A PACE OF GRACE
THE VIRTUES OF A SUSTAINABLE LIFE
LINDA KAVELIN POPOV
A PLUME BOOK 2004
During the next year, following these Ten Rules for health literally saved my life. While they contain specific practices given to me for my personal condition, I believe the principles within them can serve as a catalyst for anyone who wishes to emerge from the fog of energy depletion or joyless hyperactivity. To be wise, consult your own physician and health practitioners about the Ten Rules, to make certain they are right for you. They are meant to serve as a reference and a tool for you as you read A Pace of Grace, supporting you to become a loving steward of your own energy and providing a step-by-step approach to a more graceful way of life.
The Ten Rules, a list of which follows, consist of simple but radical lifestyle changes. In following these rules, my energy has returned tenfold. I am now living sustainably for the first time in my life and have been strengthened in subtle ways that have taken my life and relationships to a deeper level of joy and mindfulness.
One year after following the Ten Rules as faithfully as I could, my health was dramatically improved. I had a follow-up appointment with the post-polio specialist. He looked at me and said, “You’ve certainly come a long way. How did you do it?” I showed him my Ten Rules for Health. “This is the best energy-restoration program I’ve ever seen. Where did you get it?” I smiled and told him about my prayer experience. He asked me if he could share the Ten Rules with his other patients.
Others asked me to share the energy-conservation practices in the Ten Rules, and they were published on the Internet on a post-polio network and on The Virtues Project Web site. I decided to develop a new workshop called “A Pace of Grace” in a few cities in Canada and the United States. People with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and burnout, as well as individuals with what I call the “E-Type” personality – “Everything to Everybody” – flocked to the workshops to learn how to live a sustainable life. One day it struck me that a book would make these simple tools accessible to even more people.
- Too many of us have suffered a severe loss in our quality of life amidst the stress of terrorism, war, and economic stability that keep us on edge, wondering when something else will happen to shatter our world.
- Too many of us have fallen into a lifestyle that feels crazed and out of control. We find ourselves overwhelmed by pressures to go faster and do more.
- Overdoing has become a way of life, and we have created the most time-stressed era in history.
Yet there is hope. More and more people are heeding a wake-up call in the midst of troubled times. We are reevaluating how we spend the currency of our lives in light of the values we care about. We no longer take for granted the simple pleasures of life – a laugh with a friend, fishing at sunset, snuggling into a deep, welcoming couch with a good book and blanket on a rainy Saturday, performing an act of kindness for a stranger. Yet we don’t make much room for these small blessings. The workaholic lifestyle we have created too easily sweeps us back into a pace of life that fails to sustain our grace.
Now is the time to ask ourselves how we can take back a sense of control over our lives in order to live in a spiritually and emotionally sustainable way. We need to discern how we can preserve our ideals and create islands of peace in our lives and relationships. How can we be the calm in the wind?
- In the years that I have been practicing the Ten Rules for Health, I have moved into a deep current of inner joy. I feel as if the aging process has reversed.
- It is possible – and I believe essential – to live more gracefully in the midst of a world that is out of control.
A Pace of Grace gives you a simple four-part program that supports you to purify your life, pace yourself, practice spirituality, and plan a sustainable life. Through these simple practices, you will be able to redesign your life to integrate a deeper level of grace. Each chapter ends with an Exercise of Grace for sustainable, more balanced living. You will discover a wide variety of ways to cultivate a pace of grace, from creating a daily routine of reverence to being active peace builders in all your relationships, and enhancing your inner sense of order by reshaping the order and beauty around you. It offers steps for sustaining soul satisfying relationships and creating genuine community, as well as examining ways to play and experience joy.
- We structure the practice of the virtues around five spiritual life-skill strategies that have come to light in the years my family and I have stewarded the Virtues Project.
Living by our virtues is the key to leading our lives, rather than following old habits of mindless living that leave no space for a spiritually centered, well-balanced life. The virtues allow us to live each day lovingly, purposefully, reverently, joyfully, truthfully, moderately, and gracefully. I truly believe that the cultivation of our virtues can guide as to the highest expression of our selves, individually and collectively.
- The health crisis in my life has been a great gift, as all tests are if we are ready to receive the lessons they contain.
- Moderation – until recently an unfamiliar virtue – is my new best friend. I accomplish more in less time. I savor every moment of every day.
- My hope is that A Pace of Grace will be a helpful companion in discovering your own path to a more sustainable rhythm of life, day by day and moment by moment.
I have one caveat. You can’t enact the virtues and practices of sustainability described in this book through teeth-gritting determination. Rather, they invite a gentle shift in your spirit. I know that many of you are much like I was. “I’m going to work so hard at not working hard, so that I’ll be the most grace-filled person on the planet.” I know people who go to the gym religiously to reduce stress. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but you can’t always sweat and strain you way to serenity. Luxuriate in these practices, try them on, bask in them with the knowledge that they can refill you and enrich you. I invite you to do the exercises at the end of each chapter as you read along. Take your time. Keep a pace of grace. Fill your own cup and you will have an overflowing sufficiency to give to everyone you love and anything you do. If you choose to cultivate the virtues of a sustainable life, I promise you they will enrich the quality of your life forever.
Linda Kavelin Popov, October 2003
Ten Rules for Health
The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project
Virtues: The Gifts Within
PART 1: PURIFY YOUR LIFE
Chapter One: How Are You? The Virtue of Truthfulness
Chapter Two: Purify Your Body. The Virtue of Purity
Chapter Three: Breathe Easy, Breathe Deep. The Virtue of Discernment
Chapter Four: Purify the Language of Your Life. The Virtue of Peacefulness
Chapter Five: Forgive. The Virtue of Forgiveness
Chapter Six: Heal Your Finances. The Virtue of Thankfulness
Chapter Seven: Create a Space of Grace. The Virtue of Order
PART 2: PACE YOURSELF
Chapter Eight: Create a Pace of Grace. The Virtue of Moderation
Chapter Nine: Support Yourself. The Virtue of Acceptance
Chapter Ten: Set Clear Boundaries. The Virtue of Assertiveness
Chapter Eleven: Play! The Virtue of Creativity
PART 3: PRACTICE THE PRESENCE
Chapter Twelve: Pray. The Virtue of Prayerfulness
Chapter Thirteen: Give the Gift of Presence. The Virtue of Compassion
Chapter Fourteen: Create Community. The Virtue of Unity
PART 4: PLAN A SUSTAINABLE LIFE
Chapter Fifteen: Put Your First Passion First. The Virtue of Joyfulness
Chapter Sixteen: Plan for Grace. The Virtue of Purposefulness