this thing called slow living


this thing called slow living | humphrey and grace

Have you noticed that this thing called slow living is everywhere? I don’t know about you but I come across this phrase or an adaptation of it so often. In a magazine, on social media or even in conversation with a friend. In an age of busy we seem to be seeking a simpler life, a pause button, a moment of calm. I’ve been pondering for a while what slow living means to me and how on earth to find the time to slow down at all because it seems that my daily life didn’t get the message that I would like to sit a while.

I am sure there are no rules and that ‘slow’ is open to interpretation, yet I can’t help but associate it with a mental image of chair sitting while gazing out of the window watching the wildlife in the garden. This is not entirely my style… For a while I wondered whether slow living was an indulgence for those who don’t have the constant companionship of a very chatty three year old until it occurred to me that maybe I am confusing slow with quiet and we could all learn a lot from a chatty three year old. By which I mean she stops and notices everything. She has no concept of time and is certainly incapable of rushing. When she finds pleasure in something she will repeat it indefinitely, whether that be stacking wooden blocks to knock them over, picking daisies from the lawn to cram into her favourite plastic cup or rolling down the slope in our garden again and again. And again. Perhaps for me this thing called slow living is not necessarily about sitting in a chair but more about taking pleasure in the simple things…

And so what I have concluded, for the moment at least, is that ‘slow’ is something to be deliberately chosen and slotted in to ‘busy’. Taking pleasure in the moment rather than planning the next. Slowing the thought process perhaps? I’m not sure but definitely a conscious decision to pause a while. Quite literally stopping to smell the roses, to admire the view, to enjoy the simplest of things in a way long forgotten as time and task take over. I choose to drive the road that takes me past the sea rather than the shortest route because that vast expanse of water makes me happy. I don’t mind if its flat calm out there or a raging beast, the sea makes me feel alive. So I’ll take my time and watch and think of nothing much other than the sound it makes and the smell of sea air.

My deliberate plan over the six weeks school holiday is to spend time with each of my children just being with them and enjoying the moments while they are still happy to spend them with me because they are growing up far too quickly. I don’t want to look back and feel I didn’t make the most of those moments when they are busy doing nothing much. Yes I do believe we can learn a lot about slow living from these little people.

Even as I write this I am aware of the contradictions, I am writing on my laptop rather than switching off… Anna is watching the television while reading a book (aren’t all three year olds good at multi tasking?!) Millie is plugged in to her music and Ed is out on an activity camp. Tony is trying as hard as he can, and without much success, to gather enthusiasm for a trip out. There is a list of things to do longer than I care to think about and I should be rushing around getting ready for the new week but do you know what? I am enjoying sitting here at the dining room table sharing my thoughts listening to the gentle music of childrens television in duet with Anna’s constant narrative and everyone is happy. I shouldn’t underestimate the value of calm and happy. Perhaps for now this is what slow living means to me. Maybe I’ll go and pop the kettle on…

Julia x

this thing called slow living | humphrey and grace


23 comments on “this thing called slow living”

  1. Great post. I think I have it right that slow living means simply enjoying the present moment and not just planning for the next. I work a lot on slow homes and making a more natural life at home, which can also mean different things to different people. To me it just means connecting more with nature and with each other so that we can slow down and enjoy the present and the beautiful things around us. It makes life so much more meaningful, and gives purpose to out busy-ness, doesn’t it?

    Great blog. Thanks for sharing all of this beauty.

    1. Thanks so much Kelly! I think you’re right, definitely for me anyway, and yes I do wonder if we all interpret it in our own way. I guess finding a way to connect more with ‘life’ can mean all sorts can’t it? I’m intrigued by slow homes, I’d love to know what they involve x

  2. Yes, totally a competition! I’m so guilty of it too.
    Throw my way, please! I’m rubbish at catching but will retrieve it from the bushes and get to work :) xx

  3. I feel like slowness is my life’s work – as in, the thing it will take my entire lifetime to master! I’m working on it though. Funnily enough I’ve just been writing a blog post about it – though I write a lot of posts that never see the light of day, so don’t hold your breath!
    I think slow living is definitely a lot to do with the mindfulness you talk about here. For me it’s also about trying to stop the glorification of ‘busy’ – we’re all so conditioned to think that if we’re not overworked all the time, and rushing about, we’re lazy or underacheiving. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and think, ‘wow, I got a lot of jobs done!’. I want to think, ‘wow, I saw some beautiful things, and learned so much, and had some awesome naps in-between’ :D x

    1. That’s a great point Sara, I find this obsession with busy a little too much! It feels like a competition. I’d love to read your thoughts if you do ever post a post, I am passing this slow living theme along and will happily throw the ball your way too if you are interested…?
      Hope you have had a lovely slow weekend xx

  4. I had thought I had embarked in slow living when I quit working to stay at home with my son. I realized I hadn’t when I noticed how I would rush him through chores every morning, and rush him through sights on our way to school every morning. I stopped one moment to think “Why am I hurrying him, when he is just seeing the world and taking notice of this for the first time?” he was three, and he taught me a huge lesson that day. He taught me that showing him things slowly and taking the time to really see them, made me notice those things as well, the changing of seasons and thos tiny telltale signs that show us the weather is about to turn, theway the sun is drenching his bedroom on a Summer afternoon, the scent that fills the house slowly as you bake a cake… even gazing at him while he is playing by himself, so focused he has shut out the entire world, I can spend long minutes at it, now, and I never did before. ANd it is such a joyful moment! I am on a campaign to praise slow living in every aspect – even in the use of social media!! Because it can be joyful and lovely as well, I reckon.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. I love watching Daisy process the world. At 2 and a half years old, she’s just fascinated by everything. Like you said… She’ll endlessly repeat, repeat and repeat again. And the way my now adolescent boys are developing a sense of something deeper and more meaningful in the world…. They are quite the little philosophers these days! I need to look at the world through my children’s eyes more. It’s already been mentioned here, but the idea of slow living reminds me of mindfulness… Just being present in the moment. It’s so important. I think it’s also about simplifying our lives in our crazy constantly connected lives. Anyway, enough of my ramble, enjoy your cuppa :) Gx

    1. Thank you Georgie, it’s all about finding a way that works for you and fits into your daily life isn’t it? When slowing down isn’t necessarily a viable option perhaps paying more attention to the small things is an answer. For me anyway. It’s not ramble by the way, its perfectly intelligent conversation xx

  6. Oh, Julia, this was a delight to read. By the end I was quite wishing to be sat with you at your table, drinking tea and chatting. I often fall into the same trap of confusing slow with quiet but you are exactly right, it is different things to different people – supposing the hint is right there in the ‘living’ part. We all do it at our own pace.

    1. Thanks so much Kate, if there wasn’t such a great distance tea and a chat would be lovely! I agree entirely, it’s all about finding the way that works for you xx

  7. Aww. Just gorgeous. I can picture you all doing just that. Aye. Pop the kettle on. I’ll have one with ya. X

  8. Beautifully put Julia. For me this describes what mindfulness is all about. Another thing I keep reading more and more about too. I think it’s a sign of our times, a reaction to the always-on world we live in with constant notifications and multi-tasking busyness… I’ve been forced to slow down with my CFS. For me it means doing less (and being OK with that), being present, doing one thing at a time and trying to resist that feeling that I’m missing out when I see what everyone else is doing… Always a work in progress! Your new blog looks lovely too – always love the clean simple look. It didn’t appear in my Bloglovin feed though??

    1. Thank you Zoë, I’ve been thinking about it for so long and how to embrace the notion around a life that is so busy! I agree entirely that it is a reaction to the immediate and intense world we live in. And life is a work in progress isn’t it? There is always more to learn…
      And I’m happy that you like the blog too! I know it isn’t appearing on Bloglovin, that is one of the imperfect transfers, I need time to work out why (same domain name/different wordpress most likely but how to fix that on Bloglovin I have no idea?!)… xx

  9. We played a game once with my family and some family friends where we had to read out phrases and choose the one that best describes a person in the room. I chose “takes the road less traveled by” but everyone else chose “stops and smells the roses” to describe me. I think it’s because I want the former and try to achieve it by doing the latter. I live in NYC where the pace is always go-go-go so appreciating beauty and joy when I find it is important to me. I call it “finding my happy”. I figure that if I get as much done as I would have but I exchange as much panic time as possible with “happy-time”, then I’m doing good. (Your Instagram is a big part of finding my serenity, so thank you!)

    1. Thank you for your thoughts! It’s interesting hearing how we all find our way, and I guess again this demonstrates that we are all different but can learn so much from each other hey? And I’m really happy that you find calm in my Instagram gallery, thats great to hear x

  10. I often wish I could be like Dottie, and find pleasure in the simplest things, that we as adults become immune too, and the things they find funny too, although I must admit I do often find the same things amusing as my girls. A childish sense of humour is no bad thing! Anyway, lovely post as always, and lovely looking blog too, yay! Plus I’ve had an idea, off to message you now x

    1. I’m glad it’s not just me, I really admire the carefree nature of children, and even though we have to change as we have more responsibilities we can all learn from each other… And thank you, it’s not quite there but not far off if you know what I mean! xx

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