What is a Slow Life?

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#slowlife

I recently saw this hashtag on Instagram and a photo that embodied it. Since then, I’ve been on a big kick to figure out what it means. Here’s a succinct, beautiful description:

“Most of us today are consumed with speed. We work quickly, play quickly, love quickly – all while multi-tasking. We drive in the fast lane and eat fast food. We text instead of talk, pursue quantity instead of quality, and swallow life whole instead of taking the time to savor it.

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All this speed takes a toll. Our relationships suffer. Our productivity suffers. Our finances suffer. And our health, both mental and physical, suffers.
The antidote is to slow down. Yet with so much speed embedded in our DNA, slowing down can be a real challenge.

The very word has negative connotations. When we think of slow we typically think that someone is dumb, or that we are falling behind.

But in the context of how we live our lives, slow can save us.

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Carl Honoré, whom the Huffington Post calls the godfather of the Slow movement, says, “the central tenet of the slow philosophy is taking the time to do things properly, and thereby enjoy them more.”

So slow isn’t dumb, it’s purposeful. And slow won’t cause you to fall behind, it will allow you to catch up – with your friends, your family, your digestive system.

A slow life restores balance. Some things we do want to do quickly, but not everything. Ride your bike. Take a walk. Hell, stay home.

In a slow life you will pursue mastery in your work. Gaining comprehensive knowledge and expert skill will become more meaningful than mindlessly climbing a ladder.

Likewise, your work will not define who you are. Granted it’s a significant part, but only a part. Your character is more important.

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In a slow life you will gather with your friends and family and laugh, cry, hug, cheer, and simply be there for one another. You will listen as earnestly as you speak. Your relationships will come to mean more to you than your job.

In a slow life you will focus on food. You will value its cultivation and preparation as much as you relish the meal. When you think of food you will automatically think of friendship, rather than associate it with something fast.

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In a slow life you will choose a home and a community that nurtures you and your lifestyle. Quality and comfort will become the touchstone of your physical surroundings.

In a slow life time will become circular, rather than linear. As opposed to a simple unit of measurement, the concept of time will expand for you as anxiety turns to joy.

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A slow life is a simple – though it need not be a spartan – life. The quality of the “things” in your life will come to mean so much more than the quantity. Clutter means chaos.

A slow life is more healthy, more jubilant, and more compassionate. It is less stressful, less taxing, and less harmful.

A slow life is a better life.”

-Duncan Hurd

The central tenet of the slow philosophy is taking the time to do things properly, and thereby enjoy them more. 

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How many Angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Oh Angel! That I never thought I’d paint. I’m not really an angels sort of person– or painter. Talk about stretching my abilities and sensibilities to their full strain.

I saw a piece by Jylian Gustily –and another piece on Instagram that I loved –and had to attempt my own combination. So much fun. Its hard for me to play down bony hands and translucent skin, but I managed.

Here it is in stages. Does anyone love seeing the phases of someone’s painting as much as I do? As I’ve said before, I’m addicted to looking at anything that has a before and after photo.

I’ve included excerpts from a favorite poet–billy collins–to humorously ponder.

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Questions About Angels
BY BILLY COLLINS

“Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

The question is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.”

“Idea Sex”- Mastering the Intersection

I’ve said before how I love James Altucher‘s thought process–even if it is off-grid, cryptic, or unsavory to listen to (his personal stories and insights are painfully hard-earned). He is an Idea Machine. Here’s one that is so super fun I had to write it out:

Making your ideas have sex. “Idea Sex.” Here’s Altucher:

“Stan Weston had an idea that would change the lives of little boys forever. He knew that girls liked to play with dolls. But boys had no dolls to play with. Boys liked guns and action. Dolls + Action == ??He made a doll based on a soldier, gave it a plastic gun, and called it an “action figure”. He named it GI Joe. Stan Weston didn’t come up with the newest newest new thing. All he did was combine the simplest concepts and made something that millions of kids loved. ‘The best way to make a living with your imagination is to develop innovative applications, not imagine completely new concepts.’”

That’s it. Make two lists of what people love. Combine them. Have fun. The best ideas always come from mating. Think of Hollywood. When they pitch an idea its never just “I have this idea”. Its always “It’s “Tarzan” meets “My Dinner With Andre” ”When you says “its like X +Y” then people all lean back and their own elegant imaginations begin to dance with your ideas.

Mating two unlikely bedfellows, for fresh possibilities. Like

Peeping Tom + social platform = Facebook.

Peeping Tom meets Photo Camera App = Snapchat.

 

Here’s some things I’m wanting to innovate new forms or processes for:

acrylic painting

poetry

beatniks

therapy

attachment

writing

portraits

organic building structures

meditation

zumba

teenagers

ageing

playing fiddle

playing mandolin

playing piano

mindfulness

photo books

vacations

homestay students

senior photos

systems for creating

systems for planning

socializing

remodeling

diet

photos

reducing Iphone addiction

gut health

artistic lifestyle

goal setting

getting in the woods

Feel free to apply x+y to these for me, and leave innovations in the comments. I’d love that!

Example: I need someone to shop for a car for me. I have to let this old Beetle go. But you’d have to really know me and care that I got something that makes me happy. In return, I would paint them a picture. Or something else personal. Where is the online business for that? Online friending crossed with meaningful services. 

Here we have a bit of idea sex: how to paint something others like + how to use your photos. This is how I see Ivy Newport’s online class “figurescapes.” She takes printed pictures, makes copies, uses gel medium to adhere, embellishes with drawing, and then paints the pictures. A little unlike “paint by numbers” which was another version of idea sex from the 60’s: maps + paint + numbers= possible okay painting.

Here’s a couple of my paintings. I love seeing process, and so always try to show my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Love as nonviolent activism

“Nonviolent resistance … avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.” MLK

No Clowning Around

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All together now…

Love this piece from Jenny Doh’s website Crescendoh!

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Jenny Doh

Counseling people for the last couple of tumultuous weeks, taking in the turmoil people are feeling, post-election. In particular, jews, people of color, and my gay/lesbian clients. What do we do with all of the anxiety that has been stirred up? Get close to people, listen for ideas, read, write, help…..paint. Your unique voice, your unique angle, your view, from whatever vantage point–each voice carries the unique creative potential to to help this all move forward. Its going to take all of us coming together with those voices , creating real solutions, in solidarity. Let your voice be heard.

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Pensive. 16 x 20 acrylics & charcoal

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”  -Martha Graham

From my office window~get up stand up
From my office window~get up stand up

Seth Godin~ be an artist

Artists express. Art can illuminate. I feel like there is a lot to express and understand right now. Lend your voice. Be an artist. Or, if you apsolutely cannot attempt that, then appreciate artists.

Here’s a favorite quote from Seth Godin. I love how he stretches the definition of artistry…

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“Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist? I don’t think is has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists.

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On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artists who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.

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An artists is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally.

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That’s why Bob Dylan is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on the other side of the glass is merely a marketer. That’s why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artists, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.
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Tom Peters, corporate gadfly and writer, is an artists, even though his readers are businesspeople. He’s an artists because he takes a stand, he takes the work personally, and he doesn’t care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him, and he feels compelled to share it with you because it’s important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.

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Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.

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Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”~SG

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Being Kinder

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-by Copper Wimmin

I’ve decided to be happy. I’ve decided to be glad

I’ve decided to be grateful for all I ever had

I’ve decided to let go of all this pain tonight

I’ve decided t let go of all these demons inside

 

I know…I am blessed

I know…all I ever wanted was this

I know…I don’t need more

I’ve got…what I came for

 

I’ve decided to be open for that little voice inside

Telling me I’m beautiful, it’s okay to be alive

I’ve decided to be kinder to myself when I am sad

I’ve decided to be grateful for all I ever had

Here is the Youtube musical version of this ABSOLUTELY gorgeous song. I’ll tell you how I learned about this song. I am a therapist and was counseling someone who had just recently been bedside, with 8 other women, while a longtime girlfriend layer on the bed dying from cancer. This is the song they sang to their dear, nearly departed friend. I ache thinking of it.

Retreat

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This piece was created over a couple of days, while I retreated to my summer getaway on Vashon Island. Its where I was born. This is the first year, since I had my son, that he did not come with me. I missed him so much–and all the rituals we usually share. Someday, when he’s not committing adolescence, and grown out of teenage hood, we’ll share our beach walks, our trips to the tea shop for reading & Majong, and our beach fires again.

This year, I truly did enjoy painting and breaking for beach walks. Eating minimally, journaling, reading Billy Collins’ poetry and laughing out loud with no one. Reading a whole biography of Annie Liebowitz.  Painting some more. Podcasts. Listening to the soft waves while going to sleep at night. Feeling the passage of time. So bittersweet.

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Who Said This?

“Something whispered,

something that wasn’t even a word.

It was more like a silence

that was understandable.

I was standing

at the edge of the pond.

Nothing living, what we call living,

was in sight.

And yet, the voice entered me,

my body-life,

with so much happiness.

And there was nothing there

but the water, the sky, the grass.”

by Mary Oliver

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