A Novel Idea: The Slow Home & Food Movement

by heather

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My life has been feeling pretty hectic lately. It feels as if I’ve got too many balls in the air,  that I’m too plugged in, too “in motion” all the time. It feels as if I’ve just been skimming on the surface of things, going too quick to really absorb and reflect on the thoughts and information I’m processing all the time.

I’m sure you’ve had that feeling before. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of you feel like this a good deal of the time. Rushed. Overstimulated. Out of control. Stretched too thin.

It’s not good!

The point here is that I’ve just been feeling frazzled, and I’m not sure when I became so obsessed with Getting Things Done. I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix it, but I couldn’t really put my finger on what was wrong, you know?

Well, I was on Facebook yesterday (of course!) when Planet Green posted a great article on the Slow Home Movement.

As soon as I read it, I was like YES! This is what I’ve been searching for!

I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to share this with all of you.

The Slow Home Movement

Author Shannon Honeybloom just wrote a book called Making a Family Home. And, it’s all about how to create a slow home.

According to Shannon, a slow home is all about creating a slow, nurturing environment where you do everything from cleaning to cooking with thoughtful intention. It’s about putting rhythms and rituals back into your life. It’s about giving yourself permission to do nothing. It’s about creating enough time to be bored and to let your mind wander.

To me, this just sounds lovely. After all, when was the last time you were bored? For me, it’s been ages. I’ve always got too much to do to be bored.

But, that’s the whole point. Most people do too much. We’re Facebooking and Twittering. We’re watching hours of TV a day. We’re taking our kids to endless events and playdates, helping with homework, cleaning, cooking, checking email on the Blackberry…it never ends!

As a result of this crazy pace. we’re more stressed out than ever. The human mind needs, and craves, empty time to think and be creative. But, most of us are too busy to give it this luxury.

The Slow Home Movement is the direct response to this frenetic pace. It’s a way for us to learn how to slow back down.

So how do we do it?

How to Create a Slow Home

So, how can we create a slower home?

Well, I couldn’t find a ton of information online. And, I haven’t bought the book (since I just learned about it yesterday) so I don’t know what’s in there.

But what I did find, and come up with on my own, is this:

  • Set limits on TV and Internet time. Close the door to your home office.  Lock it if you have to.
  • Take time to have a slow breakfast with your family at least once per week. Light candles, make pancakes, and visit with each other.
  • Take baths. Long ones. With candles.
  • Stop multitasking. Science has proven that our brains truly can only focus on one task at a time. So, do one task well, instead of two poorly.
  • Stop being afraid to take a nap. They’re not just for seniors and toddlers.
  • Drink a cup of tea. But instead of drinking it while you’re on the phone, or writing an email, or vacuuming the floor, drink it in an actual chair, while you’re staring out the window.
  • Talk slower. Instead of just using words to get information out as fast as possible, think about what you’re saying. Remember, conversation used to be an art form. To learn more about this, read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
  • Consider reading Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy. I bought this book years ago, and forgot all about it until I was looking for ideas to slow down. I dug it out of my bookshelf this afternoon, and wondered why the heck I hadn’t picked it up in so long. This lovely book is full of essays, geared towards women, on how to slow down and find your “authentic self”. The writer, Sarah Breathnach, is amazing. She’s warm and intuitive, and reading this book is like getting to talk to a great friend who understands exactly how frazzled you are, and who has the wisdom to guide you through it.  There is one essay for every day of the year, and they’re all delightful.
  • Follow the advice of Zen Habits: if you were going to take tomorrow off, and spend it entirely by yourself, what would you do? This no-holds-barred look can really put you in touch with what your heart’s been trying to tell you you need.

Last Word…

I’m declaring, here and now, that I’m going to make the effort to create a slow home. I have to. All I have to do is look at my desk, which is currently scattered with papers and books and unfinished projects, to know that I’ve been doing too much.

I need to get back to a time when I don’t wake up at 6 a.m. and immediately head upstairs to start working. Or, rush through my workout so I can “get back to work”. I need to get over the fierce drive to create something everyday, to knock stuff off my list, to have an uber-clean house. It’s just too exhausting!

I’d love to hear back from all of you on this. What do you do to slow down? Have you heard about this Slow Home movement? If so, how have you created a slow home?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

heidi February 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Heather, you hit the nail on the head with this one: speed = quantity over quality. It’s incredibly sad. I hadn’t even been thinking that my pace was slow, I just knew that I moved with purpose, with a deliberate rhythm, and with the big picture in mind. But working for a drill sergeant mentality type… it drained the life from me and made me compromise on my own health (knots in stomach, loss of weight) because I put up with it for too long. It was only 4 months! I miss the zen of old school libraries and small zoos, this digital madness and excessive workload isn’t constructive. Thank you for pointing out that workaholics might not be a national ideal after all!

heather February 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Heidi,

It IS really sad, because it’s taken me so long to figure out what was wrong. I just had this general feeling of tired, overwhelmed, low-creativity…but I seriously didn’t know what the issue was. But once I saw that article I realized that I was just overstimulated. I really want to get back to that deliberate rhythm you’re talking about. And digital madness is the perfect way to describe it! I’m glad you’re out from your drill sergeant type boss! Thanks so much for writing in!

Henri February 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Hi heather..
I’ve been feeling the same for the last few years, which is the reason my family and I are moving towards a much slower pace of life. I work from home in IT industry and my wife is a photographer so our lives were “in the fast lane” and it took a while before we realized we wanted out of the rat race and spend Quality time with our son showing him life is not about 18hr days. It’s no wonder people are burnt out and society is out of sync with what is really important: enjoying life.

I think this book, or the thoughts it represents as you described, are just what people are searching for but can’t seem to grasp. I’ll be checking it out and tks for the reference.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…” John Lennon

heather February 18, 2010 at 6:02 am

Hi Henri,

I hear you! My husband and I are trying to sell our home so that we can get there too. I dream of canning and raising chickens and open fields! He’s in IT too, and his job is pretty stressful.

I think it’s important to just wake up. And I think you’re right…so many people are burnt out, but they’re not sure what’s wrong. I think, as a people, we’re truly happier with a slower pace. The constant barage of information via TV, Internet, etc. is just too much.

Thanks so much for writing in!

heidi February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

Heather,
I think the best thing my parents ever did was get rid of our TV. Apparently we had one in the house until I was 2 or 3, but even as small children, my sister (2 yrs older) and I couldn’t agree on anything… so to stop our bickering over the remote, the parents gave away the TV. It was a fairly large one, so it found a good home – by the time we were in high school, a very-tiny little “RV size” TV had taken its place in an obscure corner of the living room. So there was little appeal in size and location. Now that I’ve married into a sports-loving family, I get itchy and fidgety after about the first inning/quarter/half/whatever…. but I can stare at MythBusters or Dirty Jobs for days on end. Sigh. At least they’re educational 😉

Also of note, our “time out” nook was a bathroom lined with age-appropriate reading material. So we grew up as bookworms in spite of ourselves 😉

heather February 18, 2010 at 11:04 am

Heidi, I love that story! I’ve often thought about getting rid of our TV. But my husband and I are big time football lovers. I ditched our cable last year, and we went this year only watching the games that we could pick up on our rabbit ears. 🙂 Aside from football, though, I think I could easily give up the TV.

heidi February 18, 2010 at 11:47 am

Oooh, that was the other thing – we never had cable anyway, so there was never anything worth watching 😉 I think there’s a happy medium for football fans, it just might take the form of some sports subscription thing to watch all of the games online (but if you can hook up your computer to a projector, you’re all set!)

Sadly, even our cable doesn’t get all of the Baylor games (3/4 of my in-laws teach at, or have degrees from Baylor… or both) so that’s kind of strange that we pay for cable and don’t even get what we want.

Blair February 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

You would probably really like this blog from Australia. http://down—to—earth.blogspot.com/ That is her main focus, a concerted, thoughtful practice to everything in a normal household day.

Kate February 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Hi, Heather,

One of the best things I do to slow down is to actively be aware of my own breath. I try to slow it down and watch to see how it feels. Such as, is the air colder going in or out? Does the temperature change over time? Do I breathe in faster or out faster? I try to concentrate on my breath and that helps slow me down!

Living Frugal Tips February 21, 2010 at 10:08 am

Hi Heather,
I’m glad to see I’m not the only Type A, super-charged, get-it-done girl around here. I’ve had very distinct times in my life when life is clearly out of balance and slowing things down is critical. I’ve diligently slowed down my career path and left a huge income for a more balanced life. I now make 25% of what I once made and that led to the pursuit of a new dream and the development of my website: http://www.LivingFrugalTips.com. I put the emphasis on the Living part of things, creating a rich life by living on less.

You are not alone in the feeling that life gets out of control and it is critical to make a concerted effort to slow it down. Another tip I did was “End email overload.” I was getting tons of email daily from things I’d subscribed to over the years. If it wasn’t useful and didn’t bring me some joy or have some purpose … I unsubscribed. I probably found an hour a day easily. I went to Planet Green and read the Slow Home Movement article and love the concept!

Make it a slow, relaxing day.

Lisa

heather February 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm

@Living Frugal: That’s great you started that website! Email overload is definitely an issue, and trimming your subscribe list is a great idea. Thanks so much for writing in!

heather February 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Blair, thanks so much for that link, I’ll definitely give it a look. 🙂

Kathleen Parker March 3, 2010 at 6:33 am

Hi Heather,
Even though I’m an “older reader”, I too enjoy your posts. I learned to be more intentional when my children were small. We lived on one salary ( read much less ) so that I could be a stay- at- home mom. Our priority was our babies, spending time with them and nurturing them into adulthood. I miss those days, we still don’t have a lot, but that’s ok. Possessions are overrated and need to be dusted or washed. Except books, boy do I love those. No Kindles here, our neighborhood likes to share.

heather March 3, 2010 at 6:44 am

@Kathleen- thanks so much for reading! I think that, although life today has a lot of benefits, the drawback is indeed the fast pace. It’s so hard, at least for me right now, to step away from that. But I work on it some everyday. 🙂

Jennifer March 10, 2010 at 10:53 am

My husband and I recently visited a ranch in South Texas called the Everything Jesus Ranch. We just wanted to “get away”. As far as I know they are the only raw milk producer that actually hand-milks their cows. It was the first time we drank raw milk and it was very good.

They have a small cafe where they cook only “slow food” because it is freshly prepared and takes more time. We had a 4 or 5 course meal. They brought out one course at a time and explained what it was and why it’s so healthy. We loved it! Everything we ate/drank was 100% raw and we were in the cafe for over 4 hours just tasting those delicious, filling, healthy foods, talking with the people there, and listening in on other interesting conversations (they didn’t mind). 🙂 It was a great, slow day!

Mid America Mom March 14, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Hi Heather!

Some of us are following John Brown’s initiative on the Slow Home on the web. http://theslowhome.com/ There we are talk about the design side of a slow home and most recently evaluating new construction in different cities in North America. Many of the homes that are being built are NOT conducive to living slowly.

Slowing down. In some ways where I live, downtown of a huge city, is slowing down. We no longer -have the crazy commute, spending more time in the car than walking, a huge home in which everyone can go their separate ways…

Mid America Mom

heather March 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Mid American Mom, thanks so much for sending that site in! I saw it when I was looking up slow homes/slow living, but couldn’t quite figure out what it was about. I couldn’t figure how you could design a home to be slow (I guess I was thinking it was in your actions, not the structure you lived in).

Shannon Honeybloom March 24, 2010 at 9:51 am

Thanks for mentioning me and my book! I really appreciate your post and as I am racing around today, it is a reminder for me to take a deep breath and have a cup of tea! Warmly, Shannon

heather March 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

@Shannon, You’re so welcome! Thank you for writing it! 🙂

Mid America Mom March 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm

You are welcome Heather! They also have a new facebook page but not much is on that…. book to be released next month according to a video cast a week or so ago. Not sure all that the book will have.

It would be nice to see something about living simply.

Like the site by the way!

Katherine March 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I am so trying to do this, but it’s rough when you’re so used to constantly being connected. My tough part is that I’m a list person – I make lists of what needs to get done, what needs to be bought, what I want to do in my free time, and so on and so on. I’ve found that I have to purposefully schedule my down time for it to happen.

We no longer have a tv, but perhaps unfortunately for us, all of the shows that we watch are currently available online, so that hasn’t really lessened what we watched. At least we’re no longer paying for it, and there’s no temptation to sit and channel surf, but it’s also become an easy habit just to sit down at the computer and fritter away time.

We have a 6 month old, and we are currently living on one income (mine) while my husband is in school. We’ve juggled our schedules accordingly so that he is always with one of us – no day care. I’m not anti-day care for those who want and need it (provided they still take an active role in their children’s lives), but it’s not for us. I would rather juggle schedules now than miss out on my baby’s life.

Sorry if these all seem jumbled – it’s just what came to my mind as I was reading this post.

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