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Slow Down

My family has dual citizenship between the US and Italy, so I was steeped in my Italian-American heritage from a young age. Big meals with the whole family, Italian gestures and phrases that the kids didn't understand, and wine as far as the eye could see, among the most prevalent. As a dual citizen, I am also aware of what my children see and hear of their culture. Suffice it to say, I am happy that they have a culture to claim in the American melting pot where everyone is too frequently relegated to the same whitewashed experiences that amount to a combination of colonialism, capitalism, and consumerism. For better or worse, they are getting those viewpoints as well, but I want them to see that there are other ways of seeing and interacting with the world around them and enjoy every cultural heritage they see, in addition to their own.

Nevertheless, I am culturally of the United States no matter my heritage and often enough that juxtaposition shines through, especially when it comes to the white, American cultural norms of punctuality (and the anxiety that can exist around it). I was raised in a home where we made it to school on time every day (because my mom was a teacher), ate meals together at the same time every night (followed by an episode of syndicated Star Trek), and had a shared family calendar (replete with each day's activities). I have found that with my kids, I am a wreck most frequently when we have some place to be and we are running on-time. If you have kids you know that "running on-time" will almost always mean late. But do I have to be anxious about this? My Italian heritage says no.

Interestingly enough, this anxiety around the "hustle and bustle" of life also comes out in my favorite (and supposed to be relaxing) activities of being outdoors: walking, hiking, biking, etc. I find very frequently I use these times outside to get in my steps or fit in a workout; again, this is an American thing. Because I assign a purpose to each walk or bike ride, I am effectively shifting it from a time of relaxation and rejuvenation to a time of stress and a to-do list. The pandemic didn't help this shift, either; the family needed to get out of the house, so we went for walks or bike rides. It was family bonding tinged with the stresses of a pandemic and a desire to check off our daily activity to-do list items, to close the rings of activity, exercise, stand hours, stress, and vitamin D.

My last post was about goals. I have been tasked with coming up with one final goal and associated tasks to breakthrough the push at the end of the leadership program. On Friday, I was drawing a blank, but this weekend and morning, I realized that I probably need to focus this goal on slowing down. I have been working to be thoughtful and intentional about a lot of areas with the two leadership programs: equity, diversity, and inclusion, focus, influence, talent development, emotional intelligence, etc. I have even been onboarding new staff with the flexibility of allowing them to slow down in mind, but I have not been affording such a thing to myself.

We live in a fast-paced world; it takes intentionality to disconnect, it takes courage to pause, it takes an understanding of yourself and your personal needs to say no to things when everything around you suggests that yes is better, that more is better. Perhaps tomorrow I won't run for that bus or yell at a kid for not putting their shoes on when I have asked them to do so 100 times already or find frustration in that long store line or skip the conversation with a stranger for feed scrolling or spend the entire day sitting at my desk when the last few days of warm weather are just outside the window.