I think we can all agree that time seems to speed up around the holidays and New Year. We enter into a frenzied pace - rushing from one party to the next, one store to the other, commitment after commitment. Then, we set resolutions and intentions, making big, bold plans for ourselves as we march our way into the New Year. Usually with little-to-no breathing space to integrate the year behind us.
As successful career women, business owners, mothers, and community leaders, we've become so accustomed to operating at such a high-functioning, high-speed pace that we don't even remember what it's like to slow down:
To enjoy our food- like actually sitting down with a warm meal, and not rushing out the door with a granola bar hanging out of our mouths.
To have a conversation with a friend without the compulsion to check our phone.
To truly be grounded in our bodies rather than living up in our head.
To not need that third cup of coffee in order to push through.
(Are you nodding your head yet? Because this was just me.)
Last summer at our Rising Nature Retreat in Greece, we got a taste of what it’s like to slow everything down. In Greek Island culture, there is a rhythm of life that I like to call “the pace of peace.” Experts would call this a “slow living” lifestyle- a pace of life in which nothing is urgent and there’s no need to control the outcome. Can you even imagine?!
It’s a pace of life in which you eat your meal slowly, actually taste the complexity of flavors in your food, enjoy a long, meaningful conversation with a friend, and relish in the simplicities of each part of your day.
To me this was most clearly demonstrated in Greek Island beach days. The parents lie lazily under the shade of a nearby tree. The kids play with sticks and sand- not an iPad. There are no complicated beach set ups or coolers of processed snacks and drinks. You come when you’re inspired and leave when you’re ready, allowing yourself to truly be present and enjoy the simplicity of the moment and the beauty of nature.
As you can imagine, this pace was not an easy transition for many of the Americans on our retreat, including myself, as the Retreat Leader.
During our first few days in Greece, my type-A, spreadsheet-worshiping, itinerary-planning mind was struggling to truly rest into the moment. It felt like I was learning to meditate all over again. My brain was bouncing all over the place, my body felt fidgety.
We would order a taxi for 11:00 and us Americans would be in the lobby by 10:50 ready to go. The receptionist would laugh to herself because she knew there were only 3 taxis on the whole island and it wouldn’t likely arrive until 11:30.
We would ask for the check, after we shoved our food into our mouths, ready to set off to the next activity. The waiters would look at us in disbelief wondering if we even enjoyed our food. (We were actually asked that on multiple occasions!)
It wasn’t really until Day 3 of the retreat (the magical day 3 where our nervous systems finally recalibrated) when we were finally able to notice how our urgent pace of life was not matching the pace of our environment. If we were to truly learn how the hell these people are so damn happy, healthy, and living to 100 (it’s a thing - check out Blue Zones), we needed to do as the locals do. So we adjusted our expectations, some of us kicking and screaming on the way down (it’s me!), and some of us sliding gracefully into the pace of peace.
It wasn’t until we immersed ourselves in this pace of peace for a whole week, that we could truly understand just how frenzied and frantic our everyday life was.
For me personally, I have always struggled with slowing down. My mom still recalls how I would literally sprint from room to room in our own house just so I could get what I needed faster. The pace hasn’t slowed down since, if anything it’s ramped up. As a passionate service-based business owner, mother of two young children, and chronic overachiever in every aspect of my life, I’m an all or nothing, get-it-done-yesterday kind of gal.
All of this go-go-go, fight or flight, urgent energy that I felt in my day-to-day life served me well in my career & entrepreneurial journey, but it has really challenged me in other aspects of my life.
In motherhood, I believe you make a decision: whether you will move at the speed of your children, or whether you’ll drag your children along at your speed. While on this retreat in Greece, I realized that motherhood was possibly the most important aspect of my life- and I was rushing through all of it. I began to recall other aspects of my life that were meaningful and important to me- and virtually absent in my day to day life. Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. And I knew something had to change.
My business partner and I made a commitment to ourselves on that retreat to integrate more of this slow living culture into our life, and while this commitment was definitely a good start, we knew that a slow living lifestyle is only truly possible when we regularly immerse ourselves in another slow living culture. Societal programming impacts the pace by which we live- and Americans live fast.
However there were several things we did integrate, that truly helped us adopt a slow living lifestyle at home as well as abroad. Here’s what we did.
Slow Living Movement defines slow living as “a mindset whereby you curate a more meaningful and conscious lifestyle that’s in line with what you value most.”
Instead of striving to do more faster, the slow movement focuses on doing less things- the important things- better. Often, that means slowing down and prioritizing more time on the things that matter most to you.
I started asking myself the following questions regularly, and I encourage you to do the same:
The transition into a slow living lifestyle requires a process of unfurling beliefs around what success looks like. It's a recalibration of our nervous systems and what it means to actually rest into the present moment. It's an unlearning of a lifetime of habits and belief systems that have been instilled in us from society and perhaps even from our own families.
And because of this, my business partner and I immerse ourselves in a slow living culture every year.
We will be returning to Europe in June 2024 for The Art of Slow Living Retreat in Portugal, where we will dive deep into the concept of slow living, what this means for each individual, and learn practices & techniques to help our guests bridge the gap between the pace they’re living now and the pace of life they truly desire.
Slow Living has been cemented in my heart and is a driving force in my business, motherhood, partnership, and self-care . And while I have a very long way to go (as I clutch my aforementioned third cup of coffee), I know that continually immersing myself in this way of life is the key to lasting change and living a richer life.