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Our homes are one of the single most important places in our lives. It’s where we relax, eat our meals, enjoy time with friends and family, and spend much of our free time (especially in lockdown). In many cases, the home, and the work we do for our home and our family, is equally overlooked and undervalued as a place of peace, connectivity, and rejuvenation. Equally, the home is an environment that we have at least some control over and can be shaped to reflect the slowness we seek.
There is joy in curling up on the sofa with a good book and a warm cup of tea. So much happiness comes from pulling a loaf of freshly baked bread from the oven. Moments taken to make my own cleaning supplies, clean out the cats’ water bowls, and organise the pantry — generally so mundane — provide a sense of gratitude now. Away from the 50+ hours a week of reading journal articles, researching, and writing papers, there is a new appreciation for the slower and simpler things that must be done to keep a home running.
Without a doubt, I’m a homebody. More than that, I’ve come to value the house as a place of slowness. I felt tremendous guilt in not applying for policy and consulting positions after I finished my post-graduate degree, even though my heart wasn’t in it. Certainly I recognise I am so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to care for the home while working on starting my own business, but there was a lot of doubt and worry until I accepted the delights of the home.
We can select the cleaning products we use, the colour of our duvet, the plants we tend to, the blankets to curl up in, the mugs we drink tea and coffee from, the music we listen to, the food we cook, the people we invite in, where we choose to be and what we do in our spare time. So much goes into the decisions of the home.
So often the things we do around the home are looked down upon. Caring for the home is seen as tedious. People bemoan messes around the house, scoff at the idea of spending evenings in rather than going out, or don’t see the value in keeping their home tidy and organised. But the home provides us with a place to rest, a place to receive nourishment, a place to play board games or binge watch our favourite series, a place to simply be however we desire.
Before spending so much time at home, many of my decisions were made on autopilot, largely without thinking. I’d buy the eco-friendly soap, grab the first blanket I found laying around at home, and make my morning tea or coffee without gratitude for those little moments. I simply went through the motions.
Yet by slowing down, there’s so much the home offers. When making my own cleaning vinegar, I can think about all the herbs and spices I’d like to add and how I’d like to care for my home. Now, I select whatever blanket I want for the moment: when I’m wanting to feel cozy, I grab the red tartan throw; when I’m feeling creative, it’s the autumnal tartan knee throw. I savour the taste of my tea. I think about which herbs I want to add to my tea, and often, when a herb comes to mind, it’s exactly what my body needs.
Turning a house into a home, and keeping it that way, certainly takes conscious effort and hard work, but I can think of no better way to spend my time and energy. That time and energy is returned in the feeling of having a space that has been created to provide what you need. The home is whatever you need it to be, whether it’s filled with treasures you love or kept a relatively blank canvas. The home reminds us of that crucial slowness so necessary to life.
Too often we rush through our lives and home becomes a place to kick off our shoes and flop onto the couch. We forget the solace the home provides. Slow living has taught me a new appreciation for the countertops where I cook, the desk where I write, the carpet where my cats nap as the sun shines in through the windows, the chirps of birds coming from the back yard, the softness of the sheets, the beauty of the home.