It’s the most wonderful and most busy time of year. Once Thanksgiving hits it can feel like a mad dash to the New Year. There can be so many wonderful, generous, magical moments if we stop to notice them whizzing by in a blur.

Slow Down to Go Fast

Lately, I keep hearing different variations of the same sentiment: slow down to go fast. Personally, I’m not sure I’m good at following that motto, but I believe it is important to consider. In a rush I often create more work for myself. This time of year can be especially hard with the added tasks of cooking, baking, getting presents, wrapping presents, and forcing your friends to go caroling with you in the freezing cold—all the usual stuff.

During the holiday season, one of my favorite things to do is to stop, sit wrapped in a blanket, turn off all the normal lights, and look at the white lights on the tree or in my Christmas village. It’s possible I’m really an 80-year-old woman. I gaze at all the ornaments and remember the people who gave them to me and the stories they conjure.

It’s a nice time of year for reflection.

As I reflect on this year, one event keeps returning in my mind. Earlier this year I attended a fundraising walk for suicide prevention. I’d never attended a walk that wasn’t a race. This event was solely for charity and raising awareness. I was expecting to show up, get a bib, and walk while some participants raced to the finish line. But this event was not about getting in and out.

Out of Darkness Event

Prior to a normal road race, runners gather in mass at the start line, hopping around to keep warm, waiting for the gun to go off, pausing momentarily for the National Anthem. It’s a great intensity with a lot of excitement. There’s nothing wrong with it.

The mood at the walk for suicide prevention was completely different. Writing those words makes me feel foolish. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. I just truly anticipated a race-charity combo. This is in part because I struggle with the motto “go slow to go fast.” We sometimes get caught up in our own worlds and since my book came out a year ago, I’ve had a very busy year (all good and exciting, but very busy). In my rat race of a life, I was expecting everyone to be running at top speed.

Being Present

Luckily they were not. Before walking, at sign in, participants were encouraged to grab beaded necklaces (like the kind you’d get at Mardi Gras). You picked the color based on how you were connected to a suicide. Orange if you’d lost a child, white if you’d lost a parent, and other colors for friends, children, or a personal struggle. I grabbed blue for generally supporting the cause and purple for a lost relative in honor of the cousin my family had come to walk for. We wrote the names of our loved one on a rock to place along the trail. This event was already more pensive than I’d anticipated and technically it hadn’t even started.

Before starting to walk, the large crowd gathered on a green and people spoke about different types of loss. Parents who has lost a child spoke about the pain and those who had orange beads put them on. As a group we donned the beads color by color, loss by loss. It was somber, but beautiful in the way somber moments sometimes are. Here were a bunch of people connected by tragedy, taking a moment to pause, recognize, and see they were not alone.

To kick off the walk, they played Let it Be by the Beatles. It wasn’t the normal Eye of the Tiger that motivates runners at the start of a race. Let it Be was slower, but still powerful and empowering. It was solemn in the moment but delivered a strong message.

Moments of Reflection

Sometimes it is taking those moments to look at the light on a cold winter night, make sure we are present to listen to someone’s story, and realize we are not alone even in the moments we physically are. The world is spinning fast on its axis. When we slow down we gain a little control over the pacing of our own lives. Because while I do think you need to slow down to go fast, perhaps the goal does not need to be to go fast at all. That day at the walk slowing down did not make things go fast, it did provide strength in spirit and connection.

I hope you enjoy some slow moments that fill you with strength and joy this holiday season and throughout the New Year.

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