This Week Of Living Slowly

I’m really enjoying the idea of living slow – this last week I have had plenty to do but because I have had the 59th Street Bridge Song by Simon and Garfunkel running almost constantly through my head (and now it is on high rotation in my car because I found the cd that song is on!) I have been moving through my week with a different attitude, made a few decisions and tried a few different skills.

During our last Sacred Essence Circle we talked about the idea of our lives overtaking us – our actions overwhelming our emotions and draining our energy. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling … and it’s clear from the reactions I have had to my previous post that I am not the only one who has been feeling a little out of control.

I will try to talk a bit more about our discussion about the lemniscate over at our Sacred Essence blog – and how it relates to the way we recognize and create our own sense of balance and equanimity in our lives … but for now I will say that since this discussion at our Circle I have been able to better practice mindfulness in my daily living – and although my week did not ‘slow down’ at all in terms of what I needed to achieve, the way I moved through my week did. I feel tired in a satisfied way rather than an exhausted way.

Here is what I tried to do:

DRIVING – Can’t avoid it, have to accept it, might as well enjoy it. Unfortunately it is a necessary part of living where I live. So drive time is a time to relax. I am lucky that I can choose a route that avoids the busy roads and traffic lights. I can drive past farms, bushland, rivers and cows. I choose this route frequently. Drive time is a lovely time to share stories with my children (the little ones go with me everywhere!) and to share songs and our favourite music. If I don’t feel like telling a story, or if I need to concentrate on a busy road then I play one that I have recorded on my phone from the previous evening’s storytime (just sit with your phone on lap and record while you read!). I watch other drivers go past in a hurry and I look at their knotted eyebrows and grimacing faces and it reminds me to relax my face and smile. Enjoy the journey, don’t rush.

I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE – You recognize it, don’t you, when you are in a situation that you don’t like? There is a little voice in the back of your consciousness that whispers to you – “don’t go there, make a different choice!” Most of our days we relive the same experiences over again – in our rhythms and routines and relationships. We often make the same choices over and over again even though they do not serve us. I’ve been listening to my little self-speaker this week and when she  helps me remember that the last time I was in this situation I made a choice that ended badly then I listened. It is so powerful to be able to stop, breathe, and think before you speak or act. Ok – well I’ll be honest and say there were a few times I didn’t listen. There were times I deliberately chose to ignore my sweet-talking self speaker (I’ll show you where to put your conscience!) and of course those situations ended horribly and I had to brood about it for a while, then go and apologise/forgive/rethink/redo … it just makes more work for me when I ignore it, and then I get stuck in a cycle of negative reactions. So after all, that lets say I was aware of this ‘recognition’ and mostly responded positively, and that is a great beginning 🙂

MOVE SLOWLY – actually walk slower. Talk slower. Take time to breathe and chew and look and listen. Just doing this seems to stretch time even though initially it may feel like you are wasting it. What’s the rush – does it really make a difference to be in a hurry? Moving slower allows you more time to consider what you need to do and make a plan for how things can unfold for you. Somehow it seems to work for me, when I remember to do it. Habits are hard to change, but new skills and new attitudes can help us change our habits.

Well that is a pretty good start – my week also ended in a MAJOR declutter. Oh. My. Goodness. What a difference it makes to EVERYTHING when you clear out the crap. Our home is a representation of our body, and we in our homes are a representation of our souls in our bodies. While attending many Anthroposophical conferences in past we would sometimes ask each other “How are you in your home?” Well .. I will tell you more about that it the next post. Let’s say I found Buddha again. I have found my heart-space, I can breathe and move and stretch and think clearly (because I can find what I am looking for!).

So I think this month I am going to dedicate to living slowly –  I’d love to hear about your experiences living slowly too.


Dottie Angel Challenge of the Utmost Kind – the end?

I have just realised that it has been a full year since I agreed to do the Dottie Angel Challenge of the Utmost Kind! This challenge was to buy only handmade or second-hand items for a full year – or to make the items myself.

I took on the challenge for a few reasons: to see how I could come up with creative solutions to find or make the things I have needed, and to see what kind of impact a challenge like this would have on my household. The hardest thing about this challenge was wrapping my mind around the fact that I had committed to NOT BUYING NEW STUFF.

It wasn’t that I have needed to buy anything, but as soon as I had decided to take the challenge on I had begun to regret it. It isn’t like I was spending money willy-nilly in the first place! Already I had been shopping for clothes in second-hand stores and hand-making presents. There really isn’t a lot that we do buy on a regular basis.I’ve always been very conscious about where our money is spent, because the large majority of what we earn goes back into the household in the form of food, rent, petrol and bills. It has always been fun to spend what there is left over on a little treat now and then. In the end, the challenge was made easy by not having much $$ to spare on buying stuff in the first place – even treats – regardless of how I felt about the restrictions I had placed upon myself.

I did buy some things new: mostly clothes for the family that I didn’t have the opportunity to make myself. Shoes. Hats. Underwear. When our tax money came in I bought some books that I have wanted to own and a couple of kitchen appliances that I needed to support my family’s nutrition. I am quite happy to borrow from the library but when you borrow books three or four times in a row, it is probably a good time to think about owning them. Even still, I did my best to source second-hand copies of these books. I love second-hand books. I love knowing that someone else has handled them, read them, gained something from them and then passed them on.

The year prior to taking the challenge I had sworn that I would not buy the children any more toys because I felt that they already had a wonderful and very special collection of playthings, many of them that David and I have made ourselves. In fact, as the year has gone past we’ve even culled that collection significantly. The children’s interests have changed and moved on, so the toys I have put away ‘for a rainy day’ have now actually been given away or donated to charity. What we have left are a core collection of useful playthings that still form the basis of the children’s imaginative play. Without any more toys, the children have become used to making things themselves, and the arrival of a new large cardboard box, a ball of string and a reel of sticky tape still brings an extraordinary amount of delight. We make use of a toy library when we need something new to inspire some different play.

What I have gained, through the experience of this challenge is an awareness of how much we really DON’T need in our lives. The cost of living in Australia is biting us, and yet when I remember the fact that I actually have a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive, and that we can afford to school our children at a place of our choice (that we even have a choice!) I feel incredibly lucky. Instead of needing or wanting to buy more, I feel the need to reduce our possessions, and the more I go through the things I own, the less I feel we need to have.

We moved house recently, and before we even began packing I spent several weeks going through our home clearing clutter. More items left the house during packing, more again left our lives once we moved and began unpacking. Even now I am still filling up boxes with items we just do not need.

So Dottie Angel was not wrong when she said it would be a challenge of the ‘utmost kind’. It transformed in an unexpected way into something very fulfilling.