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(Can't) Slow Down

Hey all. It's been a minute since I last wrote to you. Between recovering from my anxiety attack three weeks ago and dealing with some nasty allergies finally going down thanks to a thunderstorm, I haven't had much time to offer anything from my witty, usual self. Except... Look at this!

How about this?

Or even this?

One thing that's helped me recover and heal is lovely, long walks in my neighborhood, even if it's walking down a straight sidewalk into downtown DC. This time of year is charming when all the flowers bloom, and the world is just a bit brighter and more beautiful after a dreary winter. (Well, winter wasn't wintering this year, so that's why all of us suffer from horrible allergies! So, the next time you snow haters want a winter without snow, consider how much allergy sufferers will be miserable because of your wish. Be careful what you wish for...) It's also the best time of year to do something that's become an essential practice for me on my road to recovery: Slow down. Yes, even as we hustle and bustle, making phone calls, sending emails, going to meetings, dealing with late buses, and submitting materials, slowing down is essential. If all we do is hurry, hurry, hurry, without so much chance to take a breath, how can we notice the little things that can create the most beautiful impressions in the springtime? Things like this:

Or this:

Or even this?

I always look forward to going outside without coughing or sneezing. It's almost become a habit to get outside and be in the fresh air, and in many ways, it's proven to be a great source of inspiration when I'm having a problem or need to clear my head. Seriously! If you're dealing with a problem you can't seem to fix or need to escape for a little while, go outside. It does wonders. Sometimes, if I have an audition or callback, I go outside for a long walk to let go and get out of my head. Also, I allow myself to feel the emotions after walking out of the audition room. If I've had a rough day at work and must be outside to breathe, I must go out to clear my head. Or if the weather is too beautiful to be inside, I just got to go outside and enjoy. But the beauty of being outside this time of year is how much I need to slow down. It means a lot to put things into perspective and let my mind wander. Or feel the sunlight on my skin. Or feel the breeze in front of me or behind me. I hadn't had much time before my anxiety attack to slow down and be in the moment, and now I'm forced to do that. You could say I'm now "going with the flow." And there are wonders of going with the flow, including seeing sights like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

Are you getting my point? I hope so. There's more to life than just going at the speed of light to get things done, and even if you could, there are only so many hours in a day, and the last thing I want you to do is end up in the emergency room due to an anxiety attack, exhaustion, or worse. And what happens if you constantly keep going? You are so pooped you can't even have a friendly conversation at the dinner table. You're missing out on important events, like birthdays, weddings, dinner dates, trips to the cinema, or even pizza parties!

Allow me to be vulnerable for a moment: I get it. "Idle hands are the devil's handiwork" or something like that. And I know how much you want to put forth the effort to be at the top of your game because if you're not, you're deemed lazy or, worse, a failure. But what good is putting in the effort if you don't take the time to stop and smell the roses? Especially if it comes at a cost to your physical, mental, and emotional health. And the relationships that matter the most to you (not business!). And the moments that should matter the most to you, like your child's first steps, your best friend's wedding, family movie nights, or a dinner night. The last thing I want any of you to do is go through life constantly, hurrying without a chance to stop and look around you. And BREATHE. That's what I forgot to do all of this time. I didn't get one chance to breathe and fill my lungs with oxygen to help me think clearly, and exhale all of the worry and anxiety out of my system. Now, the only way I can go about my day is to do just that. The last thing I want to do is end up in urgent care again, or even worse, be admitted for psychiatric care because I couldn't even do a simple thing like breathe and let go of what's beyond my control. I have so many hopes and dreams that I want to come true, but I've learned the hard way what happens when I force them to happen or even worry at about four seconds a half-hour. It's not pretty, I can tell you that much. What good is succeeding if you don't care for yourself, even if it takes time to slow down? More than a minute, mind you! Your work will still be there - no matter how dull it is! Your computer and phone will still be there - even the latest TikTok videos can wait! Zoom will still be there - even with the technical difficulties! It shouldn't take much to step away and look at something different for a change. Maybe listen to a dad joke and get a belly laugh or two. Go for a stroll around the block a couple of times. Here's something radical: Turn OFF your phone completely! It WILL be okay to step away and breathe. No one is ever done successfully if you've held your breath and kept charging ahead without as much of a chance to step away and look at something different. Spring is here for a reason, and it's a chance to be reborn. It's also a chance to be renewed and rejuvenated. Nothing brings me peace and joy like seeing all the flowers blooming and making the world prettier for the next few months. And it's charming to breathe in the springtime air on long walks as a form of self-care and inspiration. (As long as it doesn't aggravate your hay fever!) It's also a time for new beginnings. Maybe that's what this time of slowing down means for me - there's a new beginning on the horizon, and it all starts by slowing down and taking a breath. One day at a time. I only wish it didn't have to happen through an anxiety attack, allergies, and some bad news all rolled up into one, but it did. I can't change that, but I can encourage you to slow down. It's okay. It's okay. And more importantly, you're going to be okay. I know you want things to happen that could be beneficial to your life and your career, but if you're constantly moving so fast you forget to breathe, you may miss out on witnessing colorful moments like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

It would be best if you didn't miss out on seeing the beauty this life offers, and it can't be found in material things, either. Slowing down does wonders for one's health, especially the heart, which may be the hardest to heal. But trust me when I say this: The only way to recover and heal is slowly. Don't rush it. It may seem like things aren't going how you want them to go, but maybe slowing down and accepting that you're not in control of what's not supposed to be in your possession can lead you to fantastic places and opportunities. Not thinking about it too much might lead you to the right place at the right time, luck notwithstanding. I can't guarantee you that you'll get everything you've ever wanted by slowing down, but I promise you that you'll get nothing if you keep going too fast. You may miss out on the people and moments most matter to you. Like your family. Your friends. Your neighborhood. Your community. Your date nights. Your trips to the cinema. Your kid's performances in a school play. Your trips to the seaside. Your excursions to the county fair. Your bedtime rituals with nighttime stories. Your camping trips. Your hikes across the hills and valleys. Your family dinners. Your favorite meals are being put together in the kitchen. Your lunchtime adventures with friends. Your share hugs with your parents, friends, children, and colleagues you care about. Your health - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Your passion and why you do what you want to do. Your long walks on a gorgeous spring day. Your self-care. There's no harm in slowing down. Take it from someone who knows (and is forced to be reminded of this daily on the road to recovery). I hope this week's blog post allows you to slow down and let the words simmer in your mind and heart, at least for a little while. Even still, these are my observations and experiences, and you are welcome to disagree with anything I've said in this post. But I won't tolerate disrespectful language or hate speech to myself or others. Kindness matters, and I will block you if you can't take the time to be kind, patient, respectful, and understanding to others.

It's okay to slow down. Nothing will run away from you if you take the time to step out and breathe. Springtime is the perfect time to do that because there's so much beauty in the world right now, with flowers blooming and life starting over again. Maybe this is your chance to start over again, and all you have to do is slow down. It would help if you didn't miss out on the opportunities that matter to you, and you shouldn't have to rely on your paycheck or station in life to define those opportunities. And with views like this:

And this:

Or even this:

Maybe it's not such a bad idea to slow down, breathe, and be in the moment. The rest of the puzzle will put itself together, eventually. Don't rush it. It will be okay.

Before anyone asks, I'm doing okay. I'm getting better each day, and the long walks around my neighborhood are helping me out substantially. My allergies are finally dissipating, and I can have a good night's sleep for once. It feels funny having to slow down, even as I continue to work on my career and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But there's a reason this happened, and it's reminding yours truly that I have to take breaths as often as I can. I wish I could be in a different place than I am now, but I'm not God, nor do I want to be God. Some things are out of my control, and I must be reminded daily that letting go is the best option. Sometimes the long walks remind me of this, and getting outside and out of my head is good. There are days when I'm too exhausted to even worry about things because of how much recovery is taking place. And that's perfectly fine by me. I wish it didn't take an anxiety attack, an onslaught of allergies, and some projects falling through to force me to see this. But when I think about it, it puts many things into perspective, such as knowing that my journey should not require a lot of fitting puzzle pieces that weren't meant to be in place at all and allowing the right pieces to come together naturally. Maybe that's my hope for you: In the puzzle of life, the right pieces will come together in time, not YOURS. But the most crucial piece that keeps everything together is called HOPE. Without that, the puzzle can't be completed. Hope is what's gotten me this far, and it will continue to serve me well. Even if I go very slowly. Slow and steady does win the race, after all.

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