Reflections on a Year of Slow Living Experiments

Reflections on a Year of Slow Living Experiments

Well, my friends, I can hardly believe we are days into the new year—and 2017 is behind us. Part of me wanted to let the date change without putting much energy into reminiscing and thinking about all that the year held for me. But I think that’s simply a combination of knowing it will always be the year I remember losing the girls + feeling excited for a fresh start. I can’t predict what 2018 will hold, of course, and I don’t like to put pressure on new calendar years and new beginnings. In saying that, I can’t deny that I’m ready to leave my sadness behind in 2017, and continue to move forward in general. Because even with all the sadness, I do feel as though I made some big steps forward last year—particularly when it came to my mental health.

It’s been interesting to look back at my first post from 2017 when I announced I was going to complete a year of slow living experiments. People still ask why I decided to start those experiments, and the only answer I can come up with is because I felt as though I genuinely needed to. My anxiety was at about a low-to-medium level, compared to what it would later climb to in March and April. But it was high enough then that I knew I couldn’t handle all the other messaging that filled my feeds before that new year had even begun. You know, the ones about how to be bigger (or skinnier), better, faster, stronger and richer. I couldn’t stand to read those messages, because I had enough to be anxious about. So, I decided to opt out of it all and simply slow down, instead.

I didn’t have a plan, before I got started. Instead, I had a general list of the areas in my life that I might consider slowing down and being more intentional about. Before the beginning of each new month, I checked in with myself + the list and considered which area of my life needed the most attention. And then I wrote out a list of intentions—not hard goals I had to stick to, but intentions for things I wanted in my life—and got started.

Things didn’t always go as planned. As an example, my plan was to complete 12 slow living experiments—one every month—but life (and anxiety and grief) took me down a couple unexpected paths, so I decided to opt out yet again. And that felt better. Since I had created this whole experiment for myself, I was allowed to change the rules, or simply opt out. So, that’s exactly what I did for the month of June after the girls died, and again in September when I decided my only intention was to spend 30 minutes outside each day. That’s what I could handle, so that’s what I did. As a result, I (mostly) completed 10 slow living experiments in 2017—and I would like to share some reflections on them all, in the event that it might help you plan for something similar.

Experiment #1: Slow Mornings

  • wake up naturally
  • make the bed
  • eat breakfast
  • enjoy my coffee
  • read a book (audiobooks work too)

I always knew I was going to start with the slow morning experiment—I just didn’t know it would end up being one of the most important experiments I would do all year. My list of intentions was simple enough. Each day, I woke up naturally (without an alarm clock), turned on an audiobook, made coffee and breakfast, and just relaxed a little bit before diving into work. It was so simple, but it was also such a treat. January was the month I finished the first draft of The Year of Less and it was a complete blur. I holed myself up in an Airbnb in downtown Squamish and was basically in isolation for five weeks, aside from going snowshoeing with Krystal once and having an old friend from high school over once too (and that wasn’t even until after I submitted the book). All I did was work—and enjoy my slow mornings. I’m happy to say this is something I’ve kept up with ever since, including making my bed every day, which was something I didn’t do often before. It feels good to start each day at a slower pace rather than rush into things, and it feels really good to crawl into a fresh-looking bed every night. Oh, and I read 5 books that month, which prompted a year where I read a lot more. :)

Experiment #2: Slow Money

  • set new financial goals for 2017
  • track my spending / make sure it aligns with new goals
  • change my budgeting strategy
  • change my investing strategy
  • analyze / find ways to reduce business expenses
  • bonus: file my taxes (or at least input all the numbers)

The idea behind the slow money experiment wasn’t so much that I would slow my money down (what does that even mean!?), but that I would do one big check-in with my finances overall. The intention was to simply make sure I was happy with how things were going and shift anything that felt like it needed a change. In February, I crossed most of these things off the list! But, as it often goes, things changed as time went on. For starters, I did NOT run a lean business. In 2016, my business expenses added up to exactly $14,000 and I wanted to attempt to cut that in half. Instead, I ended up spending $17,000 in 2017. This wasn’t a surprise, though. I track my business finances (invoices, payments, expenses, etc.) every month in FreshBooks, so I always know how things are adding up. There are only two financial decisions I regret (costing me about $2,300). Otherwise, it was all intentional (vs. impulsive) and I feel good about my final numbers. I’m just aware now that it will likely be impossible to ever spend less than $14,000 on my business. The one money move I’m extremely happy I made was the decision to start investing regularly. In an attempt to adopt an abundance mindset, I setup a weekly automatic deposit into my Wealthsimple account and have kept that going all year! (Though I did decrease the amount in the summer, when I wasn’t earning much.) Nearly one year later, I’ve learned I won’t run out of money—and that was a lesson I really needed.

Experiment #3: Slow Move

  • go through all of my belongings again / only pack what I want to keep
  • sell / donate everything I don’t want to bring with me
  • make a list of things I think I want to buy (like a standing desk)
  • settle into my new home, before actually buying anything
  • reach out and make plans with new friends :)

March was a tough month for me, personally (you might have guessed that if you read this post), but it finished on a high note when I moved to Squamish. At the beginning, I was definitely living small, having no couch or coffee table or desk or basically anything in my living space. But in June, I bought a couch. At the end of the summer, I pieced together a DIY standup desk (for about $450 vs. the $600-$1,200 you’d pay in stores). And I even commissioned my friend Amanda Sandlin to do a custom painting for me. I still don’t have a coffee table, but it’s not a priority right now (saving for my trip to the UK is). It’s taken almost a year but I really do feel at home here—not because of the stuff, but because of the life I’ve built and the friends I’ve made. For the first time in years, I’m not wondering where I can move to next. I just want to be here, and that feels really good.

Experiment #4: Slow Breathing

  • have slow mornings
  • do yoga 10x (short practices are fine)
  • meditate for 7 days in a row
  • listen to audiobooks/podcasts on this subject
  • go floating at the end of the month

At the beginning of April, I sat down to write a post about how I was going to do the slow work experiment next, but I couldn’t finish it. It felt impossible to string words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs about things that didn’t actually matter to me then. All I could think about was news I had received on March 28th that shot my anxiety up higher than I knew it could go. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t write or do any kind of work. Some days, the elephant on my chest was so heavy that I couldn’t even breathe. So, I decided to do the slow breathing experiment instead. Only I didn’t end up crossing much off this list. Instead, I published that post then read all the comments that poured in, and took all of your suggestions to heart—particularly the ones that asked if I’d ever considered talking to someone about this stuff. I had thought about it, but I had never taken action on those thoughts. Your comments helped me get the courage to. A few hours later, with the help of my friend Clare, I crafted an email to a therapist. She called me shortly after, and I started seeing her the very next day. I’ve written about this enough times now, I think, but want to make sure I say it again for anyone who is considering doing the same: therapy is the best investment I’ve ever made. It definitely changed—and saved—my life. And I will always be grateful I started it in April, because things got so much tougher in May.

Experiment #5: Slow Technology

  • do a 30-day social media detox (April 29th – May 28th)
  • figure out the role I want social media to play in my life
  • check / reply to email less often (also experiment with not checking on my phone)
  • figure out the role I want technology to play in my life (phone, computers, TV, etc.)
  • read from a book every day

With how much anxiety I was experiencing, May was the best month for me to take a step back from social media and attempt the slow technology experiment. And I know I’m not the only one who felt like opting out from it altogether this year. But I decided to log off all social media for a month and think about how I could have a better experience with it when I went back—because I didn’t actually want to quit it altogether, I just didn’t want it to always feel so negative. Like any social media detox, it came with the realization that I was addicted to my phone and I knew I wanted to have a healthier relationship with it too. But I ended up quitting early and going back online after Molly died (May 22nd) so I could share the news and also support my family while they shared it too. I don’t regret that decision. Because of the detox, I have kept Twitter off my phone all year, and even deleted the email app from it (until recently because the book launch has required that I be a little more connected). So, I do feel a lot better about how (much less) I use my phone now. I’m not even that great at replying to text messages anymore! The most important lesson I took away from that experiment was that, when it comes to social media (and technology as a whole), you’re allowed to create your own rules on how to use it. In fact, you should. I am continuing to do this, and made another big decision I’ll share with you later this month.

June – No Experiment

After both dogs died (Lexie on May 31st), I decided not to force myself to do a slow living experiment. Instead, I spent the first week of June in Victoria, then flew to Minneapolis to see friends, and drove all the way back from there with a friend + his dog. It was exactly what I needed.

Experiment #6: Slow Food

  • eat mostly* home-cooked meals
  • *eat out max. once/week at restaurants that use locally-sourced ingredients
  • swap out some ingredients for stuff that can be sourced in Squamish or BC
  • switch back to a vegetarian diet
  • eat slowly :)

After dealing with some of my grief, and then coming home from a two-week road trip throughout the US, it was obvious that my next slow living experiment should involve taking care of myself—and I decided to do that through the slow food experiment. Aside from slow mornings, this was the easiest experiment to complete. I loved walking to the farmer’s market every Saturday, buying local produce + eggs, cooking my meals, and only eating out at Fergie’s once a week. It felt really good to be at home, spend time in the kitchen and fuel my body. So, this one was easy. I even had a little fun and shared pictures of my simple kitchen + minimalist pantry. (I will say though that the contents of my pantry has basically quadrupled, as I’ve been cooking and baking more!)

Experiment #7: Slow Consumption!? Sure, let’s go with that. ;)

  • complete a 30-day shopping ban (August 3rd – September 1st)
  • do a small declutter/purge + take inventory of some of my stuff
  • organize my digital life (inbox, blog post drafts folder, files/folders, pictures, etc.)
  • do some values + goal-setting exercises
  • get back into alignment with myself :)

The slow food experiment was a huge success, and taking care of myself in one area of my life helped me realize I had to do it in another. See, grief has this way of causing you to shutdown a little. Maybe not completely. But you start to let things go, including some of the control you had. For the first couple of months after losing the girls, I found I was a little more impulsive in most areas of my life—but specifically with my spending. I wasn’t blowing hundreds of dollars or anything. I simply wasn’t being intentional, and that can eventually add up to a lot of wasted money. So, I decided to do a 30-day shopping ban. Not shopping for a month was easy, though I did make two purchases so I could complete projects I had started: some fabric to repair a blanket, and the supplies to finally make a top for my DIY standup desk. But not shopping for anything I didn’t need was easy, and it helped me stop thinking short-term and start dreaming about what I wanted again. The result: I realized I was done with doing small trips, and wanted to finally save and go on a big trip to the UK in 2018! On top of not shopping, I also decluttered my home + my online life, and got to the beginning of September feeling ready for a fresh start.

September – 30 Days in Nature

For this fresh start, I knew the one thing I needed more than anything else was to spend more time outdoors again. I documented this slow living experiment on my Instagram account.

Experiment #8: Slow Work

  • track how many hours I work every day (and how many per project)
  • set realistic expectations of what I can get done (with timelines)
  • explore other creative outlets (this could be fun – stay tuned!)
  • share how I slowly grew my blog (incl. dollars + blog stats)
  • share plans for what’s next :)

By October, I finally felt like I had gotten back into alignment with myself. The last piece of the puzzle was to find my focus with work again. Unlike April, when I would have tried to force myself to complete the slow work experiment (and really needed to focus on my mental health instead), I actually felt ready—and excited—to do it in October. And it’s not surprising to me that I got to the end feeling like it was another successful experiment, because that’s often what happens when you listen to your body and intuition, and focus on the thing that needs your attention. Anyway, I tracked my hours, and not only figured out how much I was working but also how long it would realistically take me to get projects done (which helped me make some executive decisions about which projects/ideas to let go of). I also started to dream big again and ask myself what I really wanted. I don’t have all the answers, but I know that 2018 will include more in-person, face-to-face time with this community, rather than just hanging out online. I also know I’m going to let go of one social media platform (you might notice I removed it from the top nav bar on the website), and spend more time on the one I enjoy the most. These two things feel really good to me. While my business is going to look different, in terms of how I make my money, all the decisions I’ve made were further examples of how I have grown this blog slowly (and my own way). (And speaking of how I make money, I also shared what it’s like to budget with extremely irregular income—including real numbers! For those who are curious, my total income for 2017 was around $76,000.)

Experiment #9: Slow Travel

  • spend a week in NYC (Nov 3-10)
  • spend a week in Toronto (Nov 11-18)
  • spend a week at home (Nov 1-2, 19-23)
  • spend a week or so in Victoria (Nov 24-Dec 3?)
  • enjoy downtime in every city :)

For November, I almost had no choice but to do the slow travel experiment—because I was gone for most of the month! In that post, I wrote about why I set travel intentions vs. make travel plans. I also wrote about how every good trip makes you appreciate home. <3

Experiment #10: Slow Evenings

  • no work / social media after 7pm
  • after work, write down the next day’s schedule / to-do list
  • no TV / phone after 8pm (and definitely not in bed)
  • read a book every night (probably in the bathtub)
  • create / practice / share my new bedtime routine

Finally, there’s one experiment I haven’t updated you on yet, and that’s the slow evening experiment. Even though I didn’t have a plan for which order I would do all of these experiments in, I had a feeling it would come full circle with this one—and I was right. Unfortunately, it didn’t really go as planned. I had a feeling it might not, because I knew how much work I had to do (and how stressed I was) in December. But I wanted to try it anyway, and can now share some of the results.

I will start by saying that while I had the freedom to work slowly for most of the rest of the year, that didn’t feel like an option in December. With my first book launch just weeks away, there was a lot of work that needed to be done. So the to-do list was long, and any extra task that was added to it seemed to double my anxiety. Then I started hearing that Amazon was going to ship it 5 weeks early and my anxiety doubled (or maybe quadrupled) yet again. In the process of trying to get that mistake corrected, I had a full-blown meltdown that I had to quite literally pick myself up off the floor from. (Note that I laughed at myself too, during this particular meltdown. But they are always eye-opening, aren’t they?)

The biggest problem was that I didn’t sleep much, in the first half of the month. I did have slow evenings, long baths, read from a book, etc. And I could fall asleep easily. But then I would wake up between 3:30-4:30am each morning and that was it—I was just up for the day (thank you, anxiety). I managed to get through the week, but noted that the two big meltdowns I had both happened on Friday mornings—likely because I was completely exhausted and my body was just shutting down by then. After a few conversations about this with close friends, I knew I didn’t want to remember the book launch as something that I hated. I was ok with it being busy, but I also wanted to look back and have some good memories from it. With that, I shifted my strategy and decided to cut back on a lot of commitments (and pressures I’d put on myself) and do things slowly. That had been working for me all year, and I have to believe it will work for me now and in the future.

As for the rest, I had good intentions with the no work after 7pm and no phone/TV after 8pm thing, in the beginning. But that also slipped away, as time passed and life changed. When there are only so many hours in a day, sometimes you can’t log off at 7pm, because it means the work really won’t get done. And when your best friend is going through a tough time, you don’t say, “sorry, I can’t talk after 8pm”. I have learned to create boundaries for myself and my relationships, but that will never be one of them. Now, even though it wasn’t a very successful experiment, the one thing I will consider a success is that I think about this every evening now. Just yesterday, I thought about how it was time to shut down my computer and have a bath and read a book. And the experiment is over. I don’t have to do this, but I now have the habit of at least thinking about it—and awareness is often what prompts change. So, overall, I am glad I at least attempted to do this experiment, and I think it’s one I’ll be considering how to bring forward in my future. Maybe after the book launches, haha.

So, that’s it! My year of slow living experiments is complete. And I hope it’s been obvious to anyone reading this, or anyone who was following along all year, but the goal was never to complete each experiment perfectly or cross anything off a list. It was simply to slow down, check-in with myself and consider which area of my life might need a little more attention. At the end of the day, that’s all I was doing: paying attention to what was causing me any kind of anxiety or stress, and then giving it the time + attention it needed to feel better. If you attempt something similar, I hope you’ll come at it the same way. <3

  • I am so thrilled that you wrote this! I am trying my best to work on my own schedule, and I love having other schedules and routines to mine for inspiration. Having a newborn (who is now almost half a year old!) definitely made going back to work more challenging. But I am still finding ways to bring calm into my classroom. Now…for those slow evenings. If only I could get someone to sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time! Thank you for being a continual source of inspiration!

    • Haha, I think we will both be working on slow evenings for some time, my friend. Good luck trying to bring calm to the classroom, though. That’s a beautiful goal. :)

  • Wow! What a great post. I followed your sloe experiments through the year but reading the full recap kind of shows how awesome it is to set monthly challenges and see how you feel about them. I also like that you change the rules of your experiments when the old ones aren’t working for you. It’s obviously impossible to know how you will feel or react to something until you do it. What next? Are there any of these that you plan to revisit in some way this year?

    • Good question! I think I’ll continue my slow mornings, and try to work on slow evenings, for sure. But my intentions for 2018 are to get off Facebook entirely, read more, and spend more time with this community. I’m also still trying to think of a word for the year, and so far have come up with “nourish”. That feels good. :)

      • Hey Cait! Its Monica writing from Maui :) We try to do this as well at our house. We call it “bookending” the day.

    • Ain’t that the truth, Matt! But I think we’re going to reach a critical mass soon, so to speak, and more and more people will be craving this slower pace.

  • Cait, this is a beautiful write-up. Thank you for sharing all of this!

    When I was sitting down to think about intentions/resolutions for the year a few days ago, I decided I was going to commit to monthly goals, not overall goals for the whole year. Resolutions just didn’t feel right. I really think watching you go through all of these slow living experiments was a big source of inspiration there, so thank you for that. Excited to see what 2018 brings you (and so excited to get your book in a few weeks!!), and hopefully I’ll meet you in person at some point :)

    • I would love that, Erin! And I, too, love the idea of monthly goals. Right now, I’m thinking 2018 might be the year of monthly words. Something to give each one a theme, you know? People do them for entire years, but I’m thinking it should be one month at a time.

  • You are so good, man… always impressing me every time I think you’ve hit the ceiling! :)

    So thankful and excited to have you in my life… gonna be a damn good new year.

  • This is awesome. What strikes me most is that you let yourself make changes to fit what was going on in your life, rather than beating yourself up. Kudos! I have been mindful in 2017, trying to make myself a priority. When I got sick with a nasty virus two weeks before Christmas, I actually cancelled client meetings and took care of myself, without any guilt. I have finally become proactive with my health, and have a new doctor who is actually helping me resolve some issues. 2018 will be the year I take back sleep, and that will hopefully make everything else a lot easier. Looking forward to your blog posts in 2018.

    • I love the idea of taking back sleep, Louise. And I’m so glad you took care of yourself at the end of 2017. I think 2018 will be the year I work with a naturopathic doc.

  • Amazing Cait. I’ve never done resolutions, but I like the idea of experiments. I want to do a diet-detox experiment this year, and your slow evening description is something I’m now seriously considering. I get anxiety in the evenings, and I don’t know why. I need to figure out how to squash that.

    Thanks for writing about these, it gives me so much to contemplate.

    • Hmm, that’s interesting about your anxiety in the evenings. I would be interested in hearing what you discover, as you start to explore that!

  • I’ve been following your experiments all year, and I’m inspired to devise my own. It sounds silly but hearing someone else say it’s ok to change the rules for an experiment of their own devising is like getting permission for me to do the same! So, though I don’t need permission, thank you for writing about this, I think it will be helpful in my own Slow Living exercise.

  • I’ve followed you for a long time. I LOVE your perspective on life. Thank you. I want to see what you know about adrenals and adrenal fatigue. One of the classic symptoms is waking up at ~3:30am and being unable to fall back asleep (super productive) until ~6:30am, when you could get the best sleep of your night if you’re able to stay in bed for a few hours. It would make sense with a book launch, grief and move. It could also help you understand any breakdowns/anxiety, and how to move forward with your body. Sounds like you’re already doing most of the things you’d need to do anyway. Good for you!!

    Following the death of our baby my husband and I realized our adrenals were shot (the hard way). We didn’t find many answers in conventional medicine. We didn’t want to just replace the hormones synthetically while we waited for our adrenals to die. We wanted to nurture and support the organs back to health so that they could do their job. I was not into herbs at the time, but the best answer I could find was nutrition through herbs. We didn’t have much extra money, but I’m intuitive and love research. I found the cheapest way to heal our adrenals was to just order the herbs as powders and put them into capsules myself. I came up with a recipe that helped my body and my husband’s. Id be happy to email it to you if you’d like to play around with it. I don’t sell anything. I only learned herbs so I could help my own family. I’m happy to share what I know with you. You’ve shared a lot with me. If you’re not into herbs, no worries at all. Best of luck!! You add a beautiful depth to my online world.

    • I don’t know a lot, but I do have a new friend who is a holistic nutritionist and has dealt with adrenal fatigue herself—so I might ask her a bit more about it. Thanks for sharing some of your story and experiences with me, Audrey. And I will email you if she thinks that could be an issue for me. <3

  • As we venture into 2018 together as friends on a mental health mission, I will hold the fact that we began therapy in tandem last year together dear to my heart. I am so proud of you for all you accomplished. The Lorde lyric, “never not chasing a million things I want,” from the song Tennis Court makes me think of you every time.

  • Thanks so much for sharing all of this, Cait! I just enjoyed it over my morning tea. Happy New Year to you – it’s going to be a great one! Can’t wait to get my hands on your book :)

  • Congrats on your year of experiments. Even if they didn’t all go perfectly to plan, it’s clear they did have an impact on your day to day life – and that’s awesome. Anxiety is never an easy thing to have to tackle and I just want to say thank you for sharing parts of your journey on the path. Reading other people’s experiences makes me realize that it’s something that a lot of people struggle with. Even though no one else can deal with my anxiety but me, it feels less lonely.

  • I just loved all of this, its so nice to have someone along with you on life’s journey who feels the same, i love the one word for the year, and although we chose this word its not meant to be exactly that, as you say, and we cannot be in control of every event in our life, I think its good to keep reflecting on the word we chose and recapping on it and no matter what, we will succeed because every little move forward no matter how small is a step in the right direction, and i am sure we all will learn from each experience whether for bad or good. I chose *change* as my word for this year, having been in a rut or potential rut that could have got much deeper had i not decided i needed to change many things, like my attitude and what i do, then its a bit like same action = same result. I have decided to be ok with how it all works out each word i previously chose has brought out of me what was needed and that,s got to be good.
    so thank you Cait for sharing and all the very best for this coming new year
    Love Jacqueline

  • A belated Happy New Year to you, Cait! Hope 2018 brings you lots of peace and happiness.

    You wrote “start investing regularly” in your investment change strategy in your Slow Money experiment.
    A wise decision, my friend. I’ve used a Dollar-Cost Averaging conservative approach to investing all my life.
    The best way to achieve great long term results.

  • A great year-end wrap-up post! I loved seeing all the experiments side-by-side in the context of your year. 2017 was also a year of high anxiety for me, and it was interesting to see how my priorities shifted constantly throughout the 12 months as a result.

    I really like how you said that you set intentions, not goals. I’ve always been hugely motivated by goals, but as I remarked the other day to my husband, I often set goals in areas that are easy for me to get excited about (like how many books I want to read) and neglect the things I REALLY should be trying to improve on. So I think I might do that in 2018—set some intentions up for myself so that I can see some growth in those areas that need it the most.

    Thanks for your thoughts, and I wish you all the best in 2018! I’m super excited to read your book :)

  • Cait, this is a lovely summary of what you have achieved through your experiments this year. Although you have had some really tough times, you appear to have come out of 2017 with a positive outlook and ready to accept new challenges. Here’s to a fun, enjoyable and successful 2018!

  • Thanks a lot for yet another very honest post, Cait! I believe most people would benefit from trying some of your experiments. This year, I am going on a two-week, 100% silent meditation retreat, which combines some of the elements from your experiments incl. slow breathing and slow technology – and a lot of time for reflection.

    I hope you’ll get an amazing 2018!

  • Hi Cait, I think it’s good that you don’t pursue your slow experiments so stricly – if they would just put more pressure on you. And you’re right: After your book launch will perhaps be the time to slow down in the evenings. Sometimes we just have to push through tough and – yes, busy! ;-) – phases. But if we remember afterwards to slow down again, perhaps that’s not so bad. It’s just a natural flow. I know you also listen to Nicole Antoinette and your text reminded me of an episode where she and her guest agree that a work life balance isn’t always possible. Sometimes you have a project and lean towards more work, sometimes there is a phase where you focus on other stuff like family, friends, a hobby.
    I also wanted to let you know that you are a great inspiration for me (being a journalist, author, blogger as well). I hope you are proud of yourself of all that you have accomplished so far (and from my standpoint this really is a lot)!
    love, silke

  • Hi Cait! It’s always a pleasure to read your blog! Your year of slow living experiments inspired me to do something similar in 2018, and it’s really conforting to see how small changes can do so much for our mental health. My challenge for january is staying off social media,

  • Hi Cait, this was such a great recap of your year of slow! At the end of last year I realized I needed to start setting some boundaries (after reading several blog posts, one of which was yours) and that I also needed to start listening to my gut more. My husband and I were going to go on several little trips next year but every time I was about to hit the ‘book now’ button I felt an instant rush of anxiety and I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time. I listened to my gut and realized that the reason for my anxiety around the trips wasn’t that I didn’t want to visit those places, because I do, but moreso that I don’t want to visit them this year. The more I listened to my gut the more I realized that I need and want a year of slow myself. Slow is going to be my mantra for 2018 and will be my guiding principal throughout the year. I plan on focusing on some of the areas you’ve talked about too and may or may not blog about it. Thank you for being the inspiration for me to pursue this – I have a feeling that 2018 and my year of slow is going to be exactly what I need.

  • Thank you so much! I’ve been working on slowing things down the last couple of months and I love seeing what you added to your experiements

  • Happy New Year Cait (or is it to late to say that now?)

    What a great post. It’s been really interesting to look back on how your monthly slow experiments have gone. As others have mention it’s made me think of setting monthly intentions/goals. It feels less daunting than looking at the whole year as one. I’m starting with exercise/being more active.

    I collected your book yesterday from my local book store. I’m looking forward to reading it this weekend.

  • Ohhhhh, this post is fantastic! I love seeing your reflections on these things several months after you started them, especially your insight about how you’re not sure how to approach your evening routine yet, but you’re aware of the issues you have. Self-awareness is SO important in making positive changes, and even though my life and daily routine are very different from yours it’s helpful to see your thought processes and why things work or don’t work for you.

    I think there’s about half a dozen of these experiments that I want to try for myself now, too! I’m a moderately busy person (I have a day job, and I’m working on a novel and at the karate dojo 3 nights a week), but I also have depression and mild anxiety, which means that if I don’t have proper, deep downtime (think spending two hours reading a good book versus two hours watching Netflix while scrolling through Instagram on my phone) my mood and productivity go kind of haywire, but at the same time because I’m the only person who sets my writing schedule, if I don’t do “enough” writing I don’t allow myself to relax.

    So I can get stuck in this cycle of “I’m going to sit down at the computer and really write this time” -> “Oh, I’ll just read one more article then I’ll really start” -> “Where has the time gone?” End result: I’ve read a lot of stuff, some of it worthwhile but much of it useless, and gotten no real relaxation OR writing done.

    Anyway, I think the slow mornings, slow technology, and slow evenings would all be super-helpful for me, and I’m really intrigued by the slow food experiment, too. I’m going to go back and re-read your earlier posts on all of those, I think, and find ways to try them out myself. Thank you!

  • Thank you for writing this! I am printing it and keeping it insight every day to help me live a slower life. Thank you!!

  • I really loved reading through this – I’ve been trying out a lot of similar things in my life, including using a radio alarm clock (I can’t afford to wake up naturally right now) instead of my phone, and trying to wake up, give my dog a hug, go make my coffee, and read, before checking my phone. I’m also doing some consuming/shopping/clothing challenges. Namely, do it less! I never really identified all of this as “Slow living” but I really love that term and might adopt it now :)

  • I really like the slow idea. You can do so much better quality work when you go slow and be very thoughtful. I have found this since starting my own business a few years back. So much better to do quality work, everyone remembers you for how good your output or content is and not as much for how fast you did it or did it twice. Also your head can be much more clear if you slow down and just think.
    Nice article!

  • Cait,
    I just found you two weeks ago. I don’t quite know how to put what I want to say into words – if I could figure out a way to give you a huge friend hug, that would be more of what I want to share. Your words, information, stories, examples, pain, happiness…all refreshingly honest. Something that I need from people right now. I will continue to follow you, learn from you, and, hopefully, grow to that refreshingly honest place I am striving for.

    Thank you, Friend.

  • Just discovered you through mindbodygreen. Your insights speak so much to me. I’ve been reading all the archives since 2 days ago. Thank you.

  • Hi :) I love everything you write, but right now I am stunned by that view. One of my slow living goals this year is also slow travel – could you please share the location?

  • Your writing is just gifted. It’s unlike any other blogger. I think the amount of traffic here just reflects that. Whenever I read your entries, I feel engaged and yet uplifted. I never feel like you’re pushing products at me, but rather to share and spread philosophy and serenity -an incredible power. The same relaxed feeling I felt at Wickinninish Inn in Tofino.
    A lot of people TRY to be freelance writers, but I can tell that written expression is your soul, and your blood. This is what you were intended to do, and finding that so early in life is incredible and rewarding.

  • I’m so glad to see that parts of how you approached your life changed in response to new data from your experiments. So many folks come up with an arbitrary goal and STICK TO IT even when it is clearly not working for them. I’m glad you’ve been gentle with yourself in that regard.

    I personally love the idea of slow mornings (I’m not the best sleeper and mornings are not my favorite) and I’ve been working on building the sort of life where I can do that for myself.

  • I love that you are using your fine analytic eye in a more macro way to living. I have learned so much from you about getting the chaos of my financial life in order (or at least I have a good start); I am ready to begin working on the other aspects of my life which are all really related to the money problems…Because of you, this month I saved $2.2K – not only a savings but a reversal of the money haemorrhage that was the usual state of things. I understand now that I was buying things as a stress-relief/entitlement exercise, but really it created a great deal of stress. If I breathe and focus on my yoga practice, the desire to buy does pass. Today I ran an errand downtown (so full of triggers) and came home to hang with my dogs. I experienced such a strong pull to shop and eat out, to treat myself. At the same time I was feeling tempted, I was more aware of the growing anxiety that I now realize is the beginning of the regret of the after-effects of ‘treating myself’ Now I am going to use some of your SLOW methods to address other issues, like self-care that does not involve shopping. I am going to give myself TIME, which always felt like a luxury but now I grant myself as a right. I am going to give myself SPACE, and de-clutter again. I will give myself PEACE by building in quiet times for meditation and yoga practice. I love your posts; they are always inspiring. Again THANK YOU.

  • Hello Cait:

    We just watched you on CTV this morning – congratulations on your book!
    I follow you, off and on, and your experiments and it inspires me to do better in my own life (especially the spending part).
    Reading this blog I had one thought: You’re living as if you’re back in the 1980’s. Awesome! I was there, I should know! And since I am still living a fairly low key life with very little screen time and very conscious choices, I feel like I’m not quite THAT much out of touch.
    Keep up the good work,
    Many thanks,

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