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 (email@example.com) 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.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Keke Palmer Opens Up About Her Sexuality & Never Feeling "Straight Enough" Or "Gay Enough"
Over the years, Keke Palmer has solidified herself as a prominent voice of her generation who doesn’t shy away from speaking her truth. Now, the 29-year-old actress is peeling back the layers and opening up about her sexuality and gender identity.
According to Variety, the Nopestar was presented the Vanguard Award at the LGBT Center’s The Gala in Los Angeles, where she took time to reflect on her own identity journey.
“Sexuality and identity for me has always been confusing,” Keke shared during her acceptance speech. “I never felt straight enough. I never felt gay enough. And I never felt woman enough. I never felt man enough. You know, I always felt like I was a little bit of everything.”
KeKe recalls that she’d often “lead with masculinity” and how that complicated her perspective on the power within herself. “And as a woman, I’ve always been met with so much disdain, you know what I mean? I think so much of that came from who I thought I had to be to get respect, admiration, and love,” she says. “And I’ve always really wanted to be like my father…to want to be taken seriously and not diminish because I was a woman. You know, that’s always been a source of — I guess you would say — pain and resentment.”
Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Los Angeles LGBT Center
The moment of reflection brought on an emotional response from the Nickelodeon alum. “Why did my gender have to define the power I have in the world? And why does my gender get to decide my sexuality?” she asked.
“You know, since I was younger, I always questioned the boxes I was forced to be in and it starts with who you’re supposed to be as a child. You’re supposed to be as a Black person or whatever the background you are from… Then those walls just try to cave you in from every damn angle, who you are as a creative, who you are as a friend.”
She concluded the thoughtful speech by noting her gratitude for being accepted by the LGBTQ+ community as an ally for which she was honored for. “I’m truly so grateful to be seen in this room because I know I’m surrounded by people who know without a doubt what it’s like to decide to be who you are in a world that tells you to be everything but yourself.”
Keke’s Vanguard Award is the perfect illustration of why allyship and activism go hand-in-hand. With voices like Keke’s sharing her truth about self-discovery in sexuality and gender identity, it, in turn, inspires others to do the same.
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Featured image by Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Los Angeles LGBT Center