There I was, crying in the shower. Again. Barely able to stand, chronic pain and fatigue taking over my body. My husband walks in and I go over the same dialogue he’s heard so many times before...
“I can’t do this anymore. I hate this. I feel so sick. No one can help me. I’ll be like this forever.” But earlier this year, after my 9th laparoscopy for stage four endometriosis (including a hysterectomy for adenomyosis), I made a decision that I wasn’t going to be like this forever. No more. I made a decision to slow my life right down – and not just for a week or two. I needed to take the bull by the horns, as they say, and stop things right there and then. This wasn’t an easy decision (cue more tears). I desperately want to go at the million miles an hour my type A personality demands, but the thing was, I could no longer do it. I would make plans with friends and then have to make excuses to get out of them. I would take on clients and then stress non-stop about how I was going to service them. I would be frightened every day that I would be too exhausted to properly look after my children. My husband barely got a look in. No one was seeing the best of me – including me – so I decided to strip my life right back. Hello to the slow down. I certainly can’t control my disease, but there are things that I can control and this is what I worked towards. I felt empowered to build up my physical, emotional and spiritual wealth as best I could. That would become my work for the time being. For how long? For however long it takes. So what does the slow down look like? I know I am in a privileged position to take time out from my career to concentrate on rebuilding my health. That doesn’t mean that I am absconded from all of my life responsibilities. I have a six-year-old and an eight-year-old who require a whole lot of attention. Physically it’s not as hard as when they were toddlers, but emotionally… oh boy. As you know, the job doesn’t get easier. I have two stepdaughters and a step grandbaby. Dog to walk, cat to feed. I have a house to run and finances to look after. The list can go on, but I am no longer viewing it all as a list. It’s life. AND, it’s very different to heading into an office every day or the relentless pull of your own business. That, I know. The crux of my slow down is the refusal of “busy”. I can fill my days to the brim, with or without work, so it’s a discipline to allow myself time. After having such a crammed diary for years now, it’s a strange feeling to have days where nothing is planned – but I am learning to sit comfortably with that. It’s ok not to be busy. In fact, it’s kind of cool. It’s taken me months, but I have stopped feeling like I need to justify myself to everyone. I’m taking time. That’s what’s happening. A-Okay? No, I’m not bored. I’m not idle. I’m just focusing on the things that really matter to me and my family for the time being.
“ That voice in my head tells me every day that there are far more important things to do with my time, but are there really? ”
The mental slow down has been my biggest shift and completely spearheaded by my meditation practice (shout out to Jac from The Broad Place for literally changing my life view, attitude and thought processes over the past few years). Meditation has become very important to me and integral to my mental clarity. I always start my mornings with a 30-minute practice (ideally involving an early alarm, so that I can get it done before the minis rise). I also try to get in a second round in the afternoon. That voice in my head tells me every day that there are far more important things to do with my time, but are there really? The physical slow down has actually involved me prioritising movement. “Just Turn Up” is my new mantra. I’m able to invest my energy into daily movement because I know that, if I need to, I can rest afterwards. But you know what, gentle exercising, like walking or Pilates, actually gives me more energy – and means I am less likely to crash in the afternoons like I had for years. The ocean is my drug of choice and I need to get my fix most days. I don’t make a ‘thing’ about it, I just do it. I can do laps if I feel like it, but I don’t have to… and most of the time I just enjoy the feeling of being weightless, floating in the sun. It resets my mind and body. And it’s free. Forget float tanks and cryotherapy… just get in the sea. I am using this time to reconnect with myself, my family and my friends. Trying my best to enjoy every moment. Relishing in the small things, because really, it is all so lovely. How lucky to spend a morning at the farmers’ market, hand pick fresh organic produce and then create a nourishing meal for me and my family. Or lie in the sun with a girlfriend and talk nonsense for an hour. Practice shooting hoops with my son or enjoy reading a book with my daughter. Because when did this not become enough? We want it all, but we are killing ourselves doing it. This culture of ‘busy, busy, busy’ is just one that I am not subscribing to anymore. All in all, I am just doing my best – as we all are. There are no rules and I’m working on letting things go. If I miss a meditation or find myself napping in the afternoon, then that’s what happens. And it’s ok. I move onto the next thing and all is fine. So how does the slow down look and how can you incorporate it into your life without it just being another thing on your to-do list? It’s completely possible to embrace it, even if you are working your ass off. My best advice? Steal moments, whenever you can. Every day. I see people with their babies down in Bronte pool, timing their ocean dip to coincide with their baby’s sleep. Or enjoying a chai in a beautiful ceramic keep-cup… in the sun…. off your phone. A Saturday afternoon wine with a girlfriend – an hour, without the kids. Feeling privileged to line up on a Sunday morning for a loaf of Iggy’s sourdough. The slow down is there for the taking. Wherever you are, whatever your situation. You just have to slow down for a second to be able to embrace it. Image: Julie Adams | Go to www.katepascoesquires.com