Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Should we slooooow dooown?

Last night I went to the presentation of my near-friend (we don't actually hang out a lot but always hug and have warm friendly vibes when we see each other!) Cecile Andrews, a Seattle author, newspaper columnist and national expert on living simply.

I met her through her husband, Paul, a columnist for The Seattle Times, when I worked there. They co-founded the Phinney Ecovillage, a place devoted to creating neighborhood sustainability and community.

Her new book, "Slow is Beautiful: New Visions of Community, Leisure and Joie de Vivre," was the fascinating topic of the evening.

Basically, she says that all our rushing around is killing our relationships and quality of life. In order to have great relationships, we need to slow down and spend more time with one another; we need to cut back on the hours we work and create more time for "leisure," that is, gaining and maintaining close personal relationships.

After all, despite the belief that money, gadgets and lots of activity makes us happy, the fact is (according to studies) what really makes us happy is great personal relationships. And in order to have them we need to devote time to them.

Other nations make certain they have more time for hanging out - 5 weeks of annual vacation is the norm. In Germany, they recently increased Volkswagon's factory full time hours to *25* a week.

In a country where family values continue to be stressed, many US companies continue the trend to have their employees work more hours for less money; with layoffs always on their mind, workers are more apt to accept these conditions.

Cecile suggests we start focusing on the quality of our lives and relationships in order to enjoy fulfilling lives that bring us genuine happiness, and has a number of suggestions for us to give it a try.

Perhaps the most important change that has to be made - if it can be - is our attitude.

In many countries, getting a morning latte means sitting down and sharing time with a family member, coworker or friend. In the US, many people think it's fine to get a latte to go and drink it all alone as they drive. If you're thinking, "So?" Um, yeah. Changing the attitude might be a big job!

But she brought up some great questions: how do you spend your "leisure" time? Do you have a place you can go to feel comfortable in the company of others - to hang out and share an interest or just have a great conversation?

Or is the choice of leisure time the TV, computer, Ipod, or other electronic entertainment devices?

Interestingly, while computers and other electronic gadgets (cell phone, Blackberry, etc.) are supposed to make us more productive, apparently they actually decrease productivity.

My question to Cecile that will take some thinking to figure out: With a cultural attitude of "feed me" - people wanting to be constantly fed entertainment, information, games and other busy stuff - how can they understand how to create, to be "productive."

For example, if my attitude is that I need to have something or someone else feed me entertainment all the time, I don't develop the skills it takes to create - to produce.

We're raising a population of people who want to consume - to take, but what is most personally and professionally rewarding is the ability to create - to give.

Earlier, between coaching sessions, I started doing energy work with a terrific French woman named Victoria. She is part of an advanced program studying physical and emotional energy. It's a combination of physical/massage and emotional work designed to help maintain a complete balance of the two. I'm really looking forward to our weekly sessions!

I also did some work on my book - you know, speaking of leisure, it sounds like I'm busy all the time, but in fact I had time to walk, hang out and do other enjoyable things today at a leisurely pace, in a leisurely way.

Since change is the name of the game these days - I'm going to start focusing my leisure time more on quality social events, which should be most enjoyable, instead of considering writing my main leisure activity!

Meanwhile, sadly, I must report: R.I.P FYP.


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