Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Case Against Convenience

The Case Against Convenience - via Slow Your Home

A few weeks ago, we ran out of coffee pods. (I know, I know. The shame.)

But far from being a nuisance, it turned out to be an epiphanic moment. No longer did I have hot, strong coffee literally at the touch of a button,  instead I had something completely unexpected: peace.

I try to get up early most mornings (although since the holidays, my strike rate is a little shaky) and this pre-dawn wakeup is generally only achievable with strong coffee. Needless to say, the first few days without my caffeine fix were tough and I felt the lack of convenience sharply. But then I rediscovered our French press in the back of the cupboard, largely unused since the coffee machine arrived on our bench.

Enter: epiphany.

I could face my early mornings with coffee once more, but in order to get my fix I needed to do a little work.

First I needed to boil the jug and measure out the coffee, then pour the water, wait for the coffee to brew, and finally pour a cup. It’s most definitely a First World issue, and certainly more involved than pushing a button.

But taking the time to move through this simple ten-minute ritual not only gave me the gift of coffee, but it also gave me ten minutes in which I could greet the day. Instead of pushing a button and thirty seconds later, walking in to my office still bleary-eyed, now I spend that ten minutes stretching and busting out a quick Sun Salutation on the kitchen floor. Once that’s done I drink a glass of water, pour my coffee and greet the day with energy. This ritual helps me focus my breath, stretch my back and hips and get the blood moving. In fact, this pre-coffee practice has become one of my favourite parts of the day.

I know it sounds trite, but taking this time to wake myself up and really engage with my head and my body is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made over the past 12 months and it’s all down to enjoying a lack of convenience.

Am I against all modern conveniences? No. Haha! No. No. Definitely not.

Takeaway once every few weeks. A dishwasher. Google. My iPhone. These are all modern conveniences that I make use of frequently.

But we need to recognise there are times that convenience is important, and there are times that it robs us of opportunities for a moment of mindfulness.

Think of the moment you will gain if you:

  • Brew a coffee or tea from scratch.
  • Wash dishes by hand and relish in the feel of the warm water and suds on your fingers.
  • Hang clothes outside to dry in the sunshine, concentrating on the cool dampness of the linen and the click of the pegs.
  • Walk to the shop instead of drive, giving yourself the opportunity to slow down, get outside and get engaged with the day.
  • Grow some of your own herbs, salad greens or sprouts and relish the pleasure in eating something from your own garden.
  • Make your own bread and concentrate on the process of kneading the dough.

Where so often convenience allows us to not even think about the process of making coffee or washing dishes, we can instead take that moment and use it to slow down. Convenience gets us a lot of things, but rarely does it help us slow down. Usually it’s the opposite. We feel compelled to “do something useful” with the time we’ve saved.

But what if that “something useful” is actually taking the time to experience the task at hand? What if your “something useful” is to stop while your tea brews, take some deep breathes, stretch, say a prayer, write down one thing you’re grateful for, or simply soak up the sight and smell of your tea?

What if the case against convenience is that it’s stealing more from us than it provides?

 

Is there one modern convenience you don’t think you could live without? I challenge you to try – just once – to do that task by hand, and let us know your thoughts. 

(On a related note, we still haven’t bought any coffee pods.)

Two Books You Should Know About

"Living well doesn't mean NOT doing hard things." @tsh #notesfromabluebike

So many of us yearn for a simpler way of life, a slower way to live, and an altogether calmer existence. I know I do. Many of you do, My friends do too.

But each of us has obstacles. There are a million different roadblocks that will stand in our way during this journey towards simple living (whatever that looks like for you).

It may be:

  • excess clutter
  • financial difficulties
  • family who doesn’t understand or respect your choices
  • young children
  • long work hours
  • an over-filled calendar

In fact, it could easily be a combination of all those obstacles over the course of your simple living journey.

I don’t mention this to discourage you. I don’t mention it to make you resentful of the phase of life you are currently in. I mention it because there are ways to overcome these obstacles and move forward – closer to the simple life you crave.  And over the past week, two of my favourite writers have released new books that I think will help significantly.

It depends on your priorities, your place in the simple living journey and your desires in living a simpler or slower life, but one or both of these books could hold the key to unlocking your next move.

Clutter-Free with Kids

Clutter-Free With Kids

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist released ‘Clutter-Free with Kids‘ during the week. As someone with a 3- and 4-year-old, this book is a goldmine of practical advice on how to minimise the child-related clutter, as well as introducing the idea of simple living to your family. I know many of you are parents, and I know many parents struggle with this, which is why I highly recommend you check out Clutter-Free With Kids on Amazon.

Notes from a Blue Bike

Notes from a Blue Bike

I was lucky enough to meet Tsh Oxenreider (of The Art of Simple) last year, and she is just as lovely as you’d expect. This week sees the release of ‘Notes from a Blue Bike – The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World’ and having had the privilege of reading an advanced copy, I am blown away.

Tsh gets it. She and her family have battled the ups and downs of crafting a simpler, slower life and in spite of the obstacles, have largely succeeded. This is a family who makes intentional decisions every single day about the food they eat, the education they provide, the work they do, the entertainment they choose and the travel they embark on. And they get it.

As I mentioned in my last post, travel is high on our list of family priorities, so it’s understandable that this passage has stayed with me over the past few days:

“People are willing to be brave when they admit their smallness within the enormity of the world, and the best way to understand our smallness is to leave our comfort zones and start exploring, one foot in front of the other. When we go on an adventure, we’d better understand where we truly belong. We want our kids to know that it doesn’t always take an airport gate and a 747 to experience the world. It was big even in our own country. This is why we take road trips.

“Kids are explorers by nature, and travel gives them permission to dive deep into their curiosity and open their eyes in surprise. Why do they eat that? How is there snow in August? Why do I eat what I eat? What makes my home so hot in the summer? I thought summer was hot everywhere.

“Once they’ve traveled, kids have permission to question the how and why of their surroundings, because they’ve tasted and seen that other people live differently. While it may not be the most comfortable way to go through life, it’s the most honest—and this honesty opens the door to making life choices that feel right in your bones.

“As much as our family loves passport stamps, we can find the same answers to our questions about life—Why is it this way? mostly—without leaving our motherland. (But I still recommend stepping outside your national borders at least once.) It doesn’t require a lot of gas in our car or a backpack stuffed with plane tickets. But it does require bravery, and a willingness to let your kids leap onto slippery stones and investigate life up close, with dirty fingernails.”

If you’re really looking to explore the why and how of creating a slower life within a fast-paced world, then I can highly recommend Notes from a Blue Bike. Like, really, really highly.

You can order your copy of ‘Notes from a Blue Bike’ from Amazon today.