MY GUIDE to creating your own ‘SLOW’

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.

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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.

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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.

Minimalism

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.

Friends

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.

Work

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.

Money

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.

The Planet

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.

Social media

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.

Lifestyle

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.

Self

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.

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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.

Self Compassion

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.

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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

Brooke

xx

Little Mini Adventures – Our Autumn Weekend In.

I’ve learnt that there’s really nothing like puddle jumping to put a smile on your face, and who needs toys when you have a basket full of conkers? Baking really requires no flavour or expertise, burnt biscuits are fine (as long as they’re shaped like a big fat duck or a bunny rabbit.)

I’m keeping this one short and sweet, just like our weekend.

It turns out all you need for a weekend of fun is a 3-year-old, one of those friends you don’t need to see often but when you do it’s exactly the same, (you know the kind I mean) and some conkers. And yes! You can have a little mini adventure at home. Granted, my friend and her daughter they weren’t at home, but for me as a host I was and it was so much fun.

I can’t call our weekend “slow” but I can definitely call it simple, you really can learn a lot from a 3-year-old, she is THE advocate for simple living. So far, I’ve learnt that there’s really nothing like puddle jumping to put a smile on your face, and who needs toys when you have a basket full of conkers? Baking really requires no flavour or expertise, burnt biscuits are fine (as long as they’re shaped like a big fat duck or a bunny rabbit.) And if you walk into the wind and put your arms out well it feels like you’re walking in the wind with your arms out and you look a little silly.

This was a weekend perfect for living on a farm, (something I need to make the most of, instead of sitting inside blogging and taking pictures all the time.) Eva the Saurus (Evasauras has BIG love for dinosaurs) discovered she really likes sheep, that Nicks bull Jack is really big and scary and should be locked away, and feeding horses polos is funny, they tickle your hand and make you giggle. Also, if you didn’t already know fodder beat grown for cattle is actually called mangelwurzel which is very satisfactory to pronounce. If you steel some from an unsuspecting farmer you can put it in a curry or leave it in the boot of your car and forget about it like we’ve done this weekend.

Children aren’t given enough credit for their wisdom. A child doesn’t need much to be happy, just a few upturned tubs as a garden obstacle course and they’re shrieking with joy. This little mini adventure has been a wonderful reminder that happiness can be found outside the world of shopping and city breaks. This is something I was so eager to learn after reading a certain book over the summer and something I’ve since so easily forgotten. Being present and understanding that happiness is something you master in yourself and not something you find in the world isn’t as easy as you’d think, old mindsets quickly return. So, thank you Evasaurus for the reminder.

On a shallower note my friend suggested Spoonflower. An online company that loads your own designs onto pretty much anything from wallpaper, to cushions and wrapping paper. Yes please!

https://www.spoonflower.com

Oh, and one more thing we’ve learnt, Australian red wine mixed with a day in the windy weather is a perfect recipe for bed at 9pm on a Saturday.

Written with love

Brooke

Xx

Little Mini Adventures – Taking him camping.

Dragging him kicking & screaming…

For those who aren’t already aware, I live with a farmer. Trying to convince a farmer to leave the farm for a holiday isn’t exactly what you’d call easy,  trying to convince him to leave the farm to go camping is almost impossible!

To be fair he does work outdoors a lot of the year, I can kind of see why he wouldn’t want to spend a long weekend bracing the autumn weather, with nothing but me him and a slip of a waterproof fabric. Never the less, after some serious sulking he reluctantly agreed. So with the backseat filled to the brim, (most people fill the boot, but  I have a rather spoilt dog who likes to recline on a large bed and watch the vanishing scenery through the back window.), Nick driving and me googling the nearest Go-Outdoors to stock up on missing essentials (Torch and camping stove), we made our way up the A1 to the Northumberland coast.

There has never been more pressure for a trip to go well. Everyone knows that nothing goes how you want it to, I’d begged and pleaded threatened and cried in an attempt to get him to agree to do this so the chances of it going well were fairly slim. I’d assured him hundreds of times that he’d enjoy himself, I wouldn’t be high maintenance, I wouldn’t moan or throw a paddy because the weather didn’t suit my adventurous plans – It was just destined to be a flop.

How it went down…

It turned out to exceed any of our expectations! We chose Budle Bay and landed on a lovely quiet little pitch with a trickling stream and loads of space all to ourselves. In a bid to make the most of it I deleted my social media apps (I know, what a 2018 cliché!) but it really did do me some good. I never realised how Insta-attached I’d become until it wasn’t there.

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Day 1

Towering dramatically above the most beautiful beach, Banburgh Castle was the best start to an amazing couple of days, we wandered the castle, ate jacket spuds, drank tea and played hide and seek with Otis in the sand dunes.

Our afternoon took us to a place the whimsical little child in me will never forget. I’ll know it forever as the enchanted forest, (Real name Cragside House and Gardens) I swear if fairies, pixies and magical creatures existed this would be their home.

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Day 2

I guess you could say we flew by the seat of our pants, this day was pretty wild for our standards. We set off with absolutely no itinerary! With no idea where we were going, we took a few random turns left and then right, (WILD I KNOW!), we followed a brown sign with just a picture of a castle and a cow. We didn’t know which castle, how far it was, what the cow could possibly mean or most importantly what the Tripadviser rating was…

It turned out to be a hidden gem – the last of the wild cattle alive in Britain and the most haunted castle. There was a human skeleton, a room that once housed Edward I, and dark corner after dark corner filled with creepy old things! – It was brilliant fun, right up my street! Not so much Nicks, he found it a little creepy but you can’t please everyone.

The trip wasn’t all rosy. It definitely had it’s moments; I completely forgot to pack any pillows, he left the shower gel in the male showers and it was never to be found again, it rained, we got muddy, my socks got wet and the dog farted in the enclosed tent. Camp stove meals were hard work; the travel kettle held less water than I’d have liked and the tent wouldn’t go back in the silly bag. (Here’s a question to all you tent manufacturers – why not make tent bags with a little more wiggle room?!!) but I wouldn’t change a thing! It was so much fun, everything that went wrong was funny, everything that went right was amazing!

Looking back from the reality of life – and a huge washing pile…

I’m sad to be home! Short but sweet it was one of the best trips we’ve ever had. I found the beauty of camping is in everything that’s missing. There’s little to distract yourself with, there’s nothing to do but go out and explore, relax, read, eat and enjoy the company, it’s a little uncomfortable, a little cold, if it rains it can literally dampen your mood but all things considered it’s awesome. I’m now a fully-fledged camping convert, and so is he!

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Here’s some tips I’ve learnt from one beginner to another…

  • You DO NOT need to take a ball of wool, crochet is the last thing you’ll want to do.
  • Remember to pack pillows.
  • Take a sweeping brush the tent gets full of grass.
  • Take a lantern and a torch.
  • Don’t plan anything, just go out on an adventure
  • Don’t use trip adviser unless it’s for a restaurant
  • It is freezing cold on a night – take extra clothes to sleep in.
  • Take slip on shoes for darting to the loo at 3am
  • Take a good book
  • Take decent chairs
  • Take a tent that sleeps 4 more people than you need.
  • Take a rain coat
  • Northumberland is a National Trust treasure trove. I recommend a membership.

Written with love

Brooke

xxx