The Slow Life in 2022
Slow living usually conjures up an Instagram or Facebook-perfect feed with neutral colours, knitted socks, freshly lit candles and pumpkin spice mulling over the fireplace. I’m not sure I’ve ever mulled anything, but if I did it would probably be pumpkin spice-related. Did I just mull that over?
One nice thing about The Slow Life or this slow living movement you might have been hearing about is that there isn’t just one definition. A slow lifestyle for you will include many different things than mine, or Oprah’s, or Steve Buscemi’s. Or maybe you and Steve are on exactly the same page when it comes to slow living. (I’ll ask him.)
Which areas of your day-to-day life need slowing down? I’m sure we can all find at least one. Is it your mornings, with or without kids? Your commute to work or school? Your suppertime chaos? You might be lying if you answered no to any of those questions. Chances are, most of us need to slow down our entire lives as a whole.
The Slow Life, to me, means more evening and weekend time spent at home or with people I love to be around. With less time spent driving kids to planned commitments. No offence, Little Folks, but Mama’s stayin’ home this afternoon. Fetch me my woolies!
(Full disclosure; when I typed in “woolies” I was picturing those wool socks on my Instagram feed. My Google search offered this definition as well (straight from the mouth of idioms.thefreedictionary.com) :
“Woolie: Slang for a hand-rolled cigarette (joint) or cigar (blunt) filled with a mixture of marijuana and either crack cocaine or PCP.”
And yes, they used it in a sentence.
Example 1: “Everyone got real messed up once we started smoking woolies.”
Example 2: “Yo, Mike’s got some angel dust on him if you want to roll up a woolie.”
Thus, I say again. Kids! Fetch me my woolies!
When I was in school I did almost every sport offered. The difference then was that there were off seasons. There was very little to no overlap in activities. Volleyball season was volleyball season. Basketball season was basketball season. Even the year I played badminton it didn’t interfere with Giant Pumpkin Kayaking season.
Things certainly overlapped “back then” but now it seems extreme with the facilities available for indoor soccer, more community club teams in most sports playing outside of the school sports seasons, etc. It’s great that all of these things are out there, especially as homeschoolers who can play almost any sport now outside of school teams. It’s just difficult, but necessary, to say no to year-round bobsledding practice if we ever want to be involved in other things.
I’m referring to sports much more than music, dance and other activities because that’s what I was involved in. Just assume when I say basketball that I also mean tuba practice.
When our daughters, Maria and Lena, were 2 and 3 years old, my husband, Graham, brought up the idea of homeschooling them. I wouldn’t categorize it as hysterical laughter, but an immediate guffaw escaped my mouth. Easy for him to say. I was the one we’d agreed would stay home with them. I was only supposed to do this until they went off to school, and then I could do whatever I wanted with my days again. I never thought I would look into it and end up changing my mind. Never.
The Girls are now 10 and 11, and we unschool in our own way. I’m bringing up the fact that we homeschool because it’s the biggest factor in our slow pace that we keep. The option is there for us to be at some type of activity every day — morning, afternoon and evening - but we choose not to because it makes us exhausted. Kids included.
We go skating one morning a week with some homeschoolers. We all stick around the facility and eat our lunch, then go swimming afterward for however long we last. The library is in the same building so that usually gets tagged onto the end as well. This is a full day for us, but I enjoy the activities and the time with the other parents. Otherwise known as my friends?
We also get together with friends two or three other days a week just to hang out.
Lena goes to a kids’ group once a week from 3:30 to 5:00, which she’s at right now. I’m sitting in our 2006 Volvo writing this very sentence. The time just changed so it’s that magic hour sunlight time of day here. Livin’ the Slow Life indeed.
The Girls are starting an indoor soccer program soon. It’s once a week, it’s FREE!, there’s no travelling to hour-away towns, and they’ve shown interest in soccer for a few months now. And seriously, it’s free. It’s run by a guy from England (how authentic is that?). He just loves the game and wants to give kids a chance to play some non-competitive footie. (Nope. I’m not nearly cool enough to get away with calling it that — sticking with soccer.)
I think one more planned activity aside from the soccer commitment would be the most I would take on for now, but we’ll see. We don’t have full days of school on top of all the other activities, so it’s not so bad.
One of the things I love about homeschooling is the slow pace we get to take when we go to museums and other attractions during the ‘school’ week. I would say if you need to do these things on weekends, try to find the slowest time of day. When things first open is usually the slowest. Beat the lazy crowd, ya know?
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to push homeschooling on you, it’s just part of my life that will seep into the cracks on here.
With the changeover to winter tires upon us I had to drive Graham to work this morning so we could have the Volvo. It was a bit of a rush because it wasn’t the plan until the last minute. I was driving, and when he got into the passenger seat and we rolled out of the driveway he was still in rush mode.
You know the feeling when you just caught your flight on time and you’re now in your seat on the plane, but you’re still doing everything in a rushed way? You quickly buckle your seatbelt, rush to put your purse or “European carryall” on the floor, tighten your seatbelt while hurriedly looking over your shoulder for who knows what, slam your armrest into position, Is your seatbelt tight?, speedily wiggle your pants down a smidge since they’ve ridden up in the crotch too tight when you tripped down into your seat, and how’s that seatbelt?
If you’ve never been on an airplane, you still know the feeling once you get into the car as the passenger like Graham did this morning, or on a train, the bus, or arrived for your interview with little time to spare (only this time you’re repeatedly checking your phone number on your résumé instead of your seatbelt).
Lately, each time I get into one of these situations I check in on my body to see if it’s still wanting to move quickly. I calm mine down by taking a deliberate slow breath and releasing my muscles. If I’m the one driving I take note of my non-driving leg to see if it’s pushing or squeezing. It often is without me even noticing. This is another seemingly small way of slowing down.
I say ‘seemingly’ small because it all matters. It all adds up. It’s your body, your mind and your health, and you deserve to feel good.
Do you like to feel rushed? I don’t like to feel rushed. I’m assuming nobody enjoys it. It’s stressful. I try to make like a Scout and Be Prepared but it’s easier said than done. I swear I’ll start meal-prepping this Sunday. Maybe the 999th week I say that will be the magic one!
Yesterday was our skating in the morning, eat lunch, swim in the afternoon day with a homeschooling bunch. We let the Girls sleep as long as we could. We could have easily packed everything, lunch included, the night before, buuuut, I went to Brownies, and that wasn’t our motto. (It was "Lend a Hand”, just FYI.)
We had slept in only a bit later than usual, but it was now crunch time and I needed to hurry the Girls along. So with eight minutes to spare I grabbed a sharp knife.
Also, I grabbed a big carrot, the peeler, a little plastic cutting board, another knife (butter this time), half a loaf of bread and the peanut butter. This all fit into our cooler bag, which we usually take along anyway. There was our lunch. I felt proud having thought of grabbing this stuff instead of making us late by making the food right then. I was not proud or relaxed that we hadn’t prepared the night before for something that we knew was coming. It was the feeling of “You’re going to miss the bus!”, and it did not feel good.
On my honour, I will try: To peel our vegetables and wash our apples. To help my children learn to lunch-prep at all times. And to live by the Scout Law.
Feeling rushed and too busy makes me tired. I only want to feel dead tired after I’ve been doing something like hiking through the wilderness all day and flop into bed incredibly satisfied with the way I spent my time.
I giggle to myself when I hear people say “I was too busy.” or “I didn’t have time.” I've never had this feeling until about a month ago. I had an appointment with My Therapist in the morning, a wilderness meetup with other homeschoolers right after lunch, and then Lena had her kids’ group later in the afternoon. That was the first time I remember even thinking “I’m too busy to…” take on whatever the next thing was that day. And I hope it Never. Happens. Again.
If we find ourselves saying or thinking, “I’m too busy”, “I don’t have time” or any variant of these, then we’re too dang busy.
Unfortunately, we’re usually saying we "don’t have time" for the fun stuff; massages for ourselves, date nights, vacations, robbing banks and causing mass destruction throughout the metropolis. Those last two represent playing video games. I hope.
It only took that one really busy day to snap me to attention. I’m not one who needs my arm twisted to take time out for me, or to slow down and not take on so many commitments. This all makes sense and comes naturally to me. The Girls and I have lots of free time together, and they are great at entertaining themselves solo or as a duet.
I’m in the middle of Brooke McAlary’s book Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World.
Amazon’s synopsis: …Once upon a time, it became clear to Brooke McAlary [that] the key to happiness was discovering a simpler, more fulfilling existence. She put the brakes on her stressful path and reorganized her life to live outside the status quo, emphasizing depth, connection, and meaningful experiences. …
I’m not far into it yet, but so far I’m enjoying it. She has a good sense of humour and that always works well for me. It’s an easy read, and unless it takes a major crap turn then I recommend it. She starts off with decluttering your physical things, which then makes it easier for us to declutter mentally. I agree with this, and just this morning I put a few more things in the donate bag. It always feels good.
I’m not reading it so much for more tips on slow living, although that’s what it’s for. I just love taking time out to read that kind of thing. Maybe as a refresher. Maybe as a reminder that I do like the slow lane of life and want to stay there. And, it looks cozy on my night stand even with the library sticker on the binding. It’s mine for three weeks, though!
I love the slow living idea and for the most part we live it as a family. The Girls love rainy days here and there because it’s as if the pressure is taken off to go out and “do”. Graham enjoys my company enough that he would rather stay in than go out. The COVID lockdown was like a field day for him. Although he still worked, the go-out-and-socialize pressure was off of him for a little while.
I’m more social than he is but I’m definitely to the point where once darkness hits and we’re already home, the thought of going out again is not pleasant. This makes fall and winter my favourite seasons, and it’s the coziness that does it for me. Cozy blankets and hoodies. Warm kitchens and hot soups. Dark evenings and Vitamin D deficiency. Mmm. What’s not to love?
My life doesn’t (yet) include cushioned outdoor reading nooks with blankets that don’t get wet and candles that stay lit all day no matter the wind speed.
And even though I pinkie Scout promised to try harder, there will be more skating days when I need to grab a knife to get us there on time.
I don’t have a fireplace, nor do I really enjoy thick knitted socks as I find them too frumpy and they tend to fall down when I head for bathroom breaks during my (insert cool Netflix series here) binge-watch.
But, as I wrap up this blog post I have the TV on the fireplace station. The Girls' cousins are off school for an inservice so they’re over at their place. I’m in the house. By myself.
I could be doing anything right now, and I choose to be writing these words. I’m 40, and maybe, just maybe I’ve found that job that doesn’t feel like work. Right now, I’m experiencing my social media-worthy slow living moment. All that’s missing is a hot drink and some woolies. Yo, Mike! Roll one up!
To accompany this blog, and aside from tattooing inspirational words on our foreheads, what could be more blatant than wearing our inner thoughts, dreams and wishes on our chests? I started designing shirts that would make me smile if I were to see others wearing them.
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Each of my designs are based around mindfulness, positivity, and mental health in some way. I enjoy coming up with the designs - like The Slow Life collection of cozy hoodies and tops. (Link opens in new window.) Once we're done here feel free to check them out. Great Christmas gift ideas for him or her, I’d say.
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