Jennifer Dukes Lee knows about living slowly. As an author and farm wife, she's learned how to follow the land more closely than some follow Wall Street. She used to live hard and fast, constantly chasing the next best thing, but it took a toll on her body, heart, and soul. So she slowed down. She dug into her roots with her fifth-generation family farm in Iowa and a life of following Christ. Her latest book, Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-Hurrying Your Heart from an Accidental Farm Girl, is an empowering book about her path, but also a guide for others to find a life of slowing down and appreciating things deeper and longer-lasting than the latest big thing.
This story begins with a hard year on the farm, with unrelenting rains ruining all hope of a bountiful harvest. But Lee looked to the Bible for guidance, and there it was: plants do not labor or spin. They simply grow. ”Sure enough, in all my years as a farmer’s wife, I’ve never once seen a corn plant freaking out," she writes.
So what would happen if she applied this growing-slow method used in her family's farm to her real life? If she put aside all that hurrying—it was affecting her physical and mental well-being, after all—and allowed her roots to grow deep into the earth around her, forcing her to slow down? This book is a culmination of that year, following the seasons on the farm, and the real world lessons anyone can incorporate into their own life. Here are a few of those lessons.
Be still for a minute
If you sit still long enough, good things will come along. Or they won't. Fretting about it isn't going to change the outcome, though, so you should save yourself some anxiety by just waiting it out. I know, I know, easier said than done, but once you nail down that mindset, it will make your life so much more peaceful. When the rains wouldn't stop, Lee worried endlessly about what her family would do if the farm didn't yield any crops. The reality was that the plants were going to do their thing regardless of how she felt about it. And then they grew.
Build something that will last
Every day, whether you realize it or not, you're building something. It could be a strong legacy of love and kindness or it could be a wisp of a memory of someone who spent their life working hard and never really living. Which one sounds better to you? I hope it was the former. Focus on that, or your garden, or your farm, or your family. I promise it will bear more fruit in the long run than your resume will.
The little things are huge
When you're dead, people will remember you for how you made them feel. Lee had a wonderful friend who would pop into her life at just the right moment, offering her perfect words of wisdom and encouragement. For weeks after he passed, that kind of positivity is all anyone eulogized about him in their Facebook posts. Sure, he had an abundant professional career and accolades to show for it. But it was the personal connections that mattered and lived on beyond him.
Keep your relationships close
One of the worst parts of living a hurried life is losing relationships. In all the hustle and bustle, casual friendships are the first things to fall to the wayside. How can you possibly connect with your kid when you're rushing them to and from the next thing, and thinking about work the whole time? Lee puts it succinctly: "hurrying wounds the bonds of connection." Bring your relationships to the front.
If any of this sounds good to you, get yourself a copy of Jennifer Dukes Lee's Growing Slow. It'll change your life. Or at least change how you go about living it.