because-I-said-so-goldI took my toddler to Target this morning and instead of buckling him into a cart, I let him hold my hand while we walked down the aisles.

We paused in the toy aisle, where he was smitten with a $40 talking cat. After checking out — without the cat, to his dismay — we stopped at the red sculptural balls near the store entrance. I let him stand on top of one. It added an additional 30 seconds, tops, to the excursion, but my son was as pleased as he would’ve been if I’d bought him the annoying cat.

I was pleased, too, because I generally stink at seizing the little moments.

I’m more apt to wave goodbye to them in the rear-view mirror. Carpe diem is great and all, but we’ve gotta go! In the last five years or so I’ve developed a tiring habit of always being in a hurry. My default mode is rushed.

Faster please, pick up the pace, hurry up. There are the phrases that seems to spill mindlessly out of my mouth. Sometimes these pleas are legitimate. Hurry and get dressed. Quick, get your shoes on or we’ll be late. Other times, I unconsciously tack them onto the beginning or end of a sentence, as when I told my 7-year-old to hurry up and slow down. Yes, those words actually came out of my mouth.

Many of the things I do, I do in a hurry. I shower and get dressed as quickly as possible. I apply my makeup in three minutes flat. I eat many of my meals standing up, rarely stopping to savor the food I’ve so carefully prepared. Why? I’m honestly not quite sure.

I usually blame it on the kids. I’ve got three young children, and it is a joyful but busy time of life. I tell myself I don’t have time to operate at a leisurely pace because of the kids. And while it’s true that there are jam-packed moments in every day, my kids are hardly taskmasters dead-set on a frenetic pace. They are perfectly content to stay in their pajamas all morning and spend hours with Play-doh at the kitchen table. I’m the one who is usually on the warpath with my to-do list.

But for the last month, I’ve been feeling really under the weather. Instead of wisely scaling back my activities, I kept charging full steam ahead. Until one day I couldn’t move, couldn’t get out of bed. A few days later I found out I had pneumonia. I’ve been forced to take things down a few notches as I recover.

Instead of constantly telling myself, “You’re in a hurry” or “You don’t have time for this,” I’ve switched to a gentler script: “No need to rush.” As it turns out, feeling stressed about the time doesn’t actually make it move any slower. It just makes me frazzled.

Yes, there will still be days when I’m racing against the clock. But that doesn’t need to be my default. I can be productive without being in a rush. I think it’s time I took my own advice: Hurry up and slow down.

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