Seems counter-intuitive, right? If you rush, you get further faster, don’t you?
Well, not if you’re me.
I’ve always been a multi-tasker, I’m easily bored and I can’t just sit and be. I prefer to keep my mind busy even if my body isn’t. I’m forever reading something, packing my waking hours with as much brainwork as I can because I love it so much. But I’ve learned, repeatedly, that I’m not accomplishing anything now that I’m trying to do that with two toddlers in tow.
It’s an interesting juggle balancing my mind’s need for constant stimulation with the practise of slowing down. But what I realised fairly early on, was that I was doing it alllllll wrong. I was forgetting things, and for all the lists and reminders and organisation my box-ticking brain loves, I was getting nothing done. I was that mum who forgot to bring a teddy bear on Teddy Bear’s Picnic day, even though I LIVE for that kind of mum stuff. I was that mum who wasn’t making dinner until everyone was starving, and rushing to catch up on everything, instead of being one step ahead.
I already feel different here in Melbourne. As we were packing up the truck with our belongings, someone asked me if I was going to miss the old house. I remember looking at it and really stopping to think “will I?”, but feeling instantly that I was glad to be going. It felt like I was leaving behind the crazy newborn/newborn and toddler phase, the years where I felt stretched too thin, and the little wrong turns I was taking in order to find the right ones, in that house. I couldn’t wait for a fresh start. I feel like I can breathe here, like I’m less claustrophobic, less rushed, and less distracted, even though I’ve moved to a fast-paced city. I feel like all the things I know about being mindful and living intentionally can finally be put into practice here.
When I first read about Tsh and her blog, The Art of Simple, I was jealous. Jealous that she’d lived overseas with her family, lived simply and intentionally, and was planning to take her children on an around-the-world trip – all things I wanted to do. For them, travel is important. Eating well is important. Spending time as a family is important. Education is important – all the things that are important to me. Everything resonated, and I was excited to tag along for the ride. I like to think I’m living intentionally so I can do all these things with my family, and (when I actually get a little more sleep), I can do all these things as a calm, joyful, enthusiastic mother and wife.
I want to live deliberately. I don’t want to react to life, I want to be proactive. I preferably want to do this in an exotic country (maybe in Paris, with some baguettes and French butter), but I feel I’m closer to that now that we’ve moved to Melbourne. I feel like we’ve taken the first step to intentionally live as a happy, well-travelled, well-educated, and well-fed family. I’m still working on the laundry, though.
There was no question when Tsh asked if anybody wanted to be part of the Notes From a Blue Bike blog tour. I had already read another of her books, One Bite at a Time, and got a LOT out of it. Stuff I still do to be more organised and less bobble-headed. I use her daily dockets to keep track of things I want to do (as well as Cozi – damn that thing is awesome!). I read Notes in the 10-day gap between moving out of our Queensland house and flying down here. I like her kickass attitude of being aware of her environment, but choosing to live it on her terms. Taking the lessons she’d learned from living in slower, more relationship-focused cultures and applying it to her frenetic, consumerist, productivity-based American surroundings. To really question the rules, and authority, and ask why. To live counter-culture, the road less travelled, asking: “is that the best option for my family?”
Nothing more punk than that.
I slowed down so I could ask those questions. What do I want? What is best? Who makes these rules anyway? Do we have to live like that? I also slowed down so I could stop asking questions like “where is my purse?” and “are we really out of milk? Shit.”
Tsh’s memoir/travelogue/guide will probably prompt you to ask those questions too. Life’s too short to be living someone else’s dream.
*disclaimer: I received an advance copy of the book for review. ’tis all!