Category Archives: Experiencing Life

Tell your story, then live it.

Tell your story, then live it. (via Slow Your Home)

One of my favourite things to do on holiday is visit bookshops. I almost always buy a new book while away and have purchased countless Moleskins (unlined – all the better to doodle in!) before boarding a plane.

Last Christmas, while on holiday in Banff, I bought myself two game-changers. One was Amy Poehler’s ‘Yes, Please’ and the other was a squat little book called ‘642 Tiny Things to Write About’.

One of the first Tiny Things was to write the opening sentence of my own obituary.

It sounds a little macabre, a little morose, but it was truly one of the most inspiring and instructive things I’ve done.

Being a chronic over-writer, I couldn’t keep the exercise to just one sentence. Instead, I wrote four that summed up what I want to see, and more importantly, what I want others to see, when looking back.

Those four sentences have already had a huge impact on my life. They’ve made me reframe what is important, what is worth risking and what is central to my core. They’ve clarified my goals, my dreams and what I hope to see as my legacy. They’ve helped me hone in on what is important for me, but even moreso, for my family.

If we take a moment to imagine ourselves standing at the end of life, looking back at the journey we’ve taken, we get the beautiful benefit of hindsight and the incredible opportunity to act upon it. That never happens.

So often we lament, “Hindsight is 20/20,” and accept, rightly so, that we simply don’t know what we don’t know. And while we still can’t know what the future holds for us, we can imagine – in brilliant detail, no less – what we hope to see as we look back.

Having that benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to act upon it is like rewriting a history that hasn’t happened yet. And it gets to be the history you want.

I’m not talking about manifesting yourself a life of wealth, power and fame. But the things that matter – family, friends, love, compassion – can exist regardless of the circumstances of the life you live. And I’d wager that these feature heavily when looking back at a life fully lived.

Not the car we drove. Or the school we went to. Or the brand of jeans we bought.

Adventure. Willingness to try. Joy. Spirit. Compassion. Heart. Sense of humour. Fair-mindedness. Ambition. Tenacity. Unconditional love. 

Take a moment to ask yourself: what will I see when I look back?

And for what it’s worth, I hope my obituary will be delivered by my two children and given to a room full of friends and family. I hope the service is followed by one heck of a shindig in my honour, and I hope my remains are buried and allowed to grow into something beautiful, like a tree.

“Quick to laugh, creative, compassionate, with a wicked sense of humour, Mum was never without a new plan or adventure on the horizon. She was spontaneous, loyal, introspective and a little moody, and she made one hell of an Old Fashioned. Mum, we will miss you always. Thank you for our roots, but thank you even more for our wings.”

This post originally appeared on The Art of Simple.

How to Embrace Slow

How To Embrace Slow

We’ve just had an incredible long weekend, although there was really nothing extraordinary about it.

We spent time with family, slept in, watched movies, had a backyard campfire, took a long, slow bushwalk together and enjoyed some beers at the pub. I read a little, wrote a little, thought a lot.

When we slow down, we give ourselves time and space to really think about things, to be present, to embrace what’s happening right in front of us, as opposed to flitting from task to task, never quite spending time in the now.

I tried to think about how it’s come to be this way for us, how it’s come to be easy to slow down and enjoy the moment. And I realised two things:

1. There are no rules that apply to everyone.

2. You can’t wait for a perfect time to slow down.

If we waited until the house was immaculately tidy and work was quiet and the kids were perfectly settled and we had no stresses, then we would still be waiting for permission from life to slow down.

It doesn’t happen like that. Life is messy and layered and there are always things going on. It requires constant tilting.

This weekend could have been stressful. The kids have been sick, work is very busy and there are always (always) things to do at home.

But instead of waiting for those things to not be an issue anymore, we simply embraced the opportunity to slow down anyway.

Chores? They’ll be there tomorrow.

Kids unwell? Take it easy and enjoy the opportunity to watch Star Wars and Jurassic Park. (Side Note: It’s such a happy day when the kids start requesting something other than sugar-soaked animated films.)

Work stresses? Don’t check in over the weekend. It can wait ’til you’re back at your desk.

It’s amazing what comes to the surface when we slow down and stop cramming stuff in to life. Ideas, thoughts and memories come bubbling up alongside realisations and discoveries.

We think clearly. We pay attention to the moment. We learn things. We come away feeling rested and rejuvenated and at peace, because we’ve spent time living in the now.

That’s the feeling I have this morning as I sit with my coffee and write these words. Peace. Because I can look back at the time I’ve just spent with my family and can see that I truly spent my time with my family. I was all there.

And while the emails need to be answered, the lunches made, the floor mopped, the meetings attended, it’s these times of being present, of living slow, of paying attention that will be important.


Fighting the Resistance

Resistance - via Slow Your Home

I’m very much a yoga novice. I take a class twice a week and practice most days, but I’m not much more than an enthusiastic beginner.

When I’m in a pose or a stretch I find difficult, my body does this weird thing where it resists the movement. It actively works against itself to stop me from going all the way into a stretch.

Recently I’ve learnt that breathing into it, letting go, releasing the resistance and relaxing helps. A pose I don’t think I can get into (mermaid, anyone?) often becomes easier when I mindfully choose to release the resistance and breathe into it.

(As an aside, that’s one of the things I’m loving so much about yoga – it’s such a mindful practice. No matter how preoccupied I am when I walk in to the class, my mind is clear of everything except yoga for those 60 minutes. I come away feeling mentally light.)

This weekend, as I was doing the washing up, trying to listen to music, hearing the kids squeal and play, thinking of all the stuff I had to do before going out later in the day, I could feel my shoulders get tense. I could feel the muscles of my back crawl up my spine as I continued to resist life.

I didn’t want it to be noisy, I didn’t want to be washing up, I didn’t want to go out that afternoon.

But I realised that resistance was coming from me, not from the circumstances I found myself in. I was resisting those not fun parts of my morning. I was resisting the things that needed to happen. I was resisting life. The everyday, mundane, not fun parts of life felt like something I wanted to fight against.

Of course, the reality is that I can’t. And I don’t really want to.

I don’t live in a vacuum, and there are things I need to do simply because I would be a jerk if I didn’t. There are parts of daily life that aren’t amazing, so it’s best I quit resisting and soften into it.

Standing at the kitchen sink, my shoulders climbing higher up my neck, I took three big deep breaths and told myself to quit fighting and enjoy the moment, in all its mundane normalness.

And while this sounds like typical bloggish hyperbole, the truth is that my shoulders dropped, the fuzzy feeling in my head disappeared and I felt peaceful. even amongst the everyday noise and chores and life stuff.

When it comes to mindfulness, I feel like I’m pretty much an enthusiastic beginner, much like my yoga practice. But I have learnt enough over the past few years of slowing down and simplifying to recognise the benefits of releasing this kind of resistance.

I feel happier, more content, more present, more at ease with wherever I am in life. I feel less stress, less anxiety, less strain, less distraction. Simply by not fighting the resistance.

(Which sounds like some kind of Star Wars reference. But, really, I’m not that clever.)


I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who listened to The Slow Home Podcast last week. The number of people who tuned in blew my mind (well over 20,000 people at last check) and the feedback I’ve received has been amazing, so thank you.

I also received a few emails asking about the blog now I’ve launched the podcast, and I wanted to reassure you I will still be writing blog posts here every Monday. I think much more clearly when I write, and I also know there are a lot of people who would prefer to read than listen, so the written posts aren’t going anywhere.

Every second Friday 6,000 people also receive my newsletter, which includes an exclusive post (for subscribers only) and a list of Five Things For Your Weekend – a collection of links, thoughts, challenges and other tidbits. If you want to receive the newsletter, you can sign up here.

So the good news is you can now get your Slow Home inspiration three ways:

Celebrate the Little Wins

Celebrate the little wins

I’ve never really been one to celebrate my wins. Big or small, Sparky and I usually allow ourselves a moment or a smile, but we don’t really celebrate. It’s always seemed kind of… self-centred.

But recently I completed a 10-day workout challenge and at the end of every session, when I was out on my feet, I was told to dance a little celebratory dance. The instructor encouraged us to sing out loud, “I did it! I did it! Oh yeah, I did it,” while doing the running man. The sillier the better.

On Day 1, I ignored her. I didn’t win a marathon. I deserved no post-workout dancing.

On Day 2, however, her joy was enough to convince me. So I tried it out. I danced a little celebration. I shook my arms and hopped around like a idiot. I celebrated finishing my workout.

Do you know how good that felt? To celebrate that little win?

It didn’t cost me anything. It didn’t bother anyone else. It simply said to me, “You’ve done something today. You could have skipped your workout, you could have stopped before you finished, but you didn’t. And that’s awesome.”

It filled me up. And, yes, it was self-centred. But that’s the point of celebrating, isn’t it?

Celebrate your little wins

Did you get up early this morning? Dance a little celebration – a little booty shake is all you need.

Run to the top of the hill? Give yourself a Rocky moment up there – hands in the air.

Managed a discipline issue with grace and a level-head? High-five yourself in the mirror.

Sent an email you’d been putting off? Give it a little “whoop, whoop.”

Finished the pile of ironing that’s been sitting there for weeks? That’s worthy of a song. About yourself.

In fact, why not have a little win right now?

  • Pick up 5 things.
  • Meditate for 5 minutes.
  • Do 5 push-ups, 5 squats and 5 sit-ups.
  • Drink a glass of water. (Or 5.)
  • Write a list of 5 things to do this week. Go do one.

Then, celebrate.

Even if you’re not a celebrator, today – just for today – give it a shot. Try telling yourself that you are, in fact, pretty awesome. Because it’s true.

(This post was originally written in 2013, but I really needed to revisit it today. Thought it might help you too.)

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!