6 Blessings You Can Get From Embracing The "Slower Moments" In Your Life
The second verse of the 23rd Psalm has a word in it that I think a lot of us can relate to, at one point or another in our lives. When the Bible says, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters", the word that typically jumps out at me is "make". That word calls me to reflect on the fact that there have been times when I've lost a writing gig, ended a relationship or encountered some sort of obstacle that forced me to slow down and, as a direct result, reevaluate my life—including how I was living it. And you know what? It was all by spiritual design.
I do believe in a Higher Power who sees all, at all times (Psalm 121:4), and knows what is best for me better than I ever will (Psalm 18:30, Matthew 6:8). That is why I have come to accept that while sometimes He either causes or allows (which are not one and the same, by the way) certain things to happen—things that I don't always understand, let alone like—when God causes or allows those things to come together in such a way that gets me still and quiet in order to do some serious ponder and processing, 99.8 percent of the time, I always come out all the better for it, once the season shifts to something of a faster pace.
I'm not sure what your world is looking like at the present moment, but if you feel like things have gone from moving fast to almost a slow creep and you're saying to yourself, "What the heck is going on?!", I've got six reasons, in the form of questions (that you should answer), that could very well help you to see the ultimate blessing in it all.
1. Are You Being Productive? Or Just Busy?
I'm not saying that you should definitely look at it from this perspective, but more and more, I'm training myself to get the word "busy" out of my vocabulary when it comes to statements like "I'm busy". For one thing, it has a tone of arrogance that I don't really like, plus, the longer that I'm on this planet, the more I've come to accept that I'm not really "too busy" to do things. It's all a matter of prioritizing. A great way to illustrate this point is Kenny Lattimore's song "Never Too Busy". Remember how he sang about all of the things he had to do but he was still never too busy for his lady? It was because he chose to put her at the top of the list. In spite of all he had going on, she was important enough to push some other stuff aside.
To me, this is the main difference between being busy vs. being productive. Productive people are creative. Productive people are fertile (fertile isn't just about producing offspring; it's also about producing in an abundant and prolific kind of way). Productive people do things that "yield favorable or effective results". You can easily be busy talking on the phone or watching Netflix; that doesn't automatically make you a productive individual though.
Say that money is tight right now and you've got to let some things go, like maybe your cable bill. While it might suck on the front end, you can read articles like "TV Long View: The Mind-Blowing Amount of Time Americans Spend Watching TV" to see that it could be giving you hours and hours of time back to journal, spend quality time with your partner and/or children or to finally create something for others to buy and/or enjoy.
A lot of people are out here doing stuff while still not really getting anywhere. The slower moments of your life can help you to see if you are actually one of them.
2. Are You Making Wise Plans? Or Following Counterproductive Patterns?
It's no secret that I've not had sex since I was 32 (I'm a couple of months shy of turning 46). In a way, I look at abstinence as a "slow down season". The reason why I say that is because, back when I was having sex, sometimes, I was so preoccupied with the physical pleasure of it that I wasn't paying as much attention as I needed to be the kind—and quality—of partners that I was selecting (check out "14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners"). You know, a wise person once said, "Being still won't stop the world from chaos, but it will stop the chaos from ruling our lives."
Ideally, I'll be married the next time I have sex. I say "ideally" because ONLY people who have gone as long as I have can truly get the challenges that come with it, including the supernatural self-control that is required; so, if a sistah does engage before "I do", I don't want anyone trying to run up some but-you-said receipts on me (you know how folks do). But either way, the kind of man I will give myself to now? He will be quite different than the guys from my past. A big part of that is because slowing down has revealed to me where I was caught up in counterproductive patterns vs. where I was actually making wise decisions (see "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner").
Whether it's a matter of the heart situation or some other type of issue, another benefit that comes from slowing down is it can cause you to get off of your own "hamster wheels", so that you can ask yourself, "What am I doing?" I can give you the space to see if you are making choices that are wise (knowledgeable and discerning) or if you are simply…doing what you always do, because that's the way you've always done it?
"Counterproductive" is a powerful word. It means that you're doing things that are causing you to actually thwart your goals or defeat your purpose in life (ugh). I don't care if it's a person, place, thing or idea, it's also a good idea to let the slower moments in life cause you to think about if you are being smart or making some pretty stupid decisions. Anything that keeps you from your goals and purpose? You already know what category those fall in.
3. Are You Resting? Or Just Sleeping?
This one is big—and also very underrated. It's already bad enough that 70 percent of Americans are walking around here being sleep-deprived. Boy oh boy, I can only imagine how many folks are not exactly resting. What's the difference? If you go to a lot of dictionaries, one word that will come up in the definition of rest is "refreshing"—refreshing sleep and refreshing ease. When something is refreshing, it is pleasant. When something is refreshing, it's also able to give you the ability to restore your power and energy.
I've been a Seventh-Day Sabbath observer ever since I was born. I don't use Friday sunset thru Saturday sunset to sleep the entire time. I do use it to rest, though.
Sadly, some people have not rested in so long that they don't even realize they deserve to feel refreshed, on a regular basis. When it comes to your daily life routine, slow down and ask yourself 1) how much sleep am I getting (it needs to be no less than six hours a night) and 2) how much resting am I doing?
4. Can You Be at Peace with Yourself and Your Own Thoughts? Or Do You Rely on Noise and Activity to Be Diversions for You?
There's someone I know who once told me the story of taking a vacation, sitting on a beach, opening a book and only being able to sit there for about an hour before deciding to return home. In many ways, this person is an extrovert, so being alone is automatically a challenge. However, I've known this individual for a while and the other thing that they are is ladies' man and quite the hustler. He knows that certain things he does in order to get what he wants can be morally shady, at best. So, I've pointed out to him, on several occasions, that his inability to be still may be that he is afraid to be with his own thoughts (and conscience). After all, a wise person once said, "The quieter you become, the more you can hear."
People who don't know how to be still and quiet make me uncomfortable (for them). What is it about yourself that you don't want to be alone with? Sometimes, the slower moments in life force us to have to ask—and answer—that question. Remember how the leading quote at the top of this message said that being still means moving in peace? Above all, this should speak to inner peace (see "Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself").
If you've always gotta be out, always gotta be online, always gotta be doing something that involves other people—that might not be so much about you being "outgoing" as you don't want to deal with some deep-rooted inner issues; ones that you can't even grasp a hold of unless you get still and quiet.
For a lot of people, the Universe is doing them a favor by allowing their life to (temporarily) slow down. For many, they wouldn't get to know themselves any better—including the soul and spirit—and stop making poor life choices any other way.
5. Are You Living the Quality of Life That You Desire?
Quality. It's a word that speaks to what is essential, what is superior…what is excellent.
Aristotle once said, "The quality of life is determined by its activities." And so, in order to know if you are doing what is personally essential, superior and excellent for you, you've got to slow down and look at what activities you're partaking in.
To me, quality of life also speaks to being an authentic type of person. You're not putting up fronts. You're not constantly placing others needs before your own. You're not settling in your romantic relationship. You're not putting up with toxic family members or friends. You're not afraid to set boundaries and to say "no". You know what your purpose isand you are living it out. You don't do things to merely pass the time; you do things that are an investment into your time. In short, you are living in such a way that, if you know that you were going to die today, you would have very little regret.
Folks who are constantly moving about (whether it's mentally or literally) never really get a chance to contemplate a question like this. If you are currently in a slower moment, make sure that you do. It's an epidemic, how many people are out here are wasting—"to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return"—their time. Please make sure you aren't one of them.
6. Stillness. Do You See It As Being a Blessing? Or a Curse?
Let's end this with one more verse in Scripture. A very simple-yet-profound verse is "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (Psalm 46:10—NJKV) While many of us have different interpretations of God, it's been reported that 63 percent of us absolutely believe that He does indeed exist. Adding to that, you can read articles like "Why People Who Pray Are Healthier Than Those Who Don't", "How Prayer Strengthens Your Emotional Health" and "47 Health Benefits of Prayer" and see how beneficial it can be for your mind, body and spirit, to get still enough, on a daily basis, to acknowledge a power that is far greater and higher than yourself.
That's what I find to be so dope about Psalm 46:10. "Be still, and know that I am God" is not a biblical suggestion; it is a biblical instruction. It means—get stationary enough, be quiet enough, remove yourself from the people and things that disturbed you long enough to remember that, no matter what is—or isn't—going on right now, God is present and He's got you.
Out of all of the hidden blessings that can come out of the slower moments of your life, mastering how to pray and meditate (Psalm 119), consistently, so that you can move in a state of confidence, steadiness and even tranquility? That is probably the biggest one of all. Slow down enough so that you can see it too. Watch how it betters your life because you did.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Slow Mornings Are More Than A Trend, Here’s Why You Should Add Them To Your Routine
Living in a world where we’re over-consuming and over-producing information and content, it can feel like some trending topics are complete fads. While that may be true, some of these ideas are helpful and can greatly impact our lives, one being slow mornings. Slow mornings can look different to everyone, but the general idea is to counter the fast-paced lifestyle and create more time for ourselves, lessen anxiety, and prioritize self-care.
I’m a huge advocate for adopting this type of wellness practice into your morning routine. It has completely changed the game for me. Prior to adopting this routine, I’d wake up with just enough time to get ready and go. I never prioritized time to sit and eat, dance a little as I get ready, or any type of wiggle room for the unexpected (I’m sure you can imagine the anxiety that builds when something out of the norm happens). Most times I felt flustered and disorganized, which started to affect my mood, productivity, and my mindset. I knew I needed to make some changes.
I started to incorporate more mood-boosting activities and became realistic about how much time I actually needed to get my day started. If I’m being honest, my slow mornings rely heavily on time management. I try my best to at least get seven hours of sleep and set my alarm early enough to get ready for work at a smooth and intentional pace without interrupting my rest. My work days typically start with music, my favorite podcast or meditation as I get ready, a cup of decaffeinated tea instead of coffee, setting intentions and affirmations, then prayer before my drive to work.
I always get to work early with enough time to sit and eat, review work materials, prep, and brief my colleagues. Slow mornings allow me to gain more without losing anything.
If this hasn’t already inspired you to switch things up, here are six more reasons you should incorporate a slow morning routine.
Slow Mornings Can Work for Everyone
Slow mornings rely mostly on being intentional with what you choose to prioritize and moving at a pace that doesn’t feel rushed. It’s less about the strict routine of waking up at 5 a.m. every day, as that is not realistic for everyone. I have a very flexible schedule so every day looks different and no day starts at the same time. Typically, I think about how much time I have in the morning and prioritize my mornings around that. One thing I do regardless of the time is play something motivational, express gratitude, pray, and say my affirmations. It’s small acts that make a big difference. However, if I start my day a little later, I can do more with my morning like journaling and working out.
Slow mornings allow you flexibility and take the pressure of feeling like you have to do so much with the time you have, to me that defeats the purpose. It’s more about making sure you pour time into yourself without pressure or feeling rushed.
Slow Mornings Reduce Stress and Anxiety
As I mentioned, slow mornings take the chaos, anxiousness, and stress out of planning and getting ready for your day. Slow mornings cause you to start your day in a relaxed and calm way by prioritizing the thing that makes you feel good. Taking the time to physically, mentally, and/or emotionally prepare yourself leaves you better equipped to take on the day.
Slow Mornings Create Time to Pour Into You
I’ve stopped putting myself last. I’ve given up the notion that everything and everyone has to be catered to before I’m able to do that for myself. I remind myself that I can’t give what I don’t have and if I‘m not at my best, I can’t give my best. While I know this, I also needed my actions to reflect it.
Implementing slow morning routines creates the space for you to pour into yourself, fuel yourself, and be more intentional. It makes you examine what your needs are and what focusing on your well-being can do.
Slow Mornings Reduce the Risk of Burnout
Slowing your mornings down will also inspire you to slow down in general. The notion of being busy and glorifying a never-ending workday will seem less appealing. Once you realize the power of being intentional, you’ll adopt this routine in all aspects of your life. This will help reduce your chances of burning out because you have better workload management, a clear mental space, and awareness of when you’re doing too much.
In general, I think we are all overstimulated by our influences and technology, but eventually, the feeling of constant rush and over-exertion will start to fade.
Slow Mornings Increase Productivity
If you take your time to wake up and implement healthy habits, you’ll feel more energized and creative. As I mentioned before, slow mornings allow us to get better at managing time. It helps us focus on what’s in front of us which increases productivity. I used to measure my productivity by how much I can get done, which is a race in itself. Instead, I focus on the quality and intention behind it.
Slow mornings allow you to spend time giving things the time and effort it needs, without falling behind.
It Boosts Your Confidence
If you take the time to affirm yourself in the mornings and do activities that make you feel good, then you’ll do good.
Creating a morning routine that prioritizes time management, peace, and intentional living will make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment and success. It increases our faith and belief in ourselves to do things and do them well.
Slow mornings won’t look the same for everyone, but creating time to prioritize yourself and live more intentionally may be the subtle change you need to improve your well-being. It’s okay to slow things down and get off autopilot. Do what’s best for you and know that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
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