Just as in nature there is a progression of seasonal changes, so in life we also journey through various seasons.
This year has been a wonderful season of slowing for me, something I had long desired but not quite achieved, though not through want of trying. I used to strive for slow...and isn't that a strange thing to do?
Interpreting slow as having less, I set my mind on a path to decluttering our home, removing everything which seemed superfluous to the life I longed to lead. But decluttering is not slowing. It is simply the absence of things to store, display or maintain.
Don't misunderstand me, I am and will always be one who declutters regularly, but this rhythm in my life did not slow me...it just gave my visual need for order a desired sense of calm.
As the months of 2022 have steadily come and gone, the real lesson of slower living has grown in my understanding, becoming increasingly evident in the day to day rituals and practicalities of homemaking, conversation, planning and mindset.
Preparing breakfast as the sun rises each morning; changing the linen sheets and freshening the bedroom every Thursday; milling flour to bake a new loaf of bread; moving smaller garden beds of greens into the dappled shade of our Poinciana tree when the burn from the afternoon sun begins to singe their delicate leaves; hanging washing on the line and inhaling the freshness of sunshine when I take it off later in the day to fold and put away; walking around the yard mid-morning to check on our fruits and vegetables as I gather cucumbers, tomatoes and greens for lunch; tending to the daily gardening tasks and admiring God's creation as I go...all of this is done slowly now. The rush has left me. The striving has fallen away like autumn leaves on a tree.
With slowing comes contentment and peace of mind. With slowing, I am giving myself more time to ponder God's Word and not be distracted by the noise and voices of this modern fast-paced world.
I'm intentional about using time at the computer wisely (writing blog posts and answering emails) because I don't enjoy sitting in front of a screen anymore, unless there's a purpose to it.
One purpose during our tropical winter has been to learn things I did not know, but which add benefit to our lives here on our quarter acre...things like fermenting and preserving food. I've also uncovered old books which teach these skills, and acquired more knowledge from those locally who know about preserving in the hot tropics so that I do not waste produce.
Some friends have noticed that I've been quieter, as have my daughters, and I think that's a good thing, in fact I believe it's confirmed to my heart that at last, this desire for a slower yet more productive life is indeed happening.
I've never been a social butterfly, it's not appealing. Being home each day and tending to life here, working at my stitchery design business, and helping the family - those satisfied me. Yet, within that home-centred life I still set my mind to achieve as much as possible in the day...until one day I just wanted everything to slow down because I couldn't see any room to spread myself and learn new things. That's when decluttering, something I'd regularly done, became even more of a habit...because I thought having less around would slow my life.
This year I have decluttered with a different purpose, and I have allowed myself to let many distractions and self-applied obligations fall away...like autumn leaves. The heavy weights of time, mental anxiety, and future business planning are lifted, and I am walking lighter, thinking clearer, and able to give myself with full attention to the tasks before me.
No longer am I frustrated with a two-day rising of sour dough. Instead, I pick up the bowl and admire the bubbles appearing as the fermenting bread dough works it's magic. Whilst I still bake a regular loaf every few days, the slow loaves of sour dough bring me greater satisfaction and are a reminder that good things come to those who wait.
Though I've not as much time for hand embroidery lately, it's simply because the time I have is given over to things which matter more, time that is no longer rushed. Simplifying Elefantz Designs earlier this year, reducing the workload by about 80%, has made a huge difference to those parcels of rest and free time I enjoy today, and though embroidery is still one of my delights, it's done when I feel like it and thus it has become even more delightful. The business is mostly 'maintained' now through my Etsy Shop (here) and the established 12-month pattern club (here), which only takes one afternoon each week.
In the afternoons I brew a pot of tea, choose a sweet treat, and spend 15-30 minutes reading. The joy of reading returned this year and I cherish the time given to it.
Not one for modern novels I've always enjoyed older books, those written in slower times, and this year I'm especially enjoying those with a home focus, the books of my youth which I'd almost forgotten - like Little Women.
Recently I purchased a lovely devotional, drawn from chapters in Little Women, and together they have highlighted areas of Christian character which draw us closer to living our lives in a way that glorifies the Lord. It's not a children's devotional, if you're wondering, but when my grandchildren are a little older it will definitely offer godly lessons I can teach through.
Would you mind sharing about your own journey to slower living? I'd love to glean from your experience. Or perhaps you're still working out what slowing means to you, and how it would enhance your life?
Free book study bookmarks...
I received a lot of feedback about the little quotes included with last week's Emilie Barnes book study and thought you may like to have them in a "Creativity" bookmark format to download and print up.
They'd be lovely to use in your own reading, but would also make useful and pretty gifts for posting or slipping inside a gift book.