Slowness is not a speed I come by naturally. For as long as I can remember, I’ve placed great pride on my ability to go-go-go, to push through anything, to work through bouts of boredom, exhaustion, and burnout. This was the reality until I discovered the peace and clarity that can come from moments of stillness.
In 2014, inspired by the book The Artist’s Way, which was gifted to me by a dear friend to read on a month-long sabbatical, this mindset started to shift. I began appreciating the practice of morning pages Julia Cameron introduced in this book—a practice done daily, consisting of three pages, written by hand to start your day. As an artist, a mother of a young child, and a creative executive, this reflective easing into my day, ONLY concerned with my own thoughts was MAGIC.
An unlocking happened. Curious to introduce more and more moments of stillness, introspection, and calm into my life, I sought other practices to extend this feeling into the structure of my days. Where I used to rush through my morning and onto the next crisis of the day, I now have a few simple rituals I’ve found to keep me connected, living with intention, and ready to meet whatever the world brings my way with grace, humor, and peace.
Inspired by Julia Cameron’s morning pages, I start most days off with some journaling. I jot down three to five pages of notes, written stream of consciousness, that cover all things from dreams to fears to moments of gratitude to grocery lists. It’s a brain decluttering exercise that eases my squirrel brain into the day. Done consistently, I’ll see threads that need connecting—an idea I want to explore, a painting to try, the yearning for travel, a relationship that needs some attention. I do this practice first thing, before the rest of my house is awake, with some tea or coffee, sleepy-eyed and still in my pajamas.
Where I used to rush through my morning and onto the next crisis of the day, I now have a few simple rituals I’ve found to keep me connected, living with intention, and ready to meet whatever the world brings my way.
I am not one of those people who naturally LOVES meditation. Often, I struggle to get myself to this practice, but the after-effects keep me coming back again and again. Most days, I take a pause midday (pre or post-lunch), set aside ten to thirty minutes, and get still. One day, I hope to be a silent meditator, but for now, I am a big fan of Insight Timer’s guided meditations—especially anything from Sarah Blondin or Lalah Delia. Taking a mini time out, especially on the busiest of days, keeps my energy consistent, open, and flowing from a state of love and gratitude.
As a mother, I see firsthand the value of my child taking a rest when life is hectic. Only recently have I started to apply this lesson to my own life, occasionally taking a midafternoon rest break to read under a blanket or rest my eyes for twenty to thirty minutes. I’m still an aspiring napper, but for me, this quick unplugging gives my brain and body the boost it needs to come back to my day with a fresh perspective.
Slowness and mindful practices can and should vary for each person, for each day, and for each season of life. What works for me, at this moment, may not work for me tomorrow—or for you the next day. Experimenting and trying new ways to connect to yourself, to slow down, even if only for a few minutes each day, is a great way to find presence in the present moment. To bring clarity and curiosity into your routine. To show up as the best version of yourself—connected and curious—in your work, your relationships, your world.
Jill Elliott is an artist, wallpaper designer and writer constantly seeking inspiration and balance. You can find Jill’s wallpaper and original art at Color Kind Studio. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her daughter and puppy.