I’ve pretty much been a 75 mph person when it comes to moving through life. I’ve always been fast. My kids tease me. They used to go to sleep at night, wake up in the morning, come downstairs and all the furniture would be moved around. I’m not manic. I just like getting an idea and running with it. It’s happened with my career. I read an article in the paper about an SF image consultant and thought to myself, Maybe I’d like to do that. The next day I was hunting down trainers and signing up for courses.
As the saying goes, grass doesn’t grow under my feet.
I’m beginning to question that speed now. Moving into my sixties, speed of life is on my mind a lot. I’m thinking about choices: slowing down, saying no so I can say yes, accepting that I can’t and won’t do it all, rethinking what matters, contemplating what I really want to be doing. The finish line is a whole lot closer at 60 than it was at 35.
Some of this came up when I was talking to an artist friend of mine. We both have full lives with family, work and our creative endeavors. I was quizzing her about how she finds time to do it all. We both questioned our speed of life. In the course of our discussion about time and speed I told her my 35 mph story. She said, “Oh, you have to write about that.”
The time is now. I want to open up the topic and have a discussion with you. Let’s begin with the 35 mph story.
Dropping from 75 mph to 35 mph only because I had to
Living life at 75 mph wasn’t an option when I was going through cancer treatment over fifteen years ago. Enforced slowness made me mad.
A breast cancer survivor in Texas helped me with this struggle. Her name was Mrs. Connie Taylor. She loved beige. Every time I visited her she was wearing a Max Mara beige pencil skirt. She wore beige cardigan sets and beige pumps to match. She lived in a large sprawling ranch house (decorated in shades of beige) with open land all around it. What I loved about Mrs. Taylor is that she was so calm, kind and patient. If I was all upset about something, we’d sit on her beige couch and I’d tell her all about it. She never got rattled. She’d listen and then share a short sentence or two of wisdom.
Sometimes she’d take me for drives in her pink Cadillac convertible. I loved those rides. I felt so safe in that pink Cadillac with Mrs. Taylor at the wheel. I loved the cushy ivory leather seats. Sometimes someone else would drive and she’d sit in the backseat with me. We didn’t go fast; we went 35 miles per hour. More than that was too much for me at the time. We’d be on a gravel road (funny, there was never any dust up from the gravel) and there would be farmland and rustic fences on both sides of the road. Riding in a car going 35 miles per hour was surprisingly very enjoyable. I quite liked it!
Those afternoons I spent with Mrs. Taylor and the drives we took together in the pink Cadillac convertible didn’t happen in real time. They happened within the hour of my guided visualization sessions. My doctor had suggested I try guided visualization, one of the healing modalities they had downstairs from where I got chemo treatments. She respected the mind-body intervention and thought it would help me.
That’s where I met Karin, the professional guided visualization practitioner. Near the end of each session Karin would bring me out of that dreamlike state I’d enter at the beginning of our session and we’d talk about what it all could mean. I got relief and relief was good for my immune system.
My speed limit was tested with my out-of-town paid gig from Nordstrom
I was put to the speeding test when three weeks after I’d finished radiation (consider now that I’ve spent 9 months in treatment and was pooped) I was under contract by Nordstrom to fly to Minneapolis, pull together a fashion show, give a 30-minute talk on fashion for women over 40, and then hang out with shoppers helping them make purchases. Normally I’m running at 75-90 miles per hour when I’m preparing and delivering a professional public event like this.
The morning of the event I was going over my notes in my hotel room. I kept reminding myself, Brenda, just remember, you only have to do this at 35 mph. I knew that if I switched into a higher gear, my stamina would be gone in five minutes.
I arrived at Nordstrom in the Mall of America. The audience was showing up early and getting the good seats. About five minutes before I was supposed to get behind the podium and open my mouth I realized my notes, all of my notes, were back in the car. Oh boy! I had no time to go get them. But then I heard “35 mph, Brenda, 35 mph” inside my head. I took a breath, thought of Connie Taylor and the ivory leather seats of the pink Cadillac. I relaxed, opened my mouth and gave the best talk to date. It was fun, breezy, informative, uplifting – all at 35 mph.
When my health returned, I started adding more and more things to my schedule because I had more stamina. It seemed natural to do. I was slowly getting back to my old speed.
Turning sixty has made me question the speed of life. I know I’m not going 75 mph. It’s more like 60 mph. I’ve spoken to a client of mine and friends of mine who are all talking about the fact that we can’t seem to pack so much in like we used to. We don’t have that same energy. We value getting our beauty rest, making time for friends, yet we still want to get things done!
So I turn to you, dear friends. What speed are you living at these days? Are you satisfied? Do you miss the old days/ways? What’s changed for you? What choices are you making? Let’s talk!