Let’s slow it all down.
It’s half term and I’m trying (trying!) a new philosophy – living slow.
As some of you know, I was nicknamed Hurricane Holly when I was younger and if I’m truthful, I’m still very much that girl. I’ve rushed through life. Not in a negative way, but I think I love life so much, I want to cram as much as possible into it. I started working at 14, my own business at 26, baby Harry and started NOTHS at 28 and so on. I always wanted to get to where I was going sooner than everyone else, it seemed. However recently hitting 40, I’ve decided to try living in the slow lane now and again. Well try to and even understand what that truly means.
I discovered the idea of ‘moving slow’ from a lovely quote I heard. You know when something you hear, changes your life…Well it was one of those moments!
But, before we go into the story of those important words to me, let’s just look at the history around all this. The ‘slow movement’ advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace. It all began with Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome in 1986 that sparked the creation of the slow food movement. Over time, this developed into a subculture in other areas, like the Cittaslow organisation for “slow cities”. Geir Berthelsen and his creation of ‘The World Institute of Slowness’ presented a vision in 1999 for an entire ‘slow planet’ and a need to teach the world the way of slowness.
“It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.” — Reda.
Carl Honoré has written and spoken extensively about the Slow Movement, most notably in his book ‘In Praise of Slowness’. He describes how slow has been adopted and adapted around the world. Here are some of the branches of the Slow Movement:
Slow Relationships – taking time to savor, deepen, and invigorate the important relationships in your life.
Slow Sex – read above again!
Slow Exercise – combining working out with time in nature or time with friends.
Slow Hobbies – doing something that feeds your soul and helps the planet at the same time.
Slow Work – being a craftsman at what you do, and doing it in service to others.
Slow Travel – enjoying the journey, experiencing regional flavor, and restoring your mind and body, and traveling closer to home.
Slow Clothing – creatively reusing clothing as well as making your own.
Slow Parenting & Slow Families – finding ways for your children to experience the joys of free time, creativity, and deep engagement with life.
Slow Education – learning new skills that help you be more connected to your daily life: cooking, sewing, music, repairs, etc. and that help you to stretch and grow.
Slow Money – using your money wisely and toward the things that really matter and that support the wellbeing of yourself, others, and the planet.
It’s important to note that the Slow Movement is not about doing things slowly. That would drive me totally nuts. It’s about finding the right speed with which to do something in a way that values quality over quantity, long term benefits over short term gains, and wellbeing of the many over the few.That is what I am holding onto. One thing that isn’t slow about the movement, is its growth. You only have to look at the record sales of LPs, look at the huge growth again in ‘proper’ book sales and the general increase in sales of ‘experiences’ as a category.
“We are living the fast life, instead of the good life.”
Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness
Interestingly when people predicted the future 100 years ago, they’d have thought we’d only be working 3 days a week, as we would have the tools to make our lives so efficient and the rest of the week would be leisure time!! So interesting how that couldn’t be further from the truth, we are now working all the time, these tools have been invented, but we’re using them to never switch off.
Working from 9-5 and 5-9.
Only yesterday, with a pile of work to do, I had a ‘slow’ moment. There I was, about to leave breakfast to go and sit at my desk but, I decided to prize myself away. There was a food festival in town and I really needed some quality time with my son. So, I asked him, if he’d like to come on a date with me. Not a moan, an instant “Yes”! We walked there, talking all about the issues at school and the moment we arrived we stopped at a stand. We fell into talking all about what a great brand they’d created. Without me asking, he asked the lady for her card and complimented her on what a great idea it was. We carried on chatting about her uniqueness and he thought it would be a good idea to get a pic of her and her drink for social media. To share a moment like this with him, I just couldn’t have been happier.
We walked away sucking our delicious, if not sweet, drink (that I was assured was healthy!) and Harry opened up to me. He told me how he has grown out of his den in the garden and that might he be able to work with me more. He loved to find small businesses and he could clean tables in the shop. A little story of 3 hours that bonded my son and me. That taking that time, slowing down, walking in nature and letting him communicate with me. No rushing. Just lying in the grass and listening to his dreams.
Something else that’s really interesting, is the HOW is not what you expect. It isn’t just about, literally slowing down, in a way it’s about packing in more. There are ways that you can live, that make you feel like you are slowing down. In youth we may have an absolutely new experience, subjective or objective, every hour of the day. But, as each passing year changes some of those experiences into automatic routine, which we hardly note at all. The days and the weeks become contentless units. In scientific experiments (even!) examining perception of time in routine versus nonroutine situations, the researchers found that people remember the duration of familiar circumstances are shorter. Unless people experience major changes that break the routine in their lives and provide them with anchors to retrieve from memory, life can become one short, timeless sequence of routine inaction. Scary bloody stuff……
I found this totally fascinating. It’s true. Maybe it was because Harry and I visited a fair and have a shared love in food? That the moment is now engrained? Maybe that’s why holidays ‘feel’ so good? Why jumping into another world through the pages of your book, makes you breath? Maybe that’s why LP’s have gone up in sales? Because we want to look at the sleeve, we want to lift up an arm and place it carefully onto the record. We want to tell our children about the story of what this ‘antique’ (mental in their view!) way of listening to music, is all about. There you go – another experience.
So, you might have thought I was going to talk about carving time out of your diary (which btw isn’t a bad idea!), but actually today’s words are all about the effect of automatic routines. How these will overshadow, the good that’s coming from other things you are doing to live the ‘goodlife’. So today, it’s all about telling the story of filling your time up, with new experiences. New knowledge, so you can tell new stories. Turn your brain on, with new challenges or projects. Learn a new skill. Ask questions and exercise your curiosity muscles. Take a trip or change up your environment more often. Embrace your inner child and go exploring, even if it’s just to stretch yourself a little.
Oh and btw, this is the quote that started it all for me. From the late and great Terry Wogan. A man who you know, loved every second of his life and would wish to still be here. And, so him saying this – means a great deal to me. It struck me.
I’m on this journey, are you? Are you going to join me? I have my dad’s old piano being delivered next week and I start lessons soon. It might all go wrong and sound terrible, but at least I have something new to talk about. I have an experience that jolts my life, into remembering that I’m here and I’m not just a spectator. I’m Holly Hurricane, soaking up my new life of slow.