May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
A month ago, I walked up Cnicht mountain with my marathon-running husband and athletic friends visiting us from Thailand. For me, being out of shape at the moment, it felt more like a desperate scramble than a climb but it was one of those in-ya-face lessons about finding your own pace, your own footings, your own rhythm. It got me thinking about my values.
Can you describe your pace, your pulse, the speed of your flow?
I can remember living a busy city life and looking longingly at Socality Barbie and thinking her #authentic lifestyle looked so much more enjoyable than my own frantic schedule (tragically this is a true story). I love city-living, but I have always been drawn to a slightly slower pace than many people around me. Since this past year has taken my breath away for lots of reasons, I have felt myself naturally slowing my activities right down and needing way more time out/ off than ever before. This need has been really hard for me (and perhaps others around me) to accept. These days, if an occasion requires an outfit more formal than PJs, I struggle to get excited. I don’t want to have too much on my plate.
How slow can you go?
The glorification of busy is not a healthy way to live, we know that. But is subscribing to ‘slow-living’ the ultimate answer?
I read a blog post by author Jen Chillingsworth entitled, ‘Why slow living takes hard work.’ She put into words a feeling that I have held for a long time: “If you browse through all the slow living hashtags on Instagram you'll probably see a lot of flowers, coffee, books and brown hues. And whilst these images are lovely and they represent a gentle way of life, slow living isn't that simple to pin down. Yes, it's about living a life of intention and deciding how we want to spend our time, but it's also about making choices to help make our lives better.”
the choices we make about how we spend our time are always so personal, but I’d like to share mine, and I would love to know what you think about some of the choices I have been trying to make in order to slow my pace down:
I am trying to say ‘yes’ to…
creating space in my schedule
sometimes I will write across a page in my diary 'keep free!'. it allows me to create appointments with myself. If I am invited to do something, I can genuinely feel that i already have plans. sometimes this surprises even me - I need plenty of space to recharge. I love being with people but I need time on my own, at increasingly regular intervals. Saying ‘I am too busy’ often actually means ‘I am not prioritizing properly’ so I try to ask myself why I feel swamped and if possible carve out some space for some downtime. Other tricks include turning off notifications, turning my phone to silent and using the ‘time limit’ function on my phone (my apps are off between 11pm and 7am). check out interruption science if you think these tips are overkill and check out Pico Iyer for more thoughts on how sitting still can be an adventure; remember too that even Google promote flexible working and taking time off during the day.
We have chosen to live in a truly beautiful part of the world. I have appreciated my environment more here in North Wales than perhaps anywhere else I’ve lived. So many people cannot get outside and be active in nature, but since I can I’m trying to appreciate that privilege. I do not want to suffer from the nature deficit disorder that is plaguing so many of us. If you need a bit more persuasion about the benefits of being outside, listen to a podcast with Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix - she has so much to say about the cognitive benefits of being outside. If swimming is your sport, let the Wild Swimming book inspire you with quotes like this from Robert J. Hastings: “Climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along.”
being with the important people doing the important things
i try to think of the people in my life like food! my best friends are the kale, blueberries, acai bowls with shredded coconut and super-expensive honey that make me feel like i can conquer the world. The less important people are like the KFC on the motorway that makes me burp all the way home. What an analogy! Positive, uplifting, spiritually-stimulating, safe, healthy, nourishing, reciprocal friendships enrich my life and prevent me from feeling peopled-out.
pottering and faffing and playing
When I lived in New York I ‘puttered’ and now I’m back in the UK I ‘potter’ (a blog post for another time, perhaps!). Doing anything at all that switches gears is bound to make me feel calmer. taking photos for the shop; Baking flapjacks; gluing pictures into my diary (like I used to before Pinterest); trying to entertain my niece with games of ‘let’s take everything out of the basket then put it all back in again’…whatever it is that gets me away from my screens and rushing around is a good step towards slowing the pace. this is not time-wasted. Its about recharging.
running a slow business
I hope that as my lovely customers, you get a sense that there are real people behind this shop. Our wonderful makers take their time to create by hand. Their products have stories behind them and these stories have taken time to come to life. When an order comes in to the shop, I like to take a note of who I am posting the treats to; can I wrap the order for a special friend? I like to send hand-written notes with orders; I like to wrap things in string. I like taking my time over small details like these (and hopefully you like that I do this!).
The point of telling you this is that I have purposely chosen to operate in a way that promotes slowness. However - let’s get real! - I have bills to pay and I have questioned my sanity around running this shop in this way. at times I have wished for faster results, more customers, bigger orders, because hey, I have a life to pay for! I come back to slow marketing (especially guided by experts like Kayte Ferris who has a fantastic article entitled “Is There A Place For Hustle In Slow Marketing?” which pretty much sums up my dilemma!) because ultimately it aligns more with my values. and believe me, every order is deeply appreciated.
I am trying to say ‘no’ to…
having too much stuff
I can promise you from my own experience, de-cluttering really is worth it. i have less junk to plough through and less visual mess to look at each day. I rarely GO THE SHOPS AND I DON’T MISS IT ONE BIT. Ben and I try to have our version of capsule wardrobes (which has been challenging over the years as we have lived in different climates but we are now adjusting to the Welsh weather). We only have a few drawers and one wardrobe between us and we simply limit what we buy or what we accept as hand-me-downs. our family and friends have helped us out so much over the years as we have bounced back and forth between living in the UK and overseas, but limiting what we keep has really helped us feel less encumbered. (If you are struggling with this, I can recommend the capsule wardrobe guide from Jessica Rose Williams and the practical suggestions from Kristina at @Scandinavianstylist).
THIS MIGHT SEEM IRONIC TO SAY AS A SHOPKEEPER, BUT I REALLY DO THINK THAT shopping slowLY FOR THINGS YOU REALLY LOVE IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN FAST FASHION AND I WROTE ABOUT IT LAST YEAR - CLICK HERE TO OPEN THE JOURNAL POST.
and importantly….don’t feel guilty about going at your own pace
i mentioned above that i have had a hard time accepting that i am in need of more downtime than ever before but I NEED TO TRY HARD NOT TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS; WE ARE SOMETIMES SO HARD ON ourselves AND thIS CAN BE SO DISABLING. slow living isn’t stopping altogether and really that in itself is an achievement!
I would love to know what slow living means to you, and the practical steps you take to live in a more considered way. Comment here if you like!
love jo x