Sunday, 19 May 2013

The *SLOW* in Simple Living

I have heard many bloggers talk about the fact that slow living is anything but slow!  I have had a whinge or two about it myself.  I prefer to think of my lifestyle as simple living. 

I can see why people choose to talk about 'slow living' though.  We are moving away from a life of convenience and choosing to take the long road to get the results we want.  While it is not the convenient route, but a path that creates extra work, we try to do things in a way that they were done well before supermarkets existed.  And it really is 'slow' living. Everything is pared back to grass roots - it is a lot slower to make a garment than buy it in the shops, slower to grow broccoli for a few months, slower to make your soap than buy it, but the rewards are amazing!
There is the satisfaction of having made a product, there are health benefits and a sense of peace in knowing you are reducing your carbon footprint.  These benefits far outweigh any lack of convenience!

Having said all that, I think the times in simple living when it seems like madness, are the times when you are creating change.  Once the change becomes part of everyday life it is much quicker.  I liken it to when you need to find a new product on a supermarket shelf.  Initially you need to compare each of the products on offer, look at the prices, look at the nutritional information, check where the product comes from etc.  Then you need to collate all that information and decide which one you think meet the criteria best.  The next week you just waltz into the supermarket and pick up the same one!
It's just like that when you first make sour dough bread - how much flour to add, what type of flour, how long to let it rise, how to get the best bloom etc.  Or growing plants - what time of year is best to plant, the amount of sun needed, the pests around at that time of year......

As you become experienced, you automatically make up a sponge at night, plant your veggies at the right time, soak your borlotti beans for tomorrow's dinner.....
I certainly don't have it down pat yet!  And we are always trying to find new methods and skills to add to those that we have already mastered, so life is still very frantic around here.  However, if I think back to when we started to make changes, we have achieved so much!  We cook most of our food from scratch, produce much less rubbish than we used to, don't buy much unnecessary stuff new anymore, have developed methods to wrap foods that don't involve plastic wrap, reduced our use of electricity.........  All of this seems fairly easy now.
However we are still going forward.  It takes a long time to develop a well oiled system.  We are still working on growing more food.  My gardening skills not great yet.  We need to develop a new orchard because we are not producing enough fruit.  We are still finding more and more new sources of local food.  So while life is still busy, we are achieving more and more all the time.  It's good to look back sometimes, to see where we came from.  It's easy to become bogged down by what we haven't achieved, and not realise how many changes have become commonplace and are therefore not even acknowledged any more.
Another element in the struggle of having enough time to achieve a simple lifestyle is that we are living in two worlds.  While we are trying to step back to a way of life that was much healthier, more meaningful and also much more in step with nature and the world we live in, we are also sending our children to modern schools with modern kids.  They are required to own certain items related to study, invited to places we might not want to frequent, wanting to own things their friends have etc.  It's the same with work places.  We need to live with a foot in both worlds and it's hard!  I constantly battle with living according to my values while still being connected with, and enjoying my peers.
In this modern world we tend to live further from extended family so it takes time to travel to see them.  We are involved with different committees and have obligations outside the home.  Many of us are also working on creating change on a larger scale.  These are all extra time guzzlers.
I am happy with the path we have chosen and while it feels 'crazy busy' sometimes, I truly believe that one day I will get to the point where it works easily.  A point where our 'system' we've created at home provides for our needs with less intervention and our actions become more automatic.  In the supermarket analogy, I am still madly reading the labels but have chosen many products already!

In the meantime I will just enjoy the 'slow' processes of making soup on a cold winter's day, weeding in the garden while lost in my thoughts, hanging clothes on the line while the sun warms my back and I will REALLY enjoy working with my family towards achieving our slow life!
No matter where you are in your journey of slow living, you are well on your way to creating a better life!!!

However, do you sometimes get bogged down by the pace of slow/simple living?


Becca said...

A simple life is by no means an easy life. :-)

But it is oh so rewarding..

Zara said...

I think a big part of simple living is getting into a routine- tending the garden, making bread, making clothes.
I know what you mean about workplaces not being on par with the views you hold yourself. My partner is working in the hospitality industry and the gambling and drinking is so against what we believe in. this area of work is not forever though.
A great post Linda. x

Kim said...

Oh Linda , you wrote the post that was in my head but couldn't find the right words for, thank you. I think that the thing I am thinking at the moment is that the world my children as young teenagers are going out into each day is nothing like here on farm- they have to fit in a modern world where their friends eat twisties , play computer games,laugh at home baked goods etc. and I as an 'earth mother' am becoming decidedly uncool as a result. I can't wait until I am cool again , which apparently happens when they are 18.

Busy mum of 3 said...

I know exactly what you mean with the "two worlds" analogy. I feel that accutely when I step into my workplace 2 days a week. From the environmentally concious, slow pace of home to the hectic pace of a large busy hospital where the waste breaks my heart, (even our stainless steel scissors are disposable now!!!) I literally have to alter my headspace, and I truely feel like I am stepping into another world. There's no doubt in my mind which world I prefer.

Amber said...

Beautiful post! I think of slow living as more mindful 'doing' and less mindless running around. :)

Tracey said...

Totally agree with everything you said. Sometimes it just feels so mad, and then I realise I've just made a batch of cheese and it didn't feel hard, or all consuming. The first times I made cheese, it felt like I was tied to the stove for hours, today I've made cheese while doing my other jobs and even found time to deliver a chicken to a friend and stay for a cuppa! It does get easier doesn't it?
I also feel the same way about the different worlds - thankfully, unlike Kim, mg kids still think the way we live is cool - perhaps I'll be able to avoid the teen angst (probably not though LOL)

purplepear said...

You have written a post that is very close to my heart. One I have been meaning to write for a while. But yours reflects very much my own thoughts so 'll leave it at that. And my kids are at an age (20's and early 30's) where what we are doing now is the best thing ever and they agree wholeheartedly with what I'm doing.

Kim said...

I perhaps clarify ...the kids love the way we live and are blossoming in it . But it is harder for them to then fit in in this other world when they go out into it.They are learning though , of course I am still not cool, but they are learning a great skill and that is to remain strong in your beliefs when others differ.

D.Hausmann said...

Thank you for your post, it reminded me that I have been wanting to post an informative piece on grafting plants (fruit trees).

Linda said...

No not easy at all Becca! Adds to the pride in accomplishment.

Zara, My husband works in earthmoving and when he works the big jobs in the big smoke, he says he feels like everyone is just in a race to burn all the fossil fuels as quickly as they can.

Kim, it's tough on the kids but as mothers, we probably worry about it more than I do. Oh.. and don't count on that 18 thing!

Thanks Amber, and you're right. It's mindful! I like that term.

Busy Mum, I find that really scary! What a waste. Last trip to the dentist, the mirror was disposable. I have seen first hand what hospitals throw away, but scissors!!!

Tracey, I'm in awe of your cheese. I haven't tried it yet. Yes, my kids love our way of life too.

Thanks Kate, your words really mean a lot to me!

D.Hausmann, I would be very interested in a post for grafting. I'll pop over and check it out. I have been shown but I'm scared to try doing it!

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

I am like you and never feel like I am doing enough. I say that the simple life is not the easy life but it is the rewarding life.