Sometimes I feel like the only thing I know how to do is hustle. I can still hear my high school softball coach yelling, dirt flying from my cleats, as I tried my darndest to get to first base at a respectable speed. I think one time he actually told me to “Unhook the wagon!” So. Good thing I could throw. I guess I was never known for my actual speed, but I had heart and my heart really wanted to be fast.

I hustled my way through college too, rarely missing class and studying hard, graduating magma cum laude. I kept up the actual running too-mostly to try and outrun my freshman 15, but I ran nonetheless. I still had a coach, albeit in my mind, screaming “Dig, dig, dig!”.

I’ve always admired those who hustled, the ones with worn out sneakers and a pile of accomplishments. I’ve also always had this sense that if I stopped hustling than I would drop the ball. And if I dropped the ball, I would lose.

Hustling has served me really well up until now. I was rewarded over and over for it with making teams, getting the grades, crossing off that to-do list like a boss. But now it doesn’t always work out for me so well. Now I realize I may have missed some important little things along the way when I had my nose to the ground, sniffing out the finish line. Now I’m not as satisfied when I arrive on time, mad at everyone else in my path who doesn’t have the same sense of urgency. Now I don’t feel like that hurrying always pays off with a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Now I may be missing the point.

I keep preaching the slow down gospel because I need to keep hearing it. The truth is I am absolutely horrible at letting up the pace. Most of the time I don’t even know how to do anything but work. I thought the stuck-in-your-ways habits were only stubborn in the later years but I’m finding that they have an iron will even now as I round the bend to 38. I’m a little insensitive and unaware sometimes until life grabs my shoulders and looks me in the eye, and asks me to be still again. To stop for even just a little while, to rest before I work again.

I laid in the sun today on our front porch, right smack in the middle of February, the weather an unusual 60 degrees. I listened to the kids next door do bottle flipping and I read a book about writing and how it’s not about perfection but more about clutter and mess and finding treasures right there in the middle of it all. Warmth in winter, words read through the noise, bringing the hustling to a slow and then full…stop.

My form of perfectionism might be working so much that it might just make life the way I want it to be; accomplished and well done. Perfect with smooth edges. The fact that the work is never finished is the thorn in my side and until the day I die, I’ll probably be trying to outrun it or maybe just make it a neck and neck race. But the contest won’t ever be close and if it is, it’ll be but a moment before I’ve fallen behind again. So often I get in my own way and start adjusting the speed of things, thinking faster is more and better and proves my worth. But God shows me differently and I know now that rest is one of the gifts He gives to remind us that we need Him and there are gifts in the slow moments if we choose to stop and notice them.

I’ve even written and re-written this post for a few weeks now, wondering what my point might be. Maybe just a reminder to myself that dropping the ball doesn’t always equal losing and running fast doesn’t always equal winning.

And I think I just needed to get that down in writing. Thanks for reading my friends. Now go take a rest…

Dear Emmy,

My favorite thing that you say might be something I hear almost every day;

Mommy, I wanna hold you.”

What you mean by that is that you want me to pick you up. But I think it means more than that. Because when I hold you Emmy, you do hold me too; in more ways than one. When you hold me, you wrap your arms all the way around my neck so they criss cross in the back, locking me in, enclosing me tight. You tuck your head right in and I bury my face in your unruly dark hair, the rest of the world pausing for that moment with you. That’s a good moment right there, Em.

I have some other favorites too-like when you know I’m worried or upset you say,

Take a deep breath, Mommy…It’s ok, it’s ok…” while you hold my cheek and nod your head.

Empathy flows from your little soul and I didn’t teach it to you. It’s all wound up and knitted into your genes, into the very essence of who you are. It can seem so peculiar when I try to reason it all out, the little different things you say and do. But then I stop trying to explain it and, relieved, I shrug my shoulders and decide I’m so very grateful for each of them, explainable or not.

You like your nails painted purple now and you tell people you like their shirts or their boots, a little fashionista in the making. You ask to wear other women’s jewelry and I think you may know now that you pretty much get what you want with those requests. But before people think you’re all sugar and spice, you call one of us a “mean head” and we hide our laughter and tell you that’s not nice. Your scream can rival an emergency siren in volume, those little lungs an impressive force. I know I need to come looking for you fast when I call your name and you respond with “Nothing!” This absolutely means you are squeezing out an entire tube of toothpaste or decorating your clothes with permanent marker. Just like your siblings, you can bring me right to my wit’s end but you’ve got a knack for bringing me right back, your shenanigans changing to affection at the drop of a hat.

But that thing you say, that you want to hold me…that might just be my favorite thing of all right now. Even though you’re not saying what you mean, what you do say slows my rushing down to a full stop. So I can let you lock me in again. I don’t think I’ll ever correct you-who knows…maybe you know exactly what you’re saying.

I can’t imagine a different life, sweet girl.

Thanks for holding me, Emmy.