Slow living is…
…Noticing the frost on the window in the morning and choosing to sit with it for a few moments.
…Taking an extra slow sip of tea to truly enjoy all the flavors.
…Moving your body as a celebration of your health rather than a punishment.
…Savoring every morsel of food for all its glory.
…Letting go of who you think you should be to embrace who you are.
…Finding spontaneity and adventure in the walk to work by taking a different route, or by going to a new café, or by learning something new.
…Relishing in nature and all the magic it shares with us mere humans.
…Honoring the Earth in everything we do and honoring ourselves along the way.
…Making eye contact and having a conversation face-to-face.
…Aligning your life to your values.
…Taking a bath just because or a nap when you really need it.
…Fulfilling your responsibilities and making space for what you hold most dear while letting go of all the rest of the clutter.
Slow living isn’t about actually living slowly, but to live intentionally. To do a deep dive into yourself and return with what works for you. If you love to be busy, then great, but do it with the right intention. If you love to move slowly, then do it because it feels right deep in your bones.
With today’s hectic world and belief that to be successful is to be busy, it’s more important than ever to reconnect with the present. We are so disconnected from nature, from the environment, from the world that’s right in front of us staring us in the face. I don’t believe that slow living has to be this impossible lifestyle to reach only for the wealthy, or for someone who has a stay-at-home job, but rather creating space for more ease in your life where you are at this moment.
Let’s say you work in a corporate office and head up a team. You always stay late and don’t know how to ever disconnect from it all. By applying the idea of slow living to your life, maybe you get home 30 minutes earlier one night a week, pour a glass of your favorite wine, set your phone in the living room and go take a bath. I promise it will all still be there when you return. The company will not burn to the ground while you take a half-hour break. In fact, when you wake up refreshed and ready for work the next morning, you’re actually doing everyone else a favor by bringing your best self to the table. In turn, it inspires them to do the same.
Or, maybe you’re a mom of three kids under the age of five. You feel like you give everything to everyone else and you don’t have any time for you. Consider saving up for a babysitter one night a week to have a date night with your partner or friends. Go out and enjoy being around other adults for a little while. Feel like yourself, not just a mom, so that when you return to that duty of being a mom your own emotional tank can be full. And, if that feels like too much, try just waking up a little earlier than the kids to enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch before the chaos begins.
There are all kinds of things, big and small, that can introduce you to a slower, more sustainable life. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to move to a farm in Vermont and live off the land to grasp the art of slow living. To me, true slow living is giving yourself space in whatever life you lead now to embrace a bit more joy, a bit more contentedness, a bit more happiness in exactly as things are.
Most days I feel really strong with my slow living ritual. I get up first and drink tea in silence, read my book, journal and then take a bath before the day begins. But right now, I’m writing this from a train carriage as we speed through the English countryside on my way from Newcastle to London. I’m coming off two weeks of my best friend in town, currently my two other best friends and their little person are visiting while my husband entertains, and I’m choosing to get away for the night to celebrate a lifelong friend I’ve recently reconnected with’s birthday in London while she has a one-night layover. It’s chaotic. There’s so much going on and I feel like I haven’t had five minutes to breathe. I am someone who needs alone time, and when I don’t have it I feel like I’m suffocating. So, this isn’t the perfect time to jet off and see someone else. But, what I am getting from this is a 3-hour train ride by myself. A reminder that I am a living, breathing human completely capable of creating time for me. I splurged on a vegan peanut butter breakfast pot at my favorite train station café and I should probably be catching up on emails instead of writing this post. But, self-care to me looks like writing about something I love: slow living. It looks like taking double the amount of time to get through this post because I keep stopping to look out the window at all the beauty we’re passing through. It looks like the freedom of being able to be anyone for this moment in time, and not having to be something to someone else for right now.
This is what slow living is for me today.
It’s not what it normally looks like to me, but it’s exactly what I need during this hectic, though temporary, phase of life.
There is one more thing I believe to be deeply true about this movement: slow living is also about treading lighter on Mother Earth. Not to get all gloom and doom, but we are currently in an environmental crisis, truly, and it’s more crucial now than ever to make some changes that may seem uncomfortable, but can save our planet’s future.
“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5°C, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences. To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5°C global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on January 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.”
-Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN Climate Action Summit
We cannot ignore the facts any longer. The art of slow living is also a necessary move towards a more sustainable future. Personally, I’ve started eating a lot less meat and trying to adopt a fully plant-based diet. I’ve been changing our home products out for eco-friendly swaps. I’ve been trying to lessen my consumerism habits by only buying what I need, I’ve switched my closet to be sustainable while also enjoying what I already own rather than just sending it to a landfill. There are a million ways we can make a positive impact. You might not feel like your individual changes can make a big difference, but what they can do is inspire. If you inspire one person to make a change, then they’ll inspire someone else, and suddenly this ripple is what we need to create a wave of real lasting change throughout our world because the future of our planet depends on it. I’ve decided to stop shying away from those topics that may seem controversial but instead lean into them with every bit of grit and power I can.
If you’d like to get involved, make a pledge, go protest with #FridaysForFuture, join an organization that you align with, offset your carbon emissions when you travel. The time is now, and our generation may just be the last one who can reverse this potentially irreversible damage.
See, here’s the funny thing when you begin to live a life more in tune with who you are. You find that you’re actually busier than ever before, but in a way that feels as if you’re more relaxed and aware than you could have ever imagined. I wake up each morning with a spark of inspiration in my eyes and a dream that something beautiful will happen each day. Because, something beautiful does happen each day. We just have to be present enough to see it.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my blog posts on books for slow living, my morning journaling ritual, slow living activities, and many more. Just head to the main blog page and click on the “slow living” category.
With all the being said, what does slow living look like to you? My goal of this post is that you can see how simple it is to apply a few techniques right now (even reading this post is a part of slow living!) and it can inspire you to find what aligns with you most.
I hope the art of slow living could be the piece to the puzzle that’s calling you home.