At eight years old, I would often slip into the guest bedroom of my home to steal a few quiet hours to read. The guest room was snug in the center of the house, and therefore always warm and toasty. It was decorated with furniture that had been passed down from my father's childhood bedroom, and maintained a thick of energy of family, home, and comfort. There were also books.
One of my favorites was a large green one on the history of Disneyworld. It was divided into chapters based on the various parks, and consisted of glossy photos and short write-ups about how each ride came to be. The best part was, the book was made in the 80s, so all of the images were off families donning high-socks, thick glasses, and fanny packs. This book, for whatever reason, was pure gold. There was the haunted mansion. There was Epcot, consisting of all the numerous countries within ten minutes of one another! There was Tomorrowland, which predicted that hoverboards would be hovering around the town by 2000!!
The difference between Amanda-then and Amanda-now, is that Amanda-now would not spend more than an hour lost in a good book. (Unless J.K. Rowling finally writes that prequel to Harry Potter.) For Amanda-now, that would be moving too slow.
We are part of a group that likes to move fast. Our cars move quickly, our iPhones connect to free WiFi at lightning speed, and some middle schools are even asking students to start concentrating on their college major.
Moving quickly has it's pros and cons. Speed often helps us feel accomplished, encouraging a feeling of productivity. Moving quickly is great when you're running along the Venice Beach surf, or when you're zipping down the boardwalk of Porto on a pale yellow beach cruiser (just don't get your dress caught in the chain). Sometimes we fall in love quickly, and that dizzy tumble down the rabbit hole of infatuation feels like a syringe of sunshine. The wind makes us feel alive.
That being said, there is another side to this spectrum. Being forced to grow up too quickly encourages unwarranted issues, ones that should never be problems in the first places. Little girls start attempting to loose weight as soon as they get their first iPhone, suddenly exposed to pictures of bodies that may look different than their own. Couples so excited to start their lives together slip into mundane routines. If we move too fast, we skip a lot of the good stuff. Heck, we fail to even realize it's there!
When you feel the pressure of needing to be great, wasting time is not an option. There is too much risk in falling behind. Recently, I've even felt that reading for pleasure was wasting time. What??!! Sometime's it takes typing something out to realize how very wrong you were...
And then a few days ago, shortly after I parked my car outside of a colorful elementary school to pick up a pretty sweet third-grader and a super cool kindergardener, I spied something that read "FREE BOOKS." There are quite a few free book libraries scattered throughout the gardens of LA folk, but the one outside the school were all children's books. And you would never believe how cozy they were.
These books were filled with stories of family, warm blankets, feeling unattractive, wanderlust, taking risks, coping with loss, enjoying simplicity, discovering inspiration, misunderstanding, ginger cookies, and gazing up at the stars. Reading them does not require a lengthy time commitment, as they are only a few pages, but it does require reading s-l-o-w-l-y.
So I bought them, in an attempt to be proactive while reminding myself that there's only so much time in a day, and I can't do anything without my health. I've recently (with amazing help and encouragement from Ketel One) have made the decision to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. This means, and it utterly pains me to say it, giving up coffee.
I'm sure so many people are staring in awe at that phrase, wondering why I would give up a concoction that provides amazing depth of flavor and a whirlwind of nutritional benefits. Welllllllll here's the deal - I haven't gone a day without a cup of coffee since I was left with only a hot plate and nothing else in my apartment in France, and those were hard days. Coffee had a permanent place in my blood. The thing is, I wanted to slow down. I wanted to remove this thing that was forcing me to speed up.
I will say, it was not easy. The last few days I've been grouchy, moody, weepy, and irritable. Basically, the lack of coffee made me a bitch. But now, I feel pretty good. In fact...I feel great! I've got cherries in the fridge and an armful of children's books tossed on my bed. Also, I know that my friends and partner will stick with me despite my ($&#(#@&!!!!! moments. (I won't quit espresso shortbread though....I just can't.)
While I would never-ever-ever encourage anyone to ditch coffee unless they needed to, I will say that I hope you visit some of your childhood favorites. Take a breath. Slow down. Sometimes it's great to run; you would never feel the wind if you didn't. But every now and then, even if it's just for a bit, pause, pick up a book, and stop to smell the ginger cookies.