Tag Archives: slow movement

Finding My Words

I’ve been enjoying the reclusive life and doing a lot of solo exploring in small chunks since I’ve moved. It can’t, and won’t, continue for much longer but it’s been a brilliant choice on my end.

It’s only now, clearly, that my desire to write is returning. I was sure this would happen sooner, and part of the Being Antisocial Plan was so that I’d reconnect with my words. Well, yeah. It’s taken time but it’s happening.

Sunset off Clover Point in Victoria. Par moi.

I’ll embrace antisocial behaviour for a little longer — a week, maybe two — to let my wordy seeds grow. Then, I’d like to start meeting people and think it will be easy to do so. Optimism helps, kids!

If I’m in the right mood, people generally like me. Or, people I like tend to like me. That’s not cockiness or anything, because being liked just isn’t hard — be nice, be interested, be interesting, be kind, be authentic. It’s much easier, of course, when you actually talk to people and make an effort. So, until I do that, I shall remain anonymous and lifeless. Yay?

As we both might know, I’m no dummy. I’m the thinky-thinky type, like all geeky writer girls tend to be, and all my cerebral wheels have spun something fierce in the months leading to this moment.

See, I know what small towns are like, and at 1/9th the size of Vancouver and my living in a very small neighbourhood within that, I know anonymity evaporates in a hurry once you start fitting into the community. And that’s great, it’s nice to feel noticed and like you belong, but once you have THAT, you never have THIS again.

I talk to people, I’m chatty, I smile a lot, and most people enjoy bantering with me, so I expect to start knowing more people than I don’t. One day, I’ll be able to recall this 8- or 10-week period where I saw no one but strangers, did nothing beyond shop browsing, and never got greeted by name.

Kinda awesome. For a while. Life and its contrasts are fantastic. People should enjoy their weird life phases a bit more. The start of a relationship, the awkwardness of being new… Newness is fantastic and fleeting. Everything gets old so quickly.

It’s common that we get so caught up in wanting the future to happen now that we forget we can never come back, we’ll never have THIS moment again. We’re the impatient fast-food, flash-cooking society, and it shows in our lifestyles.

I don’t own a microwave. I am in no hurry, friends. Anymore, anyhow. Namaste.

There’s nothing to regret about holding off on joining the Locals Club. I know I’ll get there, and when I do, I’ll absolutely adore being a part of this community. It’ll be great living in a place where I can walk all the way home after 2 or 3 drinks, where I can casually go meet people at the city’s most popular parks and beaches, since they’re all a short walk away. I’m under no illusions of a) what my life can be like here, and b) what it’ll take for me to connect with others.

But, for now, I’ve more literary aspirations in mind.

For that, it’s nice, this anonymous wanderer schtick of mine. A rewarding way to burn off the rat race hangover I’ve had since I escaped the faster, bustling drone of big city life.

I’m still in the headspace where I feel like I have so much I need to do, and that’s all part of the necessary efforts in transition. It’s catching up on work, finishing projects around my home, and other little things. But now I’ve found time for writing (and even blogging) each day for a week.

The change I’ve sought is officially afoot, it seems. Oh, writing, how I’ve missed wanting to do you.

Longtime readers know I’m a big believer in writing being a muscle. The more one does it, the more one taps into the rhythm and grind of what makes writing great.

But if you’re living a life where nothing inspires you, nothing sets you free, it’s hard to tap into that. In fact, it’s damned near impossible. I should know, because that’s how I was feeling for much of the last two years. Trapped and frustrated.

That’s changing, quickly. I’m becoming fascinated and intrigued often. I’m becoming inspired and recharged from time to time. I need more. More, more, more!

Creativity requires much in life but it mostly requires focus and awareness. Stimulation, too. And we can trick ourselves into thinking the city is what we need for stimulation, but, for some, cities are built for distraction, not stimulation.

I’ve been so distracted so long that this silence and quietude in my new life is overwhelming at times. I’m so undistracted I’m confused.

And that too is part of the life transition. Slowing down. It’s the emotional and mental equivalent to the way solid ground feels after an afternoon of being at sea or a day spent 4x4ing. The sudden stop is jarring to our equilibrium.

Well, I feel the same these days. It’s almost panic-inducing at times, because I’m still waiting for that day when I don’t wake up thinking my vacation’s over and I need to return to the city soon. Because I don’t. I live here now.

That’s something I have to remind myself of, daily. There is no rush, there’s no return, there’s just me, here, now.

So, that’s where I am today. Still anonymous, still wandering, still transitioning… but a writer once again.

Making Plays in The Game of Life

I am in catch-up mode.

We get so ensconced in our lives that all need to remember the wise words of social genius/role model Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So, when you’re like me and you’ve been out of the game for about six weeks with something stupid like pneumonia, you sort of realize some things:

1) Many happenings/obligations in life are unnecessary, yet we feel pressured to throw ’em on the calendar too.
2) When trying to get back to your old self, you need to pick your battles, and the one battle you can likely do without includes all the social and networking events that aren’t “real” time with friends you crave seeing, or lowkey happenings.
3) Those easy activities we fall into “autopilot” on really take a lot of discipline to develop routines around, and getting back to that is a real challenge after taking a necessary break from it.

I think part of my antisocial behaviour over the years stems from the fact that much of my years from 25-35 were filled with illness (was bronchitis-prone yearly) or severe injuries, and I just lost my ability to struggle through life and be Little Miss Lively.

From Guardian.co.uk: Gk Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images.

And I was always angry about it, too — my failure in my struggle to balance life during those times.

One day, I read Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow (its Canadian title).

I learned about the Slow Food movement, and how it was spawning the “Slow” lifestyle. Talk about your lightbulb moments.

So, I learned what I could about these new-to-me ideas.

Slow Food was about getting back to the basics and using real ingredients, very little processed, and ensuring one had the time to enjoy it all. At least half the time, this is what I’m after in my kitchen: Slow.

“Slow Life”, in a nutshell, is about doing everything purposefully, mindfully, and without spreading yourself too thin. It’s about reading a paper and enjoying a quiet breakfast, not working on your laptop, watching Criminal Minds, and scarfing down a protein shake.

“Slow” is in not rushing to an event that’s only about shaking a few hands when you could stay home, re-centre yourself, eat healthily, do some fitness, and enjoy some mental-recharging in preparation for a great and full day tomorrow. Slow Life is even about Tantric sex and sleeping in.

Slow is essentially about making choices, and choosing to pare back on commitments, doing only what life and time dictate as good choices.

Carl Honore’s website defines “Slow” as:

It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.

There are people who thrive on social interaction, it completes them or feeds their ego or whatever it is it does for them, and maybe they need that component in life to really feel alive.

Many of these people, though, I see tweeting or Facebooking about how frantic they feel and their panic to get to the events on time, et cetera, leaving me to wonder just how much they’re “thriving” on these things after all.

Others, these excessive commitments get in the way of our goals, they cut back on our time to be creative, they erode our sense of self, and they turn us into 5-to-6-hour-a-night sleepers instead of getting the 7 to 8 hours doctors recommend. For some, the overcommitting eats at savings, inspires bad behaviour, or leads to missed opportunities.

Not everyone’s suited for the Slow lifestyle.

But I am.

The older I get, the more I realize I’m a rural dweller living in a citylife.

I want the country house, the seclusion, the quiet at night that’s broken only by sounds in nature. I want to wander country paths and marvel over how light changes on the landscape. I want trees surrounding my home and a body of water a short walk away.

Unfortunately, right now, I can’t have that life. By the age of 45, I will.

For now, though, I can balance my life with being smarter. These days, I’m a “maybe” for all events until the final 24 hours hits. I’m tired of having to bail for reasons others don’t want to hear about and certainly don’t care about.

At this immediate time, I’m not making any social plans at all. My two birthday-weeks with only 3 social happenings in each proved Way Too Much for me. The pneumonia rebound is a hard one for me.

But the pneumonia is a wake-up call. I’ve worked far too hard on my life to be rewarded by being this sick. No more.

The frustrations I feel now, after being taken out of the game of life and trying to catch up, they’re reminding me of why I gravitated to the Slow Life a few years ago, and they’re making me wonder why I ever drifted away from it.

In order to be successful at Slow, it means I need to make a few more changes. Routine becomes more important — cleaning up after cooking, waking up with focus, committing to an active life but also being sure to actively rest, both in mind & body.

Starting this week, it looks like I have a personal trainer willing to take me on in exchange for my writing about my journey to fitness for her blog (and mine). More on that on Wednesday.

It scares the living shit out of me, honestly. A high-intensity personal trainer with a mission to kick my ass?

I’ve been there before. I know what working out with high intensity for 6 to 8 hours a week feels like. I know the price my body pays. I know what “leaving it on the floor” feels like the next morning.

I know what it takes, but I HAVE what it takes.

What I really know, though, is that being social goes right out the window for a month. At least.

That 6 to 8 hours of fitness, for me, requires at least 4 hours of stretching. And hot baths. And icing. Next thing you know, it’s 16 hours or so of my week. Physical hours, hours in which I’m often thinking about exactly how my body feels and what it can do. It also means I need 8 hours of healing rest per night.

That physical demand on me and my time also means I really have to focus on healthy eating, and since I can’t afford to buy the healthy prepared food (which are expensive, of course), I need to do the cooking myself. More time invested.

And, you know what? No problem. I can do that.

I just can’t do “social” during it too. Not much, anyhow. Not at first.

Not if I want to achieve everything I know I can achieve.

Me first, you last — that’s what losing 50 pounds takes.

If you can’t put yourself first in weight loss, you won’t succeed. Period. I know.

“Slow” living means making choices and choosing your battles. It means doing one thing and doing it to the best of your ability. So does weight loss.

There aren’t a lot of books that have really changed my attitude on life, but Honore’s In Praise of Slow really did. It’s time it changes my life again, and this is the best time of year to make that change.

Whether we like it or not, there are 10 weeks till Christmas. Manic just got more manic. Socializing will be through the roof.

For me, Christmas means people — it means warm drinks, kindness, small homemade gifts, toasting with wine, laughing in warm lighting, and generally just Being with Real People. It’s not about events with 200 folks, or even 100. It’s about being in places where I can actually talk to each person present.

As the invitations start pouring in, I’ll pick events that are most intimate — preferably home gatherings — with the greatest number of people I’d like to connect with. And maybe only one every week or two.

But that’s how “Slow” goes.

In the end, I’m finding pneumonia has been a gift to me on a few levels. Most importantly, it’s helped me clarify my goals and remember what’s important to me in my world.

Or, at least that’s what I’m choosing to take from the pneumonia experience: Reminders of who I can be.

Now comes the part that’s the hardest of all: Turning those reminders into my new reality.

And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful I get to try at all.

Slowing Down The Speed of Life and Love

This is more of a fantasy than anything I’ve written in awhile – slowness, that’s all I want right now. I’m about to stop reading everything, and I’m on the verge of radically trying to change the life I’m living. I’m stick of the manic pace, I’m sick of the demands on my time, and I’m sick of feeling like I’m stretched in a million directions, just like my pal Gumby. I’m about to re-read Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow (or In Praise of Slowness for you Yankees). I read it before, and it helped me make choices that got my life into a place I loved, but that was a while ago, and my world’s been turned upside down for awhile now.

There’s a movement out there in the world that has no flash, no PR, no glory, and it’s called Slow. The movement embraces everything from real cooking with real ingredients and long, relaxing meals with real conversation, right through to Tantric Sex. It’s about finally deciding this world around us just doesn’t make any sense anymore, and taking back control over your life.

We’ve drunk the Kool-aid, man. For the last 100 years, we’ve been told that every new piece of technology would help us better our lives. Cars would get us there faster, cellphones will mean you can get your work done on your time, your portable laptop computer will mean you can work anywhere you want.

It’s bullshit, of course. All it’s done is made it possible to get ahold of us anywhere, anytime.

I have this nightmare, you see. I dream of one day doing a trek through the wilds of Africa, and there on the Savannah floor, the tall grasses of the veldtland blowing in the plains’ winds, the distant sounds of elephants trumpeting their majesty, lionesses roaring with pride over their conquests, and some fucker’s polyphonic GPS-ready cellphone starts to ring to the tone of Softcell’s “Tainted Love.”

I’m sick of this. I’m sick of being a yuppie in the middle of all this crap. But I left the commune a while ago, honestly. But they pulled me back in, just like the fuckin’ mob. Now, I work almost daily, my cellphone’s always charged, I do everything I can to fit as much into my week as I can, and I can tell you this much: The only thing I really know is that I’m beginning to feel soulless.

A year ago, I was living the Slow life. I’d opted to work three hours less per week, and as a result, wound up with three-day weekends weekly. I worked on my terms, my way. I had a little less money, but I couldn’t have cared less. I looked at my friends with their new houses, new cars, and the bags under their eyes and the need to do overtime, and I laughed, sat on beach, read a book, and couldn’t have cared less.

I took the time to cook from scratch, which really doesn’t take much longer, or much more effort, than a lot of the packaged shit in the world. I turned my cellphone on deliberately, not automatically, not 24/7. I let my answering machine get my calls if the phone rang during a meal. I’d take the slow, long, scenic way home. I’d do whatever it took to enjoy the moment I had. My home and my self, both were oases away from the world.

And now? I feel like I’ve been bought and sold by The Man. I got to the beach on Saturday, and did some photography, which I absolutely love to do, and it was the first time since the early fall I’d done so. There was a time when nary a week would pass without the taste of salt air coating my throat.

Slow means doing everything you can to enjoy the moment. It means not rushing to the orgasm. It means exploring Tantric Love. It means rolling over in the morning and actually deciding what you want to do, instead of feeling like the world’s got demands on your time. It’s about knowing that sometimes, a quickie’s exactly what the moment calls for – whether it’s sex or some McDonald’s fries – but that it’s a choice, not a necessity.

It’s about turning off your daytimer, your cellphone, and realizing that you have control over your world, and that you can say “no” to others.

I’m looking for work now, sick of this hodge-podge of jobs I’ve been doing, the complications needed to keep all the shit straight in my head. I’m tired of feeling like I need to apologize for not having any time, when the fact is, the world’s made me this way… but only because I let it.

I had actually gotten an email yesterday that asked me, “Why are you working so much, do you like it?” No, fuck no. An ideal life for me is books, a beachside home, and the ability to travel and live on my terms. I’ve hit a cosmic hiccup that has left me maxed out for six months now, and the time is here to put a stop to it.

Fact is, modern life is bullshit. There are aspects I love, (iPOD!) but our lack of time, lack of independence, lack of control… it’s really tearing us apart. I remember a guy on a ferry saying to me once, “Cities are built for distraction… to distract you from where you’re not, and who you’re not.” And it’s true. I get comments sometimes about my “insight” or whatever it is people like in my writing, and I have to tell you, you too can be your own little guru, but only if you come over to the Slow side. My writing, I guarantee you, will improve if I stop all this shit that’s pulling me apart. My Slow time spent living in the Yukon, and my travels, and my lifestyle I had a year ago, these are the things that plug me into my cosmos. It keeps me happy, makes me in tune not only with the world around me, but with myself.

Being sucked into this vacuous existence of stop-and-go-and-go-and-go has left me feeling like my soul’s long gone. I know it’s not, it’s just on pause, but I remember the feeling I had last year. I was single, my life was entirely on my terms, my schedule, and nobody but nobody could take it away from me. Until they did, and now, here I am.

I’m not worried about it, though. Now I know the problem, I also know the solution, and I know I’ve been able to make those life changes before, and I will again soon. And then, then it will be summer, and life will again be all blessed out.

Every now and then, a person needs this anger and frustration, because it reminds us what we want, and urges us to aggressively seek it.

I gotta get Slow. Fast. And you do, too.

(Photo’s by a dude called Mike Verna. It’s exactly what I wish to be doing today. I’ve cancelled all my work today, just have one appointment, and I’m finding my way to the water today. Rain’s back. Oh well. I’ll be writing about sex soon, I promise. I just need to deal with some things on my plate, first. Thanks for staying tuned.)