I’ve never been great with money. By which I mean, I’ve never been a person who’s particularly on top of their finances – I knew what was coming into my bank every month and roughly how much I could spend and what I could do until the next paycheck. I’ve certainly never been one to keep spreadsheets and regularly check my balance.
But of course, when you stop getting that regular paycheque, you can no longer spend in the same way you did before. You have to maximise every penny when you don’t know where you’re going to get the next one. I am a lover of going out for coffee and cake and nice lunches and evening drinks, but these quickly (very quickly) add up.
At the moment, all the money I have is going into my business, whether it’s this pretty new site design (what do you think, by the way?), travelling for meetings or looking at software investments. I’m focusing my finances on growing myself and my work; but all work and no play makes, as we know, Jill a dull girl. And I don’t want to be dull! So basically, I need to spend less money, but I also want to do nice things.
And I reckon a lot of you will be in a similar boat. Whether you’re investing in coaching or courses, new branding or just saving up for Christmas, autumn can become a lean time. So I’ve put together a list of lovely slow things you can do this season for free that will not only help slow down your life but bring you joy. Pick one to do each Sunday afternoon or come back to this post whenever you feel frazzled.
Have a pot of tea on a rainy day
Note that I’ve specified a pot of tea here, not just a cuppa. There’s something so ceremonial and special about brewing a pot of tea –it’s a mindful practice, an essentially slow moment, and an assurance to yourself that you are valuable and deserving. This isn’t a quick brew before dashing off to do something else; it is taking time over a few cups of tea and being at peace with your thoughts. And all the better when listening to the patter of raindrops on the window.
Tell a story
There is something so romantic and nostalgically autumnal about storytelling, wrapped in a blanket as the night draws in. This isn’t the same as reading, either to yourself or aloud. It’s about remembering a story and sharing it with your loved ones, and doing so imperfectly – missing things out and adding your own quirks, thereby embedding yourself in the oral storytelling tradition.
Here’s an example. While on a walk in a nearby town, I read on a sign about the legend of the battle of the dragons at Dinas Emrys (the National Trust have handily digitised it here). I loved the story, and recalled it a few nights later and tried retelling it to Dan – of course I got bits mixed up and not quite right, but the act of telling the story and adding my own emphases was the important part. It reminded him of the stories he was told as a child from the Mabinogion (the first collection of Welsh folk tales written down), and sent us down a rabbit hole of researching stories and legends for the rest of the evening.
Go on a foraging walk
I mean, this one’s pretty much a given for autumn – get out there and kick the leaves. Instagram at the moment is so full of beautiful natural finds, but you don’t need to spend money on pumpkins you’re never going to eat when the pavement has the most beautiful props. Head out to intentionally forage for beautiful things to fill either your Instagram gallery or just to display in your home.
And you don’t need to spend money on travel either – you’re likely to get a bigger variety of trees and plants in urban areas where they have been planted rather than out in natural woodland (I know this because I cannot find a conker for the life of me up here 😩).
…and learn about something you found
While you’re out and about, don’t just idly pick things up and put them in your pocket. Wonder at them, ignite your curiosity. How does a conker actually germinate, what causes the leaf to colour in such a way, what kind of spider is that? Bring your collections home and spend time digging out the old nature books or pick up your phone to do some research rather than scrolling. The sense of achievement when you find out something new for yourself is beautiful, and will bring you closer to nature too.
Read a page in a book you’ve never opened
Hey, we’ve all got those piles of books on the shelf or even sat hopefully beside our beds that we have never got to, and they sit there all year round making us feel guilty. Go pick one up and read one page. Maybe it’s a classic novel you’ve been a little scared of, maybe a poetry anthology you were given as a gift, perhaps a business book you bought on a whim. Just read a page, and see how you do.
And the beauty of the one page is that it will help you form a habit. I heard a story of a guy who wanted to start flossing regularly but just couldn’t get into the habit. So every day he went to the sink with the intention of flossing just one tooth. But of course, once you’ve flossed one you’re already doing it so you might as well floss them all. Promise yourself one page and just see what happens from there.
Make a plan
This one might not be for everyone because I realise that my love of planning is not shared by all – some of my favourite pastimes are reading the menus of restaurants I’ll never visit and planning itineraries of holidays I’ll never go on. If you too are a lover of planning, then plan yourself something to look forward to. Maybe it’s a reward for when you hit a certain target, maybe a day out when family come to visit at Christmas. Take your brain away from work for a while and make yourself feel more human.
Do something quietly decadent
I’m getting really into quiet decadence. What do I mean by that? It’s things like having a bath in the middle of the afternoon or eating your dinner by candlelight. Anything that gives you a frisson of excitement by making a daily routine luxurious in some way. Personally, I’m a fan of a sit down shower – letting the water massage and flow over me like tropical rain helps me empty my thoughts and relax in a way that I rarely do at any other time. And the best thing is you get to experiment with lots of little luxuries whilst finding your perfect quiet decadence.
Is there anything you’d add to this list?
(By the way, the suggestion for today’s post came from my IG friend @jessicarosewilliams suggestion. I had total writer’s block when I came to write this week’s Slow Down Sunday, so I put a call out on Instagram to see what people would like to read. Because all of you are completely and utterly amazing and supportive, I got about enough ideas to fill this section for the rest of the year. I’m so looking forward to trying your suggestions, so stay tuned).
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