In 2005, my husband and I moved from Sydney’s Eastern suburbs to a little country town in Victoria, called Daylesford. A number of factors sparked this decision to move; a yearning for a quieter, healthier life was one of them.
I worked for a multinational company in the marketing department, with lots of travel, long hours and a distinct lack of inspiration. My husband was a printer, travelling an hour or so each way to work due to traffic, also dragging his feet.
We woke up in the morning, travelled to work, worked all day, travelled back, met at the local pub, came home, ate dinner, went to bed and repeated the process most week days. We felt tired, stressed, bored with work, and like time was starting to fly past us at an incredible rate.
After much convincing from me, John agreed to move down to our house in Daylesford (that we purchased a year or so prior to this but had rented it out) so that we could renovate it and create the life that we wanted (on a 12 month agreed trial period). If we weren’t happy we would move on and rent the house out again.
I wanted things to slow down, I wanted to learn to relax and enjoy life a bit more, instead of flying from one thing to the next like a little sparrow. We also wanted to start a family and our Sydney life was really not conducive to this!
There are many areas of this move that I could talk about, but for now I would like to focus on slowing life down, because when most people talk about a tree change, they are also talking about a desire to slow things down. Many people would like life to become a little more leisurely and enjoyable but don’t have the opportunity, or the inclination, to move to a little house by the sea or a farmhouse in the country. So here are a few little tips that I used to help stop the moments flying past that may help you too.
1. Throw out your electric jug and buy a stove-top kettle. This is important for a number of reasons. The process of boiling the water over a flame means that you have to stop and wait a little longer, which gives you time to breathe and reminds you that millions of people have been boiling water for tea on top of a fire for many hundreds of years. It is a grounding experience so make sure that you think about this each time you make a cuppa. Also, the tea tastes noticeably better when boiled from fresh, cold water over a flame.
2. Create daily rituals, such as this tea ritual, that will nurture you, allow you to stop for a few minutes, and again allow you to connect to a process that has been held sacred for hundreds of years. Light some incense, burn a candle, meditate, read the paper … whatever makes you happy. For me, lighting a stick of Nag Champa Incense and making a pot of strong tea is my little bliss fix.
3. Get rid of your microwave. Cooking your meals from scratch is an important grounding experience that allows you to connect with another process that has been practiced for many hundreds of years. I should also mention for the gen y people that yes, it is possible to reheat meals in a saucepan, it just takes a little longer. (I must admit with this one, I was truly tested when my son was an impatient baby waiting for dinner!)
4. Grow some veges and herbs. Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of time, to take stock of how long things take to grow, and how they develop their individual characteristics. Getting your hands in the soil and dirt under your nails brings you back in tune with the present moment. If you don’t have room for a vege garden, you can grow some herbs in the window and put a tomato plant in a pot as a perfect alternative!
5. Get creative. Whether it’s making clothes, painting, writing a journal, or cooking a new dish, creativity is a very effective tool to help you feel more in touch with the world and yourself. Share your creations with friends and family.
6. Turn your phone and computer off at night. I realise this is an obvious point but who actually does this? I am always surprised when I call someone a little early in the morning or late at night and they answer the phone from bed. Why have you got your phone on when you are sleeping? Don’t you value your rest time? I was just hoping to leave you a voicemail for when you were free but … (Yes, I have learnt my lesson and stopped making early and late phone calls due to this problem.) Turning your phone and computer off at night (and even during the day sometimes) gives you back control and therefore helps you to relax in those important times.
7. Spend time with children. No one is more in the moment than a small child. Days seem to go on forever and ever and 10 minutes seems like a lifetime. It’s a truly wonderful reminder of what is important in life.
8. Be grateful. Gratitude is very important when it comes to happiness, and when you stop and take the time to be grateful for what you have, for the birds, for the trees, and your little pot of herbs on the window sill, you will feel that the world seems to stop flying past at the same rate.
These are all things that I did to try to improve my quality of life and you can do pretty much aany of these anywhere. Let’s face it, any small step you take to make your life a happier and healthier one has to be a good step and the more people who are happy in the world, the better the world will be. So, you may not notice a huge change overnight, but over time you will notice the world will start to wait for you a little more than it used to.