It was only yesterday hubby and I were sitting in the car while our 10 month old daughter was asleep in her car seat waiting for her swimming class to start that we were reflecting back on life before we had a baby. We wondered how we never had any savings even though we were both working full-time, about all the things we used to do, the places we went, the things we had… It blows our minds that now, having less than we’ve ever had before, we are happier, have more money in the bank and feel more fulfilled… and It’s all thanks to the art of slow living.
I’ve been practicing slow and simple living for about 3 years now, and I say practicing because it’s something you apply to your lifestyle slowly. You can’t just click your fingers and instantly change everything. It’s been 3 years of slowly learning, researching, reading, studying, adapting, adjusting, and training my mind. I also had a baby in those 3 years so there’s also been the added pressures and changes of motherhood and trying to keep a slow living lifestyle with a baby which has added to the challenge. (I’ll write a blog post about slow living with a baby soon!)
I always get messages from followers asking what slow living is, and I guess my view on it is it’s living a more balanced, meaningful, purposeful, nourishing, timeless, organic, natural, low-stress, intentional, quieter life philosophy.
Some people have reverse-engineered SLOW as an acronym: Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Whole. While some of these principles apply to other aspects of slow living, it’s certainly most applicable to slow food with its emphasis on quality ingredients, sustainability, and local production and consumption.
The ever-expanding slow movement goes way beyond slow living and slow food today. There’s now a slow version of almost anything you can think up: slow parenting, slow education, slow fashion, slow gardening just to name a few. “Slow living” is used interchangeably with a number of other slow living synonyms;
- Paced living
- Unbusy living
- Soulful living
- Balanced living
- Intentional living
- Connected living
- Deep living
- Mindful living
- Simple living
- holistic living
Slow living is not about living your life in slow motion. It’s about doing everything at the right speed and pacing instead of rushing. Slow living isn’t about losing time by going slowly; it’s about gaining time by doing the things that are most important to you. I suppose you could say it’s about being mindful of every aspect of your life, and really nurturing the things around you.
Busyness and exhaustion are the defaults today. That means that it’s ironically perceived as more difficult to live slowly and with less. But, more and more people are learning firsthand that more does not equal better. And, busy does not equal important.
The changes I have applied to my life over the last 3 years have been tremendous. My perception of things, the demands and wants of consumerism, the way I look at food and materials, my job, relationships, and most importantly how I spend my days and what I do with my time has changed significantly.
- Shopping and carelessly buying clothes, shoes, makeup etc every week.
- Had the latest trending mobile phone, tablet, cars, fashion etc.
- Ate out at fancy restaurants every weekend.
- Worked full-time and ran two businesses on the side.
- Attended events and gala’s almost on a weekly basis.
- Had more friends and people around me than I could count.
- Had a home full of furniture, homewares, and “stuff”.
- Felt depleted all the time but thrived on being busy and being wanted.
- Mindlessly shopped for groceries every night instead of doing a weekly shop.
- Self indulged all the time.
- Splurged on holidays and weekends away all the time.
- Rushed from here to there, always out and about doing things.
- Did things to please others even if it didn’t please me.
- Very rarely will go to a shopping center, unless there’s something specific we need. and prefer to thrift or borrow items.
- Cut down mobile phone plans and got rid of ipads and other gadgets.
- Very rarely eat out, but when we do it actually feels like a treat.
- I turned a hobby into a fulfilling business and I choose to work when I want while being a stay at home mama.
- We have less than half of the furniture and homewares that we once had. All items in our home have purpose now.
- I enjoy quiet days at home, and don’t like having jam packed days.
- We carefully plan our meals for the week and do a weekly grocery shop.
- We grow our own fruit, vegetables and herbs.
- I have very few friends and people around me.
- I like keeping to myself, and rather not let everyone know my business.
- I respect my inner happiness.
While both hubby and I have definitely made a great start to our slow living lifestyle, I’m excited for where we are going as a family. The changes we’ve applied to our life has brought us so much more happiness, but don’t get me wrong there have been some challenges during the process… Challenges such as learning to not impulse buy which takes a lot of will power, instead taking time to really think about the item we want and how much use it will get etc. People not agreeing with our lifestyle or the way we are raising our daughter, for example for Lara’s first Christmas we didn’t put up a tree or buy her a gift because we felt she wouldn’t have known any difference at 4 months of age, she didn’t need any toys or clothes etc, and all we wanted was just some quiet time alone as a family as my husband works over the Christmas break, so it was time together over decorations and gifts. I received the most horrible messages on social media about how I was a terrible mother for not spoiling my child, or giving her a real Christmas… A little hard to read but I didn’t let it change my views… Plus I’m sure the haters will love me again when they hear we’re not throwing Lara a party for her first birthday… 😉
Slow living may not be for everyone, and if someone told me about it 10 years ago I would have laughed in their face. It’s a lifestyle choice, that may not be for everyone but one that grabbed my attention at a time in my life when I needed it most. Maybe it’s a coming of age thing, in a sense of growing up and realizing what really matters in life, or maybe it’s something that has always been deep inside of you but you just weren’t listening.
Slow living is bringing it back to basics, and you don’t have to change everything at once. You can make small mindful changes to any aspect of your life and see where it takes you. You never know, it could be the best thing you ever do!