A Slow, Intentional Life

Something about my life has to change. Since July of last year, when we returned to Orlando from our week-long vacation in Cape May, NJ, life has been nothing but a roller coaster going at a thousand miles an hour, barely gripping the rails through all the climbs and falls, twists and turns.

From being offered, interviewing for, and getting the new Nurse Educator position at my old unit; to preparing for Emilyn’s birth, followed by the traumatic experience of our baby spending three weeks in the NICU and Pediatric Cardiac ICU, plus all the ways in which that disrupted our family’s life; learning to live with two kids at home; the back and forth of whether we would stay in Orlando after unsuccessfully trying to find jobs so we could move up north, making the decision to stay, and dealing with the hassle of lease terms; flying to Delaware for Thanksgiving, then that turning into a job-finding trip that actually yielded results when we weren’t even looking, which meant new plans to move up north with the start of the new year; planning, downsizing, selling, packing, compacting our lives in preparation for the move while juggling both of us being back at work and having limited daycare resources; Christmas, Ashlyn’s birthday, New Year’s, last day of work for both of us, flying to Puerto Rico for three days to see my ill grandafther one last time, truck loading, U-Haul renting, car prepping, cleaning, more lease hassles, caravan-driving from Orlando to Delaware with pit stops along the way with two kids and a dog, one car dying two thirds of the way, but finally arriving; living with my mother-in-law all four of us in one room, having to rush to the ER with Ashlyn when we thought she took some of my blood pressure meds the day right before our new insurance kicked in, starting the new job, my grandfather dying, buying a new house, moving into the new house, starting at a new daycare, learning to navigate the waters at our new jobs.

There’s more in between each of those items, and each of them could be elaborated upon. For sure there have been marvelous times in the middle of all the changes, but the point is that it has been a very heavy, very stressful year and something has to change.

To be fair, change has indeed happened already: we love our house and life in Delaware, and all that it offers our family. To me the fact that the girls have their grandma a few minutes away and now constantly in their life is worth all the ache it took to get here. As I’ve already said, I love living in Delaware, our house, my little garden, the roots we are all laying down in this soil. But I have more changes to make, and I’ve been dancing around those for a while, pretending they aren’t there, pretending they’re not affecting me and those around me.

There are things about my current circumstance that I will intentionally be vague about that I know I need to address (and have begun to do so), but more than my circumstances, the main change I need to make lies in me. Recently I read a book called Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World, and while I didn’t check it out from the library (my wife did), I had no idea how much I needed to read that book until I was done. I had already been informally adopting a minimalistic approach to life over the last few years in terms of stuff, but Slow helped me see how I had neglected to do the same in terms of my emotional baggage and the way I’ve been living life. Through the author’s journey and experiences I also identified a lot of behaviors I had been engaging on that were toxic, to say the least, downright destructive at times, things like neglecting my loved ones around me, reacting in anger to them for the dumbest of reasons, even having that anger inside me for no discernible reason, losing interest in the activities that once made me happy and nurtured my soul, thinking I should be happy–in fact, being happy–with our new life yet still feeling like I didn’t deserve it. I’m sure armchair psychologists have already diagnosed me, but I wasn’t (still am not) interested in self-diagnosing, rather in dealing with the issues. Once I was able to see them, I knew this was what I needed to change.

I want to live a slower, more intentional life than I have been living. God and my family are the most important things in my life, and I have neglected both. Work needs to, has to, include a balance with my personal and family life, or it isn’t worth it. I need to be present not only physically, but in mind, in spirit, and I know for a fact that those two aspects have been in chaotic disarray, leaving me at times a physical shell that happens to be in the same room as others. I need to let go of some traumas I’ve held on to for too long, put to rest some ghosts that I’ve been haunting and denying them their rest. I want to be (to borrow the title of another excellent book I just read on the same subject) present over perfect.

Life will continue to hurl at us at breakneck speed because that’s what it does; each day after the other, bringing new events, new surprises, new joys, new heartaches, on and on. I get to decide how to tackle what comes at me, and sometimes even get to decide what comes at me at all. I reject life happening to me. Life is something I actively, intentionally engage in, always learning how to do it better and better, learning from the mistakes I will invariably make along the way, always keeping in mind what is truly important.

This is my new journey, possibly my most important journey, not only for myself, but for my wife, my two daughters, my God.