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Off the Track [how slow might be the best way to start 2017]

2017 is taking its time to get going. Or rather, I am taking my time to get going in 2017.

There was this sinus infection. The third cold in four weeks and I helplessly surrendered to all the congestion and aches and racking coughs. There was no pushing through. There was only Gilmore Girls and warm blankets and yet another dose of NyQuil. And in the middle of a pizza feast with flavors I couldn’t taste and my second evening nap we quietly welcomed in the New Year with a clink of our water cups, and then went back to our Netflix marathon.

I’ve been giving myself permission to do only the bare minimum lately. And that’s been plenty. No need to add on a list of goals and resolutions and exercise plans. No pressure to begin the year by achieving, or even planning to achieve. Getting myself off the couch, fed, showered and through the day’s work has been enough. And to my surprise 2017 has been running quite smoothly without my intervention.

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I’ve always used the New Year as a chance to get back on track. Start eating healthy again, join a gym, wake up earlier, work harder. Turn off the TV, return the novels, and be a productive, functional, contributing member of society. But this track I’m always trying to get back on seems to be going in circles. Around and around I go, pushing harder, running faster. And then I fall off the track, weary and depleted on the sidelines. Maybe its time to find somewhere new.

It’s been snowing here this week. All that white snow we were dreaming about at Christmas is here and seems like it’ll stay put for a bit. It falls so steadily, so quietly, hour after hour. It makes the world seem like a softer place, a gentler place with a little more lenience. Slow down, it whispers as it covers the roads and sidewalks and windows. Drive slow, walk slow, go slow.

I have been preparing myself for a case of post-Christmas blues combined with the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It always happens this time of year, once the tree comes down and the relatives hug goodbye. When it snows and snows and you can’t even sing a carol about it beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I’ve been ready for it, resigned to the fact that winter will always have a little blue to go with it. And yet the tree came down today and the front door wreath is tucked away for the year and all I feel is a spacious grace. Like there’s room to dance in the living room, like there’s space to see out the front door into all this snowy wonderland.

I have no plan. No order of operations. I haven’t made a menu for the week or even opened my planner. I know when I need to show up and I know how to follow through, and that seems to be enough right now. And if a few more Gilmore Girls episodes are watched, and a few more thrilling novels are devoured, and there are more cookies than broccoli eaten, and the house isn’t quite in order, maybe that’ll be ok. Maybe there’s enough grace in these days for us not to need to power up and conquer January like a beast. Maybe getting off the track will be a good thing. Maybe we can just go slow.

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If this resonates with you at all, if you are beginning your year with the desire for slow tugging at your heart, if you are hungry to start a journey off the track, you will LOVE Erin Loechner’s brand new book Chasing SlowIt is on the shelves today, and you’re going to want it on your shelf as soon as possible. Her eloquent words paired with delightful photography is sure to refresh and refill your soul as it did mine.

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