Slow Down Strategy: Find a SAFE Word

Slow Down Strategy: Find a SAFE Word

The high point of the worst date I’ve ever been on was when I started screaming at the guy for driving like a maniac. It was like he wasn’t aware of the precious cargo he was carrying. The nerve. Even though tryouts to be my husband are over, I can still turn into a bit of a screeching banshee date from hell when it feels like life’s putting the pedal to the metal and threatening my ideal state of being—blissed out.

It’s a little more subdued when it happens and it’s not surprising that it usually comes up around this time of year. It comes in the form of irritability, impatience, low energy, or an irresistible urge to hide under the covers until the new year; when I find myself frantically balancing the expectations of the season, while simultaneously putting my business to bed before my team and I take a much-needed break. What can I say? I’m sensitive.

This sensitivity also crept up when I first became a mama. Along with a borderline psychotic craving for corn on the cob, I found myself with the ability to detect—with a single whiff—when life began to feel overly complicated. Maybe that was part of the reason we quickly headed for the hills for a more simple life. But even the simple life can get complicated this time of year.

So today, I constantly have my finger on the pulse for when life is moving away from simplicity to not-so simple. From slowed down to rushed. And today, with the bustle of the holidays tempting to pile our life plates high with more stuff, more invites, more promises and distractions, it might be the perfect time to reflect on where we lay on the brakes a little so that we can take care of ourselves holistically, and nourish and remind ourselves of what is truly important in our lives.

What helps me remember to invite more simplicity is to think “SAFE”. It’s an easy way to remember the four areas where you can ease on the breaks and make the energetic room to allow your creative flow to pour back in again.


The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to worry about breaking, choosing from, getting fought over, losing, organizing, packing…I find mini-purges most doable. Either ten minutes of walking around with a donation box and a garbage bag, or choosing an area in my home like “this shelf”.

Another, less drastic way to purge is to put what you’re not using at the time out of sight and out of mind, such as seasonal clothes and toys. So think of some rotation techniques that will work for you and your family. For instance, with my kids’ clothes, books, and toys, I put them away per season, so that every three months there’s a new selection for them to go gaga over.


Get inspired by your cleared out and minimized space and give your schedule the same treatment. Put some boundary-making muscles to work here and protect your time by saying “no” to commitments that will pull you out of your home—and this includes your kids’ commitments, too.

If you need practice saying “no”, try it out on your cat or dog first, with a firm tone, but with loads of love radiating from your glowing corneas.


Pay attention to the waves of action and non-action throughout your days, weeks, and years. Notice the pattern of rhythms in your life and embrace how a time of rushing around is naturally calling out to be followed by a period of rest.

Force feed yourself some of this slow down by prescribing some horizontal time peppered throughout the day. I like to sneak onto my bed when no one’s watching to read a couple of pages of one of my current books.

Just five minutes make a huge difference to my mood and energy levels, and gets me re-inspired to approach my work, and my family’s needs, with fresh creative energy.


Here are these gadgets promising us time. Move away from the time suck of the screen and other devices that are pulling us away from the present moment and what’s truly important—connecting with our friends and loved ones.

Now is the perfect time of year to get unplugged more than normal, so we can tend to the end-of-the-year tasks that require reflection and contemplation.

Now, take a deep breath and feel into just what the word SAFE conjures up in you now. Why not choose that as your word of the year? I’m doing it now and the word “simplicity” popped into my mind.

Okay, fine—it popped in there while I was in the tub the other night, but I was definitely experiencing a SAFE moment in there.

I would love to hear your SAFE word in the comments below! And have a most bliss-filled, safe holidays everyone.

Kathy Stowell | Bliss Beyond Naptime

kathyKathy Stowell is a certified Simplicity Parenting and Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach turned Mama Bliss Coach. She is also the founder of Mama Bliss Coaching School. Kathy’s a Waldorf mom to two handknits-laden kids and wife to a rockclimbing-obsessed mountain man who looks exactly like Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. She loves triple shot lattes made with copious amounts of organic cream, pretending she’s on Project Runway when sewing on Sunday afternoons, and spooning with her wiener dog under the covers on chilly mornings.



  1. Joy Schlagal says:

    First of all, I love the photo at the top of your post. Tall, very tall snow covered evergreens and children with a sled below highlighted in red–it exudes peace!
    Though we all know that clutter causes anxiety and more work, I love my stuff. So I follow your suggestion for a seasonal rotation. On Christmas Eve my daughter walked in and said, “We’ve got to clean up this house–it doesn’t feel like Christmas.” True, I hadn’t decorated as usual. We set to sweeping, tidying up, cutting boxwood greens, and then she opened the cupboard in the dining room where candles and other Christmasy decor lives. In no time, candles all aglow, she had created a festive house for us all to enjoy. Such simple pleasures. In January that “stuff” will go back in the cupboard until next December. May the New Year be filled with many delights for one and all!

    • Kathy Hajduk Stowell says:

      Hi Joy – what a beautiful example of the power of a quick tidy and the beauty of even a small gesture of celebrating the season – thank you for sharing this!

      And that picture was taken a couple of years ago but it’s so dear to my heart. That’s from our hobby farm where my son was born and we cocooned at for almost seven years. It was peaceful as my kids were small, homeschooled so we didn’t really have to go anywhere if we didn’t feel like it. Now I’m trying to encapsulate that same peace here in the burbs. Then we’ll smuggle in some backyard chickens! 😉

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