The Bridge

The Bridge

There is a bridge about a kilometre from my house and every time I go for a run, I cross it.

It’s not until I reach the bridge that I find my rhythm. Before then, I’m short of breath, I feel heavy and awkward and much like Jack Donaghy, I never quite know what to do with my arms. I struggle through those first minutes and I really want to turn around and go home.

But then I hit the bridge and things become easier. I feel lighter. I start to remember why I wanted to go for a run in the first place. I find my stride, my breathing eases up and I can relax and pay attention to what’s happening around me.

Turns out I don’t love the discomfort of running. But I absolutely love the feeling and I love the results.

I love the feeling of elation when I make it to the top of the big hill near my house. I love the Rocky fist pump I give myself every time I do it. I love the burst of energy I get after running. I love how my fitness continues to improve. I love that I’m feeling stronger.

And in that nugget of realisation is my reason for writing today.

You don’t have to love the sometimes difficult process of simplifying or slowing down. Spending time decluttering, saying no, working on your rhythms, figuring out what’s important to you – these aren’t particularly fun. Sometimes they’re bearable, sometimes they’re uncomfortable and sometimes they’re completely unpleasant.

But the feeling and the results are what makes it worthwhile.

Having a home free of clutter, not spending all weekend cleaning, fewer stresses, extra space and energy and money, the unmistakable lightness of living with less, the freedom that comes with it – these things are what makes the work worthwhile.

The Why is the key. Not the How. Not the How Much. Not even the How Long.

It’s simply a matter of starting, even when you don’t want to. It’s about tying up your shoes, walking out the front door and putting one foot in front of the other until you find your bridge.

It will get easier. You’ll start to find your stride and before long you’ll be paying attention to other things. Living slowly will just be part of who you are. But until then, you need to do the work.

On those days I really don’t want to run, I make myself a deal. I don’t have to actually go running if I don’t want to. But I do need to put on my running shoes, walk out the front door and close it behind me. After that, I’m free to turn around and go back inside.

But here’s the thing: I’ve never gone back inside.

I make starting so easy that I’d feel ridiculous not doing it.

So instead of trying to force yourself to make enormous sweeping changes, make it so easy you’ll feel ridiculous not doing it.

  • You don’t have to declutter your entire wardrobe. Just remove one thing you no longer wear.
  • You don’t have to say no to every social invitation that comes your way. Just promise yourself that this Saturday afternoon, from 4:00-6:00pm, will be free.
  • You don’t have to eat supremely healthy meals 3 times a day every day, forever. Just add some carrot sticks to your plate.

And almost every single time, that one small act will propel you to doing more. You might pull out 10 items from the wardrobe. You could keep the entire day free. You might make a salad for dinner.

But even if you don’t, even if you put your shoes on, walk out the front door and walk back in again, you’ve still shifted your mindset and you’ve proven to yourself that you can do it. And over time, that’s going to help you a lot more than beating yourself up over what you didn’t do.

So just have faith that there will be a bridge. There will be a time when you realise, “Hey, this is getting easier.” And until then, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slowly.

Nina Nelson on Living in a School Bus! SHP013

Nina Nelson on Living in a School Bus! SHP013

Before I get in to today’s episode of The Slow Home Podcast, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who answered Monday’s brief survey about Slow Living Workshops.

At this stage Portland is the clear front-runner for a September event, but I’m also making a list of cities I’d like to hold events in next year. (Chicago and London both representing, big time!)

If you want to cast a vote for your preferred city, head over here and let me know. I can’t wait to share more with you soon!

On to the podcast!

Today’s episode of The Slow Home Podcast features a delightful guest. Nina Nelson is the natural living expert behind Shalom Mama, and is also a mum, writer and entrepreneur who chose to live with her family (of six!) in a converted school bus.

We chat about a whole lot of things, including the pressure people feel when trying to embrace simple living, the process she went through to cull her family’s belongings before moving into the bus, and the reasons they eventually returned to a “regular” home (for the time being at least).

I also reveal what type of unconventional home I’d love to live in, and our kids make their first, unexpected podcast appearance.

Today’s show is sponsored by Audible.com where you can access over 180,000 audiobooks, including Thrive, by Arianna Huffington. Click here to get a free 30-day trial of Audible and claim one free audiobook of your choice.

Enjoy the show!

——

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!

——

What You’ll Hear About  in Today’s Episode:

  • What constitutes a healthy home.
  • What Nina thinks about the idea that simple living creates pressure that goes against the ethos of living a slower life.
  • Why Nina and her family of six decided to move into a converted school bus.
  • And why they decided to move out.
  • How 6 people managed their stuff in such a small space.
  • The best part of living in a “normal” sized home again, and what she misses about the bus.

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Slow Living Workshops – Are You Interested?

Slow Living Workshops

I’m quite introverted. I enjoy my own company, I’m a big fan of quiet and often find social gatherings (particularly large groups of people I don’t know well) incredibly intimidating.

This year, however, I’ve come to realise the importance of connection – the kind that happens in the real-world, face to face, in person.

It started when I met up with blog readers in a coffee shop in Calgary and has continued with my weekly video calls for The Bloom. And since I launched the podcast it’s become increasingly obvious to me that we, as humans, benefit massively from connection. We learn from interacting with others. We gain so much from hearing their stories and listening to their experiences.

There is a great deal to be gained from reading about and even listening to someone else’s experiences. I do it all the time. But it’s not the same as sitting in a room and learning from them, asking questions, getting a sense of who they are and what’s important to them.

That’s one of the reasons I’m launching a series of Slow Living Workshops. The events will give people the opportunity to do just that – connect with myself and like-minded folks and learn what it is to create a slower, simpler life.

In late July, I’ll be teaming up with Cybele from BlahBlah Magazine to hold a half-day slow living workshop in Sydney (more details to come soon).

And in late September I’m hoping to hold a workshop somewhere in the United States. Due to travel and time restrictions there is only time for one event on Sunday 27th September, but I would love your help choosing which city to hold it in.

I’ve put together a very brief (three questions only) survey which you can find at the bottom of the post and would be so grateful if you could take one minute to complete it.

As I mentioned above, I’m only able to hold one event due to travel and time restrictions, but if there’s enough interest I would be very keen to return for a longer trip next year. So even if you’re unable to make the September event I would be grateful if you could complete the survey and nominate your closest city, so I can try to include it in an extended visit in 2016.

Also, for those of us not in North America, there is room to nominate your closest major city as well. I’d love to hear from readers in Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia too!

September Event Details:

Date: Sunday 27th September

Time: TBC (Approx 4 hours in length)

Venue: TBC

Cost: TBC (Looking at around $50, including light refreshments)

Please complete the very brief survey below:

For those of you who already answered on Twitter and Facebook – thank you! I’ve taken your suggestions into account and will add your votes to the totals I receive here.

 

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As for the Sydney event:

Cybele and I are working out the final details this week and will be posting ticket information next week, but we will be holding a half-day slow living workshop in late July. I’m so excited at how it’s coming together and can’t wait to share it with you.

Tickets will be limited and available for purchase online next week.

In the meantime, thank you for completing the survey, feel free to leave comments or suggestions for the workshops below and enjoy your week!

 

Donnie Maclurcan talks about a post-growth world – SHP012

Episode 12 of The Slow Home Podcast - an interview with Donnie Maclurcan of The Post-Growth Institute

One of the biggest questions I have of the minimalism movement is a somewhat unexpected one: What happens to the world’s economies if we all bought significantly less stuff?

Like it or not, many of the planet’s economies are built, at least in part, on ever-growing levels consumption, so it makes sense that a decrease in buying stuff would have a big impact on things like wealth, employment, government spending, infrastructure…

Honestly, it’s one of the few questions that make me uncomfortable. Which is why today’s episode of The Slow Home Podcast is such an interesting one. 

In today’s show I chat with Donnie Maclurcan, co-founder of The Post Growth Institute and a vocal advocate for a new economy. He is also an Affiliate Professor of Social Science at Southern Oregon University, author of a brand-new book ‘How on Earth?’ and one of the most interesting guests I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing.

I will admit to feeling intimidated before my chat with Donnie, as understanding in-depth economic issues is…not my strong suit. But he is so good at taking incredibly complex ideas and making them accessible and easy to understand. He’s also incredibly passionate about steering the world into a more community-centric, asset-based era.

During our conversation we look at what that actually means in real terms and whether it goes beyond the current trend of the Uber-esque sharing economy (hint: yes, it does).

I came away from our chat feeling hopeful and light and significantly more aware of the issues our world is going to face in the coming years. There is a whole heap of food for thought in this episode, and I really hope you enjoy it.

Today’s show is sponsored by Audible.com. There you can access over 180,000 audiobooks, including Thrive, by Arianna Huffington. Click here to get a free 30-day trial of Audible and claim one free audiobook of your choice.

——

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!

——

What You’ll Hear About  in Today’s Episode:

  • What we mean by ‘post-growth’ and how it applies to our lives today.
  • Why it goes beyond the idea of sharing, à la Uber.
  • Why my idea of a not-for-profit was almost totally wrong, and what a well-run not-for-profit can bring to a community.
  • Why these ideas don’t just apply to small, artisanal producers but can be (and are being) adopted by large corporations.
  • How community is at the heart of a stronger, richer, more sustainable and more supportive economy.

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

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.

 

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