Slow living, slowly!

Finally back! February was a bit of a non-starter when it came to blogging. To be honest most things didn’t happen that month – we all got ill, proper flu. It’s taken aaaages to feel better and get back on top of things and here we are, mid March already!

I’m glad to finally get a chance to write again. This time it’s to reflect on one of my resolutions from the beginning of the year: to embrace “slow living”. Living more slowly is supposed to be about making time for special things, the things that make you feel like you’re actually living life, not just rushing through it. Easier to write than to do! I’ve definitely learned quite a bit about myself in trying to change this aspect of our lives over the last few weeks.

To start with the good stuff, I know now that we can do it and when we manage it, it’s great. It also helps with my resilience against an otherwise pervasive feeling of powerlessness in the context of Brexit, Trump etc. (Though I have now stopped listening to the news and that helps too!). So, some successes: a three course valentines dinner and bubbles by candlelight was a winner; a walk with an old school friend and our children through the pools, woods and rushes of Fowlmere nature reserve was my favourite day of half term; spending overdue quality time with one of my oldest and closest friends has been awesome; and I’m glad we remembered to light candles at dinner to celebrate Candelmas, the wonderful festival that extends back thousands of years marking the mid-point between the longest night and the arrival of spring.

Carving out time for these things has been great but it’s underlined the extent to which you have to make time to be able to take the time to get the most out of an experience. Basically you have to be pretty organised! Now we come to the nub of it: I’ve never been organised in my life! It’s become clear that I’m going to have to change a couple of pretty ingrained habits to really shift our lifestyle.

The first thing that needs to change is the amount of time we spend clearing up after ourselves. If we’d only put things away properly rather than down in some random location, we’d be in a much better place. You’d think this would be easy to crack: you stop putting the things down and you start putting them away, right? Ha, if only it were that easy! We even started a Down/Away Hall of Shame where we spent a fiercely competitive two days pointing out everything the other person left lying around in a bid to shame ourselves of the habit. We tallied up every error on a piece of paper stuck to the kitchen cupboard. Predictably amazing for marital relations, the energy behind this has subsequently dwindled to a background level of nag and we’re back to our old habits. So work to be done there!

Secondly it’s really highlighted the extent to which I have a pathological failure to look ahead, even to the next hour sometimes, certainly to the next day. Life’s constantly taking me by surprise in an entirely avoidable way. And for that reason even simple things can take ages!

One silly example involved baking chaos on a grey Sunday in February. It was so cold and grim that I decided to stay in and make cookies with the boys. My two year old has recently started cooking carrot porridge in his pretend kitchen so the timing felt right. I loaded up a recipe on the phone and quickly got the boys measuring pouring and mixing the flour and sugar whilst I cubed the butter… Ready for the creaming with the sugar that was now extremely well combined with a large volume of flour. “This is why I don’t do baking!” I railed. But I hadn’t actually read the recipe! What kind of idiot just reads the ingredients list? “It’s OK, we’ll use it to make a crumble” declares my husband optimistically waving his hand at a large pile of apples in the fruit bowl. He even offered to go and get more sugar from the shop down the road. But then it turned out I hadn’t even read to the end of the flipping ingredients list either because the last item on the list was vanilla essence which we were out of. I had to go and get that so the shop guy wouldn’t notice that we like to buy our baking ingredients individually, at ten minute intervals. (At least our neighbour who regularly watches our comings and goings from across the road had not chosen that moment for his fag break.)

None of this was the end of the world – the boys loved making the biscuits, friends and colleagues enjoyed eating them, and we had apple crumble! But it took twice as long as it should have done and was just a bit more fraught than it needed to be.

More significantly, last week I went on a management training course which I’d booked myself onto a good six weeks before. It turned out, at 10pm the night before, we had five exercises we needed to do in advance and when I showed up, somewhat underprepared, I found that my CEO was on the course with me. Amazing. So while that was nothing to do with my slow living efforts, it sure as anything underlined my need to start looking ahead and being more organised!

So, slow living, we’ve made a (slow!) start and I’m determined to keep trying to change these habits of a lifetime. In the meantime, if you have any tips…

In my next post… Spring! So happy it’s finally here.