Slow Living Project: Reflect Photo Selections

About this time last year, Melanie and I were ironing out the final details of our Slow Living Project / Collaboration, and discussing how we hoped to build a community of friends and photographers that were passionate about sharing the beauty, enjoyment and challenges of slow living. A community that would welcome new people each month who wanted to share their experiences and learn from others. We’ve been overwhelmed and delighted by the community that has blossomed. And now, with coming up to almost a year of nurturing slow living, we wanted to take some to reflect on our journey, and so we chose to focus June’s theme accordingly with word ‘Reflect’ — using the hashtag #slowliving_reflect.

Thank you for sharing your moments of reflection through words and images. We were quite inspired, and, as usual I had a very hard time choosing a selection to share with you, so please visit the hashtag to enjoy all that was contributed this month.

There are always many beautiful photos in the galleries, but I’m especially drawn to ones that have explored the theme creatively or in metaphorical ways. I’m also partial to captions that dig deeper into the theme. With this in mind here are some of my favourites.

Twins: teaching us about reflection and difference

Mama 2 the little ones Slow Living Project Reflect

Photo by @mama_2thelittleones

 

Reflecting nature’s beauty onto paper

Kunstkiekje Slow Living Project Reflect

Photo by @kunstkiekje

 

Reflecting on a year together

Photo by @blowyinthewind

Photo by @blowyinthewind

 

Reflecting on hard work and the ways of nature

Photo by @frakturfolk

Photo by @frakturfolk

 

Reflecting, infusing and preserving nature into cloth

Photo by @petalplum

Photo by @petalplum

 

Reflections on a shining soul

Photo by @rachelthomasjones

Photo by @rachelthomasjones

 

Reflecting light, colour and life

The Happily Ever After Slow Living Project Reflect

Photo by @thehappilyeverafter

 

Reflecting sky, sea and soul

Photo by @ourbeautiful_adventure

Photo by @ourbeautiful_adventure

 

Beautiful photos with inspired captions on reflection

Photo by @jenni_isdancingintherain

Photo by @jenni_isdancingintherain

Photo by @justordinaryfolk

Photo by @justordinaryfolk

Photo by @findingjoyforus

Photo by @findingjoyforus

Photo by @ksenijaisa

Photo by @ksenijaisa

 

Melanie’s selections can be found over on her blog www.geoffreyandgrace.com.

Congratulations to those who were selected for the blog, and thank you very much to everyone who added their special moments to the hashtag gallery. No matter how many entries we see in the gallery each month we are overwhelmed and inspired by how you explore the theme, both through photography and through words.

As with all our monthly themes there’s no reason to stop using the hashtag on your images, you never know who or what it might inspire in someone else. I noticed last month that #slowliving_create is over 4000 photos under the hashtag. And that our generic hashtag #slowliving_ is growing steadily too. Let’s keep the slow living momentum going! Slow and steady, though.

Special Announcement: 

To close out the year, we decided to return to our first theme ‘Explore’ using the hashtag #slowliving_explore. Add the hashtag to your Instagram photos that fit the theme to be part of the gallery and inspire others on their slow living journey. We would love to see how you explore the world and slow living.

This month will be a little different from the usual. Melanie and I will curate a collection of our favourites to share in August on Instagram, our blogs, and on our Pinterest board ‘Slow Living Moments’. But to celebrate our year and to thank everyone for building this beautiful community we will be offering prizes to a few folks who have contributed outstanding photos to the #slowliving_explore collection this month. We have partnered with Magic Organic Apothecary to offer 6 prizes. Each winner will receive a gift box containing their Daily Cleaning Ritual and Aphrodite Facial Oil. MOA makes the most delightful and consciously made organic herbal facial care products. You can read all about them here.

To enter for a chance to win a prize:

  • Add the hashtag #slowliving_explore to your photos (as many photos as you wish)
  • Follow @MagicOrganicApothecary + @geoffreyandgrace + @hippieindisguise on Instagram
  • Competition closes August 19th, so photos submitted after this date will not be considered for prizes
  • Good luck and enjoy! We can’t wait to see what you share.

As a reminder our Pinterest board is a great place to get a quick glance at all the selections we’ve shared so far and to get a good dose of visual inspiration. You can check it out here.

You can find previous month’s selection by searching my blog: “explore” “nurture” “love” “renew” “raise” “bloom and harvest” “create” “gather

Thank you to everyone who shares photos and inspires us to live slowly, wholeheartedly, with gratitude. Best wishes for a beautiful and exploratory month! xo, Danielle

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You might also like my post:

Born Wild: An Interview with Inspiring Mother Morgan Brechler

Dreaming with Little Creative Factory

Interview with a Minimalist: Celia (zero waste city dweller)

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Dried Flowers

10 Ways to Live a Greener, More Sustainable Lifestyle

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Social Media Minimalism: How To Balance Instagram and Family Life

“Life is what happens while you are staring at your smartphone.” – anonymous

Nico Nico Clothing Hippie in disguise Ro and Sen

A few people have asked me variations on the same question. How do I live slowly when I clearly do so much? How do I stay connected with my children, family and friends, when I’m also very connected to social media, in particular Instagram? I can’t answer all at once, but I thought I would start by sharing how I use Instagram and remain connected and present for my family. I will explain below, but first…

Last night I arrived home a little early from work and from picking up the kids, so rather than jump straight into dinner preparations I sat on the couch to read for a few minutes. Sen was already on the floor building with his blocks and Ro was on the couch knitting. I pulled a magazine from the shelf and opened it to a random page. Leaving things to the universe, I like to think that the page I land on will have information or inspiration that I need in that moment. I landed on an article about Japanese Tea Ceremony relating it to the concepts of presence, mindfulness and ichi-go ichi-e. I usually have a strict policy of not putting forward my own understanding of another culture’s practices, of simplifying something very rich by laying it over my life. But I was struck in the moment that this concept applied so well to me and how it’s easy for me to prioritize my family and children over social media. According to the article, ichi-go ichi-e is a concept suggesting that each encounter is unique and will never be recreated. With this view we can bring greater presence, intention and gratitude to each encounter we have. Not having much of something is often an easy way to appreciate it. Not having much time with my children, I appreciate the time I have. Knowing that this moment with Sen quietly humming and building with blocks, Ro knitting and humming her own tune, me reading and Matt playing with a new musical instrument my sister gave us – this perfect moment will never happen again. I’m breathing it in, not breaking the hum by starting a conversation, and just appreciating these few minutes before dinner begins. This is life.

Before I tell you how I keep my social media use in check, a little more about me might help you understand…

My academic background is in the social history and art historical understanding of photography. In this sense I came to parenthood with a very keen and deep sense of the role of photography in history and in human self-development (sense of identity). Matt and I have always taken a cautious and reserved approach to documenting our lives and the children. We didn’t photograph many major events in our life because of this. Sometimes, admittedly, with regret.

As a parent I have been inspired and deeply influenced by the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. Among other things, Payne advocates limited exposure of children to media and screens. I took this approach to heart and have tried my best to maintain a home and dynamic with my children that minimizes time with screens. That being said, my children do watch shows on an iPad, they see me use my iPhone (which is my phone, camera and computer all in one), because screens are a reality of life, like the newspaper at the front door once was. I try my best to limit it, without at the same time raising my children in a bubble that will inevitably burst.

So…my use of Instagram and social media is heavily influence by my academic studies of photography and particularly its impact on human personality and development and by my alignment with simplicity parenting and the importance of minimizing screens and electronic media for children’s healthy development.

Preamble over –> on to Instagram now.

Instagram is the predominant social network in my life. I also have a Twitter account, which is almost exclusively auto-fed information from my Instagram account and my blog. I have yet to learn how to use Twitter effectively. Probably never will. Don’t really care to. I also have a Facebook account, which I’ve used more in the last year to connect with people I know in real life, since my Instagram account grew too large beyond my circle of friends and family to keep up with.

So, a few details about my life and my Instagram account are important to share and set the stage for how I use social media:

+ I work full time outside of the home

+ My Instagram following is too large to keep track of notifications and new content (a blessing in disguise)

What do these two things mean?

First, working full time outside of the home, a minimum of 40 hours a week, plus my commuting time (by bicycle) to get to and from work, means that I have a lot of time away from my children. My time with the children during the work week is very limited, about an hour in the morning, and about 2 hours at night, during which time I have to do all the parenting duties that come with having children, feed, clothe, bath, homework, which leaves usually about 15-20 minutes of unstructured free time. This means my time with them is precious and I have no interest in wasting it away on Instagram or other social media. But working outside the home means I have plenty of time during the work week on my break time to engage in social media.

Second, my Instagram account has grown to such a size that I cannot keep up with the notifications that come in. I could be slightly off on the exact number, but basically Instagram will only provide you with the last 100 notifications related to you (notifications are the likes and comments others have left on your photos or in response to comments you left on other photos). I used to be able to open Instagram once or twice a day and not miss any news in my notifications, I could easily see when someone replied to a comment I left them and then go back to continue the conversation. This was because when I signed in I would have 20-40 notifications. Now that my account is much larger I easily have 100 notifications every hour. If I’ve just posted something new I will have 100 notifications in 5 or 6 minutes. In order to stay on top of the notifications I would have to open Instagram many times an hour not to miss anything. (Perhaps there’s an app out there that tracks expired notifications but I haven’t bothered to look and wouldn’t want it anyway).

My Instagram account grew fairly steadily (except for the two times that Instagram added my name to the Suggested User List). I was able to manage the notifications at first; I would check in three times a day, then four times a day as my following size grew. But after a certain point it was impossible to keep on top of the notifications. For example, when I woke up in the morning there would always be 100 new notifications in my feed, which meant I necessarily missed some news. At first I was little stressed, thinking I could have missed an important message from a friend or that possibly I was rude for not answering someone. But when I stepped back for a moment, I realized there was no reasonable way to control any of this and that my real friends wouldn’t drop out of my life if I missed an Instagram comment. I certainly wasn’t about to wake up during the night to make sure I didn’t miss anything! So, I conceded that I couldn’t stay on top of the news. And then realized that this was actually a freedom.

Freedom.

Freedom to check in on Instagram only when I felt like it. Freedom from the tyranny of notifications (overstatement, I know) and from keeping up with all the new content.

Since this time, I’ve had a much less engaged relationship with Instagram. There are trade-offs for not being on Instagram and constantly liking and commenting on others photos, or replying to comments: I don’t get as many likes on my photos, I lose followers and I don’t get new ones as quickly. But this doesn’t bother me, because the gains are far greater: lack of stress related to keeping up and greater presence during family time. And, my enjoyment, experience, engagement and connection to the Instagram community has not been adversely affected.

So, here is how I use Instagram:

Because I work full time outside the home, I have many hours away from the children each day. I use my break times at work to post to Instagram, to check in on others accounts or to reply to questions. This way I’m not using Instagram when my children are around. When I’m with them I’m either doing parent and household tasks or playing with them. I save Instagramming for breaks at work. I post on the weekends when they are asleep or playing with friends. It’s that simple.

A few other things:

  1. I do not have the notifications turned on. Never have.
  2. I do not worry about missing a post from a friend.
  3. I do not worry about seeing, liking and commenting on all of my friends and others photos coming through my Instagram feed.
  4. I do not scroll through the Instagram feed each day, usually only once a week. Sometimes less often, really.
  5. When I sign into Instagram, I will choose a few friends or accounts to visit and I will catch up on their photos that way.
  6. I do not use my time to reply to and thank people for every comment made on my photos. I try my best to answer questions and particularly thoughtful comments, but I know that I definitely miss some. C’est la vie! That’s life!

Taking Photos.

Photography is a big part of Instagramming, so I thought I’d share how I incorporate photography into my children’s life. First, I use an iPhone for photography, which is great for it being small and much less conspicuous than a conventional DSLR camera – you can take photos in a way children often don’t take notice of.

Clearly, however, even with an iPhone camera, my children are aware of the device and its presence in their lives. I do not photograph my children as much as it may seem. In the late fall and winter I very rarely take photos. If I look at my camera roll now, until very recently I had only taken photos of them 3 times since December. I do a lot of recycling. I pull old photos that I never shared or repost favourites with new captions. During the more temperate seasons in late spring, summer, and early fall I do photograph the children more often, but only when they are unaware or okay with it. My style of photography and the photos I like are un-posed, organic and capture something authentic, in this sense my photography excels when the children aren’t aware that I’m taking pictures. I also make a clear decision not to photograph them every day or to capture all their moments in digital form. I can write more on this in a subsequent post if there is interest.

There you have it: a little social media minimalism for you. You really don’t need to be on social media all the time to stay connected and engaged in a community, you won’t lose real friends or real community. Maybe some fickle people will leave you behind. You don’t need them! As I have experienced, I can still find lots of inspiration by way of images, captions and conversation on Instagram without having to digest it all. I haven’t lost any real friends for it or my sense of being supported by a virtual tribe of like-minded people. You can design your relationship with social media to be what you need and what adds to your life, rather than letting it suck away the time in your life.

What can you do if you are a stay at home parent?

If you are a parent who is home with children many hours a day and would like to scale back the amount of time you spend on social media, try adapting my approach to your situation. Pretend you can only use Instagram during your break time (when the children nap?). Resist the urge to photograph every milestone and day of their life. Just be in the moment and use your grey matter to remember things. Old school style! Or, try to be okay with letting the memory fade. If I’m an example of sorts, you can definitely capture enough photos of your child’s life by taking photos once or twice a week (or less), you don’t need to take photos every single day just because you can.

On the topic of living slowly while also having a busy life, I talked about this in a guest post for Ruth & Ragnar. In the post I talk about slow living and how I incorporate a slow focus into my busy, hustled days, in particular where and when I choose to be busy or choose to be slow and present. Read it here.

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Soho NYC flower child nico nico clothing

Giveaway: $75 for Darling Clementine Shop

Today I have a great giveaway with Darling Clementine Shop over on my Instagram account! Lindsay, owner of Darling Clementine, runs a small online shop curating quality, often organic, small scale children’s and women’s wear brands. She stocks some of my favourites I’ve mentioned before like Ace & Jig, Nico Nico, and Thief & Bandit. Lindsay would like to giveaway a $75 shop credit to one of my Instagram followers!

Ro in Soho NYC Nico Nico Clothing

To enter, visit my Instagram account (rules are explained there too) and look for the photo above, and make sure to:

Contest closes Sunday February 21, 2016 at midnight and is open worldwide. Good luck friends!

Meet Creative Mother: Peta of Sapling

Each creative mother I interview for the blog inspires me in some way, whether it’s how they’ve pursued a dream, crafted a creative life for their family, are living close to nature or are a role model in some other way. Peta Stinson is a lovely business woman I met through Instagram a few years ago, she was always very kind, sincere and open. Who wouldn’t like that?! Despite the fact that my children didn’t fit into any of her clothing I decided to follow her shop on Instagram because I loved how open and honest she was about herself and her business, and she seemed like a good person. I also loved how fearlessly creative and experimental she was.

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Recently, Peta collaborated with actress Jaime King on a collection, including this Be Brave shirt

About a year ago, while her number of followers grew past 20,000 or more (I wasn’t keeping track, so I’m not sure of the number) she decided to unfollow everyone she had in her feed, and just see what would happen. Who would she miss seeing pop up in her feed? Who would stop following her because she had let them go? Who was a fair weather friend and who would stick around? I’m someone who doesn’t bother tracking who follows me or not, it’s information I don’t care to know, so I didn’t notice that Peta had stopped following me. When she mentioned on her Instagram account that she had conducted an Instagram experiment I was intrigued and impressed, I wrote her to say so and that little gesture turned into a dialogue and ongoing rapport. It seems that aside from figuring out who was really interested in her and her line, it actually strengthened some bonds.

Peta continues to intrigue and inspire me, so a few weeks ago I asked if she’d agree to an interview for the blog. Despite her busy days, she gladly agreed. Yay! If you are looking for adorable baby clothing or a businesswoman role model, or just a plain old-fashioned nice person, Peta is someone you’ll want to connect with. Her line, Sapling Child, goes above and beyond in terms of organics, and is pioneering into new areas of sustainable products. She’s one to watch and for very good reason. Without further ado, I present to you: Peta Stinson.

Dear, Peta, please tell me a little bit about yourself. 

I’m a mother of 3, a wife, a designer and an entrepreneur. I’m highly strung, I do too much, I don’t know how to relax, and I love what I do.

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What part of the world do you live in?

At the moment we are super blessed to be able to travel and wander. We are taking the opportunity over the next few years to travel around the world with the kids, at the moment we are in Canada, and enjoying every moment.  

How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

We have 3 kids, all boys, and I swear they are all insane! It’s also AMAZING how different all 3 of them are (like three points on a triangle), although they are all FULL ON – jumping off the beds, climbing up the walls, crashing and banging through life kind of kids – they are all so, SO different.

What are your core family values?

Showing kindness, using manners, helping others, and treading gently. Although, mind you, those values are kind of a rough plan….our babes certainly have a very long way to go. It amazes me that although every day of their lives they are asked: “What do you say…” (when they ask for something), they still don’t always say it! When they do remember these things, I definitely do a happy dance in my head (and say to myself “yeah we got this parenting thing NAILED”).

How do you spend most of your days?

The mornings are pretty much always the same, now that all the boys are at school. I get woken up by my 5 year old, way too early, who still climbs into my bed and covers my face with kisses (I’m trying to enjoy these moments as I know they won’t last forever, but 4 am? Seriously?). We get up, get breakfast organised, wake up the big boys and get them off to school.  

Then it’s a day of work, emails, design, more emails, a bit of pretending that I know what I’m doing, a bit of doing stuff that I have no idea how to do (PR, advertising, at the moment designing packaging, measuring samples), and then before I know it it’s school pick up time.  

We’re lucky enough that we live only a short walk from school, and it’s so lovely all walking home together.  

What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Sunday morning pancake breakfasts have got to be my fave. We sleep in, make pancakes and sit around the table together eating, giggling (mostly), and planning out our lazy Sunday.

What are you passionate about?

Chocolate? Can I say chocolate?  Hmmmm….

What are some words you live by?

“Breathe it all in. Love it all out.”

Can you tell me a bit about Sapling Child?

Sapling is an organic baby wear company. We use organic cotton, and GOTS certified water based and vegetable based dyes. More than that though, we are a company trying to do what we can to improve the manufacturing industry as a whole, to provide the environmentally conscious alternatives that our community wants, and to show that having corporate ethics doesn’t mean that design has to take a back seat.

We are also fair trade, we pay our workers well above industry standard, we think carefully about our impact on the environment at every step of the manufacturing process. We have an orphanage in India that we also support, and our community contributes to the running, upkeep and items that the orphanage needs when they purchase our clothing.

How would you describe the ethos of Sapling Child in a few words?

Ethically Made.  Exclusively Designed.

Why did you decide to start a business?

We were living in Fiji at the time for my partner’s work. My spouse visa was quite restrictive and it meant I was unable to work. I was at home with the kids, I was restless, bored and I wanted to do something. It wasn’t until I had my third child, Oliver, that I knew what it was I wanted to do.

Oliver had meningitis as a newborn. We almost lost him and he spent many weeks in NICU after we were medivaced back to Australia. At the time, there were limited organic baby clothing choices. The organic clothes that I could find had been dyed with toxic bleaches and dyes. When babies are so sick their skin is so thin and their lungs are so delicate, it was important to me to find something that was truly ALL organic. When I was unable to find anything, that led me to start Sapling.

Do have any projects or collaborations coming up?

YES! We have some super exciting collaborations coming up, but I can’t tell you what they are or who they’re with!!! It’s KILLING me!

Did you life goals and career aspirations change once you had a child?

Definitely. Flexibility wasn’t important to me before kids. Now it’s the most important factor for me in career choice.  Having the flexibility to walk the kids to school, and to pick them up. Having the flexibility to stay at home if one of them is sick. Having the flexibility to take time off when I need it is the most incredible thing.

What are your dreams for your professional work?

I have so many. I’d like to expand beyond babies….we are also researching ways to make diapers and wipes more environmentally friendly.  

What are your dreams for your family?

Unrealistically, for my littles to stay little forever. Realistically, it’s all about happiness.

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Thank you Peta! Friends and readers you can find Peta’s line Sapling Child online here, and on Instagram @saplingchild and Peta’s personal account @petastinson.

This interview is part of my Creative Mother series, find the rest here.

You might also like my post:

image   Creative Mother Alana of Tafari Designs

image   Interview with a Minimalist: Brian of Less Means More

image   Punjammies: Made from Hope, Worn for Comfort

Want to find me in other places?

 

Slow Living Selections: Bloom and Harvest

Another month of the Slow Living Project, and another set of inspiring images has been collected — this time under the hashtag #slowliving_bloomandharvest. This past month, Melanie and I wanted to focus our slow living on the season’s changes: the harvest in the northern hemisphere and the blooms of spring in the southern hemisphere. Thank you for sharing your moments of beauty, contemplation, stillness, and connection. We were very inspired, and had a hard time choosing a small selection to share with you, so please visit the hashtag to enjoy all that was offered this month.

What I was most inspired by were the surprises in the gallery, those of you who cleverly combined blooms and harvest: reflecting on the dying bloom, harvesting flowers to create blooms in a new context, capturing the bloom of the harvest, and thinking about bloom in a broader sense: the blooming child, the blooming mind. I curated my selections for the month around notions of play, contemplation and exchange between bloom and harvest.

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Geraldine @devine_tribe

Melanie’s selections can be found over on her blog www.geoffreyandgrace.com.

Thank you to everyone who participated this month, please join us in November as we explore the theme ‘raise’ in the context of slow living. Raise can be played with and interpreted broadly. As a parent ‘raise’ strikes a particular meaning for me, as I try to guide my children through early life. But raise can also mean to grow, to increase, to create, to give voice to, to bring to maturity, to give rise to, to awaken. Whatever it connotes for you, we’re excited to see how you are inspired to capture ‘raise’. Please share your images with the hashtag #slowliving_raise so others can be inspired.

Finally, I wanted to give an extra special thank you to Kate from A Playful Day who interviewed Melanie and I for her “15 Minutes With…” series — check it out here.

 

You can see other month’s themes and selections ‘create’ here, ‘explore’ here, ‘bloom and harvest’ here, ‘raise’ here,‘renew’ here, ‘love’ here.

Our Pinterest board ‘Slow Living Moments’ includes all photo selections from the project visit it here.

Thank you to everyone who shares photos and inspires us to live slowly, wholeheartedly, with gratitude. Best wishes and happy new year! xo, Danielle

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You might also like my post:

Social Media Minimalism: How to Balance Family Life and Instagram

How to Get Started with Minimalism: Assess your Personality

Talking about Minimalism and Sustainability with Robin Kay

How to Do Minimalism with Children

Want to find me in other places?

Slow Living Project: Explore

What an incredible first month for the Slow Living Project. Thank you to everyone who contributed photos to the #slowliving_explore hashtag. Melanie and I have been positively overwhelmed by your interest and excitement for the project and for living a slower, more intentional lifestyle, and hugely inspired by your photographs and the moments you captured.

At our last check, there were over 850 photos under the hashtag. We never expected this level of participation a few weeks ago when we first shared the idea with you. Needless to say, it was quite a task (with lots of enjoyment) to look through the photos. We reviewed each and everyone one, and came up with about 70 photos we absolutely loved. We eliminated a few based on the fact that some were too similar (family on the beach, person on a rock), because we wanted to share the greatest variety of moments. Please know that our selections are only a sample of the beauty and inspiration to be found when you explore the hashtag. We applaud everyone’s contributions!

Ultimately, I chose my favourites based on how well the image captured the theme of ‘explore’ but in a slow living way, where the subjects were living in the moment, connected to the earth in spirit or literally with their bare hands, feet and skin. Exploring in both a mental and physical sense. If you don’t see your photograph here, please continue to participate, we hope to find new and inspiring photos and photographers each month.

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Rida @ridasj

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Sharlene @warnjai

Once again, thank you to everyone who participated and congratulations to those who were selected for my post and Melanie’s. Thank you to the friends, bloggers, shops and others who shared this project with their friends and family, we really appreciate the support and hope that this community will grow each month.

The theme for September is CREATE, using the hashtag #slowliving_create. We hope you will find interesting ways to capture creativity and creation in the everyday. Slow down and notice those moments, create them and share them. Please join us by adding the hashtag #slowliving_create to your photos that fit the theme. At the end of the month, Melanie and I will select our favourites to share on Instagram and on our blogs. We can’t wait to see what you create!

To find out more about the project see my post Slow Living Project and Melanie’s post Join In With Your Slow Living Moments.

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Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

 

Inspiring Mother Jo

Today I’m excited to share an interview with Jo, who writes the most delicious recipes over on her blog Nurturing Kitchen. I very rarely share recipes or post food photos here or on my Instagram account, not because I don’t love to prepare meals, but because my food photos are terrible (I blame my iPhone and the dingy yellow lighting in our home and not my lack of skill…ahem).

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Our food choices and what we eat are important. They speak to our values in terms of health, tradition and the environment. I have wanted to give food a bigger place on this blog, but my photography has been holding me back. However, in the interest of sharing healthy, plant-based recipes, I decided to approach Jo about contributing a recipe, since her food is delicious, healthy and beautiful. As we got to chatting over email, Jo shared bits and pieces of her parenting and her way of life and I loved everything I heard, I knew that I wanted to share more than just a recipe from this lovely inspiring mother, so I asked her a few more questions and pulled together this interview. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from Jo and her approach to nurturing her girls through nature and wholesome food.

As a side note: If anyone is interested in contributing a recipe to the blog, I would be happy to hear from you, please send me an email. My only stipulation is that the recipe is vegan and that you have one photo (or more) to go with it. And all the credit goes to you! Email me at hippieindisguise1@gmail.com

What part of the world do you live in?

We live in the south-east of England, on the outskirts of the lovely city of Norwich in our little patch of Eden surrounded by woods and meadows. We are just a short drive away from the city, but it feels like we are tucked away in the countryside where our home lies. I’m proud to say I have lived in this sleepy village my whole life, having travelled a lot I always enjoy coming ‘home’ to this place of ours.

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How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

I have two girls, Fern who is 2 and a half and Cerys who is 3 months. Fern is a nurturer through and through. She is always caring for things, from her ‘babies’ to bugs, flowers and nature treasures. She naturally holds, kisses and touches every living thing with such care and love. She likes to cook with me and loves her food! She’s always pretending to make something. ‘Pancakes mama?’ ‘Would you like tea?’. She loves being outdoors and getting her hands dirty too, always helping me in the garden and caring for her own patch of earth. Recently she has gotten more and more into drawing and painting. She is always creating and caring with her hands. She adores her little sister who is the most easy-going baby I’ve ever known. It is as if she has always been here with us, and she accepts all of the craziness of our busy household with the most charming of smiles.

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What are your core family values?

Giving gratitude is something I practice daily and it has helped me through some darker times in my life. Ending each day with an appreciation for the seemingly insignificant things which have brightened our day brings me an inner peace which I like to share with others and is a practice I personally value greatly. We value nature-time as our greatest gift and teacher as a family, so showing our appreciation to mother nature is something we do as often as possible, through our daily actions and adventures we take. I would say that our outdoor surroundings define a lot about ourselves, from the way we socialise, the way we get our food and the way we storytell. Having respect for nature is something we show daily through caring for our plants, visiting our neighbouring woods and rivers and giving gratitude to our food, the sun and the rain. Over all things, though, is to love. To do all things with great love and have enough love for yourself that you can spread it out into the world. Self love is something I wish to show my girls, in the hope that they grow up with confidence and acceptance of themselves just as they are.

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How do you spend most of your days?

We wake up naturally as a family. We are lucky in that both myself and my partner work for ourselves and don’t need to rush out of the door in the morning, so breakfast is always leisurely and eaten together. I like to get up early and practice some yoga before the others wake, if possible, then I make breakfast when Fern wakes up so she can help me make smoothies and porridge, or whip up some pancakes. After Geoff heads out to work, we usually head out into our garden to tend to the crops and take our play outside, from painting to den making or caring for our babies. We pick what crops we have ready to harvest to make up our lunch, which usually consists of a pot of cooked grains dressed with lots of fresh herbs and lemon, salad leaves, avocados and either eggs or cooked pulses. After lunch we often head out to see friends or go to our local library and park. After a hearty family supper when daddy is home I often catch up on cake commissions or simply relax with Geoff.  If Geoff is off work, then we will spend the whole day exploring new places, at the beach or the river, picnicking and camping out during the summer. We have just bought an old caravan to make traveling even more accessible to us as a family of four, so are planning lots of UK adventures before the end of this year.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Explore. And eat. So exploring new places and discovering new foods is our perfect day. Whenever we have the chance we will set off somewhere new, hike on an unbeaten path and lay out a picnic feast.We are drawn to beaches and Geoff loves to surf so we often head out in search of waves and I play with the girls in the sand while their daddy catches the waves. A day spent walking, foraging, picnicking and surfing would be perfect.

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What are you passionate about?

Being a conscious consumer and knowing where our food comes from is something I am so passionate about. We live in a society where we have so much choice yet spend less and less time in the kitchen and connecting with where our food comes from. I am all about shopping locally, eating in season and as much organic as possible, choosing small-scale producers over factory farmed goods when funds allow. To make this more feasible on a tight budget, we passionately grow as much of our food as possible, from fruit trees we’ve planted, cut-and-come-again greens, foraging and sprouting pulses on our windowsill. We also trade a lot of food with like-minded neighbours and it’s amazing how much you can receive for free by growing simple plants! I am passionate about sharing my love for plant-based foods for the planet and for our health with others, as I believe that eating less animal-based foods and more plant-based is the key for healing the planet and our bodies.

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What inspires you?

Cliche I know but nature truly inspires me everyday. It inspires me in the kitchen, in our play and in our daily rituals. As a plant-based foodie, I am always looking to what is abundant in nature around us to inspire our meals, like in the first days of spring when the wild-garlic first appears, I’m taking our morning walks down to the river, taking photos with the girls in the dewy woods and gathering leaves before making pesto and bread and soup when we get home. When we are out on family adventures I’m always on the look out for wild edibles. Cherry trees in summer, seaweeds at the beach, chestnuts in autumn and making rituals to induce warmth and nourishment in winter.

Nature inspires so much of what I do, but my biggest teacher has to be my children, They are my constant reminders to live in the moment, explore, examine everything and believe in magic. Living under the guidance of mother nature and my girls has brought me to the happiest and most content time of my life.

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Thank you, Jo, for sharing a piece of your life. Friends, readers, you can find Jo on Instagram @nurturingkitchen and on her fabulous website www.nurturingkitchen.co.uk  

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Ottawa Meetup

I have come into contact with so many kind, creative and inspirational people through the Instagram community. People from all over Canada, North America, and the world. I know that some of you are local to me, and so the time has come, I want to meet you in person!

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Please join Ro, Sen and me for an informal picnic and play at Vincent Massey park. This is large park, with grassy fields, trees and boulders to climb, clean bathrooms, fountains, barbecues and picnic tables. Situated near the river and some nice lookouts (no safe access to play in the river though). The idea is to meet in a casual way and connect in the real world, let our kids play, and have some good conversation. Photo taking is totally optional!

When: Thursday July 9th, 2015, from 10:30 am-1 pm, easy come, easy go

Where: Vincent Massey Park, see map here, we will be set up around S2 area, more information about the park is here

Who: Everyone is welcome

I would recommend each person bring water and snacks for themselves and their children. Please feel welcome, but not obliged, to bring something to share. There are picnic tables where potluck items can be placed. Lots of parking is available and close to where we will be set up. Parking rates are $1 for 30 minutes up to daily maximum of $7.25.

Please send me an email or leave a comment below if you are interested in meeting up. While my inclination is to keep things minimal, simple food and free play, it may also be nice to have something special to mark the event. Please be in touch!

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Connected Living with Inspiring Mother Lauren

Uncharacteristically, Ro and Sen were not cooperating with each other this morning. We were downtown in the busy market and each decision point seemed to present an impasse between them: where to stop for a snack, what game to play in the courtyard, who got to carry the shopping basket. I knew this probably had something to do with the fact that our Saturdays start out anything but slow. The day starts earlier than a school day, with us rising early and hustling out the door to walk Ro downtown to her ballet class. The bustle of the Saturday market probably doesn’t contribute to a calm and cooperative demeanour either.

After a post-ballet snack in the courtyard, which involved no snacking by Sen, and Ro and I awkwardly playing Senny Says while eating our sandwiches, we walked over to the Ottawa river pathway for a splash in the water. Like a small miracle, as the children started forward on the path, their outlook on the day and toward each other became cooperative and positive. The sight of the river, the small changes in foliage and flowering bushes since last week, drew them in and all conflict disappeared. This didn’t really surprise me, I’ve seen this ‘nature effect’ many times. It’s just one of the reasons why I spend as much time as possible in natural settings. Our moods shift, curiosity peaks, and conflicts dissolve.

I also think time spent in nature is important because with an understanding and connection with the natural world, Ro and Sen will develop a strong love for and bond with it. Yes, humans are nature, we are part of nature, but many of us also live very disconnected from the natural world. When I see other parents placing a priority on connectedness with nature it makes me happy, curious and filled with hope. I like to learn from and take inspiration from the ways they connect. I am also encouraged to see what seems to be a growing number of parents doing this, which I think is an enormously significant shift.

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Lauren is a mother I follow on Instagram, who has inspired me in a number of ways. First, there’s her positive, open and kind attitude. Sometimes I feel there aren’t enough people who share her sensibility. I like to think there really isn’t such a thing as being too kind. Second, Lauren runs her own small business making herbal goods for her apothecary, Moon Rise Creek. I’m always a fan of women who have been able to turn their passions into their day job. And, finally, most of all, I love that Lauren places a big emphasis on time in the great outdoors.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading her interview and hearing about her way of life.

What part of the world do you live in?

My family and I live in Southern Nevada, on the outskirts of Northern Las Vegas. I remember the day, while living in Northern California, that my husband received a call with a job offer to move here. My first reaction was to giggle a bit, brush it off and put it out of my mind entirely. Being a woman who thrives off of Mother Earth, the trees, crashing ocean waves, grey overcast days, and rich foliage, I honestly couldn’t imagine what life would look like in the vast high desert of Nevada. After a lot of discussion as to what we truly envisioned for our future as a family, we chose to take this new, unchartered path, and see where the wind took us. As my favorite author Annie Dillard once wrote, “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” Needless to say, that is exactly what we are doing, finding the beauty in entirely new surroundings and embracing the differences Mother Earth has to offer.

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How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

I have two children, Isaac who is 2 1/2, and Noah who I still carry in my blooming belly, who is now 35 weeks along. Noah is a little twisting, twirling, kicking bundle of pure bliss, and we cannot wait to welcome him earth side. Isaac is pure wild fire. He feels ever so deeply, brings complete utter joy to all seemingly mundane moments, has the biggest heart you could imagine, is fierce and determined, has a laugh that is absolutely contagious and is truly our little wild and free boy. He comes alive exploring in nature, climbing as well as jumping on and off everything, loves animals, creating art, shouting at the top of his lungs, dancing in circles, reading bed time stories, and just recently has become a huge fan of camping. He honestly never stops, he is such a “go go go” kinda kid, a mover and a shaker, makin’ sure to always keep me on my toes. I may be completely exhausted at the end of every single day, without fail, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way, he is an energy vortex in the most beautiful way you could imagine.

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What are your core family values?

To Love. Honestly, that is our core family value in all aspects of life. Of course it roots itself into so many dimensions, but that is the best way to sum it all up. Love thyself, love one another, spread love, speak with love, act with love, treat those around you and the earth with love, love the hard, the ugly, the difficult and challenging, the painful, the blissful, the ups and downs, ins and outs. I guess we just feel that living a life with optimism and compassion really gets you quite far, and though it may not always be flowers, rainbows and butterflies, there truly is something special and beautiful about it all. I guess we just try to walk through life with hearts and arms wide open, embracing each moment for what it has to offer, as well as giving what, when and where we can.

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How do you spend most of your days?

During the week when my husband Christopher is at work, we spend a lot of time outdoors, exploring what Mother Earth has to offer us, and just taking in the raw beauty that encompasses the high desert. I also run my own business out of our home, Moonrise Creek. It is an herbal apothecary, botanical skin care, aromatherapy line of handcrafted goods made of plant magic and earthly wisdom. This takes up a small portion of our days as well, and Isaac is often right by my side while creating these goods, making up his own witchy creations. When we get papa all to ourselves on the weekend we like to cozy up and watch movies, go camping and discover what the surrounding areas have to offer, cook together and just get in some solid family time with one another.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

This is a hard question, because it really does change with the seasons, as Isaac grows and with where we are both location-wise and in life. Right now, I would say our absolute favorite thing to do as a family is to go camping. It allows us to connect with our roots, so to say, what really makes us happy. We all love being outdoors, making food over a fire, finding new places to explore, looking up at the stars, and essentially just breaking space from a more suburban life. I guess it reminds us of what we are working towards as a family, living where we do, to save up for our dream of a little homestead where we live a more sustainable life, cultivate the earth, raise livestock and ultimately live a life more connected to the earth right out our front door.

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What are you passionate about?

I am a very passionate individual, the things that fuel my fire a d bring me joy are many. Yet, I would have to say I am most passionate about the earth, and creating a life of stories worth sharing. I try to live an intentional life, one where I feel pride in the decisions I make, and proud of the way it naturally unfolds. In no way does this mean my path winds and turns in a way I have planned, and/or expected, but I try my hardest to make the best of it. I guess you could say these passions fuel that, they drive and steer me in a way that makes me feel whole, like a better person, and proud of the way my family and community see me.

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What inspires you?

Mother Earth. Her undeniable beauty. The way she teaches me so much about myself, my surroundings, my family, my community, emotions, love, passion, growth, death, rebirth, change … I could go on and on. The connection I feel to her is in all of me, every inch, in everything around me, and I feel I can truly see that, and feel blessed to be able to tap into that world of natural wonder. I am inspired by her day in and day out. I find solace, serenity, and peace in her grasp…I feel alive, full of wonder and energized in her presence…and it truly brings me great joy to share this with my all of my boys (Papa Chris, Isaac, Baby Noah & our old soul pup Makkah).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThank you Lauren for the inspiration. Readers: you can find Lauren on Instagram @laurenofleaves. Her herbal apothecary Moonrise Creek is online here and on Instagram @moonrisecreek.

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Living Simply, Living Fully with Inspiring Mother Hannah

When I started planning this series of interviews, I knew I wanted to include Hannah. There is nothing overtly heroic about the way Hannah shares her life on Instagram, and I really like that. Hannah is a humble woman, who has much wisdom and beautify to share, but does not take herself too seriously. Similar to Josie, Hannah’s effect is cumulative.

Hannah shares pieces of her days at home with her two boys, who she homeschools. I enjoy reading Hannah’s simple reflections and reminders to appreciate the things that are right there in front of us, that are too easy to take for granted. When we can appreciate and truly enjoy what we already have, the way our life is already furnished with beauty, like the scent of lilacs or the greening of grass after a long winter, our lives are full and there is nothing left but to enjoy it. There is no pursuit, there’s just right here, right now. Living simply, Hannah is guiding her boys in the best of ways: showing them how to find pleasure in the everyday and nurturing their creativity by leaving them unencumbered by too many toys. By sharing her life through Instagram she’s inspiring me, and I imagine many others, to look closer to home and closer to the natural world to find those things that ignite our imaginations, that quench our thirst for beauty, that complete us.

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What part of the world do you live in?

We live in the US, in the great big state of Texas, in a tiny cabin by a small country town. My husband and I have done quite a bit of wandering since we married and are probably not settled in for good yet, but this is definitely one of my favorite places we’ve lived. One of the first things we noticed when we were new here was the regular sound of braying from our neighboring donkeys (somehow they always sound like they are being attacked by lions, mournful and desperate) and how much brighter the stars look in this part of the country.

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How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

We started out wanting to have about 12 children, but after having two we decided to take a good long break from all that children-having. Our two sons, Duncan and Phineas, are 5 and 4. Duncan is eternally curious, wanting to understand how life works and always asking me questions about everything. It can be exasperating at times but the truth is that I love and admire his thirst for knowledge. I know it will serve him well, and I’m ready to be impressed by whatever he chooses to do with that smart little brain of his. Phineas is my sweet snuggle bunny. When he’s not snuggling up to his mama he’s a man of action! He loves playing with toy cars and riding his bicycle. He’s often outside doing one of those two things, or interacting with the dogs. Dogs are his favorite. He’s got a great sense of humor and a twinkly sparkle in his eyes.

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What are your core family values?

Our faith is very central in our lives. Whatever decision we make as a family it’s always important to us that our spirits remain strong and nourished. We value honesty and kindness, simplicity and groundedness, and don’t take ourselves too seriously.

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How do you spend most of your days?

I spend almost all my time at home. We are a one car family, so when I say I’m a stay-at-home mom, I mean it in the most literal way! Usually my days consist of homeschooling, cooking, cleaning…you know, all the exciting stuff. I’m always happiest when I’m doing something that connects me to the earth. Whether it’s working in my garden or hanging laundry on the clothesline, especially if I can throw music into the mix somehow. There is almost always music playing around our house!

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Our most  common family activity is going to the park. Another thing we love to do  together (although we don’t get to do it quite as often) is go yard sale-ing or  thrift shopping. A lot of our possessions are second-hand, and it’s a fun way  of beating the system when you don’t have a lot of money. Our house is extra  tiny, though, so I usually have a giant “donation” pile tucked away somewhere so we can keep the clutter at a minimum. Out with the old gently used, in with the new gently used.

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What are you passionate about?

I love beauty. I’m in a constant state of longing to surround myself with beauty. I want to create it in written form, in visual form, in my home, in my yard, and in the sound waves around me. Creating beauty gives me strength and makes me come alive. I also dream of living a life that is in harmony with nature, taking care of my spot on earth and not contributing to pollution. I’ve realized that for our family it’s not an “all in” or “all out” kind of thing, though, but a process of growth – in knowledge and commitment – towards the final goal. If I’m failing in one or more areas to live out my ideals, it doesn’t mean I don’t care or I’ll never be successful. There is always room for growth and improvement, and there is always hope that the growth and improvement will take place if we hold onto our desires.

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What inspires you?

Lots of things! Creative women. People who are dedicated to sustainable living. People who live passionate lives. Pinterest! It stretches my brain and feeds my thirst for loveliness and teaches me ways of living life that I never would have thought of on my own.

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Thank you Hannah for sharing your world. Readers, please find Hannah on Instagram @flutterbyhannah.

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