"Fast is Slow, Slow is Fast"
Last updated: February 2023
I learned how to sew well over twenty years ago. I took a sewing class as part of the home-ec rotation when I was in middle school. I still have some of the first things I ever learned how to sew—that gigantic watermelon-slice pillow is still in my hope chest and the blue duffle bag sits in my closet and still gets used every now and then. Over the years I have made many different things. Clothes, couch covers, wedding, and baby shower gifts, and quilts. My sewing is pretty diverse and is still something that I very much enjoy doing. I bought my first sewing machine shortly after I graduated college. It was a nice, basic singer sewing machine that cost me $99.99. I still have the receipt saved in my sewing box. That little machine has served me well over the last few years. However, it has a fatal flaw, but one that has taught me a few things about life in general.
What my sewing machine taught me about my asthma
Sewing: "Fast is slow, slow is fast."
A sewing machine works by interlocking two threads. One of the threads comes from above the fabric and unwinds from the spool of thread. The other comes up from below the fabric and unwinds from a small spool of thread called a bobbin. Each thread is wound through the machine in a very specific way in order to keep the correct tension and make sure the threads come together without getting tangled.
Since I have been sewing for so many years, it’s easy for me to just speed along, especially with long straight sections of sewing. But that’s exactly when I get into trouble. You see, if I sew too quickly, the thread jumps out of the bobbin causing the thread to bunch and tangle. In order to fix it, I have to remove the item that I was sewing and rethread the bobbin so that thread is running through the machine correctly. Rethreading doesn’t take a whole lot of time, but that time adds up quickly if I have to rethread the machine over and over.
To that end, I’ve come up with a saying. "Fast is slow, slow is fast." If I try to sew quickly, the thread jams and slows down my work, but if I work at a slightly slower pace, I end up saving time because I don’t have to keep rethreading my machine.
A metaphor for my asthma
This saying is applicable to many different things in life, but I have found it a good metaphor for my asthma. When I have a really bad asthma attack, I want to get up and go just as soon as I start to feel better. I often stop doing breathing treatments sooner than I should and try to get back to “normal” life, often before my body is actually ready. I’m impatient. And this impatience often results in setbacks. More steroids, more breathing treatments, and more time in bed because my body is not ready to get up and go just yet.
But just like my sewing machine, I’ve found that taking my recovery more slowly, actually gets me back to feeling better sooner. If I slowly wean off the breathing treatments, slowly come off the steroids, and gradually get back into my exercise routine, my body is able to adjust to the changes without reacting and causing setbacks.
This has been a really hard lesson for me to learn. With chronic illness in general, I’ve learned that I have to slow down and let my body heal, even when my brain is ready to go and get things done. It's taken a conscious effort to slow things down and give myself permission to have days when I don't feel like I've done anything productive. Maybe nothing is productive outwardly, but my body has been given time to be productive.
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Are there any metaphors you have found in your life that can be applied to your asthma journey? Let us know in the comments.
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