Welcome to the Simple Slow Still Blog.
Each month, I would like to introduce you to someone who is living a simple life in one way or another.
These are ordinary people who have taken on the challenge to live counter culturally, to not buy into the need to consume more, have more, be more.
They have learnt or are learning to be content with what they have, endeavouring to savour this moment, cherish our world and live joyfully.
So first of all, to get the ball rolling, I thought I would introduce... myself.
Living simply looks different for different people. What does living simply look like for you?
To me living simply is trying to live well within our means: to live frugally, to enjoy simple pleasures, being content and making do with what we have, living life to the full and making the most of every opportunity, being grateful for the abundant blessings we have been given.
For me it is about making things instead of buying things, trying to fix things before replacing them, buying second hand in preference to buying new, cooking fresh, healthy food from scratch and looking after our planet by learning to live as sustainably as possible.
It is also about: learning to slow down; embracing silence, solitude and stillness; accepting the need to rest; creating space to contemplate, ponder, linger and wonder; and learning to let go of expectations, control and the need to achieve.
Do you have a specific interest that you like to focus on in the area of simple living?
I am interested in so many different areas but in particular I am interested in: contemplative Christian spirituality and exploring spiritual disciplines and practices such as lectio divina which is a gentle, reflective way of reading the bible, walking the labyrinth, Christian meditation and gratitude; recycling and upcycling; learning and practicing traditional craft skills and passing on this knowledge to other people; spending time in nature and learning to pay attention to the beauty all around.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey toward living a simple life. Was there a catalyst that led you to follow this path?
I call myself a recovering achievement driven, perfectionist, workaholic. I would say I have always lived a frugal life and I have always enjoyed making things.
But from the time I was little I had a perfectionist streak. I always strived to get top marks, to be in every group and organisation, to be the best person I could be.
I was high school captain, graduated from my teaching degree with distinction and went on to do a masters and then a PhD in children’s literature, while working full time with two children and being heavily involved with church and other community organisations.
I was a mover and shaker, I won awards and was always, always busy and planning the next thing I was going to do. My mind was always in the future, thinking about new ideas and projects. My husband used to get a twitch every time I said “I’ve been thinking…”
The catalyst for me was reading a book called “The Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster which is where I was introduced to spiritual disciplines and concepts such as silence, solitude, slowness and stillness. After reading that book, I longed for a sense of space, I yearned to live an unhurried life.
It has taken me over a decade of much practice, prayer and reading many books on the topic but I feel that I am learning to let go of the need to succeed and achieve. That doesn’t mean that I don’t do things but that drive to always be productive, to achieve at a high level, to be in charge has definitely decreased.
I am learning to go with the flow, to accept what is and not hold tightly to my expectations and need for control. I live a much slower, quieter life but it is always a journey, I am always learning.
What do you find challenging about trying to live simply?
For me it is trying to stay in the moment, to slow down and not cram every minute with things to do and projects to complete. Remembering to stop, pause and just breathe.
What are some of the benefits of this way of life for you?
There are so many benefits. Living a simple life there is definitely less stress. I am less busy and less frazzled.
We decided several years ago that we didn’t need to work full time. We had paid off our house and our children had finished school. We don’t earn a huge amount but what we have is enough. We don’t need heaps of money to buy more stuff or go to expensive places.
So, we both have long weekends. We have more time to spend doing things that we value ie. spending time with family and friends, time to make and mend things, time to read, time to go for motorbike rides, camping and Sunday drives. This leads to a happier, healthier, more joyful, peaceful and content life.
Through practicing spiritual disciplines, I feel I am developing a closer, deeper relationship with God. Simple living is not an easier life, but it is an intentional life. It is creating the space for God to work and transform me from the inside out.
I am learning to be more patient and gentler with others and particularly with myself. I feel as if I can see the world with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
What simple pleasures bring you joy and help you to slow down?
Are there any podcasts, books, documentaries or websites that you have found helpful?
I have read so many amazing books but here are just a few that have made a big impact:
What is something new that you have done or learnt about in the last year?
I have learnt how to make baskets from plant material. I really enjoyed doing that and I am eager to make some more with different types of plants. I made some really cute baby shoes from recycled material and have explored refashioning men’s shirts into dresses. I knitted my first pair of socks.
What would you like to learn about or do in the future?
I would like to learn how to make shoes. I was booked in to do a shoe making workshop down near Uralla last Easter. However due to the Covid restrictions I was unable to do it. But that is definitely something I am super keen to do.
If money or time were no option what would you like to do?
I would love to run a retreat centre where people can come to slow down, rest and try different simple living skills like cooking from scratch, gardening, making and repairing things and exploring reflective practices like journaling, writing poetry, painting etc.
I would love to travel around Australia with my husband in a mobile home teaching workshops and running retreats in rural, regional and remote areas.
I would love to live as self-sufficiently as possible in a tiny home with a view.
What did I say about having too many ideas…
If people would like to learn more about you and what you do, how can people follow you online or get in contact with you?
My website is Simple Slow Still – http://simpleslowstill.com.au.
I can also be found on Facebook – www.facebook.com/simpleslowstill.
My email is email@example.com and my phone number is 0429361047.