For several years I did fundraising for a museum, I was blessed with a true mentor while there. She offered so much wisdom. One comment she made which seemed insignificant at the time but has stuck with me was that: you can tell how complicated someone's life is by the amount of keys on their key chain.
As someone who as always aspired to finding a balance to a simple yet adventurous life, that phrase stuck with me over the year. My goal was fewer keys, symbolically and literally - I now only have 3 keys - two to the door and one to my bike.
There is something about a slow lifestyle that feels aligned with maintaining simplicity. It is the simple things that bring me pleasure and those a very much wrapped in to a slow lifestyle.
Slow food is a biggie. My son has become a foodie much to my delight. That gives us a great opportunity. I cook him a hot breakfast and we have that morning time together and each evening I prepare a fresh meal for us and we catch up on the day. Preparing food, though I'm honestly a bad cook, has helped me slow down, be more mindful of our natural resources and what we put in our bodies and become an expression of love, care and creativity. We don't shop at any of the big supermarkets. Oddbox, Mindful Chef, Green and Glory, Bulk shops and our local farmers market about ticks all the boxes. It may take a bit longer but it's the experience along the way, the time together and the connection with kindred spirits which brings us so much enjoyment. It also allows us to be more environmentally friendly. We can chose less packaging and take our own, buy locally and chose food closer to home.
Slow travel. As a family who hasn't owned a car for over 10 years, we continue to learn more and more about slow travel. By bike I get to be out in nature, I get to learn about where I live, I get exercise, I get to my destination on time, and I create less pollution. My son and I took a train to Amsterdam over the summer. And it truly brought home the role just the journey itself can have on our experience. Flying for me feels hectic and anonymous. By contrast, the train feels more relaxed, sometimes an adventure and often times a wonderful opportunity to connect with self and others. On that ride to Amsterdam, we had a lovely chat with a couple - he was going to fulfill a life dream to experience psychedelics in a safe environment and she held a doctorate in environmental science, the field my son is going in to. We arrived feeling wonderful. That was such a fun week of bikes and trains and doses of serendipity.
We've decided to keep our flying to no more than 1x a year. My son's aim is 0. Considering we are in a climate and ecological emergency even 1x seems to many. So this summer, we have two long train journeys planned. There is a train to Northern Scotland. You arrive at Euston Station, have dinner on the train and then retire to your cabin to sleep. Breakfast is served in bed before arrival the next morning. We'll then return by train getting off at whatever place calls to us. And a train to Portugal is starting to take shape for the summer. It's amazing how accessible Europe is by train. Even from the UK. We are may even vlog about it to get people excited about alternatives to flying.
Slow media. I'm pretty much off social media. I hit Instagram at times but otherwise, it has been wonderful to not be distracted from life but fully in it.
Slow fashion. My son exclusively shops at Charity Shops and only then when his shoes have proper holes in them. I can't remember the last time I went shopping. We were recently out with friends and my son and I realised that 75% of what we were wearing was bought second-hand. It was a reminder of how long I've been on this journey.
Slow home. We recently bought an eco-friendly house. As I look around the house I have a memory or a story about each piece of furniture. Nothing exists in this house without being memorable. The few new items we did get, like light fixtures, weren't new at all but interesting vintage pieces purchased from my two favourite mid-century dealers. There is little artwork on the walls, It's a quiet bright minimal house. What does hang on the walls possess very specific memories. Aside from that, are just the essentials.
As I've aged, one thing holds true: it's more about the journey than the destination. For me a slow lifestylist infuses meaning into each action and possession.