“I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.” – Emile Gauvreau
When I reflect on much of my time on this planet, a clear pattern starts to emerge.
At some point or another, I have been obsessed with chasing something. Chasing dreams. Chasing metrics. Chasing promotions. Chasing bonuses. Chasing pats on the backs. Chasing compliments. Chasing clients. Chasing ‘likes’. Chasing perfection. Chasing more.
Sometimes a death of a loved one, or bout of illness, or a trip to the developing world, or an unexpected tragedy, would force me to reevaluate life’s meaning and get my priorities in order. I’d embrace mindfulness but then a few months later, before I know it, I’m back on that darn treadmill, chasing…
This year, however, I think I’ve finally broken that ridiculous pattern for good. After coming down with a cold in December after back-to-back trips, sustainable fashion events and project deadlines (and where it took me almost three weeks to rid of my cough) I made a pact with myself: to cultivate self-awareness and be mindful of my autopilot. I decided that I would listen to the yearnings of my heart, the gnawing of my gut, the cacophony of mindless chatter in my head. I would be clear with my intentions, with how I spend my precious time, with how I engage in my work, with how I use social media.
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After making a full recovery and returning to optimum health, I reviewed my personal values against activities that had consumed me prior to getting sick and realised that I was busying myself with tasks that weren’t at all connected to my values, to my life’s mission, or with the people and things that really matter to me.
So I decided it was time to do some mental spring cleaning. I’ve let go of the need to please, the need to measure, the need to chase. I’ve subtracted things out of my life so I can focus on the farm, business activities, people and things I truly care about. I’ve stopped apologising for being busy, and for prioritising, well, my priorities. I’ve stopped feeling guilty for not being able to keep up with every message, every post, every comment, every story. In so doing, I’ve become a more complete, more fulfilled and less stressed human being. I feel more whole, I have more clarity and feel more myself than ever before.“I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don't want, to buy things they don't need, to impress people they don't like.” - Emile GauvreauClick To Tweet
My fiance Ben has also noticed this peaceful change in me. He tells me that he has never seen me so relaxed, so free. He’s right. I haven’t felt a freedom like this ever. We have been together for almost a decade, and for most of that time, I’ve been a productivity-focussed, efficiency-worshipping, Type-A individual on a mission to change the world, exclamation point. Even when I turned my back on the city to live on our farm, I continued to use its operating system. But not anymore. I am changed. I no longer feel the need to prove anything – not even to myself. I am committed to being consistently authentic, honouring my soul, speaking my truth and leading by sustainable example.
Others are clawing, running, posing, pouting, stressing, hustling, eye-gouging, manipulating, game-playing, gossiping, comparing, competing in the race, and that’s ok. We are all on different journeys. I just have zero inclination to join in. I’ve raced around that track before and I know where it leads. It leads to wanting to race more quickly, personal ‘bests’, competing, ‘winning’. Plus, the rules of this race have been set by people who don’t share the same values or even have a similar vision for society and the world as I. The chase for more, for bigger, for better, for hotter, for newer has brought up more elbowing, more tears, more anxiety and panic attacks, more worries, more headaches, more environmental nightmares, more Botox. Wanting and chasing more has created way more problems than it solves. So I’m rejecting it.
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Even in the sustainability community, it seems my slow lifestyle is rare. I’m simplifying, minimising, observing, prioritising, reevaluating. My ego is still there but it’s kept in check, through my conscious practice of humility. It helps I am surrounded by untouched forest and hear the whispers of the universe more clearly than others. It helps I am less distracted by things that just don’t matter. There is also no ‘arriving’. The intentional, sustainable life is a continual process. There is much work to do to set the planet on the right course again. But I don’t feel the hurry I used to feel. I am alive. I am present. I am living. I am noticing. I am creating. I am feeling. I am loving. I am being.
I am embracing the art of slow. I am choosing to venture off the beaten track, to set my own pace, to choose for myself. I am rejecting the dominant culture that tells us what we should be doing and how we should be doing it, so I can focus on my purpose and what I feel I’ve been put on this earth to do. I am rejecting fast in favour of slow so I can live more and be more effective in how I lead by example. And in true slow fashion, I’m stopping to smell my gardenias along the way.
Now over to you: Have you joined the slow living movement? How do you practice a life of slow? Feel free to share your stories below.
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