I recently wrote about how I’ve finally realised that de-cluttering just doesn’t work for me. I like to clear out ‘stuff’ but generally, I like to keep things that mean something to me. Thinking about de-cluttering and what motivated me to do it, has helped me understand what brings me satisfaction and contentedness.
I’ve deduced that some form of connection is what brings me that solid, heart-full feeling. That feeling where I couldn’t possibly be anywhere better. But it’s not just human connection that that does this. It’s connection with food, with art, books, with my home, my garden, and community. This is considered and thoughtful living; some would say mindful living – for me, it is slow living.
To clarify, slow living isn’t about doing things slowly. It’s about prioritising what is important to you, and making time for it. I’ve been reading a lot lately about creativity and free play and how important it is for children. So I’m trying to lead by example. But, oddly enough, this requires planning. So I’m trying to make space in our lives for expanses of time where our family can just ‘be’.
Proof of how much life has changed is when I look forward to a weekend that stretches empty before me.
I recently wrote an article for Slow Living magazine, on how living a more considered life had brought forth new family rituals that now informs the rythym of our family life. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:
“We set about growing as much of our own food as we could manage, we cut processed food from our diet, ate organic fruit and vegetables when we could afford it, and tried to get as much sleep as possible – no small feat with a toddler and a baby. The prospect of all this extra work, combined with a domestic load that was already more than I could handle was overwhelming, but worth the effort if things improved.
Incorporating these changes into our lives altered the rythym of the way we lived. Saturday afternoons were spent in the garden, and the kitchen, preparing the ground for a summer crop, and the food for a winter meal. Early nights were gratefully received after a day of physical toil in fresh air. In time, I saw a significant improvement in my health.
In these early years, a bountiful yield from the veggie patch provided satisfaction for both grown ups and children alike. This sense of satisfaction was enough reward to continue with this slower approach to the unquestioned busyness of our lives.
This new rythym yielded something surprising and wonderful – it was the beginning of a whole new set of family traditions and rituals. It is the seasons that inform these rituals, and it is liberating to have the rhythm of your day-to-day life set by more than just the school and fiscal calendars.”
We were embracing the slow lifestyle without realising it, and we have all benefited from it. But like everything in life, things go in peaks and troughs and as the kids got older, activities increased and life got busier. I hate to use that word – “busy” and I believe that we must stop using ‘busy’ as our badge of achievement. Through trial and error and commitment too, it is possible to subscribe to slow living and still have a full life.
Slow living is about being discerning. It’s saying ‘no’, to the avalanche of ‘yes’.
Last weekend we had a jam-packed weekend with get togethers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, kids sport on Saturday and Sunday and a family gathering thrown in for good measure. While it didn’t leave much down-time (it’s not always possible to make room for empty spaces of time) – all activities were considered and offered our family an opportunity to connect in some way, to something that is important to us.
So back to my penchant for de-cluttering, I think it’s related to trying to create space in my life. I’m not a ‘retail therapy’ type of person and I avoid major shopping precincts as much as possible, and generally don’t buy excessive amounts of anything, so I was a little perplexed when I kept coming back to wanting to ‘have a clear out’.
Now that I think I’ve found the motivation behind it, I can just remind myself to be a bit more considered. I can say no to a few things, clear a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon, choose a new recipe and spend the afternoon planning and cooking it. Remind myself that the end result will be lovely, but not ‘the all’.
We’ll all sit down together to share some food that has been made from scratch, and with love. But more importantly, I’ll remind myself that it is the process that is enriching. My kids will probably want to help, or the lovely smell of home cooked, heart warming food will draw my gang inside, in anticipation.
Slow living is contagious; it is soulful and heart-warming and brings about connection to ourselves, to our loved ones and to the things we love – be it cooking, walking, painting, reading.
When life’s frenetic pace threatens to send me dashing off in search of somewhere to declutter, I’ll stop for a minute – reclaim my own pace and start to meander.