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Ignore the Shoulds. Do something you love.

Ignore the Shoulds. Do something you love.

Sunday morning: the sun was shining, the kids were playing, the kitchen needed tidying and the floors were overdue a vacuuming.

But I was slacklining. Aware, yet not caring about all the other things that needed doing.

I could have waited until all those things were finished. I could have waited until the floors were vacuumed and the kitchen tidied. But by then I would have realised that the laundry needed doing and the beds needed making and the grocery list needed writing and so on. There is rarely a perfect time for relaxing. For slowing down. For stopping and smelling those gorgeous flowers.

Because life is busy and we all have expectations of what it Should look like. (Tidy home. Nice hair. Things under control.) But sometimes you just have to go ahead and do the thing you need.

In my case what was needed was down time. Some slacklining. Some listening to good music. Some wilful ignorance of the Shoulds floating around in my head. Just for a little while.

Slowing down isn’t about laziness. It’s not about shirking responsibility. It’s not about mediocrity or lowering of standards.

It’s about being intentional. Being present. Enjoying the moment in front of you. And sometimes it’s about ignoring the things you Should be doing and opting for things that fill you up, make you smile, change your perspective.

3 Steps to Rediscover Your Rhythm

I like to think of myself as a pretty good dancer. Which is fortunate, because no-one else does.

But when I have a couple of champagnes, or when I listen to Dance Apocalyptic while cooking dinner, none of that matters because I am convinced I look amazing.

What I actually look like is this:

But that’s OK. I feel like I have rhythm. The moves feel good. I feel comfortable. Yes, I look like a frog in a blender, but I feel great.

And that’s what rhythm is all about. Feeling comfortable. Knowing the tempo, knowing the moves, knowing (or not knowing, but feeling OK about that) what comes next.

Feeling good in my day is one of the main reasons I aspire to having rhythms (not routines) to my mornings, my days, my weeks. You can read more about my reasons for that here, but suffice to say rhythm is a much friendlier way to approach your days, and  as far as I’m concerned, rhythm is where it’s at.

But what happens when you mis-step? When your flow is interrupted? When the tempo changes unexpectedly? When someone gets all up in your dancefloor space and throws you off your game? What happens when you fall out of rhythm?

How do you get that back? Or how do you find a new one when you’re reeling? When you’re struggling? When you’re stuck doing the Running Man and getting nowhere? (Sorry. I’ll stop the dancing analogy now.)

That’s where I’ve been for the past couple of weeks. I’ve lost touch with my rhythms, some of my circumstances have changed, we’ve been fighting virus after virus here at home and things felt really freaking hard all of a sudden.

It left me feeling anxious and overwhelmed and depressed. Everything that used to just happen as part of my rhythms suddenly stopped happening. Things that were easy got really difficult. I thought there was something wrong with me.

Turns out I just lost my rhythm.

So how do we get it back?

1. Check in with your discipline.

First I needed to figure out if my rhythm had to change or if I needed to sack up and re-engage my discipline. Turns out it was the latter.

I had gotten a little lazy in the approach to my days, and things had fallen by the wayside.

I had stopped writing my 3-item to-do list. I had stopped working through my Dailies and my Weeklies. I had been doing what I felt like doing, rather than what I had already established needed doing.

I got back to the things I know work for me, stopped being lazy and suddenly my rhythms felt a little closer to being right.

So check in and see that you’re still doing those things you know are necessary. Sure, you might not want to. But if you’ve worked through the process of establishing rhythms already, you know those tasks need doing for a reason.

So do them.

2. See what else has made its way in to your days.

Commitments, responsibilities, projects, shoulds, yeses and new interests all squeeze their way into our daily lives over time.

I’ve got two new projects underway that weren’t on the radar when I established my rhythms earlier in the year and I hadn’t made any room for them. But there I was, expecting those same rhythms to continue to help me get it all done.

I needed to shift things around, re-prioritise, decide on what remained important and what was no longer a high priority. Continuing to do that helps me see where I need to make more space and makes it easier to spot those time-sucks and energy vampires that sneak in to my days.

So re-evaluate the current flow of your days. What’s changed? What habits have slipped? What seemingly small shifts have happened? These could be the key to finding that rhythm again.

3. Finally, be kind to yourself.

Some seasons of life – be them a day, a week or a month – are tougher than others. Life has a way of squeezing meetings and phone calls and sick kids and deadlines in to the same week. Understand that there is going to be ebb and flow to your life, and accept that there will be seasons of busy-ness. This is not a failing on your part.

I can see that these few weeks would have been busy regardless of my rhythm, simply because a whole heap of stuff happened at the same time. While it’s helped a lot to take the first two steps and check in with myself, it’s also helped to show myself some kindness.

It takes the pressure off a little and stops me from making it seem worse than it really is.

So by all means, check in, re-evaluate, re-prioritise and re-invigorate your rhythms, but understand that this rhythm-less phase will pass soon enough. And in the meantime, be kind to yourself.

Losing your rhythm is not necessarily a bad thing. It can force us to re-evaluate and re-establish our priorities, and help us see what stuff should be removed or downgraded from our days. It doesn’t feel good at the time, but work through it and you’ll be ripping up the dancefloor again in no time.

 

A Vacuum-less Life

A Vacuum-less Life

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about simplifying and slowing down is: “What if my husband/wife/kids/parents aren’t onboard with adopting this lifestyle? How can I convince them to join me?”

The short answer is: you can’t.

Unless you do it for them, which I don’t suggest as an option because A) that’s not really them joining you anyway and B) getting rid of stuff that doesn’t belong to you is a really great way of pissing people off.

The fact is, you can’t force someone to adopt a new way of living.

What you can do is start making changes to your own life. Declutter your belongings, start saying no, intentionally slow down, change the food you’re eating, start moving more.

You can make these changes, you can start to feel the benefits and maybe, just maybe, they will see those benefits and feel inspired to join you. But also, maybe not.

The key to moving forward with these changes and being content with the impact it makes on your life is to understand this: You don’t live in a vacuum.

Your decisions, your choices, your actions have implications on those around you. If you start simplifying, slowing down, eating different foods, the people closest to you will notice. They might join you, they might be happy for the change, but they might not.

Similarly, the decisions, choices and actions of those around you will have an effect on your life. They might pick up after themselves, they might honour your request to not buy toys for the kids, they might accept that you don’t want to go to the candle party, but they might not.

We don’t live in a vacuum. And yet, wouldn’t it be easier if we did?

We could say no and not care and toss that annoying trinketty crap that clutters our flat surfaces. We could get rid of the toys our kids love but that drive us mad. We could let go of the old, holey t-shirt that is special to our boyfriend, and the expensive yet ultimately unused crystal wine glasses we were given as a wedding gift from a great aunt who asks about them when she visits.

But that stuff is called life. Or, more specifically, it’s called being part of someone else’s life. There are thousands of ways our lives interlink with each others, some of which makes life easier, some make it more complex.

So understand that you do not live in a vacuum. You will meet resistance. There will be friction. You will face challenges. But ultimately you are in control of your own choices and reactions, not anyone else’s.

And in terms of how to deal with this resistance and this friction, my philosophy is quite simple:

Don’t be a jerk. But don’t be a doormat.

Remind yourself to be grateful, to understand that we each have different love languages, to recognise that the world does not revolve around you and your desire to simplify.

But also remind yourself that it’s OK for you to want different things in life. To crave different outcomes. To want a slower home or a decluttered bedroom or an empty space on the calendar. You’re allowed to want those things just as much as someone else is allowed to want their torn, holey t-shirt.

Also remind yourself that you are in control of the choices you make and the reactions you have. You get to choose how these frictions feel. And you get to tell yourself that your relationships with the people you love are not defined by stuff at all. 

So either they will get on board, or they will not. Allow your vacuum-less life to continue on regardless, and enjoy all the moments and the links and the relationships in spite of your differences.

Don’t get caught up on what you cannot change. After all, creating a slower life is about saying no to unnecessary stress, and there’s nothing more unnecessary than stressing about things you cannot change.

——

In other news, I was recently interviewed by Joey over at Fearlessly Questioning. We spoke about slowing down, making room and how  video games or Walking Dead comics fit into a simpler, slower life. (Hint: they totally do.) Head over here to see the video or check it out on iTunes.

Finally, I’m interviewing Carl Honore this week for my upcoming podcast. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask him let me know in the comments.

Enjoy your week!

 

 

Slow is boring.

Slow is boring.

In today’s hectic, win at all costs, strive for cheaper, higher, faster, louder world, slow gets a bad rap.

Slow means saying no. Slow means missing out. Slow is lazy. Slow is boring. Slow is beige.

And yes, there is bad slow. (My internet this week, for example.)

But since adopting a slower pace, my life has become immeasurably more interesting. It’s become more active. I’ve said yes to more incredible things than I ever thought possible. My life has become anti-beige.

Really? Ask the nay-sayers.

How can slow – plodding, ponderous, lagging, sluggish, leaden – be anything but boring?

But slow is the precise shade of lavender in an incredible sunset.

Slow is noticing the smell of wet earth after the rain.

Slow is committing to memory the sound of my kids playing.

Slow is having time for long conversations.

Slow is having the energy to help others.

Slow is saying yes to Sunday afternoon bushwalks and siestas.

Slow is putting the phone down when I’m talking to someone.

Slow is making time for yoga.

Slow is tilting.

Slow is out of my comfort zone.

Slow is establishing what my comfort zone looks like and happily dwelling there sometimes.

Slow is time in nature.

Slow is saying yes to adventure.

Slow is travelling and learning and really seeing new places.

Slow is stopping to notice.

Slow is making space for the things I love. And then enjoying them.

Slow is understanding that life is fast and time is precious.

Slow is making the most of both those things.

 

 

A Return to Slow

A Return to Slow

When I first launched this blog (back in 2011!) it was about creating a slow home – a holistic approach to building a life of contentment, balance and focus on the important things.

As part of the process of creating our slow home I began writing about my decluttering efforts and found a large group of readers who needed help with letting go of their stuff. My posts about decluttering resonated and I started focusing more and more on Stuff – how to let go of it, what to do with it, why we don’t need it.

Now it’s 2015 and I run an amazing group on Facebook that helps people declutter their homes and lives. I’ve written handbooks that take people through the process of simplifying every area of their house over the course of a year. I write a lot of blog posts on the topic of decluttering.

However, my passion is Slow. And for someone who is building a life that doesn’t place undue importance on the things we own, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and writing about Stuff.

And Stuff is not what I’m passionate about. My passion lies in helping people create slower, simpler lives with space and time to focus on the things that matter. Decluttering is a big part of the process and an absolutely vital one. It’s impossible to create a simpler, slower life without getting rid of the crap and cruft and clutter first. Stuff is heavy.

But the idea is to move beyond Stuff. I’m not concerned with the specifics of this, as it might mean you own 100 things and can successfully live from a backpack for the rest of your life, or that your 6-bedroom home in the suburbs is now uncluttered and inviting. What a simplified home looks like is up to you.

For me it’s about a space that has space. White space and empty walls. Space for relaxation and spontaneity and heaps of laughter. Space to enjoy the view and the airiness. Space to reflect. Space to continue to build a life for our family that feels authentic and positive and intentional. Because doing that allows the stuff we do own, the stuff we intentionally keep and choose to surround ourselves with, the things we do, the choices we make, the experiences we pursue, the work we do – that space makes it all more important. Giving those things room makes them important, because they are important.

But getting beyond that part is where life really starts to get interesting, and that is where my passion lies. In helping people get to the living part.

So this blog will continue, of course. (What else would I do with myself at 4am?) But I want to go back to exploring ideas on the periphery of Stuff. How we can create a home and a life that work for us, with rhythms and systems and ideas that help guide us in the direction we want to take. What we can add to our lives in order to make them feel whole. Reconnecting with dreams and desires and goals that have long been buried under mountains of things we no longer want or need.

In short, I want to provide the how-to and the why-to create a slower, simpler life.

I also want to introduce the idea of slow, simple living to as many people as possible which is one of the reasons I’m launching a new podcast in a few weeks time.

The weekly show is called The Bloom Podcast and in it I will dive deep into the ideas, practicalities and realities of living a slower, simpler life. Some weeks I will have special guests with me (I’m so excited to share these with you) and other shows it will just be me riffing on what slow living is all about.

I’d also love to answer your questions on the show. So if you have any questions related to slow, simple living, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below or drop me an email. I’d love to hear from you!

Similarly, if you have any suggestions, topics, ideas or guests you’d like to see featured on the podcast, let me know.

 

 

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