I’ve received a few questions/comments about Slow Living, so let me explain a little bit more. Embracing a SLOW lifestyle is not about being lazy or letting things slide. It is about letting go of habits and possessions and activities that don’t bring any worth to your life. It seems that our society today is constantly asking us to buy more things, donate more time, commit to more activities, move a little faster. We seem to attach our importance as people to how many commitments we do rather than who we are. Leo had a great post about this at ZenHabits here. Three of his points I found really valuable: “Is your work better if you’re trying to do 10 things at once, or if you really pour yourself into one important task? Is your time spent with a friend or loved one better if you have a rushed meeting interrupted by your emails and text messages, or if you can relax and really focus on the person? Is food better if you cram it down your throat, or if you savor every bite and really appreciate the flavor?”
For me, embracing Slow Living doesn’t mean that I’ve dropped all of my responsibilities. I still have laundry to do and church activities to go to and meals to make and errands to run. But in the past few years as I’ve learned to slow down, I have dropped a lot of fun activities that just caused us to be in a hurry. MOPS (and MOPS leadership) at a different church, which I loved. I’ve cut our number of playdates back a lot, so that we have fewer but longer playdates, which the boys enjoy. I’ve cut back to the bare bones on how much stamping I’m doing and how many stamping classes I’m teaching. I’m on the computer only a few times a day for a few minutes (except when I’m photo editing after the boys go to bed!) In fact, now that I think about it, it’s also a major mindset change. I used to rush the boys a lot, just because I felt a list of commitments weighing down on us. It’s what the world teaches us to do, right? Always be productive. Well, I’ve rejected the world’s notion of productivity and am recognizing that staying an extra hour at the creek on a beautiful day is productive…it’s producing character and wonder and learning in our boys. Sometimes it’s hard for moms to remember that giving kids a new experience is really productive for their development. It’s definitely a discipline that’s taken me a while to embrace.
When I started, slowing down meant drawing a tree with all of my priorities as branches. My branches always seem to be God, our marriage, the boys, church commitments, friends/neighbors, and creative outlets for me. Then I draw on each branch the limbs that I do…keeping house, doing laundry and cooking fall under the Greg and boys’ branches, because how can we enjoy each other if those things aren’t in order? It’s just not conducive to peace or to our health, mentally or physically. I have to keep watch that the friends/neighbors and the creative outlets branches of the tree don’t get too heavy, as those are the two places I seem to overbook our lives. Regular pruning is necessary there. As is making sure that I’m not neglecting our relationships with unsaved neighbors in favor of our christian friends. It’s all a balancing act that needs constant analysis and adjusting. Moving churches cut back on our church commitments naturally, so that now we’re only hosting our fellowship group and volunteering on youth staff. Basically I draw everything I need to do on the tree and start pruning. Yes, many activities are good, some even great (my beloved MOPS!) but are they keeping us from God’s best in other areas of our tree?
What does your tree look like today? Is it a little top heavy and crowded? What can you possibly prune out that you never have thought of pruning before? If you haven’t read Leo’s post, do check it out. Happy pruning! New growth in unexpected places will certainly follow.