Aug 14 • 11M

How I Slowed Down Summer

For the first time in my adult life, summer has felt endless.

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Atoosa Rubenstein
When your life gets bat sh*t crazy, I can help. The podcast of the Atoosa Unedited newsletters!
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Aww..look at me and my cutie Motorola flip phone at Fashion Week. I didn’t get an Iphone until 2013 when my husband insisted. I’m seriously considering going back to a flip to help me with my texting issue. What do you think?

Hey,

Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” We all know what he meant…and perhaps it’s never been more true, right? Everyone I talk lately has been lamenting, “Where did summer go??”

Raise your hand if you know someone who responds to texts in two seconds flat. Perhaps you ARE that person. Worse are the colleagues who are that fast. Worse? Better? I guess it depends on where you fall related to the transaction in question. Do they need something from you? Do you need something from them? Because what feels better than an instant text response to an urgent work question? I just had an endorphin rush simply imagining it. 😅

From the moment we met AOL Instant Messenger (remember cutie AIM?), life started moving faster. Maybe even before AIM. Maybe it was emails…even earlier…cellphones.

When I was dating the Bear he used to call me…shit…I don’t remember anymore (good sign, right?)…but it was something like Girl on Tap because I was a really quick texter. I play Hot Potato with texts. If someone texts me, I hit back immediately no matter who it is or what I’m doing. That ding is hard wired into my brain: An automatic reflex left over from when I was working at the magazines.

I first started using email in late 1998 when I launched CosmoGIRL! Prior to that, email wasn’t really a thing. And OMG - I found my cellphone from when I was a Fashion Editor recently and I swear I thought it was a regular cordless phone, I spent a long time looking for its base! So, I very much remember the time before computers and cellphones existed in the workplace…much the less Slack! But once they showed up, there were no conversations about boundaries at work. It was like the Wild West. Whoever answered first, won. Whoever was most available, was MVP. All that success I enjoyed was in direct ratio to the number of boundaries I had. (Zero)

But. But. But.

There was one place… one place where I moved as slow as a snail: When I was creating anything that involved digging deep inside and coming up with a treasure.

For me, back in the day that meant creating the lineup for an issue. It was a process that was sacred to me. Each issue was like a care package for our beloved reader and I wanted everything to be meaningful. This was the process: On a Friday night, I would get a big stack of ideas for the issue in question from everyone on the team after they’d had a big staff meeting led by my Executive Editor. Those ideas were an important part of what I considered the care package creation aka magazine issue but there was nothing streamlined or systemic about what would happen next. And I’d never put a time limit on the process. Generating the lineup wasn’t a task I ever jammed into a slot. I’d leave an entire weekend open for it because I needed ample runway to get deep inside myself. Creating was where my soul got to play. The great spiritual teacher Frances Weller has said the Soul is shy. Yes. I needed to coax my soul out for this process. Somehow, I would slow down time…shake out any fear or sense of efficiency. I had to totally clear my energy and connect only with our girl. This girl who was good enough to come to us every month. This girl who trusted us. This girl who needed us. I would create an a super still internal state so I could be totally present with our reader. Nowhere to go but where I was in that moment. I would read reader letters. Understand what was being said between the words if that makes sense. Even read between the words of the submitted ideas so the ideas themselves would get to the nuance of what was important. What do we really want her know? How can we say it so she really hears it and it’s not just blah-blah words? You can’t read between words unless you feel like you have all the time in the world. That was the pace I created at. The soul’s pace.

Over the years people have asked me how we came up with some of our most original ideas. Like Project 2024 – remember that one? An interview series with the intention of getting a CosmoGIRL! reader in the White House for the 2024 election or the sticker page!  And lately my Alpha Kitty video series came up. We highlighted non-binary and trans folks long before they were a part of the mainstream culture. When you go at the soul’s pace, your ideas are directional. They’re not fear-based or derivative of what you’ve seen elsewhere. Fear-based thinking happens when we’re rushing. A classic example of a fear-based idea would be a knock-off of a successful feature from another magazine. Like I’d often get ideas in that packet from the editors like “Let’s do a blah-blah like InStyle.” And it’s a catch 22, right? I could go at the soul’s pace because I’d carve out an entire weekend for my process. So that certainly can be considered boundaryless. The editors working under me were juggling the lions-share of what had to happen at the magazine and so they were doing the best they could within their outrageously long working hours. But I saw the issue planning as my art. It was my pleasure. So the process worked: They picked a ton of fruit. Some of was ripe and juicy, others not so great. Then I would do the slow-down-time-trick and come up with a just-right recipe we could all then collaboratively make for you, dear reader.

Today I try to live my life at a soul’s pace. The quick text response piece is still very much a work in progress for me. I’m like a Pavlovian Dog: There’s still a trace of that old fear-based competitive corporate warrior floating in my system. But being here on Substack and doing my own thing quietly, not trying to rule the media world is helping me continue to detox my energetic body of this vibe. But my days have a different pace for sure. There’s a general eye toward mindfulness. I wake up to a really nice alarm sound. I give myself time to feel the sheets and the pillows comforting me. No phone in my bedroom. Daily meditation is as important as brushing my teeth. I don’t over schedule myself or my children. I cancel rather than rush. I like to go slow. And most importantly I don’t feel guilty for any of it. I have only one life. Audible lets us pick the pace of the book we’re listening to. I can pick the pace of my living.

I think a lot of people like to be busy. When I was still together with my husband, our weekends would be packed. Every day was like a Festival. Shows, events, concerts, get togethers, never a dull moment.  I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I had just adopted his pace for our family…because that too, was my pace when I was working. As soon as we separated, my weekends with (and without) the kids became really open-ended and spacious. We wake up and see where the day takes us. I don’t feel uncomfortable when they come back from a weekend at Dads that involves two grandparent visits, the beach, a water park and the movies. Or this morning when I said, “Nothing!” when the girls asked me what we were doing today. This pace gives me the bandwidth to go with the flow and do what feels right in the moment. Once I’m done writing this, I’m excited to see where the day takes us. TBD.

Although I laugh and say, “sheesh!” when people complain about how summer has raced by, this summer hasn’t gone fast for me. For the first time in my adult life, it’s felt almost as long as the endless summers of my childhood. I think I know the secret: My daily meditation practice has helped me consistently slow down time. Instead of letting time dictate what I can do (“I don’t have time to meditate!”), it’s helped me seismically shift my relationship with time…and myself. With meditation, I have 45 minutes to an hour devoted to my internal life so that will naturally limit what else I can do in the day. I believe that is actually the counter-intuitive secret to slowing down time: Less efficiency. I know how that sounds but who else is going to prioritize my happiness? My freedom? My peace? Only me so I can’t feel guilty.

To that end, I’m going to take off for a few weeks to soak up these last days of summer with my children and my love. See what happens if you shift pockets of your life to a soul’s pace. One hack is to add the daily meditation practice. I didn’t know it would have this particular side-effect but I can’t lie…it’s been so freeing to step out of the hamster wheel. I wish the same for you. See you in September! And maybe it’s time to take out the I’m here for you 24/7 piece. I AM here for you…at a soul’s pace at atoosa@atoosa.com.

xo atoosa

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