In my search to connect to other women who seek to live slow in this hurried world and savor the simple, little things that make everyday life extraordinary, I came across April Best. Her blog Still Small Moments is a quiet, reflective space that will make you want to sit down, grab a cup of coffee and unwind. Her words are simple but refreshing and inspiring. And now, without further ado, here’s her story.
My name is April Best and it is such an honor to share my story with you on Our Living Notes. I live in Michigan with my husband, Josh, and two kids, Frederick (4) and Edith (2). I started a blog almost two years ago called Still Small Moments in an effort to cultivate a sense of wonder and peace regardless of the boredom or the busyness of the day. It stemmed from a realization that what we focus on determines our attitude and perspective on life.
Rather than continually looking forward to a different season of life or reflecting nostalgically on the past, I became passionate about embracing the exact season you find yourself in — all the good and all the not-so-good. The blog and realization sparked a desire to dive into discovering how to create intentional space in my life and my family’s life to make the most of the season we were in. A natural researcher and learner, I read books upon books about minimalism and slowness and rest and productivity.
Here are a few things we learned, and are continuing to learn along the way:
* Harmony matters. If you’re in a relationship with someone, have a family, are living with people, everyone involved must be on the same page to shift focus. It may take a few conversations and there may be varying degrees of conviction, but there should be unity in the decision to figure out how to create space, live with less, and embrace a rhythm of rest in your lives.
* It will look different. Living with less and being minimal is unique for every person. Figure out a system or process that works for you to having the right amount of stuff in your life. We all see beautiful photos of perfectly designed spaces, and these are all wonderful inspiration. The needs you have for your life and space should determine what you keep. While going through toys, clothes, decorations, and every other thing in our home this quote by William Morris focused my efforts: “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” This goes beyond material possessions as well — it’s healthy and necessary to keep our hearts and minds clear of bitterness and offense and all the other ugly things that prevent us from loving and living free and whole.
* Find peace in the process. This all takes time and it will probably change and transform every three to six months. Becoming adaptable and being at rest in the fact that living with less and maintaining a sustainable pace will need to be adjusted and tweaked based on the needs of the season you find yourself in. My husband and I set time aside each week to do two things: have fun and talk shop. He branded these two events: hour of wonder and hour of order. We spend time together doing something together to cultivate wonder in our lives like listening to music, chatting over a glass of wine, sitting in front of a fire. We also connect once a week to go over our budget, calendars, and other important life details. During these events, we regularly refine and refocus our hearts and minds to what matters most in our lives in the current season.
* Slow and minimal is messy. Establishing a lifestyle like this is counter-cultural. It’s difficult to say no to doing more and buying more. Our lives may not always look slow – there may be some days and weeks when we have a lot going on. Cultivating a heart that’s at rest and finding space to breathe isn’t always easy. Give yourself permission to listen to a song from start to finish without doing anything, read a chapter from a book with a cup of tea, take a bath, and any other small ritual that gives you rest. Even if you have just a 20-minute break, take that time to put the phone on airplane mode and in another room to pause and do something unplugged. I try to put my phone away for the day by 8 pm and keep it on airplane mode until 8 am. There are times when this doesn’t happen, but it’s a habit I try to keep. The biggest thing you can do is give yourself grace. Don’t force yourself to do something that doesn’t come from an inner conviction and be free to do what’s in your heart.
Enjoy the journey and embrace the pace! I would love to connect and hear your thoughts and experiences – feel free to connect with me on Instagram @still.small.moments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.