Thursday, December 6, 2007

Speeding Up to Slow Down

Speeding Up to Slow Down by Jason

The flowers were breathtakingly beautiful: bougainvillea like I've only seen in Hawaii and cannot grow at home in Houston. They covered a wall almost 15 feet long and half as high. Brilliant sprays of orange, red and fuchsia offset against a background of the deepest green.

I saw all this out of the corner of my eye as I sped by at 25 mph, pedaling as fast as I could. The peloton of riders was ahead of me, and I didn't want to be last for lunch.

It didn't matter that I was in the Puglia region of southern Italy, cycling along the "heel" of the Italian "boot" on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. It didn't matter that I was supposed to be vacationing, taking in the sights. What mattered at that particular moment was where I was going and how fast I could get there.

The thought that I was here to relax, see the countryside and restore my sense of balance hadn't quite taken root in my mind. I had to move fast, catch up, keep up and get ahead � everything I had traveled 15 hours by plane to Italy NOT to do.

I wasn't the only one who'd forgotten why we were here. Fifteen other riders, including my husband Tom, were all going down the same track � the one we'd come here to leave behind us. There was one difference. They were all faster riders than I was. That meant I had to WORK a lot harder just to keep the unchanging view of the back of the peloton in sight. And to think, I had come here to play.

"Riding Lesson" Restores the Joys of the Road

With the realization that if I kept doing what I was doing, I'd be WORKING for 7 days, I put on my brakes and slowed to a stop. Checking my mirror for traffic, I turned around as three other riders pedaled by. One rider asked if I was okay.

Now I was okay because I was choosing to honor not only Puglia, but myself and the reason I came here in the first place. I hadn't come all the way to Italy to ride with the peloton; I'd come to relax.

"Stopping to smell the flowers" is an overused clich�, but that's exactly what I did. I stopped to smell the flowers � and the olive trees and the freshly turned earth of the fields I had been zipping past. I stopped to smell the salty air blowing off the Adriatic Sea, fresh bread cooling in a bakery window, lunch cooking in homes along the roadway. The aromas increased my appetite for lunch and for life. What I was smelling wasn't important, but the fact that I'd finally stopped long enough to take in the smells made all the difference.

When Tom came pedaling back, I was easy to find. I was sitting under a 150-year-old olive tree staring at that wall of bougainvillea. When he saw me, he didn't say a word, but parked his bicycle and sat beside me. Together we enjoyed my discovery. Not just the flowers, but the peace and the pace.

The peloton was long gone. The street was quiet. Now we could hear the everyday sounds of Italian life � two people arguing, a dog barking, a tractor in a nearby field. Not a word passed between us as we soaked up the smells and the sounds.

After 20 blissful minutes we remounted our bicycles. We shifted into a lower gear and started back up the road. Our destination and direction were the same, but now our purpose had changed. We were riding for the reasons we'd come this far.

We eventually caught up with the group. They'd reached the farmhouse where we were having lunch and were enjoying cold drinks and wine. Tom and I still had another 20 minutes until the signora would call us to the table � plenty of time to clean up and slake our thirsts.

Restoration Has Its Own Rewards

Visiting with the other riders over lunch, I realized that they had spent their extra time at the farmhouse rehashing the ride. When I mentioned the bougainvillea, two thought they'd seen the flowers, but the others had no memory of the sight. They were more concerned with who passed whom, how fast they'd ridden from the coast to the farmhouse and where they'd purchased their cool biking gear back in the States.

For sure we were all enjoying our vacations. I was simply enjoying a vacation that would renew me for my return to the business responsibilities awaiting me at home. The fact that the other riders missed the flowers didn't diminish their enjoyment, but seeing and smelling them enhanced my own. Tom and I didn't ride faster than 12 mph for the rest of the trip. We were never first to lunch and we weren't always last, but we enjoyed the rides more than ever.

Career, family and social demands pull us in many different directions, often all at the same time. I don't know about you, but both my clients and I benefit when I slow down. Making time to pace ourselves and "smell the flowers" is not only important � it's mandatory. I am much more creative and work at a much higher level when I've taken the time to relax and restore, and my business reaps the rewards.

Vacations Are Where You Find Them
The good news is you don't have to travel anywhere to enjoy this kind of restoration. You can vacation right at home. My "second mom," who is 74, vacations in her bathtub with candles, bath oil, a glass of wine and her favorite CD. You can do the same, and you don't have to wait until you're 74. Maybe you prefer to sit in your backyard with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, or curl up in bed with a deliciously light book. You might even want to visualize a favorite place or recall a rejuvenating experience from the past.

Try this for the next three days: Set aside just five minutes to relax every day. Then keep expanding your relaxation time until you get to 20 minutes each day. Next add a nightly session. Soon you will experience the mental freedom you enjoy when you're on vacation.

Tom has a saying he read somewhere that goes, "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." He says this whenever I catch him "just sitting." Make your own time to sit. You'll thank yourself for it later. In the meantime, I'll be sitting under a 150-year-old olive tree, breathing in the scent of bougainvillea � but this time around I'll be doing it from my Jacuzzi� with a glass of Italian wine.

Inc. Top 10 Entrepreneur Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD is the founder and president of Vickie Milazzo Institute ( She is credited by The New York Times with creating the legal nurse consulting profession in 1982. She is the recipient of the Nursing Excellence Award for Advancing the Profession and the Stevie Award as Mentor of the Year. Vickie has revolutionized the careers of thousands of RNs.

Article Source: Articles Directory - ArticleGOLD

No comments: