If you’re not familiar with the term Slow Living, It’s a movement that encourages people to let go of possessions, be present and mindful, and slow down life to escape the busy head and thoughts. It’s to live simply and live well. Whatever that should be.
However, if you’re not careful, slow can be just as exhausting as normal life. I’ve found that Instead of comparing myself to the Victoria’s Secret models and the Kardashians, I’ve just moved on to linen wearing hippies in clogs with their outstandingly minimal homes. That’s why I’ve created this guide, I can ignore what everyone else’s version of Slow is and follow my own.
The whole reason I fell for this Slow living hype is because I would just love to be happy with what I have and enjoy the life I have now. It’s just that it’s much easier said than done. I still can’t seem to escape the comparisons of how well other people manage Slow, and how I’m just failing at it. So, Instead of swallowing content after content of what a slow life looks like for others, I’m writing my own rules, aspirations, improvements and attitude adjustments that will get me back on track to a simple life.
Finding my values
To find my slow I think it’s good to know where I stand and what I want from life. Some people seem to be born with definitive values and some people like me, are a just little bit flakier. My values and opinions have been known to change with the wind so this has been fairly difficult to record. After scribing multiple journal entries down, I’ve figured some of them out and it’s mainly what gives me pleasure, and what leaves me with a sense of guilt. If you follow this guide and decide where your values are then maybe you could aim for your own version of slow too? Remember there’s never a wrong answer.
Do you prefer empty spaces or busy ones?
The SLOW movement loves minimalism, it seems you can’t live SLOW with stuff. Well I’ve decided on the contrary, an empty home isn’t for me. After discussing the idea of minimalism with a fellow interior obsessed, antique loving and junk collecting friend we came to the conclusion that filling our homes with bargains is a hobby we’re not willing to give up. A minimalist home can shove its silly boring empty sideboard ways up it’s **** as far as I’m concerned. I like my carefully curated junk just where it is. However, I am well up for a clearer wardrobe and emptier cupboards. There’s a great post on Emma’s lovely blog about how to include minimalism in smaller ways… take a look.
Are you overstretched with social commitments or could you see more of people?
I highly value my friends, but it isn’t a given that what I value I make enough time for. The power of friendship and conversation does wonders for me and my mental well-being but my reclusive and shy ways will often keep me hidden. The SLOW movement tells you to say no to over commitments, it says take a break and don’t over do the social calendar. This does not suit me at all, if I remove anything else from my social calendar I might as well live on mars. An improved SLOW life for me would be to include more intentional time with friends, time not distracted on my phone and time not In my head daydreaming. Making time for quality people in the long run leaves you feeling good about yourself. It’s something I aim to do much more of.
Do you value your career?
This is difficult to admit to myself but work ethic and career success don’t rank high on my priority list. I work to earn money and I enjoy my job but it’s not my life, I’d rather work less, earn less and spend my time at home making homemade cleaning products and baking. Slow to me would be learning to accept this and not feel shame, embarrassment or like a lazy anti-feminist because of it and enjoy more time away from work.
Would you like to be saving more? Or can you not relax and enjoy a treat?
I value saving money. Whilst I don’t care about earning a lot, I do feel icky about spending a lot. Mum has drilled into me since birth how wasting money is never good and I think the opinion has transferred. This doesn’t mean I’m a great saver, in fact I’m rather an impulsive spender and could easily get myself into masses of debt if I let myself. Something I really want to work on and take from the SLOW movement is only buying what I need unless of course it’s a cute vase from a charity shop. Who can feel guilty about £3? Love a barg.
Are there any small changes you can make?
I’ve always felt a low lying guilt to be kinder to the environment but if I’m honest I’ve just completely ignored it, I don’t recycle that well and I close my ears when I hear people ranting about the planet because it’s just too much hard work to change. There’s so much pressure now to go plastic free, buy only organic and natural products and avoid disposable coffee cups like the plague. Does anyone else find all this very overwhelming? I know that setting this goal is setting myself up for failure and i’ll be throwing the towel in and going back to my normal poorly recycling planet ruining ways in no time. No, instead of this i’m just making small changes, if they suit our lifestyle i’ll keep them, if they don’t then I’ll try something else. Things like shampoo bars and buying meat from the butcher, these are things I can handle. Small steps guys, small steps.
Are you a Facebook junkie or an internet recluse?
I find social media both my angel and my devil and I still can’t decide where I stand on the subject. It is both the cancer and the cannabis. It’s the root of a lot of my anxiety and self esteem trouble. It’s also a place for connecting with people and finding inspiration. For me, It depends entirely on my frame of mind when I open the app as to how i’ll consume it’s content, and that alone is probably a good reason for me to reduce my consumption, or at least be mindful when I use it.
Would you rather be in the countryside or city, outside or inside more?
I could basically just do with getting outside more. It’s too cold this time of year so i’ll tackle this in spring.
Do you need to take time out? Or are you already taking too much time out?
Slow living focuses a lot on self care, taking time in the day for you. This isn’t for everyone, being a fairly selfish person myself I spend a lot of my time doing stuff I enjoy. For me an improved self would not be a pampered one, it would be a more generous one. Within my SLOW LIFE i’d like to find time for helping people, remembering and being thoughtful and to live a life with less judgement. I can’t remember where I heard this but I thought it was a beautiful thing to say “If you really take time to listen to a person, truly listen, then you’ll feel nothing but compassion” I guess it means there’s a reason for the things people do however misguided and we can help them, not judge them.
The Art Of Busy
Are you being busy for the sake of being busy?
I am pretty good at being busy, generally I’m busy with stuff that I find important but in the grand scheme of things, they really are not. What does it matter if the laundry waits another day? Or the upstairs of the house stays unfinished for a while longer? SLOW to me would be to learn to prioritise my time better, instead of putting my home first I could put my friends and family first. I’m always too busy prioritising my hobbies and chores and not prioritising intentional time with people. This habit is so engrained though I think it will be hard to break.
So there you have only some of my slow living ambitions and ideas and if you want to make positive changes too I think finding what you value first to be very helpful. No two people are the same, everyone enjoys doing different things, holds different values, so it’s only right that everyone’s version of slow and simple should be different too. Just like me if you love a little organised clutter don’t let some minimalist tell you it’s wrong. If you like chemical cleaning products go ahead and buy them, if you really enjoy watching TV and hate running then for goodness sake stay inside, pop on a box set, grab a blanket and DO NOT feel guilty about it.
And remember, if you don’t stick to any of your goals that doesn’t matter either, I think if you just make a mental note, say oops and have another go eventually you’ll get it. That’s my approach to aiming for a slow and simple life anyway. I don’t think it’s something i’ll find, I think it’s something i’ll work on forever. I haven’t achieved much yet, but I will not let myself be mad at me for it.
P.s. I want to only own beige things and to wear a baggy stone coloured linen jumpsuit with clogs just like the insta hippies do. I might treat myself when I’ve mastered a little more of this slow stuff.
written with love
Eating well can make you happier but it’s always just so much hard work!
January Edit: I’ll not lie to you, this has been sat in my drafts for well over 6 months! Every time I make it I’m too lazy to take a picture of it. Well I’ve finally got my backside into gear, and here it is! A tasty soup jam packed with vitamins, iron, calcium, folic acid and much more.
Who has the time or willpower to eat well?
In a bid to try and create more energy and a happier mood I’m hunting for simple meals packed with monstrous amounts of veg that even a lazy bones like me can manage. They have to be healthy, nutritious and very easy to do! If the ingredients list is a mile long or the method is complicated then i just won’t bother.
It’s taken 26 years to notice that what I eat has a direct influence on my mood. I get mardy, irritable and tired probably more so than others (or they just hide it better). It usually starts at 2pm and can sometimes last until the next day. I’ve always just put this down to not enough sleep, life in general, my job or other people, but what if it’s the food I’m eating?
Now I’ve never been one who could stick to a diet and I’ve learnt the hard way that dieting is the worst thing EVER, it makes me so miserable! I’m purposely not restricting any indulgent foods, I’m just on a mission to add healthier ones. The theory is that if I fill up on ‘goods’ there’s less room for ‘not so goods’ and I’ll see a positive effect on my mood and energy levels. (January edit: Mission still not complete)
Now please let me say that If like The Farmer (My other half) soup just doesn’t cut it as a main meal then it’s perfect for a starter or lunch.
This recipe is not mine so credit due where credits due – I found this gem in a Slimming World veggie cookbook.
Spinach & Broccoli Soup
Serves: 4 (2 in my case. I ate half one day and half the next, but then i can eat a lot)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 litre boiling veg stock
- 2 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 400g broccoli florets
- Small bag of baby spinach leaves
- large handful of fresh basil
- 4 tbsp fat free natural fromage frais
Start by putting the onion, garlic, chilli, stock and potatoes into a large saucepan. I’ve had to learn to cook using an Aga (when you haven’t grown up with one it takes a lot of burnt food to learn) I put the pan on the hot plate until boiling, covered it and then moved it over to the simmering plate to simmer for another 8-10 minutes. (For a normal hob just boil on high heat and then reduce the heat once boiling)
Adding the broccoli I then let it simmer for another 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile popping outside to pick my handful of basil. I planted a herb tub outside rather than my usual kitchen windowsill and it’s been an absolute recipe saver. (Nick waters the outside plants so it doesn’t matter if i forget they exist until i need them)
After those 6-8 minutes I stirred in the spinach leaves until wilted and then off the heat I added the basil. This is when the magic happens, I blitzed it all with the hand blitzing thingamajig mum gave me.
I popped the saucepan back on the simmering plate for 2 minutes and bobs your uncle, you’ve got soup. Pour and serve – now’s the time to add that fromage frais if you want to make it posh and pretty.
I really hope you enjoy this. Dip some brown bread in if you’re feeling extra hungry or just greedy like me.
If you make this then please let me know what you think!
Written with love
January further edit: On my recent attempt at this recipe I had no potatoes in the house so I used sweet ones instead. I also had no fromage frais so improvised with mint yogurt. It was yum. I also have no herbs, basil doesn’t seem to like winter outside, it still tasted delicious.
If you’re a regular reader then you might notice my blog posts have been few and far between lately. I’ve learnt that creativity, ideas and enthusiasm comes in waves, and I just haven’t really felt like writing or taking pictures. So, I’m very sorry for being lazy and very optimistic that my creative wave is back on the up!
On a tangent, and because it’s health season, I have a tasty slimming world soup recipe that’s full of dark greens coming up. I’ll be honest the post has been sat in my drafts for well over 6 months, and I still haven’t got around to taking a decent photo so I can post it. My friend Issy has requested this recipe, so hang on tight, it’s coming!
Back to topic, it’s been two weeks since my Surviving January post and unfortunately it still is January. However, I do have some good slightly narcissistic news to report…
I’m feeling much happier!
My January Funk Pull list (See previous blog post) has worked some wonders. Don’t get me wrong I’m still prone to bouts of melancholy but generally I feel much more optimistic with life and my self-esteem isn’t quite on the floor. Here’s a low down on how each activity is going so far.
I’m still going with my gratitude journal, I keep it all on my Instagram stories if you want to be nosy at how grateful I am for a cup of tea and some broccoli. In all honesty I can’t report that it’s having a direct impact but it could be contributing to my mood boost. Maybe, it’s because I can’t publicly dig deep. Maybe, to really feel the benefit I need to not be as thankful for central heating and be grateful I have lovely friends and family.
I’ve discovered Adrienne on YouTube and I’m currently on day 11 of her 30-day yoga challenge (I’ve missed a few days, I should be on day 16). I can’t say I’ve noticed my flexibility getting any better, I’m still as bendy as a plank of 2″ x 4″ timber but generally I do feel much calmer. The days I manage to do some yoga always seem to turn out more positive.
A whole pound and half heavier as I write this, my first week of slimming world didn’t quite go to plan but onward and upwards, there’s always next week. I’m blaming the farmer for having a birthday. How inconvenient all that cake in the house! I’d love to do some more work on my relationship with food this year, there was a very interesting interview by my fave journalist in the paper. All about how to approach food and it made so much sense. I’ve found the article online but infuriatingly you have to subscribe. I’ll find the article and post a photo on my Instagram just in case anybody would like to read it.
I’ve managed at least a 3 mile walk once a week so far and it’s impossible to not return home a little more pleased with myself than when I left. I’ve also practiced being mindful and aware but I have an awful habit of daydreaming or scrolling Instagram whilst I’m walking.
Cleaning & Clearing Out
Our cleaning and clearing out plan has changed course a little. Me and the farmer have noticed the atrocious amount of plastic packaging we throw out in the waste from food and toiletries so we’re making a few small changes now, and hopefully more to follow. We’re starting upstairs, I think it will be a long and slow process but eventually I’m hoping to write a blog post about our plastic free bathroom. I actually need to achieve a plastic free bathroom first, so please bear with me.
Because I hate the cold weather, my garden planning still hasn’t developed into actual gardening. BUT, did I tell you The Farmer bought me a CHICKEN HUT & RUN for Christmas? We just need grass to grow in the allotment and create a little shelter and then Lady Jane Fairfax and Beyoncé can move on in. (Yes, all of my future chickens will have names as ridiculous as this.)
Written with love
Edit: It’s Sunday morning now, and as it’s time to press publish I’ve noticed how grainy and inconsistent these photos are. My appologies reader, but I believe I’ve rushed this post. A mental note has been made to use my camera rather than quickly grabbing the Iphone from now on.
Firstly I’d like to wish you all a very happy New Year. I’d also like to apologise for my absence on the blog. I’ve been a complete lazy bones since November and I thought I’d better pull something out of the bag soon before this blog is added to my massive pile of abandoned and unfinished projects.
I’ll not beat around the bush, I find January pretty soul sucking. February isn’t all that bad, there’s only a month to go until spring and finally the light can be seen at the end of the grim British winter. But unfortunately it’s not February, it’s January.
Maybe I loathe this month because I work in retail and the January Sale keeps me locked in a shop against my will, I’m not a workaholic, I’d openly much rather be at home. Or maybe, it’s because it’s so cold and there’s nothing to look forward too. Either way I’m utterly miserable.
So this year rather than sitting here feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in my self-diagnosed SAD (Seasonal affective disorder), I thought I’d try and pull myself out of the funk. Here’s my list of positive activities that hopefully will cheer me right up and get me through to spring.
My January Funk Pull
I did this for a few months last summer and I think it did actually cheer me up. You just write down three things daily you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as ‘I’m grateful for the other half making an exceptional cup of tea’ or ‘I’m grateful my socks match today’.
A morning YouTube yoga session should hopefully set me up for a mindful calm day.
This one is self explanatory. You are what you eat and I’d love to feel as healthy, happy and warm as a jacket potato. At the moment I feel like a walking dense miserable Christmas pudding.
Mindfulness & Meditating
In the past my meditating really didn’t go well, I’m not very good at it and get completely distracted. It can’t hurt to try again because I hear the benefits are well worth the effort.
Because I’m stuck in a shop for most of the daylight hours in January I’m really not getting my outdoors fill. I’m making it my mission to go for a long walk at least once a week from now on. And be mindful as I go, notice the smells, sounds and all that Jazz.
Cleaning & Clearing out
I’m possibly very late to the party but I’m currently obsessed with Mrs Hinch. I really want my house to smell like Lenor Spring Awakening. Cleaning and organising really does make you feel excited and optimistic for spring.
If I can’t be outside gardening, I can at least be thinking about being outside gardening. Hopefully this spring we’re getting chickens and a veg plot and I’ve also buttered my dad up to give me a hand.
If you’ve got any activities that help cheer you up in this miserable time then please let me know!
Written with love.
P.s just by writing this I’m feeling a little more optimistic already.