Rachel Jonat on the Joy of Doing Nothing

Nanda Green

Three-time guest Rachel Jonat of The Minimalist Mom is back! This week brings some real-talk to the topics of slow living as a family, as we catch up on the changes in Rachel and her family’s life since she was last on the show, as well as talk about her new book, The Joy of Doing Nothing.

You might remember way back in Episode 30, Rachel and her family had just moved to Vancouver from the Isle of Man, and she and I talked about the ways city living and slow living tied in together. That conversation had a big impact on my understanding of slow, simple living, as previously I’d always imagined city living in opposition to slow. But Rachel shared the multitude of ways that city living actually made simple living easier (public transport, closer community, smaller living spaces, less home maintenance, easier access to farmer’s markets) and the reasons it worked for her family.

In Episode 93, the talk turned more specifically to kids and slow living, how Rachel managed to declutter and simplify with three young kids, and the expectations vs reality. For anyone who has a young family it’s a realistic, helpful, practical episode that I’d highly recommend.

In today’s episode we flip the script entirely though, as Rachel and her family have recently moved away from the city to a small town.

The decision to sell their condo in Vancouver and buy a house in a small town in the mountains of BC was a well-thought-out one that aligned with the needs of Rachel’s family, and also her and her husband’s values. She and I talk about the reality of making this decision, what led up to it, and how the change in location has impacted her family’s lives.

Rachel talks about the shift in pace from city to small-town living, which, given her new book, The Joy of Doing Nothing, is utterly relevant. She was working on the book right before she and her husband made the decision to leave Vancouver, and felt inspired by what she was writing about to try and find a life that gave her the time and space she wanted. The book is about slowing down and simplifying, but rather than being about stuff, it focuses on simple, actionable ways to create quiet time for yourself to really unplug and just be. It’s not an extreme approach in any sense, but it definitely taps into that fear so many of us have of not being entertained, distracted or scheduled, and encourages us to hit reset a little more often.

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7 Responses to Rachel Jonat on the Joy of Doing Nothing

  1. Fun to listen – Rachel and I have connected but I enjoyed hearing more about the reasoning behind her recent move. I live in a small town in Alberta and while I miss the city, I have no doubt that living here has greatly simplified our family life. Still, that is a choice – people here can live hectic stressed-out lives too.

    Enjoy your time in Canada. xo

  2. Thank you for your podcasts. I thought you would like this poem:

    The Summer Day

    Who made the world?
    Who made the swan, and the black bear?
    Who made the grasshopper?
    This grasshopper, I mean-
    the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
    the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
    who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
    who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
    Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
    Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
    I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?

    —Mary Oliver

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