What is Slow Living?
Words by Amelia Bartlett on the slow lifestyle we're choosing for the Slow Rolling Home.
When I think of slow living, my mind travels back in time.
Waking up with the sun, no alarm clock; walking through the garden to feed the chickens or walking downstairs to open the shop; opening the mail with a letter opener and writing letters in response; walking to the market, the butcher, and the baker for the weekend's meals; watching the sun go down from the porch after supper, sharing stories with family.
Nowhere in there was check Instagram 37 times; snooze 6 different alarms for different appointments to which you're already running late; buying tickets to the newest workshop on time management; popping a meal-prepped chicken and broccoli plate in the toaster over (at least we are over microwaves) after an evening spin class; installing an app on your phone so looking at it until midnight is *less* damaging to your eyes.
Ever since I was a little girl, authority figures in my life (parents, teachers, coaches, etc) pushed me to slow down. To them, I was always rushing. To myself - I was fighting to achieve. I saw my life's purpose as being the best, the smartest, the most successful. Talkative, inventive, and often sloppy, I flew through adolescence from one activity and one person to the next.
I can't remember when I first heard of "slow living", but I'm sure I wasn't interested back then. I was addicted to the "fast life". I was judging my self-worth based on engagement and going out of the my way to create moments for my externally-derived expectations that weren't what I truly wanted for my life. It wasn't until I began to notice my health suffering that I truly took an interest in slow living.
No matter how healthy I ate, how active I was, or how much I accomplished, stress was derailing my potential and too frequently putting me on the bench.
It's not my intent to get rid of my clocks or to quit my social life, but doing a deep dive into slow living has caused a reevaluation of my priorities.
Slow living is a practice; a state of being.
You can't "achieve" slow living. The same way you can't achieve enlightenment. Using that verbiage is sloppy, because achievement might imply some end upon arrival. What we can do is be slow. We can do things slowly, we can do them more consciously, and purposefully forgo the excess which drains us.
So far, slow living hasn't been something I could research. It's been something to observe and model.
And eventually, something to find in myself.
Ask yourself: What does slow look like for me?
It might include:
- Walking your dog or child without your phone in your hand - or even on your person
- Cooking a meal from scratch, and doing the dishes by hand afterward
- Reading a book before bed instead of watching endless Stories or Snaps
- Moving about your morning like a rhythm, rather than a routine
- Keeping a journal or a daily creative habit
The truth is, you're never wrong about what slow means for you.
To start living slow, first acknowledge what is moving too fast
I looked at the points in my life where I felt tired - where I was angry with or annoyed by my loved ones - when I felt burdened by tasks that were positive for me, like self care and walking my dog. I'm still looking at these places in my life. This took some unwinding, as my success and performance seemed tethered to my satisfaction. When had I begun to view satisfaction as the pinnacle? Satisfaction is fleeting, and entirely subjective.
The unsatisfaction was tied to my work, my finances, my on-again/off-again photography business, my meals, my relationship. I was trying to cram so much into my days that I couldn't enjoy what I loved.
Fulfillment has a sense of ease to it, without being governed by some metric.
Where in my life did I feel fulfilled? When I was writing, while reading in the early morning, sharing tea with Alhen, helping friends on topics I'm passionate about, fulfilling meaningful projects at my job, photographing my day, baking banana chocolate chip muffins, and so many other places. Interestingly enough, the places where I was unsatisfied were normally the places I found fulfillment. It was clear I needed a mindset shift.
Seeing slow living in action - beyond reading and listening - helped me get started.
Having a partner who is just as into living slow as I am has made it a much easier transition. When I met Alhen, we would take long walks and talk; we'd visit parks and sit in our hammocks for hours; we'd have long lunches with multiple courses simply enjoying the time passing.
Over time, my fast ways seemed to creep into our relationship. I'd be less available for a long afternoon, quick to pull out my calendar to blame my busyness on work or prior commitments. In reality, those commitments were a habit. Overcommitting myself to a fast life without much time to rest was a habit, easy and self-gratifying. It's taken me a long time to acknowledge that the way that I am isn't always the way I want to be. Living slowly with Alhen comes naturally, but it's something I must consciously appreciate in order to prevent my rushed habits from reclaiming my way of being.
I simply have to give in and slow down.
A little about you: Is there an area of your life you wish you could slow down?
Share in the comments below and join me on Instagram for a month of slow living, inspiration, and ease.