constant social approval shrinking.
If you’re feeling as tired and distracted as I was, I’d encourage you to do two things. First, order yourself a copy of Chasing Slow. You’ll laugh, cry and raise your hand and shout “ME TOO!” as you read page by page. Second, find a way to force yourself to step away from the chaos that has become everyday life- even if that means locking yourself in the bathroom surrounded by water.
Until next time!
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