First day back at work? Don’t want to return to your regularly scheduled life after slowing down for Christmas? Fear not! I have a message for us from Carl Honoré, an expert in living slow during the rest of the year:
“Well done, Slow Christmasers, for slowing down the holidays this year! Christmas has been infected by the virus of hurry. We’ve turned it into a festival of stress, over-shopping and over-eating. It should be the opposite — relaxed, simple and slow. I encourage you to think about ways to incorporate slow into your life year-round, and wish you the best of luck in your journey.”
But where to start? Here are a few resources I’m using to slow down my own life:
- In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honoré, HarperOne, 2005
This is a book that has changed the way I think about the world, and my place in it. It’s not preachy or didactic. Carl just shares with the reader his own wake up call: wanting to buy 60 second versions of the classic bedtime stories to speed up reading to his son at bedtime. He tells the stories of people around the world who practice slow food, slow parenting, slow driving, even slow sex, and how they got there. His hilarious TED talk is how I first discovered him, but you can also watch a video of Arianna Huffington talking to Carl about the book, which was picked for the Huffington Post book club’s first book last fall. And if you like the book, you can read Carl’s blog and check out his peeps at SlowPlanet.org for a regular fix.
New American Dream is a great resource for ideas about slowing down your life. They have an alternative gift registry, a My New Dream community of 126,000 people nationwide (think my.barackobama.com for the simple life), and a nifty downloadable wallet buddy to help you spend wisely. They even have a Simplify the Holidays project.
These folks sponsor an annual Take Back Your Time day on October 24. An excerpt from their agenda, which you can endorse: “The U.S. has the longest working hours in the industrial world. The average European puts in nine fewer weeks on the job each year than Americans do. While the Chinese have a mandated three weeks of paid leave, Australians four, and Europeans 4 to 5 weeks, the U.S. has no minimum paid leave law…It is time for the United States to join all other industrial nations in guaranteeing that our nation’s tremendous productivity be used to allow Americans freedom from overwork, stress and burnout.”
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, Penguin, 2007
If food is your entry point, and you haven’t already read this book or its sister one, In Defense of Food, it will probably become your bible. It’s a fascinating romp through the history of agribusiness, and it profiles a few folks who have opted out of industrial food. For a semi-regular fix, you can read Pollan’s excellent (but a bit zealous) contributions in The New York Times. Also, for the community behind the man, check out Slow Food USA, and the Italian mothership, Slow Food.
- Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich, by Duane Elgin, Quill, 1998
This guy was way ahead of his time when he first wrote this book in 1981. It started a movement, which you can check out at The Simple Living Network. I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s at the top of my list for the new year. If you read it, let me know what you think!
- “Fresh Start for a New Year? Let’s begin in the kitchen”, Mark Bittman, New York Times, 1/6/09
Staples I now make that I used to buy for highway robbery prices to pocketbook, health, and environment: dried beans, bread crumbs, broth, salad dressing, pasta. This article is a great place to start. Tip: the freezer is your friend. Put tablespoons of leftover tomato paste in ice trays to freeze, then pop them out and into baggies so you’ll never be without. Put leftover bread of all kinds in a gallon freezer bag: the next time you want bread crumbs, just pop some in the blender and pulse, et voila! I also found a great recipe for homemade wheat pasta that doesn’t require machinery. The best advice I can give is don’t try to do it all at once. Take on one slow food technique a month, and adjust it so it works for you. Extreme slow fooding is about as helpful in the long run as crash dieting.
These are the people that have inspired me. Anything else you’ve found helpful? Please share with us.
And now I must say goodbye. I’ll be thinking of you often throughout the year, dear Slow Christmasers. Be sure to make your requests for next Christmas in the poll to your right. And when things get rough, don’t forget to stop, think, and drop.
Keeping Slow Christmas in my heart,