Day Two of the New Year- Frazzled Yet?

Slow down and enjoy the changes

So it’s day two of your new workout, diet, romance, debt payoff plan, career building plan, be-the-most-fantastic-damned-person-on-the-planet plan…and you’re already feeling the weight of your former sins? It’s okay. Remember that it took you a long time for you to get where you are today. It’s okay that you aren’t model-thin in a weekend. (In fact, it’s always okay that you’re not model-thin!) It’s okay that People Magazine hasn’t called yet asking for a photo shoot. It’s okay that The Food Channel hasn’t bumped Giada in favor of your down home cooking.

It might be that your plans weren’t entirely doable. Maybe you bit off too big of a bite?

Slow down! Enjoy the changes you are making.

So rewrite your plans in tiny steps that you can accomplish easily. This is the only way habits are formed. One tiny little step at a time.  Call it the Cigarette Plan. A long time ago I did research into the biochemistry of addiction. Mostly with alcohol but all additions work generally the same in your brain by increasing feel-good hormones each time you do your thing. After a time, your brain is reset so that you need that little bump just to feel normal. This is why few people remain happy with one drink, one toke, or one big sniff of cocaine. The insidiousness of cigarettes is that each drag reinforces the feel-good feeling. Over the course of a day, then, a smoker trains their brain to enjoy cigarettes, what, four-hundred times a day sucking twenty times on twenty cigarettes? It’s no wonder that addiction experts consider smoking to be one of the hardest habits to break.

Use this to your advantage. Start to develop healthy or happy habits in little bits. You don’t have to run a marathon in a month. If you want to, that’s great. If you don’t’ want to then commit to walking for five minutes a day. Five minutes! Read a classic for five minutes at bedtime. Learn one German word a day on your drive to work. Commit to eating a one piece of fresh fruit every day. This is exactly how habits are formed. One tiny piece at a time. So, for whatever it is, start today, right where you are, and do one thing. Commit to doing it again tomorrow. This is how you change your life.

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Cheers and have a wonderful day!

Here are a couple of posts about the Slow philosophy which encourages, well, slowness, as well as relationships, doing things, curiosity, and, every once in a while, imagining life not tied to machines…

Go here and then here.

Here are a couple of resources for easy goal setting and tracking. They help some people and annoy others. Figure out what you like…and do it.

The Way of Life App – for those who want to track progress
From – 11 Best Tools for Setting and Tracking Goals

Personally, I use Wunderlist for my goal tracking and list making. And let me tell you, I like lists!



C’mon folks – Slow down with a cool watch and an observation

Copyright 2016, Dennis Mitton

IMG_1409 [27720]
Enjoying some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s nature paintings.
It’s no secret that I have a little bit of a hippie hangover. My wife does her best to scrape it off and dress me presentably but sometimes it still peeks out. This partly explains my fascination with the philosophy of slow. I live a pretty busy and technologically inclined life. I spend my day at work writing and analyzing and thinking about how to do things faster and better and then come home and spend my nights trying to find chargers for four computers, two robot pets, one game system, and four phones. Every now and then the thought of a slower life of splitting kindling and hoeing the back forty sounds pretty damned good.

Slow is in part a reaction against the promise that technology will cure our ills. We were promised more time, more leisure, and free and instant access to all sorts of wonderful. Wonderful is here if you want to take it and not many do. But leisure and free time? We are just as busy and harried as before and still spend a bulk of our day doing menial tasks. (Unless, of course, your menial task has been replaced by a robot who does that task cheaper and more efficiently. In that case you are probably out of work with plenty of time to be slow.) Much, if not most of this, is our fault. My fault. There’s nothing to say that I need four phones. One served my family well when I was a kid. My sister and I, to reduce fighting, had slotted times when we could talk to friends and mom owned it the rest of the time. For the life of me I can’t remember seeing ever Dad use the thing. And somehow my parents and grandparents got along fine without investment spreadsheets or car monitors that tell their auto insurance company how fast they drive.

Slow-3I have a friend who left most of this behind. He never seemed to care much about chasing girls or chugging beer through funnels but spent his weekends panning for gold or checking traps. We spent lots of time together roaming the woods around Mt. Rainier and finally, just out of high school, landed jobs in Alaska on a crab processing boat. After the fishing season I returned to the normal track – a little school, a little work, marriage, kids, cable TV, computers, and lots of busy. He never did. He worked hard, lived on air, never married, saved and bought a small house. He laid claim to a washed out silver mine and found a new vein that a mining company was happy to purchase. He bought a few more rentals and packed up, sold everything, and moved to Alaska. Last I heard he lives in a plywood shack where he fights off bears and fills big nets with flopping salmon. Is he living the dream? Not mine. At last not on most days. It’s nice having a hospital nearby. I like political news. I like ordering books and having them show up on my doorstep two days later without teeth marks from grizzlies. True – I can live without this stuff – but they are conveniences and luxuries that I have made a choice to enjoy.

Slow-1But hey! Check out this cool watch. If you are as super observant as I am you’ll see that it doesn’t have a minute hand but gives the time in units of ‘ish’ as in “four-thirtyish”. This is definitely going on my “Things I need” spreadsheet (which I’ve set up as a pivot table to compare sales outlets, costs, and time of year). This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this kind of clock. One of my favorite furniture makers was a fella named James Krenov who once made a kind of organic teardrop of wood hanging on a pole – not really my style – which he inserted a clock works into. He attached the hour hand only and then noticed that the whole thing kind of rhythmically bobbed as the clock gears whirred. He said that it slowed him down just a bit by not having to worry about the exact time. I expect that he also stood and watched the thing bob for hours on end while imbibing fermented beverages.

My other slow observation is more obtuse and I’m happy for any reader to chime in and help me articulate my feelings. I went to the South Carolina Art Museum recently to see the Georgia O’Keeffe collection. I posted something to Facebook and my son wrote to ask if O’Keeffe was the artist that Jesse and his girlfriend talked about on the TV show Breaking Bad.  I don’t have the slightest clue and even have to think hard to remember who ‘Jesse’ is but – Crapomoly! – by what weird and crazy machination does my mind instantly start to whirl? There was a day, not that many years ago, when I would have shrugged my shoulders and admitted that I haven’t a clue and got on with more important things of life like weeding or baking bread. But instead I went directly to Google Search and typed in ‘Jesse girlfriend Breaking Bad artist’ and wouldn’t you know it but Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the top hits. There seems to be something sinister here. Something not right. Not only was my first inclination to dive into the internet because I don’t know some silly, useless, and stupid fact and then I discovered that enough other people are interested in this inanity that they have publicly posted the answer. Something’s amiss.

Other Slow:

My book review of In Praise of Slowness, Carl Honore

Slow is Sacred from Life Positive. Tips way over to the religiousy hippyish side

Slow Food

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BR: In Praise of Slowness, Carl Honore

In Praise of Slowness

Remember the New Economy? Who cared about silly things like profit or actually selling a product? Then, with the first crash of the new millennium, we were all reminded that there is little new under the sun. Businesses must have something to sell and must make more than they spend. Slow has similar roots. Against a tide of boxed food and more and bigger and faster we ache a little and feel that we have missed something. Slow argues that the something is the best thing – relationships, curiosity, health – all things within reach if we will only slow down, observe, and enjoy.

I was expecting something different from Honoré’s generally fine book. From the title – In Praise of Slowness – and subtitle – How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed – I expected a more philosophical work that explores the relationship of Slow and the good life. On the face of it it’s obvious but, as with many things, deeper questions reveal deeper truths. But Honoré never digs deeper and writes almost exclusively to the choir. And it’s in no way a bad speech. Much of it resonated with me. Who of us wouldn’t enjoy more leisure? Or lazy daily dinners with family and friends? But at some point the endless recitations of stats that only bolster what is obvious becomes tiring. I skimmed through the last chapters.

But there is plenty of good stuff here. The book is thorough and includes chapters that cover all areas of life. I expected to read about food and leisure and a kind of lazy mindfulness. I did not expect to read about Slow cities, Slow education, or Slow sex. But be careful not to paint this picture in Rockwellian shades – I read once (A Year in Provence?) how many Southern Europeans chuckle at wealthy Americans who carve out a week to come and live as the French or Italians must simply because they are too poor to enjoy new cars and iPads.

Slowness on the farm.

I don’t like the term Slow. It conjures a kind of Amish life, rejecting technology, and arguing that the old ways are better than the new ways. It reminds me of the old folks who used to come to the store where I bagged groceries who complained that back in their day a whole week of groceries cost ten bucks not just one bag. But that is not Slow. Slow is a deliberate, engaged, wide-eyed look at what makes your life good. It is seeing a fork in the road and deciding which road to travel based on your values. For some a Porsche is the epitome of waste – fast, gas guzzling, and flashy. Someone else sees it as an ode to classical engineering and design where every part of the car harkens to a time when craftsman worked for the love it. Slow lets you decide which path is best for you.

Slow is not new. Recent iterations include the American Transcendentalists who encouraged people to look within themselves for direction and the Arts and Crafts Movement which rejected industrialization in favor if the natural and handmade. Most recently the Hippie Movement advocated leisure, free inquiry, and acceptance. All good things.

The book slogs a bit but there is lots of good reading here. Anyone familiar with Slow will get affirmation but not much new. Readers new to the idea will have plenty to think about at the fork in their particular road.

Definitely worth the time – three stars.

My Amazon profile.
Follow me on Twitter.
The book on Amazon.

Slow resources (some get a little hippie/goofy):

Carl Honoré
The Slow Movement
Slow Foods
The Good Life

And I have to add one final pic of The Good Life. The indisputable greatest television show EVER! Thank you BBC!