• Limited Edition
  • Help for Mexico in the aftermath of the earthquake

    Here at Slow Living Squad we have a strong link with Mexico. I was born and grew up in Mexico, Pip studied and later moved back there, we had an amazing little Language School, got married. We try to go as much as possible, our daughters love it.

    It is an amazing surrealistic country and I say it in the best possible way, there’s always going on, sounds, smells, colours. With all the problems the country can have like corruption or violence, it’s always the people that makes Mexico a great place, we’ve seen it with the recent earthquakes that hit Oaxaca and other southern states as well as Mexico City. People going out to the street and helping rescuing, sharing, being generous. We want to contribute helping people in Mexico who suffered from the earthquakes by giving all the earnings of this t-shirt towards a counselling service offering help to those suffering from post-traumatic stress.

    The illustration of this t-shirt is by a very good friend of ours and collaborator Julio Chavez. here we have this cheeky skeleton from the day of the dead (our favourite Mexican celebration) eating corn on the cob; corn being an essential part of the Mexican diet and the font is inspired in the Olympic games celebrated in Mexico in 1968 for that retro feeling. Hope you like our new design and want to help people who really need our help.

    Link to the shop

  • Slow Living Light
  • SLOW LIVING LIGHT: Tree hugging

     

    Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, almost under siege, as though there is too much stuff, too much information and my mind can’t fit in anything else.  My mind is feeling jumbled and I’m finding it  hard to process thoughts.

    I’m finding some relief in getting out into nature, just a simple walk or swimming in the lake.  It’s like a cold compress for my weary head.

    I was talking about this with Luis the other day and during the course of the conversation, I had a flash of insight:  Being in Nature was providing some relief because Nature doesn’t need anything from me, Nature just is.

    When I look at my everyday life, I am literally bombarded with information, products and services, all waving their arms and shouting “look at me, look at me, look at mmeeeeee!!”. Take a supermarket for example, practically every single item in there has been specifically designed to grab your attention, keep it and create a want/need/desire in you to have that item. Looking around, there is very little that hasn’t undergone this ‘commodification’. Once I realised this, going to the supermarket can actually be an overwhelming experience, with products ‘shouting’ at us.  It’s the same everywhere in a busy, urban environment; endless shops, products, billboards, adverts, all trying to pull in our attention and gain something from us.  They all need us, our attention, to survive, to exist.

    In contrast, Nature needs nothing from us.  It doesn’t need us to exist, to survive.  It’s perfectly happy to do its own thing and it is gloriously unconcerned with our existence.  The relief to be found in this is immense.  Yes, we can go and hug a tree and yes, it is a beautiful experience. (I confess, I’m a tree hugger in case you hadn’t guessed by now!)  BUT the tree doesn’t need us, it doesn’t need hugs to survive although it’s perfectly happy with the hugs.  There’s no sense of want emanating from the tree.  This sense of ‘no-grasping’ is amplified by more elements in Nature; the lake, the grass, the water, the sky: all uninvolved in our existence but happy to make space to accommodate us for a while.  It’s all so impersonal and that’s what I love, the brief respite offered by Nature before returning to our world of wants and needs.

    This flash of insight has intensified even further my instinct to simplify my life and continue the process of positive subtraction.  I’m jut beginning to realise the enormity of what’s involved in this seemingly simple insight so I’m sure there’ll be many more posts exploring this.

  • Slow Living Light
  • Slow Parenting: Domesticity and Wildness

    “Wildness is the state of complete awareness.  That’s why we need it.” Gary Snyder quoted in “Wild’ by Jay Griffiths.

    I am writing this at the kitchen table, in the quiet dawn of a Saturday morning.  My family is sleeping upstairs and I have a homemade sourdough loaf baking in the oven, permeating our home with the reassuring smell of our Saturday morning.  I’m carving out a few snatched moments of quiet to write this before my life as a mother kicks back in.

    When we were planning to have kids, I envisaged myself as being different to the harried, tired mums I saw berating their kids as they hustled them to and from school.  Somehow, I told myself, with my extensive knowledge and insight (!), I could carve a different path.  Turns out, I couldn’t and I haven’t.

    Slowly but surely, in the nine years of intensive parenting so far, I have become that tired, aged mum, worn down by parenting responsibilities.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my daughters more than I love myself and, with complete self-awareness, I’m completely dedicated to parenting them.  We desperately wanted our daughters and now we have them, I don’t want to miss or begrudge a single moment.  This is a short phase in my life, so while it is hard, I’m not looking for ways to escape it either.

    However. What I have realised is that children need a home, reassuring rhythms (rather than strict routines) and the presence of their parents.  As a mother, I also realise that I am hard wired to provide this for them.  We talk about ‘nesting’ in late pregnancy as though it only relates to that time, but I continue to feel this strong urge to provide a safe nest for my family nine years on.  It feels primal and instinctual, coming deep from my womb and it overrides my conscious thoughts from my mind about what I need for myself.  This last line feels controversial even to myself, in this age of individualism but I cannot deny that this is how I feel.  I want to provide a safe home for our daughters, a refuge from the outside world filled with love, kindness and homemade, nourishing food.  Providing this takes up the majority of my time, energy and my very ’beingness’ and what I hadn’t realised was that providing this entails some serious hard work, dare I say, drudgery at times.

    Take the simple concept of feeding our family: I have to plan, or at least think about what we need, shop for it, put the food away, manage it, prepare it, serve it and then clear it up.  Three times a day plus snacks.  Every single day of the year.  Add to this clothes, cleaning the house, the list goes on and on…  Before we realise, we are firmly enclosed in a cage made up of domestic routines.  What gets to me at times is the sheer repetitive nature of each and every task.  It doesn’t matter uf we are on an amazing beach holiday in Mexico or at home in Bristol, with kids, the same basic rhythms need to be observed: they need to eat, sleep and go to the toilet at regular intervals, and god help us if this doesn’t happen.

    Sometimes, these non-negotiable tasks seem overwhelming and it’s easy for me to feel that I’m on a hamster wheel of domesticity.

    And yet, I’ve found something that gives me a few minutes of release: swimming in a lake.

    Here in Bristol, there is a members only lake, set like an oasis in our urban sprawl, that I am lucky enough  to get to go to thanks to the generosity of my good friend, Laura. The lake is a filled up quarry, set in some beautiful woodland and there is an area for fishing and for swimming. The first time I went, a month or so ago, the water temperature was 14 degrees celsius. We changed into our swimming costumes in an old fashioned, 100 year old clubhouse and left our towels on the grassy side. Laura got in first, drew in a sharp breath and remarked “ooh, it’s cold”. So, following her lead, I gingerly climbed down the mossy steps and plunged into the muddy, freezing water.

    My mind and body just stopped on impact.

    I couldn’t breathe, my mind went blank. A moment of blissful nothingness that seemed to go on for much longer than it actually did.  Then I started rapid, raggedy breaths and my legs and arms started swimming instinctively. I hadn’t experienced anything like it for such a long time.  Everything done by instinct alone.  Maybe child birth was the last time I had been so truly instinctual…?  In those initial moments, my body felt truly alive, completely free from the binds of domesticity, completely immersed in the state of being truly wild.  My mind was free of its continual chatter, there was no past or future, just the all encompassing present, being wholly aware of every fibre of my body.

    It was absolutely glorious.

    We swam up and down the lake, my body taking over and moving without input from my mind.  I could feel my blood coalesce in my core, leaving my head and limbs gloriously free.  After a while, my legs and arms were completely numb with cold and my awareness was able to extend to the beauty of the surroundings.  It was a cold, cloudy day so we were the only people in the lake.  Moving through the calm water, we created ripples and movement and the sounds. Sinking deeper into awareness, I started noticing the pockets of warm water and the little air bubbles and moving circles created by the small silver fish who we were sharing the space with.  When one of the fish jumped out of the water close by, it startled my mind to react with an instinctive “fish?!” before settling back into blissful nothingness.  We saw a moorhen and a heron. 

    The utter stillness and simplicity and wildness of the experience was a balm for my poor, tired soul.

    When we got out, I was so numb with cold that I couldn’t get dressed properly.  My legs were shaking and achy but my entire body was positively tingling with the aliveness and possibility of it all.  “This is truly living!”,  my body was saying to me.  It had been a short sharp break from the warm and cosy confines of domesticity.  And it made me appreciate returning to it even more, I took true delight in hugging my daughters tightly, drinking a warming up of tea, taking a hot bath and eating our Friday night pizza.  With all my senses heightened, I could truly relish it all.

    I truly believe that it is the wildness of the setting that gives me what my body craves and that allows my mind to stop for a moment.  I had tried to find this escape in swimming before at the local indoor pool, but could only find tiny, snatched moments of it underwater.  Swimming at the lake makes my body sing and tingle; my brief respite from domesticity.  I also find that swimming at the lake when it’s cold and empty provides a more intense experience than when it is hot and the lake is full of other swimmers.

    So now, my domestic routine is alleviated by almost daily walks in the forest on my way to and from work as well as this intense weekly ritual of immersion in wildness.  It reminds my body what it is to be wild and provides enough nourishment for me to continue in this domesticated phase of my life.

    As I finish writing this, my family has woken up and joined me here with me in the kitchen. My youngest is writing in her journal next to me and my husband is making my cherished morning cup of coffee. The hustle and bustle of family life has started once again and thanks to my experiences of ‘wildness’ coupled with the self reflection of them, I am happy to be in this full domestic sphere once again.

     

     

  • Slow Living Light
  • Be where you are

    I just read an article about travel in India and how it inspired the featured artist’s work… my immediate thought was, ‘oh my god, I have to go that exact place in India so I too can discover my artistic talents.’ My second thought was ‘how the hell am I going to do that?!’ And my third thought was, ‘actually I don’t need to go anywhere, I can start right here’.

    I’m sharing because I found the initial idea so seductive, as though the only way I could access my inner artist, and spirituality was by going somewhere else.

    But, as I’ve experienced, going somewhere else I’ve still been me. I’ve had wonderful moments of spiritual awakening and moments of total and utter dullness of paying bills and working boring jobs. This happens both in Mexico and in the U.K. although just saying I lived in Mexico sounds exotic. …
    By dropping right into that very moment of awareness, I can access my very self; it doesn’t matter if I’ve been sat on the sofa on the millionth round of breastfeeding and bored out of my skull or trekking through the desert in Mexico on a spiritual quest or sat at my desk in the office, I am still me in that very moment wherever I am… and that’s the perfect place for me to be. …. I’d love to hear if your experiences of dropping into the moment, where’s your favourite place to do this? 😍

  • Slow Living Light
  • Grounding

    Soup is such a comforting and grounding meal for me. I make it for my family with so much care and offer it to them in the same spirit, to nourish and soothe. It’s so simple and unfussy, just veggies, chickpeas and little pasta. It feels like a warm hug and brings me back down into myself. …. The day before yesterday I was busy, my work day was filled with chattering and deadlines and then I rushed through the wind and rain to meet a good friend at a very busy local cafe. I drank a flat white and although it was beautifully made, I was so jangled. Then the school run and mum life but by the end of the day I was exhausted but my head was ringing and I could not sleep.

    So yesterday I needed to ground myself, the soup was just what I needed along with the added bonus of homemade granary sourdough. I’ve just managed to restart my sourdough starter so it felt particularly special last night.
    … Simple, unfussy food is such an aide to grounding and slowing down for me. I’d love to hear what food you turn to in moments of overwhelm…😍

  • Slow Living Light
  • Gentle Anarchy

    Have you noticed the increasing pressure to move faster through life? …
    I noticed it the other day when I went supermarket shopping. The car park is always quite frenetic, and once I got inside I realised that there was an air of barely concealed hysteria, of people desperate to get the things they wanted, in a minimal amount of time so they could move on (topple forward) to the next activity.

    Picking up on this, I made a conscious decision not to join in. I didn’t want to join the frenetic canter through the aisles to the finish line checkouts, emerging victorious from the fray with my spoils. So, I went Slow.

    I took my time, meandered almost! I read the labels, took time to make my choices and revelled in the sensuous nature of so many beautiful foods vying for my attention. It was glorious!

    But I annoyed a whole bunch of people. I was jostled a number of times, and could feel the collective ‘pushing’, trying to force me to move quicker. Such an interesting experience which has given me so much to think about in other situations…

    Seriously though, if you want try some gentle anarchy, try going deliberately slow. It’s fascinating!! Have you got any experiences of gentle anarchy that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you 😍

  • Slow Living Light
  • Toppling forward

    “We are rushing when we feel as if we are toppling forward. Our minds run ahead of ourselves; they are out there where we want to get to, instead of being settled back in our bodies. Whenever we are not present, right then, in that situation, we should stop and take a few deep breaths. Settle into the body again. Feel yourself sitting. Feel the step of a walk. Be in your body.” Joseph Goldstein

    I’m finding this idea rolling and rolling round my head at the moment. My mind is tumbling with ideas, I feel as though by beginning to express myself creatively, just in the tiniest of ways, that I’m beginning to unleash a giant torrent of creativity and ideas. It’s overwhelming, exhilarating and almost frightening… this has parallels with the ‘outside’ world too, everything seems to be moving faster and so much information is making demands on my mind space, my time, everything… I feel like I’m almost being pushed forward, toppling, toppling… ….
    And so, I take a big deep breath, return to my body, sink right down into my very core and take refuge there.
    …..
    Being grounded and fully present…and hanging on for dear life as this rollercoaster keeps on going…. does anyone else feel almost pushed over by life? How are you finding ways to cope? I’d love to hear other experiences of this 😍

  • Slow Living Light
  • A lovely tea

    Slow Living Light moment: a lovely tea of crushed peas with wild garlic, seared new season English asparagus, goats cheese and olive oil… all piled on top of a beautiful loaf of sourdough, an unexpected gift from Laura @hartsbakery


    A perfect end to a lovely day catching up with a good friend that has left me with my soul full, my inspiration ignited and a happy tummy. Today has been a good day to appreciate the value of friends and a good old fashioned natter at the kitchen table while the baby sleeps and the kids are at school.

    #slowlivingsquad appreciating a moment of #slowlivinglight of #friendship and #simplespringfood atop of #sourdough 😍