Learning to Linger in the Midst of a Busy Life

I read a terrific post the other day that I can’t stop thinking about. It was called Let’s Linger Longer and Fall in Love (I’ll leave the link below). It caught my attention because the word linger isn’t one we hear often but it’s one I love. To me, it feels like a beautiful invitation to slow down. An opportunity to breathe and be present in the moment. I looked up the definition of linger and here is how it is defined:

Linger: to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected, as if from reluctance to leave. To dwell in contemplation, thought, or enjoyment.

Learning to Linger in the Midst of a Busy Life at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

How often do we take time to linger though? In a world where rushing is the norm what prevents us from taking these moments to simply be present in the lingering? Courtney, the author of the article I mentioned above shares this insight:

“Guilt impedes our ability to linger longer, and so does busyness, or the habit of busyness. Guilt tells us if we do more, we can be more, have more, and prove to everyone else that we are more. We think if we have free time, our house should be cleaner, or our children should be involved in more activities, or we should be finding ways to fill up all of our time. Those are the lies that guilt tells us, but guilt doesn’t stand a chance when we are fully present. When we turn our attention to the meaning of the moment we are in, we don’t trust the lies, or feel the pull to do more.”

Oh my yes to all of that, it’s so powerful. Let me write it again.

Guilt doesn’t stand a chance when we are fully present.

Learning to Linger in the Midst of a Busy Life at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

I learned the beautiful ability to linger from my teenage son. Yes you read that right. My son (he’s now 19), from the time he was small, has absolutely hated to be rushed. The words “hurry up” were not part of this child’s vocabulary. Words implying any sort of “move it” terminology often went ignored. He’s still that way to this day. It used to exasperate me to no end when he was younger. But as he got older I realized what a special gift this child was giving me.

He taught me the joy that comes from lingering at the table after a meal sharing conversation and laughter. The joy that comes from living in an unhurried moment with someone else or myself. The joy that comes from living in the moment and not thinking about what’s next on my to do list. And most importantly about letting go of the guilt that wants to convince me that I’m lazy for not getting that list checked off.

Learning to Linger in the Midst of a Busy Life at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

My son came home from college this past weekend for Thanksgiving and after we all ate, the two of us sat in the living room and talked and talked for 6 hours straight! He was in no rush and was completely in the moment. He didn’t even check his phone! It was a beautiful, beautiful gift indeed.

And while this wasn’t always easy for me to do, I now live for these moments of lingering. Whether it’s lingering with someone else or the sweet gift I simply give to myself. The gift of watching a sunset for just a few moments longer. The gift of spending a few moments chatting in the check out line at the grocery store with perfect strangers. The gift of seeing the beauty of a cold snowy day through the lens of my camera. The gift of just sitting quietly with myself and God over a hot cup of tea. The gift of dancing solo in my living room to just one more song.

Of course this will look different for everyone based on seasons of life. But when time is limited, I think we can still practice the awareness of seeing the best in whatever moment we are in and be present there. Even if only for a few minutes.

There are so many gifts in the ordinary of days. I don’t want to miss them because I now know that it is precisely these things that feed my soul. Courtney describes lingering as falling in love and I couldn’t agree more.

Learning to Linger in the Midst of a Busy Life at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

You see, lingering is not something you do when everything else is done. It can’t be because when are we ever truly done? The minute you think you are caught up, there is something else demanding your attention. Please don’t put off the lingering. It’s not a check list item. Instead it’s a way of being that is mindful of these often simple opportunities to linger. The extraordinary of the ordinary can easily be missed in the busyness of life.

Learning to Linger in the Midst of a Busy Life at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

But how do we find the time?

First it’s about realizing that we will never be “done” all that needs to be done. However, we can certainly lessen those tasks that need to be done. Organizing and decluttering the amount of stuff we own cuts down on the time it takes to manage it all. Simplifying our schedules also makes a huge difference. Please go read my post on How to Slow Down in a Super Fast World where I list six really practical steps to help you slam on the brakes of the chaos train so you can truly experience the benefits of living a simpler slower way of life.

As for learning to linger, this can be difficult at first if it’s not something you are used to doing. It will require an intentional daily practice of finding those bursts of happiness that you are reluctant to leave. And it may also be an intentional daily practice of choosing not to rush to the next thing that has to be done. The dishes can wait. Put down your phone. Don’t be so quick to fill every single moment with stuff and activities. Be present in whatever you are doing. And most importantly lose the guilt.

This daily practice of learning to linger has now turned into an immense longing for me. Something I crave and need in my life daily.

So how do you slow down time? You take a moment to linger and fall in love with the beautiful ordinary gifts that wait to be opened every single day.

Read the article Let’s Linger Longer and Fall in Love HERE.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Filed under: My Life, Simplicity


15 Responses to Learning to Linger in the Midst of a Busy Life

  1. 1
    Kathy says

    Thanks for sharing this. We could all use a little lingering. I shared a link to your article on Twitter.

    • 1.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Thank you so much Kathy, I appreciate it!!

  2. 2
    Mary Kay says

    This is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

  3. 3
    Hedy says

    I learned to linger when I got much older. I had four children and a busy life and lingering was something I only did occasionally with friends at lunch. Now it’s a way of life. No early morning appointments so I can linger over my coffee and read news on my IPad. Work is always there, it never is finished forever. So I enjoyed your post and agree 100%.

    • 3.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Thank you Hedy, yes it’s definitely something that I am more aware of now that my kids are grown. But oh how I wish I had been more aware of this perspective when I was in the thick of it. Would have helped so much 🙂

  4. 4
    DeeDee says

    That sounds great but not practical. Single mom teacher working 2 additional part-time jobs to pay bills. Linger is not in my vocabulary.

    • 4.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Yes I totally understand DeeDee, that would be so hard and lingering will look different for everyone depending on stage of life for sure. Lingering doesn’t necessarily always need to be about time though but can also be just our thoughts and an awareness of the present moment we are in. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts here. It really does mean a lot to me to know what my readers are thinking. I miss that now that it doesn’t happen as much with blogging anymore.

  5. 5
    Becky L says

    Wow! This post is right in my zone today. Busy life has got me down. Should have been out of the house sooner yesterday to get things done. Nope! Tired from 4 work days so I get up later which is fine. But sit around not doing much. Felt good but…then felt guilty but it’s something that stresses me but God’s understanding helps me thru these times of need to do this and do get up like other people…..um..stores are open many hours so it doesn’t matter the least in the world. My life. I may share a link to this post on my blog if you don’t mind. You’re right on and thanks for sharing your thoughts in words Laura!

  6. 6
    Annell says

    Even though I am retired, I still have a busy life. Lingering became a must for me when my health took a bad turn. Now I take time to look at the beautiful things in life and in people. My best place to linger is while I am doing artwork and in early morning silence while I look at the world change from darkness to light. In those moments, I feel God the most and He says “Shhh…let’s just sit here and be still.”

    • 6.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Ahh that’s beautiful Annell and it must set the tone for your entire day. Health is often a huge catalyst for change as the same thing happened to me when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis four years ago.

  7. 7
    Ann Mills says

    Amen, Laura! I wish my husband was the type to read these Mom blogs, because I am a lingerer, and he’s the one who badgers himself to be actively working on accomplishing something every second (and expects our preteen boys to be the same way. What planet is he on? He obviously doesn’t remember his childhood).
    And THANK YOU for including your blog from 2013– so applicable even 5 years later! Lovely photography too!

  8. 8
    Amy says

    Lovely article and so nice to just talk to your son, uninterrupted by technology! New Years Res is to linger in the moment, not to rush and move. Given me some ideas on how live in the moment and got me thinking of a blog post for my page.


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