Over the past year, I’ve been making a real effort to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. Whether that’s taking 10 minutes to sip my morning cup of tea or taking time stretch out all the kinks in my neck. I have been focusing on allowing myself to enjoy the moment and cultivate the art of slow living.
Being busy doesn’t always mean you happy or successful. In fact, I am in favor of ending the glorification of busy. Working late and continually having to hustle is exhausting. It leaves so little time friends and family. Often times you have to pencil them in like a dental appointment or a colonoscopy. I don’t want to turn down the things I want to do because I am soooo busy. So I am making time for the things and people that matter to me.
I can remember when I was a teacher, I was frustrated at having to create busywork for my students. The truth is, the content I was required to impart, took about 10 minutes, tops. The other 40 minutes of class was nothing more than making the students look busy. What a waste of everyone’s time.
I have left jobs with a sense of relief. Not because of the position itself or the people. But I am an efficient worker. I would get my work done in a couple of hours and then have to spend the rest of the day agonizing on how to look busy.
Just as busy doesn’t mean you are happy or successful, busyness doesn’t mean you any more important. Simplifying your life doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard. It means prioritizing what’s important to you.
What if we redefine success? What does success look like to you? To me, it means never having to work on my birthday. It means having the time to practice my drinking songs at Octoberfest in Leavenworth or watching whales breach the Sound or going to that 3-day music festival. (I love a good music festival). It means having time to write. Success means spending time with my daughter and making the memories she will treasure for the rest of her life. It means having time to do puzzles with my puzzling friends and building things with my brothers. (Actually, my brothers do the building, I just hold the hammer, flick the switches off and on and make lunch.) But nonetheless, all of that is a priority for me.
I want time to be able to make a cup of tea, light a candle, put on some LoFi chill music and take 15 minutes to shave my legs. None of this 3-minute hack job in a rushed shower before work that leaves my bony knees and ankles in need of first aid. I’m a bleeder.
I am certain I will get to the end of my life and not wish I had spent more time at the office. Success doesn’t have to be about building a career or making money. What’s the point of working long hours if you never have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Oh sure, it’s not all about the fun stuff (but a lot of it is). For me, it also means having to time to give back to my community. Success is having the time to make a difference.
Slow living isn’t about quitting your job and moving to the middle of nowhere (although, let’s be real, for me it did mean building a tiny house on wheels, quitting my job and moving to the Pacific Northwest.) It’s not about the Instagram life either, (although I have had some pretty good Instagram moments). It’s all about figuring out what makes want to get out of bed in the morning and making more time for that. It can be as simple as spending more time with your dog or and giving yourself the time to relish breakfast rather than scarfing down a granola bar on the way to the office. I actually enjoy playing with my daughter’s dog. Getting down on the floor and tussling around. She pretends to attack, and I pretend to die. Or I pretend to attack, and she pretends to die. I enjoy having daily play time. It’s not for everyone, but it’s our deal…sorry, I digress.
Reorganize your life, so you have more time for what you enjoy. Set up automatic payments to waste less time paying bills. Turn off your social media notifications. Put down Candy Crush. Turn off the TV and have friends over for a game night instead. We have the neighbors over once a week to try out different vegan recipes and provoke some challenging conversations using the Book of Questions. It’s fun and engaging and real.
In the same way that busy doesn’t mean success, slowing down doesn’t mean you are lazy. My life isn’t one big vacation (although I am sure could manage that), I work hard, but I don’t over schedule my days. Instead, I schedule a few priority tasks to complete, and I try to keep my day flexible. That is very important to me. Personally, my time is more valuable than my money. I would rather manage my time better to allow more free time in my day. I also make an effort to bring a little vacation to every day. It might be spending an hour lounging around the backyard firepit or smearing an exfoliating mask on (while I lounge by the backyard fire). I live in a tiny house on wheels, so every day is a bit like glamping.
I may not have mastered slow living, but I am on my way. I am living with more intention. And I have to say, the burnout I was experiencing last year has diminished. I am more engaged in my community. My daughter and I are closer than ever. I have more time to do the things I really want to do. We are exploring new places and trying new things, and for me, that is what life is all about.