Slow down and simplify

For me, right now: December 2018

What I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about in December #slowliving

December – such a contradiction – hectic pre-Christmas and then super chilled out post-Christmas. This is all clearly post-Christmas! Pictures are mostly in and around my parents property.

Looking back, 2018 turned out a lot differently than I expected. This time last year, I had just completed my first freelance project. From there, the work snowballed and I’ve had as much work as I’ve wanted. Sometimes more.

It’s been a great test for my slow-not-lazy approach. I went from working 10 hours per week to 30 and the wheels didn’t fall off. All year, I was nervous about taking on too much, scared I’d end up back on the hamster wheel – endless rushing, getting nowhere. There were occasional blips of busyness, but, for the most part, I remained calm and had time to enjoy life.

Back in January, I set “community” as my guiding word for the year. My intention was to foster connections with others as an antidote to consumerism. I’m not much of a joiner, so it was always going to be interesting. My new focus on paid work was a further challenge.

So how did I get on? On paper, it doesn’t look much. Compared to this time last year, I’m no longer heavily involved in the charity craft group that I co-ordinated for three years. I was asked to join the board of a local not-for-profit, but we just wound ourselves up! And I haven’t joined anything else new.

But, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t successful. My guiding word influenced many of everyday decisions. Little things I did with an eye to community-building include:

  • inviting 22 kids to my son’s birthday party (sounds mad, but I managed to enjoy it)
  • joining a bike library, rather than buying a bike for my son to learn on
  • going to a not-for-profit, self-organising knitting retreat
  • re-scheduling a meeting so I could attend Christmas carols at school.

School was the obvious place to focus and I worked on building relationships around school. I made time to be there at drop-off and pick-up time, not to rush, to say hi and make time to chat to parents, teachers and kids. Slowy, it’s paying off.

What I’ve been:

Reading: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. I heard Priya Parker interviewed about her book on Hurry Slowly. If you get groups of people together, as we all do, shes has some solid step-by-step advice. I particularly like what she has to say about being “a chill host” and how that’s actually not cool. It’s a quick read.

Listening to: Kids’ podcasts. I find podcasts a saviour when I have a tired child that needs to chill out or I don’t won’t to flick on the TV or read him another book. My favourites are Listen and Play by BBC School Radio (Stories, rhymns and action songs around a theme – ages 3 to 7), Imagine This by ABC Kids Listen (Scientists answering “why” questions posed by kids – ages 4 to 8), and StoryNory (Over 600 stories read aloud – ages 3 to 10). It’s not a podcast, but RNZ’s Children’s Treasure Chest is a real treasure (over 50 New Zealand children’s stories, some with video – ages 3 to 10).

Making: Christmas gifts – I crocheted a couple of sets of dishclothes and some face scrubbies as gifts. I’ve recently gone through my yarn stash and downsized again. What remains, I’m going to allocate to specific projects.

Thinking about– My guiding word for 2019 – “enough”. More to come on that soon.

Happy New Year.

Do you set a guiding word for the year? What’s your word for 2019?


  • Rebecca
    January 2, 2019 at 3:15 am

    I also have a word. Mine for 2019 is expectation.

    I like how you said you made the time to slow down and talk to the other parents, teachers, and kids. Sometimes, our lives get so busy we forget the simple connections we can make if we just slow down.

    Wishing you a very happy new year!


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