Hello?…..

Happy New Year!

It’s been about 2 1/2 years since my last post so I thought I’d get back into the habit of writing. And it seems that the world has not slowed down one bit. The need to slow down, connect with meaning, and soak up the blessings all around us has never been greater — however, it is even more neglected than when I started this blog over a decade ago. Technology, world events, and the pace of life has overshadowed this need and only those who truly seek it will find it.

Here’s to us sharing that journey,
…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Duration vs. time.….

Today a friend of mine celebrated his 47th birthday. I met him when I was a freshman in high school so we are going on 3 decades of knowing each other. However, in spite of our high school, college, and post college lives together, I realized I don’t really know him as well as one would think. You see, our lives started to diverge when I got married and started to focus on my family. Sure, we’d see each other a few times a year, but it was mostly just to catch up — we didn’t do any additional “road building” in our relationship. And then he got married and started to focus on his family. And then we moved to Kentucky which leaves us lucky to see each other once every few years or so. Yes, there is Facebook and email and phone and text. But it does not replace time together. And the three decades of duration do not matter if there is no time together.

Which got me thinking — while we are the most connected society in the history of the world, do we really “know” each other?

And while I value this friend, he is not one of my priorities (posted about here in Friday’s post). What would trouble me is if one of my priorities — God, my wife, my kids — ended up with a duration relationship without the time together. I am sure that has happened to some families and people are moms, dads, and kids by label only.

I don’t want to be a label. I WILL NOT be a label.

So therefore, I will not only define my priorities, I will love and invest myself in them. And that requires A Slower Pace.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Prioritizing for A Slower Pace…..

One of the things that became clear to me during last week’s A Slower Pace CHALLENGE was the need for clear priorities. As the pace of your life slows down as a result of putting in place some Slower Pace principles, you will have more margin in your life — more time, more energy, more focus. However, if you do not have clear priorities — such as faith, family, health, personal growth, and others — you will end up swapping your old habits with unproductive and unfulfilling alternatives. It would be the dieting equivalent of giving up McDonalds fast food only to hit up Burger King for your meal instead of a salad bar or healthy alternative.

So what are your priorities?

Did you set them yourself or were they set by something or someone else? In today’s culture, that is a valid question.

Is what you are doing / reading / working on next because the calendar or “to do” list said so?

Many of you may have heard this next story. Imagine you have an empty Mason jar. This represents your life, your energy, your time — 1440 minutes a day, 168 hours a week — all of it finite and limited.

There is a cup of sand in front of you. This represents the many various things you need to get done throughout the day. Pour it into the jar.

Now, there is also a cup of pebbles in front of you. This represents the various commitments you have made. It can be after work activities, church programs, volunteering, sports practices, kids’ music lessons, carpool commitments — the list can go on an on. Go ahead an pour the pebbles into the Mason jar.

Finally, there are five golf balls in front of you. These would represent the major items in your life that are most precious to you. They can be many things, but personally mine consist of faith, wife, kids, career, and service.

Take your golf balls and put them into the Mason jar…..however, they do not fit. There is no more room in your life for them. It is the end of the day and you still have things left undone. You are finally home from work but have no energy for your spouse, kids, or family.

When I heard this story, I was ashamed at how often that was the case. However, there is hope.

Rewind the story back to the empty Mason jar. Now instead of the sand going in first, you make a CONSCIOUS decision to put in your priority golf balls into the jar.

Now that you have your priorities taken care of, go ahead and pour in the cup of pebbles. Shake the jar around. See, there still is room for the carpool duties, sports practices, and music lessons.

Finally, that cup of sand — go ahead and add it to your Mason jar of life. Yes, you might need to shake it a bit, or slow down your pour as the sand works its way to the bottom. But there is a high chance that you can fit it all into your jar. And even if you cannot fit all the sand in, it’s only sand. It is not a golf ball which is what you were left holding in the first scenario.

And to top off the metaphor, take a cup of sweet tea (or coffee or beer). Add that to your seemingly full Mason jar of life. Just when you thought your jar couldn’t hold any more, the lesson is that there is always time for a cup of sweet tea (or coffee or beer) with a friend.

Here is a video of the same metaphor.

So what are your golf balls or big rocks?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace CHALLENGE.….follow up

Last Friday on the front end of the weekend, I put up A Slower Pace CHALLENGE to give up some of the things that accelerate the pace of our lives — television, computers, and mobile devices. And the challenge wasn’t just to give those things up, but to replace them with items more substantial — family, hobbies, faith, honey do’s, and relaxation. The whole idea was to use this weekend to pause and slow down a bit.

Well, how’d you do?

What did you notice? What did you accomplish in the absence of habits, distractions, or routines? What are your takeaways from the exercise?

Tell me your story. I would like to hear how things went. Either comment in the space below or drop me an email to “dan at aslowerpace.net” (replacing the at with an email “@”).

I will share those comments and stories along with my weekend story in Wednesday’s post.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace CHALLENGE.….

With the weekend upon us, I want to put out in front of you a CHALLENGE that I hope will be hard to accomplish but worthwhile. The intent is to slow you down, remove some noise in your life, and allow you to focus on replenishment and priorities.

Select your grade:

  • Sergeant – for the duration of the weekend (Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20) elimination of ONE of the following:
    • television
    • computer
    • mobile device (tablet or cellphone – with the exception of your cellphone used for calls only, no app or internet usage)
  • Captain – for the duration of the weekend (Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20) elimination of TWO of the following:
    • television
    • computer
    • mobile device (tablet or cellphone – with the exception of your cellphone used for calls only, no app or internet usage)
  • General – for the duration of the weekend (Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20) elimination of ALL of the following:
    • television
    • computer
    • mobile device (tablet or cellphone – with the exception of your cellphone used for calls only, no app or internet usage)

I am committing to General. This is my blog and I need to lead by example. I am hoping to go canoeing again so I will have my cellphone with me, but I will pretend it is an old 90′s flip phone and will only use it for calls. Just so I don’t use any apps, I will bring along a separate digital camera.

Drop me a note in the comments and let me know what grade level you are selecting.

So what do you say? Are you with me?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Are you checking off your list?…..

A few weeks ago as summer began, I compiled A Slower Pace list that included some enjoyable activities I wanted to do this summer.

Well, I am already checking some of them off — some multiple times.

  • buy some Bomb Pops (red, white, and blue popsicles) for the freezer to pull out on a really hot day
  • sit by the pool under the umbrella with a good book
  • take the kids to get some ice cream – COMPLETE, but I think I’ll leave it unchecked so we can do it again :)
  • take a walk outside right after a summer rainstorm
  • sit on the porch and watch the lightning bugs - COMPLETE
  • get up early in the morning and just listen to the birds and watch the sun rise - COMPLETE
  • take the family to a baseball game
  • lie on one of my wife’s quilts on a clear night and watch the stars - COMPLETE

If you have not yet started on your list, it is not too late! I encourage you to create your own list. It’s so easy. And it does not need to be elaborate or expensive. All you need to do it just create it. And then post it somewhere as a reminder to check some of them off.

After last week’s successful canoe trip, I might even need to add to mine.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace cooking.….

 

One of the slowest forms of cooking food is smoking. It uses low temperatures and wood smoke to turn raw meat into deliciousness. However, it takes time, it takes patience, and it takes skill. Not the kind of things that are in abundance in our microwave culture today. But if you have ever had a great smoked brisket sandwich, a fall-off-the-bone rack of smoked baby back ribs, or a wonderful piece of smoked salmon, you already know the tasty rewards of waiting for this method of cooking.

BBQsmokerLast week I was able to finally inaugurate the smoker I have been building in the back yard. It is a part of a larger smoker – wood fired pizza oven – BBQ grill project I have been working on for quite a while. The baby back ribs smothered with my Dad’s and brother-in-law’s dry rub were a hit and will be replicated again soon.

I look forward to putting this smoker to use and really enjoying the all day smoking process, especially this summer while the weather is nice. Drop me a note and let me know if you are pursuing similar cooking escapades.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net