Lightening Up and Slowing Down to Juggle in Our Priorities

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”—Thomas Merton

Business phone conversations are shorter and meetings seem more rushed. Many of those with whom I associate professionally are juggling to find ways of spending quality time with their children this summer as they also try to work.

I confess I have rushed home–instead of lingering longer to network–so I could take my son on an afternoon bike ride or get him to a Babe Ruth baseball game. The quiet, reflective time I need to write is increasingly become a luxury.

Yet, when I step back and remember my life priorities, mothering well has always been one of them. I am accepting it is temporarily harder to balance it all in summer.

As I get accustomed to feeling slightly more frazzled than I would like, I also am becoming endeared to the more casual ways I do business. I liked meeting the man I do some freelance writing for at his home, and being introduced to his wife, son and dog. Seeing him as a spouse and a parent made our connection seem more authentic.

The morning client who dropped her children off at summer camp arrived a few minutes late, which was perfectly okay. I understand first-hand that scrambling to deliver children on-time to their destinations is not always smooth.

My colleague who sometimes emails from her boat always delivers as promised, even if sometimes by sea.

Many tell me of life seeming slightly more chaotic, particularly as their college students with a new sense of freedom re-enter their lives and alter their schedules. As I hear these stories, along with my own moments of frustration, I am reminded of a newspaper column I wrote just a few weeks earlier about slowing down.

I share that column with you now.

The Tri-Town Transcript
July 1, 2011

Moving on-Crossing the bridge-Growing up

By Gail Kauranen Jones
(from her bi-weekly Transitions Column, “The Gifts of Change”)

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

–Dr. Seuss

They call it the “moving on” ceremony, when our children leave middle school to attend high school. It is symbolized by each of the eighth graders crossing over a wooden bridge to receive their graduation diplomas.

Last month, I watched my 14-year-old son cross that bridge, along with others in his class of 355 eighth graders.

Having witnessed this same ceremony five years earlier with my daughter who is soon to be a college sophomore, I vowed at this event with my son to pay much closer attention. For what I know now, that I did not fully comprehend as a first-time parent, is that moving on also signifies a huge letting go.

In the four action-packed years of high school with my daughter, so many moments flew by as we focused on college applications, SATs and her extracurricular activities. I wish I could grab back several of our times together, listening more carefully or savoring them more slowly.

As I watch in awe of my daughter’s now independent life working summers here to pay for college and attending school in North Carolina, it all happened too fast for me, as too many moments were spent “doing” versus “being”– even though I had prided myself on being an attentive parent.

Wiser this time with my son, as I sat nestled in the jam-packed bleachers in the gymnasium where his ceremony was held, I was more fully present to every word uttered, the music playing, the clothing the children (or their parents) chose to wear to mark the occasion, and the facial expressions and social graces shown.

Looking at many of my son’s classmates—who, like he, appeared to have sprouted two inches taller than me in the last 24 hours– I pondered in what other ways these children have grown. Many, who I knew as toddlers, are now class leaders and athletes. Others have met life challenges such as the death of a parent or someone else they loved.

I thought carefully about each of them, hoping they find their unique place in the years ahead amongst this class of 2015.

Then, returning my focus on my son, I watched him cross the bridge with a huge smile on his face. I inhaled deeply and with contentment, knowing I am getting better at holding on while letting go.

# # # #

BELIEF TIPS OF THE WEEK for Lightening Up and Slowing Down to Juggle in Our Priorities:
To instill in a new, related belief, write out the statements below long-hand a few times each day. Then, repeat out loud as frequently as you desire, but especially in the morning and at night when in restful states.

1. I allow myself to slow down and savor summer moments with my children.

2. I allow myself to accept summer’s pace is temporary, and to enjoy it.

3. I allow myself to repeat as frequently as possible, as I lighten up this summer, “I may not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent.”

Perhaps we can remember the same for our children, even when we have had too much together time and start to test one another’s patience. They are each excellent in their own ways. Let’s enjoy them, along with our work.

Beth Shedd’s husband, Chris, posed for this week’s photo in their backyard. The picture serves as a metaphor for the varied priorities Chris “juggles” as a father, husband and successful entrepreneur. Through his intuitive sense and goal of achieving harmony, he balances his multiple roles.

SUMMER COACHING: Replenishing Body and Soul

Is there a behavior, belief or even a relationship  you would like to leave behind or add to your life at this juncture?

A great way to physically “let go” or “let in” is by experiencing Gail’s coaching while walking.

Back by popular demand, Gail is offering her innovative work on the sands of Crane’s Beach in Ipswich. Early morning and late afternoon sessions are now being scheduled. For more information, please call Gail at:


And, if you prefer receiving coaching by phone or at her office, she is offering summer package deals, discounted during the months of July and August for those who commit to three or more sessions.


Share this post

  • Sarah says:

    The age old issue of slowing down and savoring what life offers that is truly important. You did it so beautifully in describing your son’s transition and your observation of it. If we could all take at least one time a week more than we normally do to slow down and just be, I know those are the moments we will remember and have significance.

    • Gail says:

      Thank you Sarah…and your suggestion of taking at least one time a week to slow down and just be is very helpful.

  • elizabeth says:

    As an entrepreneur and the parent of a soon-to-be high school senior, your post resonated with me. I have lived the chaotic feeling of summers for all of her growing up years, pulled to savor summer yet stressed from trying to fit full days of work into available time. I’ve done better this summer at accepting a slower pace, but your reminder to “be present” with my daughter this last year we are together before a bigger bridge-crossing, is a wake-up call. Thank you.

    • Gail says:

      Elizabeth: I am glad my reminder to “be present” resonated with you, particularly during this last year of full-time parenting before your daughter launches into a much more independent life. Thank you for also sharing the chaotic feelings you had while trying to do it all as a full-time working parent, particularly in summer. Many will appreciate your candor, I am sure.

  • Isn’t it great how most of us do get wiser with the passing of time? And “being” more and “doing” less seems to be a common key.

    • Gail says:

      It certainly is great, Lyndra, to finally acquire the skill of “being” more…so many gifts come TO us when we simply allow life to unfold, and cherish our essence in the process. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  • >