One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Slowing Down to Live

The artsy family in disarray appeals to me. Like the Cassons in Hilary McKay's children's books, I want to live with paint on my face and a happy child making messes all over the house. I want my husband at home with us being creative and earning money at the same time. We should be able to rush off to the zoo or the museum or the mountains without writing an excuse for Geddy to stay out of school for the day. We should be able to embrace each adventure without guilt about the "matters of consequence" we didn't attend to.

But that just isn't right. American houses should be tidy, kids should go to school, parents should work outside of the home, there should be a perfect yard adhering to the neighborhood guidelines, and dinner should always be on the table on time with the dishes done before bed.

So I try to follow what I should do, and I fail.

OK, I can't entirely blame the country or culture in which I live for squashing my dreams. I make my own choices to place my to-do list above my passions that whine away locked inside my heart's cage. But there is something to be said for how difficult it is in this setting—in this particular part of the world—to live and work free from incredible job stress and cultural "noise." And even my favorite book family has parents with a less-than-ideal marriage—they disagree on how loud the noise should be and thus mostly live apart.

But thankfully my childhood had a bit of wild in it and so did my husband's. Even though adulthood requirements still throw us for a loop—we often look at each other and realize with panic that we are the grownups now—we can draw on those memories of childhood in the dirt and the woods and gain courage to live in the moment.

Now more than ever before we want to shut out as much noise as we can because we want our son to grow up without guilt for not living the way "they" say he should live. I want him to know what it's like to spend hours watching clouds float by, to climb trees, to read whatever book he is interested in regardless of the reading level slapped on it, to be responsible and hardworking but not ruled by a time clock or controlled by a paycheck. I don't want him always eating fast food because he believes there is neither time to cook nor joy and pleasure in doing it. I don't want him waiting to travel the world until he is retired. I don't want him believing that happiness is in getting.

It's tough to let go of all the demands life weighs on us because we have to pay the bills. We like living in a house, driving a car. But I'm encouraged by more and more blogs and webpages and books I read that show me other moms, other families, right here in the U.S. of A slowing down and taking time for what really matters and not letting go of their dreams. I see what can be done to live intentionally, and I'm ready! Little by little I'm going to work this year on slowing down, breathing deeply, learning to cook, learning to simplify my home, and seeing what my son can teach me about how to spend our time.

In my quest to slow down I'm finding inspiration from the personal experiences of Tsh Oxenreider and family in her new book Notes From a Blue Bike. She's the founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. (Find out how to get a copy of the book here.) This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, with information about joining found here. 


  1. It's so good to know we are not alone, right!? Love this and can so relate!

  2. Not alone and empowered to make positive changes! Thanks Jennifer!

  3. Amazing thoughts here! I remember spending every weekend in the woods, but it seems as an adult, my family spends every weekend trying to preparing for the next week of work, trying to get things done around the house. We have been working on simplifying our lives for a while, it is not easy. It is hard to do, but you are not alone. I definitely feel like it is a trend, people are realizing they need those connections to nature, and to other people, and not as much of a connection to an electronic device. I look forward to following your journey!

  4. I'd love to know what you are doing to simplify, Heather! Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. I love what you said about seeing what your son can teach you about how to spend your time together. Such a lovely way to learn from our children.

  6. Jessica, yes I hope and pray I can live up to that! As a teacher I saw how children could teach me so much. I want to remember that as my son grows.

  7. Thank-you for your words Annie (and I totally relate to the realisation-I'm-the-grownup moments!!)