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In search of Slow Living

in search of slow living

Three days ago I turned 50. I have loved my 40s - by far the best decade so far - and I'm hoping to enjoy my 50s even more. But I do notice one thing.

Life starts speeding up a lot as soon as you hit middle age.

Do you find this? Do you find that you start doing something in February and by the time you set it down again it seems to be June. That meeting up with people, or visiting places or even just getting the washing done becomes a blur of motion and you stand there going 'where did all that time go?'. Do you find that you forget that you have already read a particular book? Seen a particular film? Visited somewhere on holiday? Or is it just me?

It made me realise that middle age must the ideal time to really concentrate on slowing down because the illusion is that it is all speeding up, that I am running out of time.

By slowing down I actually don't mean the actual speed of life at all - if I'm honest a 'slow life' sounds like a dull life to me. I love to have projects on the go, I've a grasshopper brain, I'm impatient, I'm a doer, not a perfectionist, a dreamer and schemer. Inside my head is not slow at all. I don't really want to change that.

What I mean by 'slowing down' is actually making an effort to be present - to resist the multi tasking (I got much better with this via my April experiment with quiet) and the filling in of blank time. To sit with being there more.

It isn't something that comes easily to me - it is a muscle I am learning to use. I am hoping that it works along the same lines as the diet gurus who suggest that you should chew your food a lot so that your body knows you have eaten and your stomach can notice it is full.

I hope that slowing down, being aware, deliberately noticing things will make me realise that time is full, that life is so, so full and yet that there is time for everything I want to do.

These are the things I am going to try.

1. Mindful cooking.

Now I am aware that this sounds a bit ridiculous. Cooking is something that I love to do, but 6 nights out of seven it is done in a rush, in that tired period between 5.30 and 6.30. Sometimes even thinking of what to cook is enough to stress me out and I stare inside the fridge looking for something quick and easy to make.

But that one night a week. The night when there is nothing urgent on my to do list - then I am going to slow down, appreciate the ingredients, pay attention to the chopping, the sizzling, the scents, the colours.

Anna Jones writes about this in her cookery book The Modern Cook's Year - in a chapter called 'Cooking with Grace' - describing cooking as a solace, a meditation, an offering. I'm not quite there yet, but I think it is worth a try.

2. Getting bored.

Recently I have been trying to inject a bit of boredom into my life.

It was something I always recommended for my children - I feel so much creativity stems from a bored mooch about - but find that I shy from myself.

I rarely move without my phone, book, knitting - ready to whip one or all out in every gap of the day. A post office queue and I shall be on my phone replying to Instagram comments - a wait for a train and I will have my book out, deep in a plot, sitting in a hospital waiting room I will be measuring time by the rows knitted.

I now wonder what I did before I filled every minute. I hope to find out, and discover whether a bit of people watching and bored listless musing turns into something interesting.

Will allowing myself to become bored stretch time?

I would love to hear your experience of slowing down your life - and what that means to you. If you have anything to add I would love for you to leave a comment.

Tags: SlowLife

Comments: 2 (Add)

Cath Greene on May 29 2019 at 08:18

Lovely read! Leaving gaps in my day, so I'm not rushing from one thing to another, is SO important to me - I have M.E. and while it's miles better than it has been, I do still need to be careful with my energy. I've started walking more too; getting out of town and closer to nature - nature has a pace all of its own, doesn't it? Listening to birds, stopping to look and appreciating nature has a calming/slowing effect which helps reset life somehow; I notice when I don't get out too - the day whizzes by and I feel like I've missed something; I've missed my time of touching base, being intentional and present. Otherwise, my to-do-list gets the last laugh and that's not how life should be.

Christine Proudfoot on October 14 2019 at 15:34

This made me smile. I can’t bear to waste a minute of the day. However, while I have a broken arm I’m certainly curtailed and I hate it ! Probably because I’ve not chosen to ‘slow down’.

Snapdragon social

This is my current work in progress.⁠⠀
It will eventually be a big cabled throw - the silk I'm using is pretty chunky so it should be a fairly quick knit. ⁠⠀
The preparation will take longer though.  I wanted to make something for our home that is really connected to this place.  Something dyed with the plants that grow here.  Something slow.⁠⠀
The yarns in the photo were dyed in early September with plants from the garden - the yellow is dahlia flowers, the greyish green is dahlia leaves with some iron, the paler blue grey is woad (next year I shall grow more to get deeper colours). The linen cloths were dyed with avocado.⁠⠀
This afternoon I plan to cut some willow to soak for another hank.  I have 12 hanks and a wound ball in total.⁠⠀
I found the silk in a giant yarn stash that lives at my Mum's house, I can't remember where we got it but it would have been bought in the late 1980s when we led each other astray in yarn buying sprees.⁠⠀
Do you ever find echoes of your childhood home in your current one?  If so, do you find it a bit like realising that you've begun to sound exactly like your Mum?⁠⠀
I grew up in a house with a butler's pantry - it was a small corridor like room between the kitchen and the dining room.⁠⠀
One side of the room was all cupboards, where plates and cutlery were stored, the other side was one of those amazing curved metal 1950s English Rose sinks.⁠⠀
The butler was, of course, long gone. ⁠⠀
Last month we redecorated our own 'pantry' - a small room between the open plan kitchen and the bedrooms.  It is really more of a large alcove than a proper room, there are no windows and only 3 walls.  It was a squalid mess 90% of the time as people dumped things.⁠⠀
I decided that proper storage was the answer - we got the red dresser I posted last month, we relocated shelves and tables from elsewhere in the house and then we put up this antique glass fronted wall cabinet for the china and glass.⁠⠀
As I walked past this morning I recognised the feel - I had made a little C19th butler's pantry in my 1980s bungalow! ⁠⠀
I could, of course, do with the butler.
Small things that mean home.⁠⠀
What is the first thing you do when you get home from holiday?⁠⠀
On Sunday when we arrived back  from holiday I took my snips out to see what I could find in the frosted garden to put in a vase by the front door.⁠⠀
It's nothing fancy - some starry bright common asters, deep pink persicaria, scabious and dill - all set off with blousy Japanese anemones. But for me it is a beautiful distraction from the piles of laundry and unpacked cases.⁠⠀
The engraved glass plate is by @janeraven ⁠⠀
It’s the last day of our holiday - by lunchtime we will be back in the air and headed for London to catch up with our girls over dinner. 
For the past two weeks we have been staying high in the mountains, about half an hour from Split in Croatia, an area of stunning beauty - It is the end of season, the verges are baked to straw, the trees full of olives and pomegranates, paths are lined with a white flowered thyme. 
For me the fortnight has been a game of magic eye, squinting against the sun, suddenly spotting drifts of ‘love in a mist’ seedheads, the remains of white scabious, sweet scented clematis a few flowers on their second bloom, delphiniums, euphorbia, lambs ears and great spikes of campanula growing from the rocks. All wild, all natural, all in just the right place. 
It has been a wonderful break - and now I’m looking forward to getting home and making plans and getting everything out of my head and onto paper.
Yesterday, taking advantage of my calm, clear, well holidayed head, I wrote down a 3 year goal along with the 3 things I need to do consistently for it to happen and I emailed it to some friends who I know will root for me, keep me on track and cheer each time I get a step nearer. ⠀
Having lots of friends who I absolutely know will be happy for me when something goes well is a relatively new thing. In many ways I think friends for good times are more difficult to find than friends for bad. ⠀
Who are your cheerleaders? ⠀
Back in my previous life as a flower grower and wedding florist, this time of year was the most stressful. Economically it was essential, but the borrowed time, watching the garden slow down, waiting for a night cold enough to turn everything black was tense. ⠀
I rarely agreed to October weddings, but sometimes I was persuaded, because when they work they work so beautifully- the vulnerability of the flowers somehow glowing through. ⠀
This mug - officially Autumn meadow - is ‘Christine’s mug’ in my head. A mix of teasels and echinacea rebloom, some startlingly tall blue forget me nots on second flowering, and damp fennel seed heads, put together to decorate a tiny stone church 12 years ago. ⠀
The mug comes into the ‘we forgot to put it on the website’ category - that has been rectified now and you can get to it via the link in my profile.
It seems to be something that creeps up, tangling your feet, muddling your head- not all that noticeable until you begin to break through it. 
Or maybe it is visible there, as a shortness of breath, a tightening of shoulders, a fear of crowds. 
I am spending this weekend untangling my head by the sea in Croatia . Swimming and sitting still and decluttering my mind. 
And in the place of all the numbing fears and doubts, the undermining feelings that nothing makes a difference anyway, have slid in clear plans and steps and intentions. As if by magic. 
Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  What do you do to shake it off?
These are the kinds of dahlias that I'm going to be planting more of next year. ⁠⠀
They are described as blue (which is obviously not the case - oh those lying insta filters!), they are pretty useless as cut flowers, they get easily damaged in the rain.⁠⠀
But, oh how the bees LOVE them.⁠⠀
So, therefore, do I.⁠ ⠀
We begin our beekeeping course next month - making sure we have some good basic knowledge before the bees themselves arrive in the spring. ⠀
I’m very excited. Are you planning to learn anything new over the winter?

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

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