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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: 1 (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.

Snapdragon social

Yesterday marked 32 years since Euan and my first date. I spent time looking through photo albums for a record of that time. There weren’t any photos - I don’t think I had a camera or the cash needed to develop photos back then - but there were a few pressed flowers. ⠀
I don’t know what they were from, I should have labelled them, but they obviously meant enough to keep. ⠀
This photo is of the little brass frame from our Flower Press kit that was the most recent Studio Box. We have a few left packed up and after that it will be repackaged as a more expensive gift version. ⠀
If you were thinking of buying one, either as a one off or as the start of a quarterly subscription you can find out more by clicking the link in my profile.
Poppies are really the best cut flowers. Especially if you are stuck inside and can watch them gradually open. All varieties work - from wild corn poppies to the flamboyant oriental poppies. ⠀
Cut them in full bud, if you can see the petals just about to burst through that’s perfect. ⠀
Sear the bottom inch of stem in boiling water for 5 seconds and then arrange. The lower stem will go black so best in an opaque vase. ⠀
If you recut above the black line you need to re-sear. ⠀
They should last 5 days. 5 days of wonder.
Yesterday was the first hot day, the first day in the garden when I didn’t feel that all my poor plants are shivering and shrinking. ⠀
It was also the first day for weeks that I had completely clear, no plans, no work, nothing but time to potter and plant. Glorious. ⠀
What is your weekend like? ⠀
(Today it is back to being windy but I don’t care as I’m also back at work, prepping everything so that we are ready to send out the magazine part of A Seasonal Way next week)
How do you manage different layers of privacy, vulnerability and messy beginnings online?  I was musing about this yesterday, all the different things I put out into the world - and how I choose where to post them. ⠀
How I choose what to post here, what goes out in my general newsletter, what goes into my Studio Members Newsletter and what gets posted into my (free) closed Facebook Group Snapdragon Studio Bee. ⠀
It’s all subtle stuff, the difference I suppose in what you would talk about in a live interview and what you would chat to the interviewer about later, off the record, over coffee. Both conversations are likely honest and true, but one might still be evolving and feel too unformed, too fragile for public consumption.⠀
I’ve decided to document my beginnings with screen printing in the Snapdragon Studio Bee Facebook Group - it’s a really supportive group and I’ve no fear of judgment in there - if you want to join you would be really welcome. It’s thankfully not a competitive, ego driven group so I think I will feel very comfortable sharing the things that don’t work as well as those that do.
Yesterday was a stressful day.  Our big printer, which does all the textile things, keeled over with a fatal error.⠀
Repair is seemingly not possible, replacement too expensive.  We had to take about 40% of the things we sell off various websites.  It's not ideal.⠀
But after I'd got over the frustration of number crunching and having to cancel orders, it seemed like an opportunity really.⠀
Val and I have been talking about screen printing since the beginning of the year - it is one of the reasons we cleared the workshop so that there is a long central working space.⠀
I want to be able to draw directly on the screens - and play about with the technique a bit, make the results really immediate, sketched, mine.⠀
I've ordered supplies and will be working away playing with the technique over the next week or so.⠀
Sometimes it seems that when I don't move fast enough towards something, fate just seems to create mayhem until there are no other options left but to just ‘do it’. ⠀
Does anyone else find that?
What is your favourite way to make a house a home? 
I'm not a tidy person - my natural persona is more like Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the Cat in the Hat, everywhere I have been, there is a trail of mess left behind. ⠀
When I wanted to leave my job as a museum curator Euan said I could do anything I wanted to, he would always support my decision, as long as I didn't attempt to become a housewife because I would be truly terrible at it.⠀
On Tuesdays though Izabella comes and cleans the house for us (this is why my embroidery morning is a Tuesday, so I can keep out of the way)⠀
Walking back into the house on a Tuesday lunchtime is always such a lovely feeling - the kitchen is tidy, the floors mopped, order is restored.⠀
I try to take advantage of the sense of homeliness by doing some of the things I am good at - arranging flowers, cooking.  Often I do so much of these faffing about domestic things that I have managed to make the kitchen a mess by the time anyone else gets home.⠀
The plum poppies are blooming.  A week late, but here to say happy anniversary Jenny and Jeremy. #ayearinflowers #week24
How tidy are you? Do you like everything out and to hand or do you prefer clear surfaces and blank space?

It’s Tuesday today so that means my embroidery day as I build up a little collection of limited edition works which then go up into the webshop on the last Friday of each month. (Studio members get first dibs and then the link goes into my newsletter later in the day)

I took this photo yesterday afternoon of the bench that is next to my sewing machine. Untidied, un-arranged, but with rather nice light coming in the window. 
There is a half made doorstop, some piles of cut wool to be embroidered and the threads I like to have near at hand. You can see that the wall where I work used to have tiles on it, you can see that I’m neither neat nor organised. 
Showing my day - a 10 second photo, full of reality, potential, and life is what I meant when I talked about doing and Social media last week. 
I welcomed the rain yesterday - it didn't seem so bad to be indoors proofing the final version of the A Seasonal Way magazine.⠀This goes alongside the e-course and community and is at the heart of the whole thing 🌱
It goes to print tomorrow so I need to decide the final numbers today.  I'm not going to be able to print another run, but equally I don't want to be left with lots of copies.⠀
So today is the last day to order to guarantee that your A Seasonal Way has a hard copy rather than a digital copy of the magazine part.⠀
This article is about off grid holidays, why they appeal and what we get from them.  The mug in the background with coffee is by @amandabanhamceramics.⠀
You can find out more about the A Seasonal Way course by clicking through my profile, or in the A Seasonal Way story highlight.  I would love it if you felt you could share about what I'm doing here!  The more people join in, the better the community will be.

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.

Learn more about why here