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The Slow Family Project

One family's journey to slow down.

Category Archives: This is me.

When I started this blog last year, the intent was to track a lifestyle change. A complete 360 turnaround, a new city, new home, new routine, new friends. New, everything.

Here we are.

We made it. And I cannot believe that in practically a blink of an eye, we are 12 months later.

 

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It looks like its been about a week since I last wrote. At that time, it looks like I was in a bit of a tiff about something I completely forget now. Don’t you love it how time heals all the small stuff?

We’ve just returned from a Family gathering in Seattle. My Brother Graduated with his Doctorate in Naturopathy from Bastyr. An accomplishment 8 years in the making.

Since embarking on this chapter of my life “Chapter Slow”, I really have actually felt a shift in my sensory awareness. Today, as I left the Train as it docked at the Station, the smell of the Pulp Mill in the summer breeze with a slight hint of smoke-filled the air. It just really made me feel relaxed for some reason. So I just took deep breaths and took it all in. Something so everyday, turned extraordinary. So simple. But it calmed me down.

I`ve been tracking a bunch of new writers and really enjoying reading about other families living totally different lifestyles than I could ever imagine. I didn`t have any expectations for myself. I just decided one day that was it. And I threw in the towel and surrendered to needing stuff, money, business. But I am finding myself reading about other Moms who are Homeschooling, bookmarking the blogs with ideas of what to do at home (now that we have NO TV!) and taking stock of all the things that I WILL NOW HAVE TIME TO DO with my kid!

PS

Week 1 of No TV Update:

We cut the cable a week ago. Its been AMAZING. Instead of the cluttered noise in the background, I write. We sit on the couch and connect, we talk! Yes, we have conversation! I know, its sad, you`d think this was normal, but it really is amazing when you start to talk and converse more and you realize how little you did.

No more breakfast with TV. The little one is slowly asking for less of her recorded programs. I can tell she does not miss it. We`ve done a lot more in the last week than we have in the last month without it and its awesome.

Random post today. Journal style.

Happy Monday morning to you all. Hope that your weekend was relaxing and you feel rejuvenated!

We had a lovely dinner with family yesterday evening. My sister-in-law cooks the best Indian food you’ve ever tasted. Joining us were another couple, friends of the family (long story the relations). We were filling them in on our pending move and down size and it sparked them to share with us their hopes to do the same thing! Wow, and I thought we were probably going to be an anomaly, trying to justify everything – why we were giving up our salaries, the stuff, the house. But they are completely planning to do the same thing. It was so enlightening. But it was also interesting because they are where we were at a couple of years ago, still in the state of fear. Fear of giving up, well, let’s just be frank here, Income.

So how do you balance this? I don’t know yet. But what I do know is that it does take a lot of planning to down size – especially when you’ve been living beyond your means normally. Trimming the fat is especially hard. We have all become accustomed to living with more than we need; it just makes it harder when you make a conscious decision to get off of a treadmill.

So how do you afford to live a simpler life if this means you feel to do this you must leave work, the salary and the career status? Well, I suppose it’s not so much about how do I plan to do this, it’s more about how could I afford NOT to do this? And that is just it.

I suppose there are a couple of lessons I can share that I have learned that have helped me get here.

A simple, easy to read and use spreadsheet

For many years, I’ve used a very basic spreadsheet to track bi-weekly expenses. I can forecast for months in advance. It’s strange – I guess this just came second nature to me because of the nature of what I do. But its been enlightening to find out that most people do not cash flow or predict more than a month or two at a time.

This helps you with peace of mind, especially when you are planning a way out. If you have a reasonable prediction of incoming and for a reasonable amount of time into the future, you are able to predict everything.

I don’t have a template I can direct you to, but if you are interested and running Excel, I can send you the one I use.

Pre-paid my bills

The thought of dumping money onto my electricity bill in excess makes me cringe. But at least for one year, I don’t have that bill.

Savings for a year: Priceless

Yes, this may be temporary (one year or so) but at least it will help me transition and by that time, we will have had time to reduce and therefore, prepare for being able to pay monthly bills normally again.

Canceled subscriptions that aren’t aligned with our new life

The day I cancelled cable, I honestly felt a weight lifted.

Savings for a year: $1200.00

We don’t need this in our life anyway.

Delt with the Cell Phones

Called both our cell phone suppliers and down-graded our plans and helped get everything back into check. I discovered they had added a whole crap load of features we never authorized and the list goes on. Basically, they are scammers.

Savings for a year: $1200.00

Meal Planning

We’ve been doing this for a while, but have slipped out recently. It was much easier to do when I was on Maternity Leave and since I will have this time, I will be able to do this more. A great site is Wovenfare. Two SAHM who have done an awesome job. The shopping list is organized by dept. – it’s amazing.

Savings for a year (prediction): $10-15,000

Consciously not over committing

I specifically told the bank NOT to qualify us for more than a certain amount when we go to shop for a new home in the new city. So we might have a smaller place, but it will be smaller to take care of (less time vacuuming and more time for my family) and less out the door every month allowing us to put our income into other places that will benefit in the longer term. I have determined that a good portion of Mortgage Brokers are crooks. Over qualifying (even lying sometimes about income!! Can you believe it) just to make their commission check. Disaster.

~

So there we go. A few little experiences of mine along the journey to live a simpler life. Stepping stones, I suppose. I’m sure there will be many more along the way as I re-jig the budget month to month to allow for this transition.

How do you trim the fat?

A little word about Community.

We had the neighbourhood over last night and I nearly cried when I did my last cheers to the folks we’ve grown to love over the last 4 years living on this street.

I just have to say what Joy you can find in connecting with others by opening up your door, and heart, to those around you. When you slow down and take a deep breath, stop to even just say hello – instead of rushing to and from your garage, in and out of your car, taking time only in passing – how beautiful it is.

The Corporate Ladder still exists

It’s been nearly a decade and a half now, since I started at the bottom of the “career” totem pole. A receptionist at a front desk in a little multi media company. Answering the phone. Making coffee for an asshole. Ordering office supplies. Doing other peoples jobs and them taking credit. I’ve followed in my Mothers, my Aunts, my Grandmothers footsteps. All career women, dating back to the early 30’s (in my grandmothers case). I’ve climbed my own version of the corporate ladder. Yes, there still is a corporate ladder. It’s not just something we talked about in the 80’s. There are still ladders to climb out there, some of them just aren’t as long. There is less of the “lifer” mentality, but we can still climb on, jumping from place to place. I produce film.

Daycare

Since having our first daughter about 2 1/2 years ago, I’ve been back to work for 1 1/2 of those years. She went into daycare at about 1 part time, and until the end of the coming month, will stay in her program. She loves going to “school” and to be perfectly honest, I had dreaded being the parent that put their child in daycare, but she has absolutely blossomed there. She has had the opportunity, in my humble observations, to experience much more “educational” type stimuli than I could have ever imagined, or planned for had I been a stay at home mom. From one day to the next, there is not one activity that is the same. Today, they had a baby chick in the classroom. Tomorrow, they will make lemonade. It’s wonderful. It’s…well, not though, what I had envisioned the formative years of her life to be. But it has been ok.

But there are days. Like today. She clung to me, crying. She wanted me to hold her. Some may say this is a tactic. A plot for sympathy. That she should toughen up and I shouldn’t give in. As the educator nearly rips her off of me crying, to re-assure her and distract her, I leave. For another day. I try, all the way to work, to just listen to the next song on the radio.

Exit strategy

My mom tells me that this is what she went through with us. That this is normal. For some reason I just don’t buy all this. Why does it have to be this way? It feels so unnatural to me. Drop kid off. Pick kid up. Drop kid off, pick kid up. Leave work early just to sneak that extra half hour into the 10-hours per week I see her. And my husband. What about my husband, my best friend. That guy that I see in passing. That I snap up 5 minutes with during that window between when I walk in the door to when I sit down to eat.

So it’s been a long time coming and we have had the opportunity to plan for this for about a year. What will be my exit strategy?

What scares you about changing your life and how do you overcome this?

The Grind

Is this you?: Wake, 5am. Well, not you. Your toddlers. Your heart races. You haven’t packed their lunch, the laundry from the night before is still sitting in the wash bin, probably collecting mildew by now. Your work clothes are sitting in a pile, un-ironed in the laundry room. You yourself don’t have a lunch packed for work. There isn’t gas in the car. It’s 7am. You’ve managed to take a sip. A sip. Of cold coffee. You turn on Sesame Street, make some cereal for the little one, hop in the shower and attempt to make yourself look half decent for work, while the clothes iron warms. Iron. Dress the children. Pack the lunch. Collect the days necessities and you are off. Drop off child. Traffic for an hour. Blackberry buzzing. Ringing. Buzzing. Ringing.

It’s been 4 hours since you woke to this day and you are done.

Despite this, you go full steam ahead into this day.

How did we get here?

The reality is, in today’s economy we must work. And now, not only do we just need to work, we must out-do ourselves to keep our work, there’s competition now. We must work, to survive. Not live. Survive.  And most of the time, life as we know it, has passed us by, in the blink of an eye.

We are over-consuming. We are marching like soldiers to the beat of technology. In peer groups, we find ourselves constantly trying to measure up and in some cases, one-up each other. We are over-researched, sometimes over-calculated. We are hovering over our children like they are porcelain ornaments. We are tired. Some are ashamedly depressed. We are hiding underneath the veil of what seems to be a perfect life: a big house, a couple cars. A big mortgage. A lot of debt. But for what?

The Crash

So last year trying to keep up, in a mountain of debt, marching along (actually light-speed sprint in a hamster wheel), we found ourselves, as a six figure dual-income home, in the midst of a world financial crisis, unable to turn on the heat. Shocking, you think? For us, this was the tipping point. I’m surprised we made it through without a) a divorce, b) a critical illness or heart attack or c) a foreclosure. But we made it. We made it as a team; as a family.


And so this is why.

I am here today. To pause the treadmill mid-run. To change my lifestyle.

It is my hope that others will join me in my quest to change.

I am curious about living a more authentic, back to basics, slower life.

Join me!

How do you find ways to slow down with your family?

The Grind

Is this you?: Wake, 5am. Well, not you. Your toddlers. Your heart races. You haven’t packed their lunch, the laundry from the night before is still sitting in the wash bin, probably collecting mildew by now. Your work clothes are sitting in a pile, un-ironed in the laundry room. You yourself don’t have a lunch packed for work. There isn’t gas in the car. It’s 7am. You’ve managed to take a sip. A sip. Of cold coffee. You turn on Sesame Street, make some cereal for the little one, hop in the shower and attempt to make yourself look half decent for work, while the clothes iron warms. Iron. Dress the children. Pack the lunch. Collect the days necessities and you are off. Drop off child. Traffic for an hour. Blackberry buzzing. Ringing. Buzzing. Ringing.

It’s been 4 hours since you woke to this day and you are done.

Despite this, you go full steam ahead into this day.

How did we get here?

The reality is, in today’s economy we must work. And now, not only do we just need to work, we must out-do ourselves to keep our work, there’s competition now. We must work, to survive. Not live. Survive.  And most of the time, life as we know it, has passed us by, in the blink of an eye.

We are over-consuming. We are marching like soldiers to the beat of technology. In peer groups, we find ourselves constantly trying to measure up and in some cases, one-up each other. We are over-researched, sometimes over-calculated. We are hovering over our children like they are porcelain ornaments. We are tired. Some are ashamedly depressed. We are hiding underneath the veil of what seems to be a perfect life: a big house, a couple cars. A big mortgage. A lot of debt. But for what?

The Crash

So last year trying to keep up, in a mountain of debt, marching along (actually light-speed sprint in a hamster wheel), we found ourselves, as a six figure dual-income home, in the midst of a world financial crisis, unable to turn on the heat. Shocking, you think? For us, this was the tipping point. I’m surprised we made it through without a) a divorce, b) a critical illness or heart attack or c) a foreclosure. But we made it. We made it as a team; as a family.


And so this is why.

I am here today. To pause the treadmill mid-run. To change my family life.

Here is our journey, like an open book.

Join me!

How do you find ways to slow down with your family?