Slow and Simple Living Redux

“Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again”

(Thomas H. Palmer &  Frederick Marryat)

It is early January and I just turned 40. I am seven months pregnant and have been struggling with severe perinatal anxiety since the beginning of the pregnancy. Each year I set an intention for the year, not goals because that seems to just set me up for failure, but a broad intention to guide my decisions and life. This year I turned 40 while at the same time looking forward to the arrival of our second child seven years after our first. I was faced with both the realization that time is ticking away, and if I am going to do anything I should do it now, AND that my life is about to change dramatically.

So, I set three intentions that I felt would guide me through this transition:

  1. Read more/screen less
  2. Walk the Talk (can’t lead sustainability at home or at a University without practicing what I preach)
  3. Simplify my life

This is at least the third time I have set and tried to stay on course for the last two intentions. But, instead of getting discouraged I think it is worth continuing to start again until it sticks. Plus, I imagine many others are like me/our family where mindfulness, simplicity, and slow sustainable living can slip off the priority list when things get busy and stressful.

Here are my motivations for being more intentional about my life in this way at this time:

  1. I am exhausted with the go go go schedule that I’ve maintained since I was pregnant with my first son. Trying to balance a full-time job as a Director of a University department, pregnancy, nursing, child raising, volunteering, marriage, family relationships and friendships has become unmanageable and has severely aggravated my chronic anxiety and bouts of depression.
  2. Although I get great satisfaction from my work I get the continuous nagging feeling that I spend more time justifying, resourcing, and promoting the work we do than developing productive high impact programming.
  3. We have a new little one on the way with the potential to make our family life even more hectic than it was before.
  4. A realization that more of the same busy is not what is going to help me take responsibility for my own mental and physical health especially stress levels associated with chronic anxiety.
  5. A commitment to Buddhist principles and philosophy especially mindfulness and altruism that points clearly to the need for simplicity and living lightly on the earth.
  6. Never ending clutter and debt with no retirement plan in sight. As our wages have increased so have our possessions despite the best intentions.
  7. I want to teach my boys a better way of living so that they too can learn to live a simple, fulfilling, and peaceful life. My first son is already getting far too used to a high level of consumerism and electronic entertainment.
  8. Turning 40 really had an impact on my procrastination default and unconscious faith that tomorrow would always be the best day to live with less, to be mindful, to meditate more, to spend more time with my child/children, to calm my nervous system and address mental health issues.

Starting Small: Brooke McAlary from Slow your Home  has an excellent podcast series. She has a great podcast on the trap of rushing into a slower life that made me laugh and also gave me permission to take a deep breath and see this as a longer term challenge. It is something worth coming back to over and over again.

So without any big plans, and with small or low expectations, I embark on a life edit of sorts in a year of slow simple living.

If you want to follow along I’ll be sharing the experiments (Also an idea from Brooke. Thanks Brooke!) I/we try along with successes, failures, and a lot of the resources I find along the way.

To start off with I highly recommend checking our Slow your Home (see above) and also this excellent online magazine called “Simplify Magazine” which you can have lifetime access to for only $20. That’s essentially four Starbucks luxury coffees and your done!



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