Friday, August 19, 2022

Seasons of change and a free gift...

 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 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 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. 

I printed mine on heavy weight 250gsm paper, not regular printing paper (which is usually 80gsm) and after punching a hole in the top I added some pretty ribbon.

If you'd like to download the bookmarks I have two paper formats - A4 size such as we use here in Australia, and Letter size such as may be used overseas.
Click on the link below that suits your country's paper size...

With that I shall sign off for this week, and leave you with some inspiration and a promise. God bless you all!

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."  Jude 1:25



Julie said...

Those bookmarks are beautiful Jennifer - thank you for sharing them with us.
I too have been trying to achieve a slowing down this year. I used to look at my weekly diary & it would usually have 3 things in the week that required me to go out. Now when I see an absolute clean page with nothing required of me for the week it makes my shoulders un-tense & I feel like I've been given a gift. This is how I like it & I do not feel that life is passing me by or I am missing out one single bit!! xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for the bookmark PDF A4 :)
I have enjoyed taking time for cross stitch once again. I created space for it. Space that I walk by, enjoy sitting at, has great light and a view. It's on the dining table :) It's there for me at any givien time to make a few stitches. Space created also in my day.
I bought a couple of kits back in 1994/95. The second one was finished during the pandemic lockdown. It only needed a few hours of cross stitching. That lockdown kick started the " slow down" .
Thanks for the Friday blogpost :)
Hugs, take care and enjoy your weekend

Lin said...

Good to read that you are achieving your goal Jennifer. xx

Gretchen Weaver said...

I enjoyed isolating during covid, that definitely gave me time to slow down. I evaluated activities I had been participating and decided to quit most of them. I do so enjoy not having to go away everyday but staying at home, cleaning house, working in the flowerbeds. Not everyone understands why I've done this but that's ok with me.

We're moving to a new to us house in September, we made the purchase in June. This house is just 2 miles from our present home and I've slowly been moving 'stuff' over there ever since. People wonder why don't you just move everything at once and get it over with. We're satisfied with our slow move, this gives us a chance to say good-bye to the home we have lived in for 46 years. I've been sorting through all the accumulation of all those years and remembering other days.

Have a blessed day!

cucki said...

hello my dear friend,
you are so right. slowing down gives us more mindfulness in our life. i am mostly alone and connected to God and gives me joy all the time.
those bookmarks are so pretty.
thinking of you.
love and smiles
cucki x

Anonymous said...

Several months ago I walked away from technology as an experiment and suddenly found myself moving through my days unhurriedly and purposefully. Joy was present in every small project I undertook and my creativity soared. I let go of every single preconceived “should” from the Internet and did what I wanted, when I wanted. I thought I had finally found the key to happiness, and now I know I had. Slowly, over the last couple of months, I have found myself online once again, sucked in by others’ reports and findings, and nothing is running as I wish it at home. When we return home, I will be searching for that happiness once again. I have a dream of starting a newsletter with no extra online presence, so perhaps I’ll dive into that. I’m beginning to digress here, lol, but I just wanted to say that I am 100% with you on everything you wrote here, Jenny. I think we women have difficulty allowing ourselves to be content at home, but it’s more important than ever that we find the courage of our convictions to do just that.
With affection from the States,

Lori said...

Hi Jennifer. I do enjoy hearing from you on a regular basis. It is so true that we women do not make time for ourselves to slow down. I am at that point right now. Trying to slow down and find peace is difficult for some of us but so needed. I am relying on my faith in the Lord to guide me and show me the way. That is the only way. Blessings to you and yours. PS…. I will be downloading the pretty bookmarks 😊 thank you!

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer
I too enjoy a slowing in my days. I have so much more time for family and gardening. But that keeps me so busy this time of year. preserving my herbs and veggies. But it brings me much happiness indeed.

Bobbie said...

I was pleasantly surprised to see that you are reading Little Women. I just went through the whole series myself this past winter here in America. I didn’t like little Men and Jos Boys as much but I was glad to read them all. I will be definitely getting the devotional from Amazon. Slowing down is going to take some time. But I try to slow my life as much as I can between events. When we return from Europe next month I will so look forward to getting back into my rhythms here at home. I’m excited for this trip as it is my first trip abroad and I really haven’t traveled much at all. But it has been a lot of rushing to prepare and I hope to be able to relax while I am there and slow down as I know the French do. Thank you again for all your inspiration and encouragement.

Lori said...

Hi, Jennifer!

Thank you so much for the lovely bookmarks! I laminated mine and then put pretty ribbon so they will last longer.

I thought at our age (63 and 65) my hubby and I would be slowing down. He has had a forced slowdown of course because of the stroke. But, we have our precious youngest child to finish out homeschooling. This school year will conclude 30 years of homeschooling for our family! God is so good! Being the lovely, energetic 17yo that she is, she is involved in several things this senior year so I am on the road a LOT. We want her to have great memories of this final year, so we do what we need to do. All too soon she will be graduated and on to the next chapter of her life and things will slow considerably for us then.

Love the devotional, I will take a look on Amazon!

Bless you, Jennifer!

Lori in TX

Ondrea said...

So glad you have found more peace in slowing down. If my life was any slower I would be going backwards lol. A balance would be good. You do so much around your home, inside and out. Beautiful bookmarks. Enjoy the slower pace.

Allie said...

LOVE this post - and the gorgeous bookmarks, thank you! Normally I'm running flat out all day, especially lately, and in the evening I sit down with a good book and some snacks. Seems like no matter how busy I get, I still find time to read a book a day. My biggest problem is the lie I tell myself about "one more chapter" - too often I find myself reading into the wee hours. Which of course makes me sleep late, then I run even harder during the day.
Life has been challenging, you know that, but I'm so glad you're enjoying time, girl. And that the end of strife has brought peace to you.

Tricia said...

I'm just reading back through your posts and rejoicing with you on finding peace in your days of slower living. And Stepping Heavenward is one of my favorite books! I hope you have enjoyed it. I read it many years ago, once and again, and some of the lessons have stayed with me for decades, especially the fact that even though she saw only her faults, you could tell from the outside that she was growing and that God was changing her. That was such an encouragement to me!

Donnag said...

Thanks for the bookmarks. They are beautiful.
John and I decided to slow down about 3 years ago. We decided we needed to live without drama and pressure.
He does Bonsai and has built up a business selling pre-bonsai. I decided to put things aside and join him with trimming and some shaping. He has build a large table for me under some large oak trees. I can pull my walker up and work while listening to birds and all the nature around me. It has really made a difference with my health and stress level.
In the evening I often work at a jigsaw puzzle or read.
Now we are learning more about the 9 acres we have and are learning about foraging and cleaning the woods up so things thrive better. My favorite thing is going down our beautiful nature trail to the spring fed creek.
To me living a life of simplicity, enjoying what we have, getting rid of what we don't use, living a life of gratitude and praising Jesus is as good as it gets
Donna Godfrey