In the past few months I have heard and read more about the Slow Movement, of living a more thoughtful life.
I’ve seen references to:
- The Slow Food Movement
- The Slow Home
- Slow Blogging
- Slow Lifestyle
In an ever increasingly loud, hi-tech, and chaotic world, finding calm and peace can be a challenge. Slowing down the speed of life to be more deliberate can sound old fashioned, unrealistic and maybe even a bit crazy.
But I would hazard a guess that those that think you are crazy for wanting that kind of life, secretly want the same opportunity, but are not willing to make the changes necessary to make it happen.
To many of us however, it sounds like a breath of fresh air.
It’s not always easy; the peer pressure to be involved in everything and say yes to everything can be intense. Plus we want an answer to our emails or texts right away, we want the website to load immediately. Basically we don’t always want to wait, we want it now so we can move on to the next thing.
To move slower and slow the speed of life does take some adjustment in your lifestyle and mindset. It takes intentional decisions.
Slowing down fits right in with simplifying life and both slowing down and simplifying are part of living an intentional life.
I’ve been active, pretty much since I was born. Sitting still was never (and honestly, still isn’t) easy for me. I move, shift, wiggle, bounce my leg, tap my finger, something that involves movement and probably annoys anyone sitting next to me. So looking at a slower life, while it sounds delicious, I know at times would be hard. I still can’t sit at my desk for very long – I’m up and down a lot.
One of the ways I am working on slowing down is to pursue 2 of my words for the year – Creativity and Simplify – by taking some new photography classes. These classes are centered around still life photography, learning to create images using props from the home, from nature and more.
Through these classes I’m finding it is a great opportunity to slow down deliberately, to focus (pardon the pun …) on what is in front of my and my camera lens.
Learning to really see not, just glance around. To observe, see details and understand composition and lighting. While time may go fast while I work, my brain slows down, the racing thoughts subside and the massively long to do list fades from view. It is wonderful.
The intent of these classes by Kim Klassen is to carve out time to just be. To breathe deep and focus.
She started her adventure with still life photography during a difficult health crisis in her family. This became her escape for a short time during the day. It was a time and space she carved out just for her, a time to breathe deep, enjoy beauty and create art. She now shares her art and teaches still life photography, what an amazing gift!
Right now my slowing down is in my photography. But maybe for you it is cooking more meals at home, taking a hot bath, or scheduling time to sit and read a book. Look around your life and pick out one area where you could slow down.
Before I forget, here is one more way to slow down :). Letter writing.
You know that snail mail treasured item we usually only get on birthday’s and at Christmas now days? Did you know that February is National Correspondence month? There are a couple of challenges out there to write one letter a day during the month of February.
I love this idea – not realistic for me and my life right now, but a wonderful idea. What if you decided to slow down and send out one handwritten letter or postcard a week for a month? What if we took time to craft words that would encourage someone and brighten their day?
How can you slow down the speed of life today?
A few years ago, I approached a good friend and asked her if she’d be willing to help me hone my style, which at the time could best be described as “minimalist frumpy”. You see, she always looks AMAZING and I knew that if anyone could help, it was her.
But I was a bit nervous. I hate asking for help, usually because I’m afraid I’ll be made fun of for doing so. Thankfully, she was delighted. Turns out she loves this kind of thing and immediately had some things for me to do to get started.
(Don’t you just love it when you ask a friend for help with something that lights them up and they immediately come to life? It’s beautiful.)
Finding my style
My first task was to compile pictures of clothing I loved. Thank you, Pinterest, for making that task sooo easy. (You can see what I pinned here if you want.)
Next, she invited me to come to her house and bring my favorite pieces that I already owned. Getting together with her is one of my favorite things so I was very excited.
Once our fun morning rolled around, I showed her my Pinterest board and she pointed out similarities between items I’d picked (I had no idea there were any) and commented on stuff she’d seen me wear already that was similar. After a few minutes of chatting she said that my style was “classic, crafty.”
I just sat there for a moment thinking, “That makes total sense. I always gravitate toward crafty/funky pieces and mix them with more classic items. How did she do that???”
Next, she showed me a few new ways to wear my favorite stuff and even sent me home with some goodies. I love her.
Now that I think about that experience, I know that I was also hesitant to ask for help because I was afraid that by identifying my style, I’d start shopping more (which I strongly dislike) and end up with a closet full of clothes again. I’d simplified so much at that point and I didn’t want to go backward.
However, the effect was quite the opposite. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to go home and cull my wardrobe even more. I realized I’d been hanging onto stuff I didn’t even like because I thought I needed it to be more stylish.
Crafting a simple wardrobe
Recently, I’ve felt that it was time to change up my wardrobe a bit. I’ve always been a fan of neutrals (and frankly, quite scared of color), but now I’m ready to pull out some of the things I don’t wear as much and add in some more fun.
Thankfully, this will be pretty easy now that I know and am comfortable with my style. But I’ll be using a few simple tools before I go shopping so I don’t get overwhelmed or come home with stuff I won’t wear.
- Pinterest: Before I go shopping, I take a quick peek at Pinterest for inspiration. Once I find things I love, I write down what I’m looking for. It’s so much easier to find something when you know what it is.
- Capsule Wardrobe: I’ve talked about my capsule wardrobe before and I continue to use those principles when I shop so I don’t come home with stuff I won’t wear. This helps me make decisions quickly so I’m not shopping all day.
- Stitch Fix: Since shopping drains my energy so much, I’m grateful for services like Stitch Fix that send you clothes to try on. It’s way more fun than shopping – like playing dress-up.
The clothes they send are handpicked by a stylist based on what you love (they’ve got a great interactive questionnaire) and you can add comments to let them know if you’re looking for anything specific. I got my second fix yesterday and had so much fun trying things on. Most things were a bit too colorful for me this time, but I did end up keeping a dark blue denim jacket that I’ll be wearing a lot when the weather gets warmer and I can wear skirts.
You can try your own Fix here. When you sign up for an account, you’ll also get a special link that you can share with friends so you can credit when they try it, too. Why don’t other clothing stores do that?
Honing your style does more than make you look good – it gives you the freedom to get rid of the excess that’s weighing you down. And it gives you the opportunity for a lot more fun and simplicity in the process.
What’s your style?
Earlier this week, I released a new ebook into the world. After weeks of compiling content, writing, editing, formatting and designing, it’s done. Which means it’s time to celebrate.
And what better way to do than with a giveaway?
So until Sunday night, you can enter to win a cleaning trio of doTERRA essential oils!
Total retail cost: $67
Why these oils
Lavender, lemon and melaleuca essential oils boast some pretty amazing properties.
- Lemon: a wonderful degreaser that also kills bacteria, plus it’s a mood lifter that smells amazing!
- Lavender: antiviral and antibacterial, this soothing essential oil cleans without a nasty chemical smell.
- Melaleuca: also known as Tea Tree essential oil, this is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal – it even kills fungus.
My ebook, Simply Clean Home, is all about creating a more peaceful, tidy home as simply as possible. In it, I share decluttering tips, my own simple cleaning routine and recipes for the natural cleaners I use in my own home.
And you can get it now for 25% off (no discount needed) and a special natural cleaning bonus!
The main cleaning recipe I use is a an all-purpose cleaner. It’s great on counters, toilets and other surfaces because it combines powerful, yet safe essential oils that take care of all sorts of germs.
So I have no problem handing the bottle of cleaner to my kids and having them clean the bathroom.
I call that essential oil combo my cleaning trio. And I’m excited to send this powerful trio to one lucky winner!
How to enter
You can enter simply by using the handy widget below. There are three options:
- Visit the Simply Clean Home page and leave a comment here telling me what section of the book would help you the most.
- Like Shalom Mama on Facebook
- Easy peasy entry – just hit enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Keeping my house in order is essential for my sanity. Clutter makes me feel really anxious and I can’t relax with a mess around me.
Thankfully, I’ve discovered some simple ways to keep my house in a clean-enough state without spending all of my time picking up messes.
The number one way to spend less time cleaning and my favorite. The less stuff you have, the less you have to clean. You may be nodding your head in enthusiastic agreement, and if you are, proceed to number 2.
If not, maybe it’s time to get rid of some stuff. Like the toys the kids never play with or your second set of dishes or the clothes in your closet that you never wear.
If you want some help with this task, check out my post, How to Declutter Your Home.
2. Get laser-focused
If I know that I need to get something done and I only have a certain amount of time to do it in, I zoom through it with laser focus. And then I wonder why I don’t do that everyday…
This is great when it comes to cleaning (especially if you’ve done the decluttering part). Some people call this White Hurricane as a fun way to motivate the kids to clean up before Daddy gets home.
This works best for us after dinner.
Pick a certain amount of time (thirty minutes is more than enough time for our house and I find a time crunch is a good motivator) and get to work. Upbeat music helps a lot, too, and makes it more fun.
When time is up, the dishes have been done, floors and counters cleaned and the rest of the house has been straightened. Then there’s plenty of time to hang out, watch a movie and read stories before bed.
3. Get help
Our “school” focus for the last few weeks has been on teaching the kids how to help us around the house. And we’ve found something interesting: when we let them do the chores they like to do, they’re much more willing to help out.
So rather than trying to force them to do everything, we’re letting them work in their strengths, which is working out really well for us.
It took a few training sessions, but we have helpers who actually like folding and putting away laundry (most of it), cleaning the toilets (oh thank goodness) and washing the dishes (especially Isaiah who usually ends up soaked).
While the initial “job training” takes time, it is so worth it. You just have to learn to breathe through the water spilling on the floor…
Simply Clean Home
For the last few years, I’ve been asked a few questions over and over again. When that happens, I usually write a blog post to address it. But for this question, a post wouldn’t suffice – I needed a whole book. What’s the question?
“How can I declutter my home so I don’t have to clean so much?!”
I can so empathize. When my dream of staying home with my kids was finally realized, I thought it would be all snuggles and play dates. Ha! We snuggled, alright. But only after I’d spent the better part of the day cleaning. And was my house spotless? No.
There was just so much stuff, it required constant care to keep me from going crazy (turns out clutter stresses me out – a lot). As for play dates, those only happened if I had time in my schedule to leave the dreaded housework and go somewhere else.
There was no way I was inviting people over – that would just mean more cleaning!
Thankfully, that’s no longer my reality. Now, it takes me about 30 minutes to do my major chores and 30-45 minutes of daily tasks to keep the house tidy and peaceful (as peaceful as it can get with four kids, anyway).
I’ve learned a lot about keeping a my home clean simply in the last few years and I’m sharing them now in my latest ebook.
And so, I give you Simply Clean Home. It’s an easy-to-follow guide designed to help people clean less and live more. It’s broken down into three sections:
- Now what?
Because some of us need ideas for what to do with ourselves once we don’t have to clean all the time anymore.
There are lots of DIY projects for natural living out there. And each of those projects probably has at least 10 variations that you could try. It can seem a bit … complicated.
And if you’ve been reading the blog long, you know I’m not a fan of complicated.
Many of you have asked for help when it comes to getting started on this natural living journey – where should you start? (And I know there are many of use who are always on the look out for new ideas.) Since I’m not sure what you’ve tried already or are looking to learn, I thought I’d compile my favorite projects in one place.
So, get ready to start pinning, because I think you’re going to love these ideas!
Bath & Body
Got a few picked out that you want to try? Good. Now all you need to do is clear some time, gather your ingredients and get ready to master the art of natural living.
Don’t want to click all over the internet? Here are my favorite ebooks to help with your DIY projects.
What projects would you add to this list?
Have I told y’all about my dad? He’s a great guy – funny, outgoing, friends with everyone he meets. A great cook. Incredibly hospitable.
He’s got a sassy side and likes to do things his own way (that’s where I get it from). And he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t wait for things to happen. Which means when he needs something, he goes out and gets it.
Which makes it incredibly difficult to buy him gifts.
Before Christmas, or his birthday (which is a few weeks before), I ask him, “Is there anything in particular you want this year?” He usually raises his eyebrow and replies, “Nope. I needed ________, so I bought it.”
There was one year when he wanted me to crochet him a scarf – I was very happy to do it. But generally, he has zero items on his wish list which leaves me wondering what I can get him on special days (I love giving gifts – it’s my love language).
Eventually, I learned to stop asking and, like my dad, took the situation into my own hands and decided that since Dad has everything he needs (or gets it himself), I would find a way to give him gifts without cluttering up my parents’ home with stuff he won’t use.
So if you need gift ideas for the person who has everything, these are the three options I typically choose from when it comes to giving to my Dad:
My dad has a massive sweet tooth (also got that from him) and enjoys cookies, chocolates and pastries. So guess what? I like to oblige. He’s fond of many of these edible gifts in jars.
He also likes when I give him some of my homemade natural remedies from my shop. Last year I gave him soap, lip balm and my healing balm, which were gladly used. He even mentioned he wanted more this year!
I love spending time with my dad. Like I mentioned before, he’s quite funny. Plus he tells some awesome stories of when he was growing up in Mexico (the sassy, independent spirit runs deep in our family).
So rather than making stuff for him, I sometimes opt for time together by taking him out for coffee or a lunch date. Though he usually insists on paying, so I’m not sure who’s getting the gift there.
3. Gifts in their name
You know what else is lovely? Handing him a Christmas card telling him that we gave a few pairs of chickens in his name to some families in need in Asia. It usually sparks a funny story from growing up on a farm.
Gospel for Asia has a wonderful Christmas catalog that allows you to purchase all sorts of gifts that will help empower families living in poverty. We LOVE their gifts from the stable. You can check it out the catalog here.
Another great organization that we discovered a few years ago is SEED (Sustainable Empowerment through Economic Development). They do something similar to Gospel for Asia and aim to help families all over the world who live in poverty and need sustainable ways to support their families. They also partner with local artisans in those countries to sell their goods to create a sustainable income. I love, love their mission. See all the Christmas giving options here.
Want to help us send more chickens to people in need? Purchase handmade remedies from my shop using the code CHICKENS to get 15% off and have a portion of your total used toward gifts for the Gospel for Asia catalog.
What do you give to the person who has everything?