Last night’s event at the mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library was an incredibly humbling experience. People from China, the Ukraine, France, Puerto Rico, Latin America and North America assembled to talk about time abundance. Since several audience members had heard my speech the week prior at the National Arts Club of New York, I varied some of it to make it interesting. Eighty people showed up. I was astounded at the level of interest and the yearning for permission to slow down in this 24/7 world of ours. Young and old,  foreigners and citizens gathered together in the most extraordinary way.

This week has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. May we all embrace the slow and in doing so realize how connected we truly are.

Pig-tailed and wide-eyed, I see my 11-year-old self sitting under that oak tree in my mother’s front yard. I am holding a clipboard whose metal clamp is adorned with a puffy sticker and goggley eyes. I am writing my very first story about a girl on the prairie who can only save her sick father by riding in a magic balloon. It is decades before Balloon Boy reaches that frontierless stretch of Internet pedantry. Delving into the rich, dreamy nature of prose, I escape to the home of my soul.

Today is a rich blessing of achievement, but much more than that it is a moment in time in which I can say I have thought up, and now lived, the American Dream. From scrunch-nosed tween to full-blown woman, I have become that which I have always wanted: a published author with a New York publishing house.

The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World (St. Martin’s Press, ISBN: 978-0312570484) offers a deep journey for all who choose to say yes to themselves in our spin-out-of-control world. From Japan (where the book is already reportedly amongst the top 300 in business life books) to the shores of Massachusetts, from Germany to India, from South Africa to Finland, I embrace each and every one of you who wants to read this book. It is about mindful living, about taking a moment to step back at the Big Picture of your life, and find out what is truly important to you. By embracing a positive relationship with time, you can do just that.

Chances are you will find your true self amongst its pages. And when you do, share that self with others. And maybe share the book, too, so that they too can discover themselves just as you have.

My humblest blessings upon you all. May you live the American Dream no matter where you are in the world.

 

Sunshine Days

October 26, 2009

The weather has been unexpectedly spectacular since I have been in the States. New York hit 70F on last Thursday. It stayed warm even when it rained the following day. Boston’s weather has been the same. Today the sun warmed our faces as we smiled at the sky while walking about Davis, Porter and Harvard Square.

I met Stever Robbins face to face today. It turns out he is a fellow Macmillan author who is putting the finishing touches on his final chapter before handing in his manuscript on November 1. His Get it Done Guy podcast focuses on productivity. He is as witty in person as he is on the air.

It was a slow day of talking and walking and carving pumpkins with friends. These are the moments we remember most. Remember to bring the blur of your days into focus with experiences like these. It is well worth the time you spend cultivating the garden of your life!

Last night’s kick-off event at the National Arts Club of New York was incredible! I was humbled by people’s yearning to reset their personal metronome to the beat that works for them. Stress-induced speed kills creativity, imagination and our circadian rhythm. That is not to say you cannot go fast. The irony is the more you engage in the power of slow, the more efficient you become.

My heartfelt thanks to Guy Frazier for organizing the event and for all of you who came. May the spirit of slow embrace you on your life’s journey this day and always!

Slow Thought of the Day

October 22, 2009

It occurred to me that while fast might be sexy for some, it’s  just not sustainable over time. Digging through data in the Animal Kingdom, I got curious about life expectancy and the like. Did you know that the average life expectancy of a domesticated rabbit is 8 to 12 years? And the average life span of an American Box Turtle? 123 years.

How would you rather be?

The National Arts Club of New York is hosting my book launch party this evening at 8 p.m. They’ve changed the room to accomodate a bigger crowd. Let’s rock the house in that slow flow way. So looking forward to it!

California State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law last year banning hand-held cell phone use while driving. Yet even his wife, Maria Shriver, finds it hard to adhere to the rules. CNN.com reports she was caught on film several times as she drove while chatting on her hand-held device.

It appears no one is immune to the multitasking temptations of our Digital Age.

Predicto Mobile CEO Eyal Yechazkell says break the habit by switching off the device altogether or, if in some cases, even find a support group to help.

It has come to this. We are our own worst enemy ~ pretty soon our hyperconnectivity will have serious consequences, yet no one seems to really take the issue seriously. Even Ms. Shriver has fallen prey to the allure of chatting while cruising.

My concern is people are starting to defend their right to carry (and use) cell phones in the car as many are about the right to bear arms. I’m not sure where this conversation will end ~bans themselves do not appear to be working. We need a collective dialogue about what is safe…and what is not. Until we raise our consciousness about these matters, the culprits will still be on the road in full-time distraction. Fasten your seat belts, people. We may be in for a rough ride until then.

Retrevo, an online gadget shop, came up with a neat survey whose results are not that surprising. The 35 and under crowd is clearly in love with its mae westPDAs. In fact, 36% of those surveyed said they updated their social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter immediately after sexual intercourse. A most upsetting 40% admitted to doing so while driving (updating, that is!).

Whether they are driving an automobile or their love life, clearly a large number of younger folks have shifted their focus from a hands-on approach to a more digital one. Virtual worlds are starting to trump their real ones.

I can’t help but think of Mae West who once offered up a great slow quote well before the days of digital devices in the boudoir.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.”

The next headline might very well read: More people engaged in social media than to each other. But who needs an engagement when you’ve got post-coital tweets to keep you warm at night?

At a recent Web 2.0 conference in New York, Clay Shirky makes an interesting case about how we have lived in a world of information overload since the Gutenburg printing press. He argues it is not about the surplus of information, which we have always had, but the filters we use to adapt to the environment.

For me, the effect is the same. We are bedazzled by all the data. Where we put our attention is important. And it is all based on choice.

Have a look and tell me what you think!

Email’s Demise

October 14, 2009

Oh goody. Email is going the way of the IBM typewriter. It has long been overdue. After all, aren’t you just so yesterday in the world of gotta-have-it-now? I mean you’ve been around for over two decades. Email, it’s time for you to go.

Jessica Vascellaro of the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting piece about the demise of Email’s significance in our lives. Why wait for an Email response when you can, say, instant message someone? I mean even the word is sexy. Instant messaging! You get your answer now versus having to wait a full hour for someone to offer up a thoughtful reply.

Stunning!

instant messagingAnd then there is Facebook and Twitter ~ two spheres in which you can shout into the cave and hope to hear your echo, if not a solid response from a few of your buddies. People can read it, if they feel like. Because, according to Jessica, why bother your close network with an Email not addressed directly to them? If you’re going to blanket the universe with your news, then by all means, do it publicly.

I love Facebook and Twitter and all those lovely platforms designed for broadcasting specific information. They truly are useful, and I use them often. But they are much more public and generic in nature than an Email ever could be. Sure, you’ve got your Email blasts, but they are more targeted and direct than spewing out data to a network that might not even be paying attention.

I’m not sure where this conversation is leading us. It doesn’t appear to be in the name of productivity that we rejoice over the instantaneous nature of such communication platforms. We are merely thrilled that it doesn’t take as long, never mind if the actual quality of the communication dwindles by a few bytes.

And here’s where I sound like an old person. Because the Guardian already claimed way back in 2007 that the Digital Generation says Email is for old people.

Instant messaging is great in some cases such as when you truly need an answer, you live abroad (like I do) and you have no other way of getting in touch with the person. On the other hand, it can also be severely annoying because you are obliged to react in a way you need not when crafting an Email response. It is highly distracting when someone pops into your universe unannounced just to chat. It is obvious when your computer is on and you are at it that you are actually doing something else. Don’t make me tell you I don’t multitask, people. You know what Stanford University found out about that topic. It’s not good for you. In fact, it might make you a wee bit dim.

As far as I know,  instant messaging is celebrating its 45th birthday this year. That’s right. It predates the Internet. You better watch out or you too may go the way of the e-Mail-o-saur, Mr. In an Instant Communiqué. Meanwhile, I’ll shuffle slowly back to my desktop Email to see what I missed while putting my full attention right here. :)

First off, let us take a moment to say thank you to the plucky Spaniard who set sail to discover the Orient, only to find America. Christopher Columbus, we express our deepest gratitude to your noblest cause and appreciate the error of your compass. You see, making mistakes end up teaching us things. Even though your statute at the harbor in Barcelona has you pointing to the Mediterranean (and most likely, woefully wishing you really had gone East instead of West), you are a star in our eyes.

Barcelona 2009 081Ole Chris took a faith journey into unknown waters. With only his inner strength and navigation prowess, he set off to change the world with his exploration. And he did.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all on some type of faith journey. For some, it comes in the form of exploration. For others, it shows itself as creative inquiry. Jennifer Haupt, a marvelous cyber-buddy/writer friend of mine whose resumé humbles me beyond measure, generously offered to interview me about the power of slow for her blog, My Faith Project. She calls faith the master key to access a meaningful life. She went to Rwanda, for instance, on a leap of faith. She writes:

Faith gives us hope; it’s the knowing that there is something more than what we see in the mirror.

I’m going to New York (not quite as exotic, but equally exciting) to introduce The Power of Slow in just over a week, and I’m tucking some of that faith into my toolkit because, like Columbus, you never know where it will lead you. 

May we unlock the treasures of existence together.

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