Slow living

Embracing slow living

Slow living is something that has appealed to me for a long
time, particularly since I’ve been listening to the Slow Your Home podcast and
learning all about the ‘slow home
’.  As someone whose brain works at a million miles an hour,
whose diary is an exhausting read without having to think about actually doing
all the things in it, and who is rarely found without one eye on her phone, one
on her computer, munching on convenience food and wondering why she’s not
sleeping – slow living certainly has a strong attraction.

Slow living encompasses a wide range of different topics –
from embracing ‘slow food’ (eating sustainable, local food, using traditional
methods and ingredients), to wearing ‘slow fashion’ (shunning mass produced,
‘disposable’ fashion in favour of understanding how things are made, and
minimising environmental and social impact), to living in a ‘slow home’ –
eating and living sustainably, mindfully, and with ease and balance.

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Listening to the Slow Your Home podcast has definitely made
me think differently about the way we live.  Naturally, part of slow
living involves thinking about your belongings, and only owning things you need
and use.  I am a total hoarder, and am constantly buying and collecting
things we don’t need, and as a result we have accumulated a lot of
clutter.  Even though it is completely obvious, it struck me
recently that the more you own, the more you wash, clean, dry, trip over when
you get up to get a glass of water in the night! It seems so stupid that it’s
not even worth saying, but it just made me realise that if you own 15 sets of
bed sheets (as we probably do), it takes up so much more time and effort than
if you just own a nice set for each bed and a spare for when they’re in the
wash.  The same with towels, teatowels – and clothes of course.  Our
ironing pile usually looks a bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa – a precarious
pile that could potentially topple at any minute.  It usually has about 50
– 60 items of clothing in it, and the room in our wardrobes relies on about 20%
of it being in the ironing pile at any one time (if I do too much ironing it
won’t fit in the cupboard!) Again it’s not a stretch to admit that fewer
clothes would mean less washing, less hanging on the drying rack, and less
accumulating in the ironing pile.

Slow living

I noticed last week that when I’m away staying in a hotel I
am very neat and organised.  I tidy the room every evening, fold all of my
clothes, ensure reading materials are in a neat pile on the bedside cabinet, and
store away anything I’m not going to use.  I love living clutter free when
I’m away, but at home it’s almost as if I’ve lost the war, so I don’t
bother.  The sheer amount of ‘stuff’ is just too much to keep in check, so
it’s almost as if it’s easier to just not even try to keep it tidy!  We have a lot of
items piling up on different surfaces – books, mail, magazines, ornaments and
trinkets on show in the lounge, candles, frames and general bits and bobs, that
it never looks tidy.  I know it has an impact on my stress levels –
sometimes I walk from room to room feeling exasperated and out of
control.  I’ve always felt like the solution was to constantly be tidying – clear
things away, put things in drawers, have homes and storage for everything; but
it only recently occurred to me that it would be a whole lot easier if we just
didn’t own all that stuff.  Less to dust, less to tidy, less to
shove in drawers when people come round!

Slow living

For me though, slow living is about more than just de-cluttering and living less superficially.  I believe that my life would be better if I took more time for gratitude, being mindful and present, dedicating time to self-care, and managing my time a little better.  I am always saying that I ‘don’t have time’ to do things, but I get bored of hearing myself say it because I know that you only have time for the things you really value and prioritise.  We are now considering moving out of a relatively rural location into Bournemouth city centre – away from our vegetable patches, backdrop of fields and being surrounded by winding country roads.  But strangely, I think there will be more opportunities to ‘slow down’ if we relocated – being able to walk to the train station and then get the train to work in the morning, walk to town and go for brunch at the weekend, and see friends more easily, will be amazing.  (Plus moving house is a great opportunity to get rid of loads of our stuff!)

At the heart of it all, I think slow living is a mindset more than anything else, and it’s certainly a mindset I’d really like to embrace.

Have you heard of slow living? What does it mean to you?

Other resources and blogs for slow living and slowing down;;

>> the Zen Habits Beginner’s Guide
>> Down to Earth (Australian simple living blog)
>> Zen Presence blog
>> Little Eco Footprints
>> Fostering Simplicity blog
>> Pico Iyer – The art of stillness TED talk