four ways to slow down and savor the season
The red cups, blurred twinkle lights, and fresh pine glittering my Instagram feed tell me what Buddy the Elf has been waiting to hear since December 26th of last year: the most wonderful time of the year is HERE.
Each time I scroll to see one of these images, it draws me into the season and evokes in me one distinct emotion: a desire to savor and not simply let it pass me by.
Life moves fast in general, but there’s something about these last few months of the year that seem to speed it up a notch or ten. There’s lists to make, gifts to buy, parties to attend, and meals to plan—all while maintaining the normal business of the day-to-day lives we lead the rest of the year.
While incredible reads like Present Over Perfect have enforced in me the importance of slowing down and maintaining margin in my life, I’m also learning that even in aiming to be present, I’m not going to do so perfectly. There will be late nights and mile-long to-do lists—simply because the hustle is an inevitable part of life. As someone who’s highly ambitious and gets a
possibly unhealthy rush out of checking things off those mile-long to-do lists, accepting this brings me relief. The trick, I’m learning, is to integrate a rhythm of rest—one that allows for rejuvenation and recalibration.
Without rest, it’s easy to let my schedule control me—rather than the other way around. I become reactionary, rather than intentional.
It’s funny, I’ve found that two days with identical schedules can feel drastically different, depending on my approach. One may be preceded by a late night to bed, prompting a snooze-button morning that sends me into my day rushed, playing a perpetual game of catch up to get ready, get to work, get things done, and get home to do it all over again. Those days are frantic, frenzied, and no fun at all. On the other hand, the same day with a slightly altered start leaves me feeling collected, calm, productive, and present.
The difference is rest—creating intentional roadblocks to break my momentum, so that I can own my days rather than deplete myself chasing after them.
Below are a few practices that help me to own my day instead of letting it happen to me. Realistically, these don’t happen every night, but I try to carve out space for them at least two or so nights a week and I’ve found that when I do, my days feel slower in a good way—like I’m truly present in and savoring them. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful as well.
UNWIND: While some nights you just have to get things done, schedule a few you don’t. In addition to the hustle and bustle, and running out to buy gifts and don ugly Christmas sweaters at white elephant gift exchanges, save space for a cozy night on the couch watching cheesy Hallmark classics, cocoa in hand.
UNPLUG: An hour before bed, set your alarm and put that phone on airplane mode. Nothing about responding to texts and scanning social media until the minute before lights out sets you up for a restful sleep, and neither does the blue light electronics emit. Set your phone on the opposite side of the room from your bed—it will help out the snooze button-prone like myself, and set you up for an unhurried morning.
UNCLOG: Treat yourself to an at home face mask. Taking that extra step beyond a normal face wash is a super effective way to break your momentum. You’ll feel pampered and plus, hashtag self-care—v vogue rn. Then, switch that iPhone for a good read, and a hot cup of chamomile tea.
UNLOAD: Spend a few minutes writing out your to-do list and schedule for the next day, so those thoughts aren’t floating around in your head like unruly flyaway baby hairs. There’s a reason they call it a brain dump. Then, do a heart dump, taking your praises and petitions before God—the deep sleep comes when you’ve given it all over to Him.
Clearly still getting the hang of this whole photography thing. 😉 In other news, this Rare Earth Masque by Kiehl's has got to be the best at home mask I've ever used!
No snooze = time to start the day off well.
I’m learning that busy does not require me to be rushed. Rushed says that there’s no time to fully engage in the now, because it’s constantly focused on the next item on the to-do list. Busy acknowledges the to-do list, but recognizes that everything on it is meaningless if I'm living in a perpetual state of “get to the next thing.” It recognizes that though the to-do list may be full of good things, it is empty unless I allow rest to fuel my full engagement in those things.
A famous story goes that Christian pastor and author John Ortberg once asked Christian philosopher and author Dallas Willard what was the one thing Willard could recommend that would bring new energy to Ortberg’s spiritual life. Ortberg found Willard’s reply to be “shocking in its simplicity.” Dallas Willard looked him in the eye and said,
Whether in the Christmas season or in everyday life, being fully present in the present moment allows me to slow down and savor—it opens me up to experience joy and encounter Jesus—and after all, that’s what savoring the season is truly about.