Wednesday, 6 November 2019
I have noticed over the last few weeks that my life and work patterns have changed. Things are slowing down, settling into a new, gentle structure. I am noticing too, that these changes have affected me in a very positive way and I feel far more content, and much calmer than I have done in a long time.
During my break in the summer, I began to realise that something needed to change. It wasn't just the business side of things, I felt off too; listless and laden with apathy. I remember noticing how the self imposed demands of social media were making me feel (both drained and irritable). Somebody had told me that we need to post content every day to stay in the loop and in people's feeds, and I had adhered to that idea for the longest time, fearing that it would all go wrong if I didn't. However, I continued, somewhat foolishly, to ignore my intuition and plowed on regardless, churning out content and slowly losing the love for what I do, and naturally it wasn't long before this feeling seeped into other corners of my life too.
There wasn't a huge lightbulb moment where I woke up one day and suddenly declared 'something needs to change!'; it was more of a gentle spiritual nudge, of slowly coming to an understanding of what those feelings in the pit of my stomach meant, why I felt so tired and uninspired. And that's when I knew I had to stop and take a break.
I barely went on my social media over the summer, pretty much seven weeks or more elapsed before I shared another post and in that space and time I created for myself, I understood what needed to change.
My life looks very different to what it did four months ago. I am no longer hurling myself through my day with barely a moments pause for breath. I am no longer cramming every waking moment with chores and things to achieve, and I've let social media take a back seat too.
The biggest difference for me now, is choosing to live with more intention.
For me this means using the hours of my day carefully, checking in with how the online world makes me feel, and spending more time outdoors in nature. It's making time each day for some kind of movement whether that's a walk, a jog or some yoga. I also try and meet up with friends each week, knowing that connection is as important to me as my solitude.
My work patterns have changed too, I no longer work like there's no tomorrow, painting and creating at what now seems to have been a frantic pace. I make time to research my subject matter, I enjoy taking photographs, creating mood boards on Pinterest, playing with colour palettes and sketching in my book. My creative pace has slowed right down, meaning that all these things combined makes each moment more mindful, and it feels like ease and contentment has finally become a part of my life.
Another thing I have started to do is to be more mindful, and feel gratitude, every single day. From the simplest moments of noticing the thin silver fingernail of a new moon in a dark indigo sky; a bird singing outside the studio, to picking the last succulent green beans from the garden. Giving thanks and noticing how these simple pleasures make us feel help to ground us and create a little hit of dopamine, the feel good chemical that our brains release. It's also helping me to feel more in tune with the season, I'm really aware of the colours in nature, the feel of the cold wind on my face as I walk around the reservoir and the warmth of my thick woollen jumper.
Choosing to live slowly doesn't mean existing at a snails pace, it means embracing each moment with purpose and intention, and making sure each day encompasses the things that make you feel happy and healthy. It means creating a space where you feel comfortable and safe, whatever that looks like for you. Its cooking hearty, nourishing food using seasonal vegetables - my current favourite thing to do is to make a big pot of soup and warm a baguette in the oven to slather liberally with thick, salty butter. Sitting down to enjoy this with my family is a simple pleasure and one that brings us all together at the table to share stories from our day. And now with the darkness returning, I light candles and put the fairy lights above the fireplace on each evening. These small rituals help me to return to the moment, to notice the seasonal changes and feel cosy and safe.
I'm also going through my things and letting go of stuff that I don't need or use anymore. Creating space in my home is like letting out a big deep sigh of relief, and while I've still a fair bit of sorting to do (and will never be a minimalist), I am aware of the benefits of a decluttered home and will continue to work on this, one small corner and cupboard at a time.
This didn't all happen overnight, and is more about a life change than just a fad. Each day is a blank canvas, to fill with what brings you joy and what feels good and with winter approaching and the days getting shorter I am more conscious than ever of how fast the days can sometimes slip by, making it all the more important to me to make each one really count.