Living at Your Own Natural Pace

When I read Sue Sullivan’s blog post on going at your own natural pace, I knew I had to share it with you. There is SO much in our contemporary lives that is encouraging us to hurry and do more, it can be really challenging to step outside that and discover for ourselves what our best rhythm is. That’s why listening to voices that are encouraging us to slow down and go at our own pace are so essential.

We are blessed live in a rich time with so many things to learn, opportunities, places to see, things to do and as artists, of course, an unlimited amount of works we can potentially make. It is up to us to sift through our priorities and to find the pace that works best for our bodies, our mental health and our spiritual connection.

There is never a need to rush.

Living At Your Own Natural Pace
by Sue Sullivan

I believe we each have our own natural pace. Some of us are fast, some slow, and some in between. My mom used to tell me I was slow, and I was. I loved to dig deep and savor things, so I hated rushing. As an adult, I thought you had to be fast in order to be successful, so I tried to increase my pace. I ended up getting sick over and over again from pushing myself too hard.

Since going faster didn’t work, I devised ways to become more effective in what I did. In fact, at one job, the boss told me I got more done than anyone else that had ever held that position. I wasn’t working faster. I actually worked less hours than a lot of my predecessors. Instead, I was focused on being most effective. Since then, I’ve chosen jobs that value effectiveness over how much you got done. I chose jobs that didn’t require me to work at a fast pace.

A few years ago. I hired a life coach who told me that when people go at their natural pace, they are most successful. I resonated with the idea. Even though I had changed my focus to being effective and not fast, there were still times I pushed myself to go faster. I’d been bombarded with society’s message that doing things faster and getting more done is the key to success. It was a hard belief to let go of.

But looking back on my life, I’ve noticed that when I stayed within my natural pace, I have actually been more successful and happier and healthier. At one time, I got involved with volunteer work as a citizen scientist. The real scientists taught us how to recognize frog calls in the area where I lived. We were to go out 3 nights and monitor how many of the different kinds frogs were in a certain area. When I volunteered, I didn’t realize that you couldn’t just go out any night. I had planned to do my volunteer work on weekends so I could sleep in the next day. It wasn’t until I finished the training that I found out I had to do my monitoring on a night when it had just rained. It turned out, that season there was only one weekend night that fit that criteria.

I wasn’t willing to stay out late on a work night, so I only monitored the frogs for that one weekend night. At the end of the season, the scientists asked for volunteers to input the data. I decided to do it. The data entry was done at a local Audubon Society office. As we entered the data, I talked about the project and my love of frogs. They got a kick out of my enthusiasm. I ended up being in a feature article in the National Audubon Magazine. The first half of the article was about me and my experience, and they did a two-thirds page photo of me in my rain gear. I was totally honest, letting them know I had only done a third of the monitoring.

Photo by Paul Elledge from October 2001 Audobon Magazine

It takes a lot of courage to trust that living at your own natural pace will actually give you better results. I still find myself starting to rush. Then I remind myself to slow down and get into my groove. So for those of you fast people, don’t feel pressured to slow to an unnatural pace just because someone told you it’s healthier or more spiritual.

Go at your own natural pace. Look honestly at yourself and see what pace makes your feel most fulfilled. And don’t pick a pace rigidly. We’re dynamic people. We may have an overall pace, but we may want to slow down or speed up temporarily. I know there are times I dig zooming around, but if I tried to go at that pace all the time, I’d burn out.

Sue Sullivan has been actively involved in personal development for nearly 30 years. She used to go between the extremes with her goals, getting all psyched and working diligently on them, then burning out and crashing. She’d let go completely, gradually recovering to enjoy life again. Yet she’d be disappointed in not accomplishing those things she truly wanted. So she’d start back on the goal-oriented cycle again. She realized she needed to find a more sustainable way to achieve—a way she enjoyed and a way that felt natural. So she developed a system of working with goals that does just that. She teaches this system in her course “Surfing Your Enthusiasm.” You can read her blog at

Leave a Comment

What Is the Ideal Day for an Artist?

What would your ideal day look like? Have you ever stopped to think about it in all its juicy details? How would you move through your day? How much time would you spend making art? Who would you like to be around? How would you feel?

The artists in the Mindful Artist Mentorship Program were asked to do just that and one of the artists came up with such a deliciously vivid picture of her daily life, I wanted to share it with you.

You see, if any area of your life isn’t quite satisfactory to you, focusing on the dissatisfaction only mires you further in what you don’t want. You keep thinking about it talking about it and feeling it over and over.

I know! I do it, too. It actually can take a great amount of effort to shift our thoughts from their well-worn paths and I applaud anyone who makes even the slightest effort to shift their thinking patterns. Consider the benefits: better mood, lowered blood pressure, greater peace of mind, clearer thinking.

Just for a minute – recall any delightful moment with a loved one (human or animal). How do you feel just thinking about it? What happens to your mind, emotions and body as you savor the details?

Creating a clear picture of where you would like to be and allowing yourself to daydream a bit, straying from reality a little or a lot, points your boat (your conscious attention) in the direction you want to head.

Also, using your imagination in this way, even when you aren’t able to work on your creative projects, exercises those creative muscles and keeps them in shape.

Besides, it just feels good!

Here’s one artist’s “Ideal Scene.” I encourage you to take 15 minutes tonight before bed and write yours out, too.

By Simon Davison (originally posted to Flickr as IMG_6045) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I get up early and have coffee and a donut…(it’s MY perfect day, not my doctor’s). My daughter in LA calls. We have named her the Breakfast Fairy because she calls early before both of us start our day. She is a loving child/woman. She fills me with the same kind of happiness that painting does.

I do my crossword, knowing the paints are calling. Maybe I cruise through the garden to see what is either in bloom or ripe for picking.

After setting up a still life and roughing in the outline of a new painting, I call a girl friend and she picks up the lunch boxes I ordered at a local restaurant. When she arrives, we picnic out in the orchard and chat. Cold frittata stacked high with artichokes, yellow bell peppers, spinach and mushrooms is followed by fresh strawberry tarts, baklava and iced tea. We talk about the scenery, the day, our husbands and kids…just gently going over the details of our lives.

My friend leaves just before I go back to painting. I turn on music and time goes away.

The day is fading and I start to think about dinner as I clean my brushes. My husband, is nosing around the extra frittata I bought and we decide to heat it up and make a salad from the fresh tomatoes in the garden. While I am slicing them, I think how beautiful they would be in a painting, the translucent meat and juice flowing onto the cutting board…

The peaches are ripe and peel easily. A perfect dessert with ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. We watch the Daily Show and laugh at Jon Stewart’s jokes.

Then my husband heads for bed and I go back into my studio. The painting is calling me.

“Come work with me,” it whispers, “Make me rise from the canvas. Give me life.”

There is my calling. It is literally calling to me. “Give me life, let me breathe, let me be seen.”

It’s midnight when I crawl into bed. The painting is sitting on a music stand I keep in my bedroom. It will be there in the morning when I wake up. It’s a newborn, and I am tired from giving birth. We both need to sleep now.

Leave a Comment