Do you need a Day of Grace?

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Monday holidays feel like gifts. Sometimes I’ve celebrated with friends or family, but last week I was obligation-free on Memorial Day, so I created a Day of Grace.

I still kept my first-thing-every-Monday appointment with Jane, my book editor/coach, but only because our regular time together is always more play than work. I’d have hated to miss it. And I’d scheduled one private, late morning counseling client because I simply adore her. There wasn’t anything else I’d rather be doing. Other than that, I used this “free day” for whatever showed up, whatever whim caught my fancy. Playing in the garden. An impromptu visit with a friend. Every moment designed for my absolute pleasure.

Turns out that my day was so spacious and restorative, I plan to do this again. I intend to make every Monday holiday a Day of Grace.

Grace because these days come as gifts from the calendar gods, without any planning to make room for them in my schedule.
Grace because I surrender to trusting my intuition to guide my choices.
Grace because I release planning and let timing flow as it will.
Grace because I grace myself with my moment-to-moment presence. No forcing. No over-trying. And definitely no rushing.

Ancient Taoist qi gong masters have observed for thousands of years that three behaviors are harmful to the heart. Impatience and apathy made sense to me. But the third was a surprise. Hastiness, they believed, blocks love, joy and compassion.

But sometimes I like the rush of rushing! When I run to the car, at risk of being barely on time for an appointment, I feel on top of my game. I’m proud of myself. I’ve banged out some of my list, been productive and efficient! And I’m off…

Or, just as often, I’m super stressed, panicked to be late again, as I rush out the door, desperately hoping that light at the corner won’t be red.

Did you know that rushing is now considered by many health experts to be the new smoking? It may be just as damaging. It elevates cortisol levels and stresses out our adrenals. Cortisol and adrenalin are at the ready for the rare moment when a tiger is ready to pounce. They’re not meant to be pumping into us all day long.

Rushing puts us in fight/flight/freeze response many times a day. But those stress chemicals released into our bodies actually reduce the effectiveness of every one of the body’s systems. In other words, constant stress is bad for your health. Bet you’re not surprised.

But perhaps most important, rushing is really a red flag for something more insidious and soul-damaging – it’s a sign of our disregard for ourselves, for our own deeper needs.

Sure, lives these days are more stressful than ever. Multiple demands push us on every front. But rushing to do it all is the most obvious sign that something other than our own well-being is in charge.

When I succumb to habitual “hastiness” – to being perpetually slightly breathless from using every moment so fully that I don’t leave enough spaciousness on either end of an activity – it’s a sign.

It shows that I’m getting my sense of worth from my productivity.
…from cramming too much into my day,
…from martyring myself by trying to do more than is physically possible,
…from making someone else’s needs – or my own expectations – more of a priority than what’s good for me.

If that weren’t enough, the din of my over-drive drowns out a natural capacity to attune to my own intuition, my always available and most effective guide to real success and pleasure.

It feels great to get things done, but when I’m speeding ahead, there’s no way I can feel those more subtle inner signals about what I know would serve me.

And funny enough, I’ve noticed that when I respect myself enough to create ease when I can, the world strangely cooperates!

Maybe best of all, when I slow down, I have access to the simple elegance of my own feminine essence. That’s one definition of grace… simple elegance.

That ancient Taoist wisdom seems dead on. When I’m in a rush, I’m just not tuned into others or myself. I’m not likely to hear what’s really going on in my heart.

But the habit hasn’t been easy to break. I try to leave the house an extra ten minutes early… well, sometimes. And allowing open space between appointments in my calendar is a great idea, in theory, when I can pull it off.

What’s helped most of all hasn’t been trying to break the habit of rushing. Attacking it like an enemy to be conquered or a problem to be fixed hasn’t worked at all. I’ve just ended up feeling like a total failure. Not someplace I like to live!

Instead I’ve begun to shift my attention to how good I feel when I DON’T rush. When I begin to revere my desire for calm and spaciousness more than my zippy need to get everything done, as fast as possible, life feels manageable and, well, almost easy! When I can remember that I’m in charge of time, it feels amazing to carry myself with the purposeful grace and dignity that’s appropriate as I move through my day. And it’s really my choice.

Maybe every day can actually be a Day of Grace.  What a thought!

You may want to try giving a Day of Grace to someone you love – on their birthday or just when you want to dose them with a little extra affection. Try to make it a surprise… and see how soon they notice. Or let them know ahead of time and completely cater to their fancy, gracing them with your beautiful presence – and anything else you know they’ll adore. You will make their day magical. And you’ll feel as happy in the giving as they do receiving. You never know what your example may inspire!

Is all this talk of gracefulness making sense to you? How do you manage the societal insistence to rush? Does anything change for you when you imagine how great it feels to be moving in your life with ease? How does it feel to live your life honoring your own pacing and pleasure?

There’s a spot down below to leave your comments. Please do! I love to read them every time!

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