When I talk about living a quiet life, I’m talking about a life that feels slow. A life that is simple, has space for the things I enjoy and is free of clutter - both physically and mentally. But the more I talk about my personal journey, the more I find the same type of resistance comes up from other people.
The three main things I hear are:
“It’s easy for you because you live in the country”.
“It’s easy for you because you don’t have kids”.
“It’s easy for you because you only work part-time”.
Sometimes I wonder if people think all I do all day is drink tea in front of the fire, potter in the garden and read. But I’m no less busy than anyone else. And I’m calling bullshit on all three excuses above. Anyone can live a simple, slower life. It’s about creating routines, being organised and not faffing about. Yes there’s time at the beginning that needs to go into creating a home and life that isn’t cluttered. But once you’ve done the hard yards it’s a lot easier from there on in.
Let me start by telling you why I don’t agree with the three statements above.
To be honest I’m not sure what living in the country has to do with anything at all. Maintaining a four acre property is a lot harder, and time consuming, than a small apartment in the city. And even a quarter acre block. The larger your property the more work that needs to go into it. It’s just how it is. My fiancé can spend a whole weekend fixing fences, mowing lawns and trying to keep on top of the paddocks. And because we live where we do, everything takes longer. I have a sixty minute commute to work. It’s a half hour drive to the supermarket. So, I’m taking that excuse straight off the table.
No I don’t have kids. And, because of that, I’m never going to hand out advice on how to live a life with children who need your attention all day. I know they take up a lot of time and energy.
While I’m not going to compare my dogs to children, my four fur-kids do take up a large part of my day when I’m not at work. These dogs aren’t little dogs who are happy to lie in front of the fire, or chase a ball around the yard for ten minutes. They are big, have a lot of energy and they need to be exercised every day ... without fail.
In the mornings it is a 45 minute process getting them all up and sorted. On the days I work I only have time to spend about an hour walking them. But on the days I don’t work in the clinic, I can spend up to three hours making sure they get the exercise they need. At the end of the day it takes another hour to feed them, get them sorted and into bed for the night.
(As an offside we chose to have four dogs with the understanding that I would have the time needed to spend with them. So they are my priority. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Like children, there are days when they drive me crazy. But we wouldn't be without them for the love and pleasure they give us).
I also have two dogs who, if you give them an inch they take a mile. If you don’t keep a constant eye on them they will take themselves off on an adventure. Sometimes they have been gone for a night. Once for a couple of weeks. Like someone with small children I need eyes in the back of my head.
And if that wasn’t enough, our two male dogs don’t get on, so we can’t let them anywhere near each other. We learnt that lesson the hard way when we spent $6000 one year patching them both up. So I’m constantly juggling who is in their kennel and who is wandering about.
Now the ’you only work part-time’ excuse. Yes I do only work twenty-four hours a week as a Physiotherapist. But I also have a two-hour round trip to get to and from work each day. And I write a weekly blog and newsletter. And I also work as the Stories Editor for Creative Countryside. If I add all that time up together it is more than a forty-hour work week. So, I’m sorry, but I’m not buying that excuse either.
On top of all that my fiancé has a job where he frequently works away. Since the start of February he has only spent three full weeks at home. This means I manage everything to do with our household. From the grocery shopping, to paying the bills, to getting the dogs to the vets.
So while I do live in the countryside and have no kids, I’m no different to you. My life is full. But despite it being full I never have a day now where I'm overwhelmed. Or I don’t complete my to-do list. Or I feel like I’m moving through my week at 100 miles per hour.
Without fail I sit down every night at 7.30pm to watch an episode of SVU. And I read for half an hour each night in bed. On the weekends I have white space to do whatever I please. And I have time to ring my Mum.
My life isn’t full of clutter and neither is my head.
How do I manage to do this? Because I am organised and efficient. Because I run my life with routines and rituals that mean I never suffer from decision fatigue. And because I don’t faff around but get shit done.
The only reason I’m telling you this is because my blog is about my own personal journey of living a quieter life. It’s not a ’10 ways to live a slower life’ type of blog. It’s where I share my stories of how I live my life in the hope that just one person will get something from it that helps them too. That's all.
So if you’re going to come along for the ride then please don’t feed me the excuses why you can't do what I've done. If you’ve been reading along for a while you will know that my life hasn’t always been rainbows and unicorns. It’s been bloody hard at times. It’s been stressful. And it’s been overwhelming.
Moving to a purple house under a mountain in the countryside didn’t fix that. I did. And I know if I can, so can you.