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.

When it’s not all about you – SHP015

The Slow Home Podcast #15 - Q&A Episode

Before I jump into today’s episode, a quick note.

I’m taking a couple of weeks off the internet, starting this weekend. I’ve got posts and podcast episodes scheduled already (there’s two excellent interviews coming your way!) but I won’t be answering emails or replying to comments.

Part of going slow is understanding the importance of disconnecting regularly and not forgetting a very important fact: the world will continue to turn with or without my presence on Twitter.

Thank you so much for being here, and I hope your next two weeks are delightful!

Also, don’t forget that tickets are now on sale for our Sydney Slow Living Workshop – get the details and grab yours here.

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The first Thursday of the month means one thing: a hostful episode of the podcast!

Ben and I have a ridiculous amount of fun recording these host-only episodes and I really love the opportunity to answer listener questions in a relaxed, non-posturing kind of way.

We inadvertently themed today’s three questions around other people. Or more specifically, how to move towards slow and simple while living with and taking into consideration the needs and desires of other people.

The questions I try to answer today are thought-provoking and also quite common:

  • How can I create a slower home with less “stuff” when my spouse isn’t on the same wavelength?
  • How can I simplify large amounts emotionally-charged clutter, like kids artworks?
  • How do I shift my thinking about “stuff” and what constitutes clutter as my children grow and develop their own interests and tastes?

I do my best to answer them in a practical and helpful way, and hopefully it’s going to offer the encouragement needed to work out what’s best for you.

One really important part of slow living is acknowledging that everyone’s path is different – what works for one person may not work for another. For this reason I’m always hesitant to offer specific advice, but would rather ask questions that get you thinking about what works best for you. Hopefully today’s episode will help do that.

Today’s show is sponsored by Audible.com where you can access over 180,000 audiobooks, including one of my absolute favourites, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (narrated by Sissy Spacek!) Click here to get a free, no strings attached, 30-day trial of Audible and claim one free audiobook of your choice.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Alternatively, you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above.

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Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

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Want to submit a question of your own for the next Q&A?

If you have any questions about slowing down or simplifying life, I’ve created a page for you to submit them either via email or voice recording. Head over here to ask your questions – I’d love to answer them in the next Q&A show.

In the meantime though, enjoy today’s episode and, as always, feel free to leave your questions or suggestions in the comments below.

 

The Slow Road

The Slow Road - A Simple Living Workshop

I don’t normally post here on a Tuesday, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you tickets to the first of our Slow Living Workshops are now available and I couldn’t be more excited!

The Slow Road is a half-day workshop designed to help you create a slower, simpler life.

Co-hosted by myself and Bele Masterman of Blah Blah Magazine, we’ll be sharing gentle and practical ways to slow down and simplify in a world that values speed, consumption and constant connection.

You’ll walk away feeling refreshed, motivated and inspired, but just as importantly, you’ll also leave with a range of tools to use in your everyday life. You’ll learn how to uncover your priorities, live mindfully, create rhythms and escape the burden of your clutter.

What’s more, you’ll learn about these things in the company of others who want the same for their own lives and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions of Bele and myself as we share our own (very different) journeys towards a slower, simpler life.

Lewers Gallery

Workshop Details:

Date: Sunday 26th July, 11am – 3pm.

Venue: The gorgeous (and somewhat unexpected) Lewers Gallery in Emu Plains.

One of my favourite places in the Sydney area, Lewers is close to where I grew up and somewhere I take my kids on the regular. It has amazing gardens, three beautiful exhibition spaces and a cafe that serves exceptionally good local food, coffee and cocktails.

We chose the gallery because it exemplifies slow living and offers you an amazing chance to reset, refresh and reflect on the life you want to live, plus it’s just so ridiculously pretty.

Inclusions: Light refreshments will be provided throughout the day, and you are more than welcome to bring your own lunch or buy something from the cafe on-site. (I can highly recommend the grilled haloumi burger!)

Tickets:  We want to keep the workshop small and intimate so places are limited.  Tickets are available here.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Also, we’ve already had a lot of questions about workshops in other cities.

  • Gold Coast and Brisbane folk – we’re thinking about a couple of events in mid-August and will keep you posted.
  • Melbourne people – we’ve had a lot of requests so please know we’re working on it and will update you when we have details.
  • International readers – thank you so much for taking the survey last week! Portland, Chicago, Atlanta, London and Berlin all represented super strong. I’m working on plans for workshops and will let you know details as soon as I can.

Sydney friends, grab your tickets to The Slow Road here – we look forward to seeing you there. 

A Manifesto for a Simple Life (and Giveaway – CLOSED)

A Manifesto for a Simple Life - Kelly Exeter

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from my friend and fellow simplicity-seeker, Kelly Exeter of A Life Less Frantic. Kelly has five copies of her new book, ‘Your Best Year Ever’ to give away – see the end of this post for details.

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Four years ago, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I sat down and wrote myself what was effectively a wish list. I called it A Manifesto for a Simple Life, and it helped clarify a (clearly) deep-seated craving I had: the need to distil my complicated life down to only what was necessary.

Four years on, those words still stand up (always nice when that happens!). I return to them whenever life threatens to overwhelm me. They’re an ongoing reminder that while we may live in a complicated world, life itself can be simple if we let it.

And it seems I’m not alone in finding relief in simplicity. That manifesto has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, and I’ve received countless emails thanking me for breaking it down. People often ask me about what it all means. Why did I choose these particular aims to help me with my goal of simplicity?

This is the story behind my Manifesto for a Simple Life.

Eat less, move more

There is so much angst and self-loathing around food and body image these days. How do I know this (beyond what my eyes can see)? Well the number one article that Google sends people to on my site is this one about ‘how to stop thinking about food all the time.’

Given I wrote that post, I clearly know what it feels like to obsess about food and the effect it was having on my weight. And happily, since I’ve been able to overcome it, I can assure you that not doing that anymore has made life a LOT simpler.

What’s been the biggest game-changer for me in this regard? Mindfulness.

For example: would you like a piece of cake? Then eat the damn cake! But, instead of cutting yourself a tiny sliver (because then it doesn’t ‘count’ right?), and then another, and then another (and getting to the end of the day to find you’ve eaten half a cake), cut yourself a God-honest piece of cake.

Now sit down with it and savour every single mouthful. Eat ALL your food this way. Mindfully. When you’re mindful (as opposed to obsessive), you just naturally ‘eat less’ and you also find yourself eating ‘better’.

The same applies to ‘move more’. Be mindful of the opportunities in your day to move your body, and then take them! Get off the bus one stop early. Park in the far corner of the shopping centre car park. Walk with your kids to school rather than driving.

The human body is designed to move. It’s been shown that regular exercise is the world’s greatest wonder drug. Let’s get more of that good stuff in our day!

Being in good health makes life unimaginably simpler! If you’ve ever had good health snatched away you’ll know this as truth.

Buy less, make more

The rampant consumerism in our world right now is a concern, don’t you think? If you’ve ever had the pleasure of moving house, you’ll have a good idea of just how much ‘stuff’ you’ve managed to accumulate. Mostly stuff you just don’t need.

All that stuff is complicating your life by cluttering not just your physical space, but your mental space, too.

So if handcrafting gifts or growing your own food is your thing, please, do more of that.

If spending money and keeping the economy alive is your thing, why not buy experiences instead?

That way you get the opportunity to make memories as opposed to buying more “stuff”.

Stress less, laugh more

One recurring piece of feedback I get from people reading A Manifesto for a Simple Life is: “Stress less? I’d love to, but I don’t even know where to begin.”

Well the perfect place to start is by surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh (or at the very least put a smile on your face.)

We’ve all got people in our lives for whom everything is a drama. We’ve all got people who send our cortisol levels through the roof. Do we need these people in our lives? Probably not. Can we spend less time with these people? Almost certainly.

Life becomes a lot simpler when we choose to focus on the relationships that are good for our souls. If someone makes us laugh, makes us feel lighter, then that relationship is good for the soul.

Feel blessed, love more

Every one of us has goals, dreams and desires for the future.

And every one of us (no matter our situation) has something abundant in our life worthy of celebration right now.

One of life’s simplest truths is this: if we’re not happy with the abundance in our lives right now, we’re not going to be happy with any abundance the future may hold. 

If you’re really struggling to feel blessed, the quickest way to overcome this is to put more love out into the world. It’s a simple truth of the universe that we get back what we put out, and love conquers all.

Another technique you can try is this one:

Sit down and run through all the things you have to do in your day. Ie “I have to get out of bed in the morning …” and so on.

Now run through the exact same list but precede everything you have to do with “I choose to …” In other words: “I choose to get out of bed in the morning.” That’s a nice shift huh?

Now try the same line with “I am blessed …” at the start. “I am blessed to get out of bed in the morning.”

Game-changer. I can’t think of a better way to practice gratitude and feel blessed every day than this.

Find a quiet spot every day and breathe

When all else fails; when everything going on in our lives threatens to overwhelm and crash down on us, it’s time to carve out some quiet moments in the day for ourselves.

It could be five minutes in the shower. It might be two minutes in the toilet (with the door locked so the kids can’t get in!) It might be that one minute a night between putting down the book you’re reading … and falling asleep.

These moments are so precious. And crucial!

They bring us firmly back into the present and allow us to re-calibrate.

It’s these moments that give us the truest taste of what life can feel like when we keep things simple.

And if you’re anything like me, those moments are more delicious than cake! 

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Kelly Exeter is a mother of two, wife of one, writer, designer, blogger, runner, business owner … the list does go on. After many years on the hamster wheel she’s finally figured out how to live A Life Less Frantic®. She shares the 7 simple shifts in thinking that got her there in her book Your Best Year Ever (which is currently 99c on Amazon so … get on it!).

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GIVEAWAY TIME: Kelly has FIVE copies of her new book Your Best Year Yet to give away to readers of Slow Your Home. To enter, simply leave a comment (be sure to include your email address when filling out your details) and let me know your favourite part of the manifesto. 

This competition is open to everyone and entries close Thursday 2nd July 2015 11:59pm AEST, with winners notified within 24 hours.

Dr Sarah McKay on Neuroscience and Napping – SHP014

The Slow Home Podcast: The Neuroscience of Napping, with Dr Sarah McKay - SHP014

I enjoy a good nap. Nothing speaks to slowing down quite so well as taking time to rest when we need to.

In fact, most weekend afternoons I’ll indulge in a half-hour snooze on the lounge, or bed, or hammock, or grass…

Occasionally I feel a pang of guilt about these siestas, but today’s guest is on a mission to bring back the nap – no guilt allowed.

Dr. Sarah McKay is a neuroscientist, health writer, TedX speaker, surfer, Kiwi and mum, and is here to tell us why napping is good for our brains.

In today’s episode of the podcast, Sarah and I talk about the science of mindfulness and napping (yes! there is now a scientific reason for you to indulge in an afternoon siesta!) and its impact on our brain health.

We also talk about her personal story of stress and overwhelm as a mum trying to Do It All, and what it took for her to realise that life lived at double speed was robbing her of happiness and health.

While I’m obviously no neuroscientist, we did discover a whole lot of similarities in our personal stories which made me feel more intelligent, simply by loose association.

Honestly, I’ll take the extra IQ points where I can, and I hope you enjoy the show!

Today’s show is sponsored by Audible.com where you can access over 180,000 audiobooks, including On Writing, by Stephen King. Click here to get a free, no strings attached, 30-day trial of Audible and claim one free audiobook of your choice.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Alternatively, you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

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Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

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