Slow living

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Somehow I always feel memories are built slowly I don’t know how I’ve made that conclusion but I just feel it, you can be present in a moment that passes so fast that eventually, you don’t recollect anything from it. 
In the past year after my mother’s illness and passing, my life had changed dramatically. I’m just at a point in my life where I am able to lift my head up again to see what’s in front of me. Grief had changed me, the way I think, and see value in things has been altered drastically!  
I became more focused on living a slower life. I remember how tiny slow and repeated acts my parents made seem to be engraved in my deepest memories, things like when my mother would put my socks on when I was little and always tries to soften any wrinkles or folds. I remember her warm hands on my feet.

In the midst of this journey of mine, I started accepting way too many (illustration) commissions than I could possibly handle. I complete my work I always give it my best! But, I do this to occupy myself as much as possible. I get to a very bad place once my hands and heart are unfilled, this might sound strange to people that had not gone through a similar loss or maybe deal with things differently. 
My life was going faster once again, I was just like a machine, lots of what I did was just for the sake of doing it.

 I wasn't very focused or had my heart in things, normal things like cooking and taking care of myself! It's funny how life can change so easily you lose balance, you trip you might fall! I gave myself the duty to juggle so many balls at once, Joud and Adam being the most important of all at all times. I just want to be connected with moments that give me the sense of wellbeing.

I came across this whole new lifestyle through Instagram, I was most likely attracted to the pretty photos used (I’m a visual person) with rustic aesthetics, I got confused a bit about what is exactly a slow lifestyle? the slow movement? is it the new “hygge” that’s bombarded the internet in the past few years? why am seeing some props being copied and almost identical in all the photos used in Instagram? Do I need to own all these things to have a slower life? ladies running into flower fields wearing linen aprons and a messy hair bun! having a rustic table with home-made bread and a basket of fresh produce. Products I see here and there say slow next to them! what do they mean?

What is this image? why is it so demanding? I just wanted to reap the benefits, spend more time with my family, observe more, understand more, I wanted to take things at a calmer pace, to enjoy the things that would possibly pass by without me noticing.

Instagram can trick us to see how people live their lives, shading away that they only share what they choose to show. All the calm collective photos all the serenity and I’m including myself as well, I’m in no place to judge or criticise.

Our society is set up to be in fast mode, we buy we eat we wear fast! impulse is a strong desire marketers have worked on. They got us! they tricked us!.  Being a mother of two, and trying to run my business from two countries can't be but fast at times. However I”m trying every day to take slow small steps to help me through the way, to live it mindfully.

I often think what if I leave this world soon, what have I taught my children? what will they remember of me? and NO I’m not being negative or pessimistic, I’m just simply reflecting on a fact that will happen one day. Reminding ourselves of departure does impact the way you to choose to live your life. I just want to live intentionally with a purpose. I often ask myself what am doing here? what is my purpose? I'm still trying to figure that out.

I'm finally in a place I'm very comfortable at, focusing my daily life to be as sustainable and slow as possible. The marriage of these two hopefully will make me live a conscious life that I've always strived for. That gives one’s self an intention, makes me feel somehow I’m making better choices and hopefully setting a good example for my littles.

Do I live a slow life all the time? everyday? hmmm, so far no will be the most honest answer. Will I be able to? I don't know and as always here on my blog, I have only been writing with honesty, its a journey that I finally wanted to share here, so who knows what happens?

I’ve recently written about all the sustainable changes we’ve been living in Curiously conscious. How a mindful life can change your perspective in life itself is quite amazing, knowing that a single person does have an impact even if so little is very fulfilling!

The other day was one of those hard days, my husband was having a difficult day. I thought with no planning of going out venturing into the woods where all four of us find peace, let go of our worries for a bit and enjoy the moment.
 My husband came very late for our outing he came at seven in the evening, which is half an hour before the children's bedtime. I had piles of my work on my new project, but decided they don't need to sleep on their exact bedtime today! we had fun, it was a slow unrushed outing, we went through a new path, we picked wildflowers, chased butterflies and had fruits and sandwiches for dinner! we found a beautiful stream the children both enjoyed their time, they were so excited, my husband enjoyed it and eased a bit since the morning, eventually, we all just felt better. 

How I decided that day to cancel my daily routine is a big deal for me, I have been always criticised for how I run my life on a schedule and try every day to keep up with it I just want to organise things in order to be done I have too many responsibilities and too much to do, how I get very easily irritated if I can’t for some reason follow it.  

There is so much to explain that, however, the major factor is I suffer from anxiety this is my first time opening up about it, a schedule and knowing what to do gives me steps to follow and a clear vision ahead that I have already thought about previously and was expecting. Unfortunately in today's society anxiety and any mental health topic are taboo. Till this very day, I have talked about this very little with a handful of close people.  

So for me, a slow life calms me down, help me sometimes break some rules I’ve set, tells me you can go out leaving at home piles of laundry that need folding without having to self-impose pressure and striving to be almost a perfect mother and wife!, its not like someone is checking but just because I know I'll have it there waiting for me when I get back! 

Some changes that have worked well for me is to allow some flexibility in our daily routine, unplanned evenings and mornings, going for walks and enjoy Slow food making, by making our food from scratch enjoying it with family and friends with no screens. Making time alone with each my children separately doing the things they love.
Making more of my evening for my self my own learning exploring and trying new ways of painting and designing, reading more of the book that I believe in trying to revise the verses I once knew by heart. I still don't mind messy chores and chaos around, I have a 3 and 1 year old who am I kidding? I have no physical support but from my husband that comes home late.

At the end, I don’t think slow living is black and white. Slow living is not Insta-glamorous but a lifestyle to be lived. I don’t think we can have one definition of it. Do whatever works for you and makes you feel better and suits your needs. With this said, I’m still learning what a slow and sustainable lifestyle means for me and how to live intentionally, I hope in my journey I can somehow inspire you.

Curiously conscious

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Over the past months, I've been somewhat more curious than I could ever remember, taking notes about normal daily life, I do think that's a result of me trying to keep a slow rhythm in our life it made me look closer to things and observe what would have passed me before. 
So I have been doing a lot of reading and research in between work, it all started very slowly a few years back around when Joud was a couple of months old, I read a study about Johnson and Johnson's case in court and claims of usage of talc and asbestos in their powder and its relation to cancer. 
I believe that was my very first step in a more conscious lifestyle but never really planned it, so from that time on it just followed like a waveform (food, clothing, toys, waste and daily sustainable swaps I made in my design business) small steady steps made me confident enough today to share with you all the things I learned to do to make our lives as conscious and sustainable as possible! 

At times I felt overwhelmed and can’t ever share anything as I’m far from perfection in this matter, but a few weeks ago I had some work I’ve done eight years ago about (wildlife trade) being reshared by The Libyan Wildlife Trust I ended up looking at all my previous work with them and how much passion was in it, it did spark something back in me, and made me get back to the things I do enjoy in life and love to protect.

With that change I came more aware of what we eat, in result I have been on a clean food diet (mostly) for three years, I do get off tracks at times, after years I concluded that the definition of "clean diet" differs from what we believe is clean, personally I see it as (whole foods, fresh produce, lean meat and healthy fats), that's a daily challenge that keeps me busy! and there is no such thing as super foods its just nonsense we've been fed into believing! 

I have been more curious about other things as well, I sometimes ask myself why have I never thought of this before? why was I so blinded? can I make a change? can I actually apply my new found beliefs in my crazy life? can I sustain it? I started this wave of new knowledge of who made my clothes? was it a nine-year-old Bengali girl? was it a poor widow whose getting underpaid? or was it an old man working in poor conditions to sew me up a £20 shirt? but thats a very huge topic I would love to address soon. 

I'm quite positive that if we all had a look back at our daily lives back in the nineties we'll remember so many good things about waste and the usage of natural products in our daily life and how eventually plastic invaded our lives polluting almost every water body there is in this world! killing thousands of animals along the way, with things we can live without unnecessary things like plastic straws!!

So looking back since being very young I remember my father may Allah have mercy on his soul, using a cotton bag for bread, in Libya bread is sold freshly baked you can smell the bread from miles from the bakery, he hated how the condensation gets collected inside the bag wets and ruins the bread he says, so we used the cotton bag for a very long time.  He used to always keep plastics especially non-reusable ones and put them separately, he knew fully that they will not get recycled in Libya though in the 2000's there were attempts of introducing recycling waste in Libya and can vividly remember three bins orange blue and grey in front of Hay elandalus's post office. 
But somehow it made him happier to do so, he used to fold any cardboards to make space for other rubbish in the rubbish bag to save money and save use another plastic bag more often! this all subconsciously set me to work in conservation (wildlife in particular) for almost five years! thanks, baba!
Living in Scotland for the past years made recycling and composting a piece of cake! but choices are up to you, to actually pick up loose peppers or the ones in a plastic bag? to throw your leftover food in the rubbish or in the compost bin? In Libya I know it is different and can be challenging but being a Libyan myself I do know how much resilience we all have, I've linked up some inspiring accounts to have a look at down below. 

So what I now know is that sustainability means the action made to avoid anything that depletes natural resources or harms the environment. Upon reflection I wanted to share with you some positive changes I've been making hopefully this will help inspire you too, so here are some tips to incorporate sustainability and consciousness into your daily life.  I've listed the swaps I've made throughout the years for you to consider, the main key is to focus on reusable instead of disposable (think long term) natural instead of synthetic.

Little changes do have a very good impact in the long run, so try not to worry about what you own now, instead try to make conscious decisions in the future. We need as many people working and talking about all these topics as possible. You can't replace everything you own at once, or teach yourself new habits at once. But I do recommend to start conscious swaps as soon as possible. Start little using a reusable shopping bag instead of a plastic disposable, things you do daily those changes are the ones that make a huge difference! 

Here are some of my swaps 

Baby and toddler
- Using bamboo utensils for Joud and Adam, with the addition of stainless steel cutlery we already own. We're not big fans of straws anyways, but Joud loves o drink her cup of milk using a straw.
- Using only reusable snack bags, I only owned one plastic lunchbox for Joud and recently purchased a bamboo lunch box.
- Buying only ethically sourced sustainable whenever possible and only wooden toys.
- Using bamboo and stainless steel reusable drinking cups.
- Making more all-natural homemade craft projects with Joud and Adam that I would love to share! but not attempting beeswax and carnauba wax homemade crayons anytime soon haha! so bought some beeswax ones instead.
- Continuing with all natural toiletries, literally, I only use for both Joud and Adam Burts Bees Shampoo, bubble bath, and homemade natural balms and oils and the best nappy rash treatment is my trusty corn starch! 

- Getting rid of plastics from my kitchen one at a time (the Tupperwares are my ugliest enemy) I hate them and hate to know they will end up in the landfill, replacing them with stainless-steel, glass and bamboo one at a time!.
- Using all bamboo utensils in addition to our existing stainless steel ones.
- Reminding my husband to avoid plastics as possible when shopping he does almost all shopping. I like to make him feel bad when he does come home with plenty of plastics or when he forgets to take our shopping gouffa (natural basket).
- Using my lovely homemade beeswax wraps ditched the cling film, I used this time some old cotton sheets, hanging there to dry, one of my favorite swaps!
- We almost have now a paperless kitchen, so we stopped buying paper towels almost a year ago and just use kitchen cotton towels.
- Trying to use natural homemade cleaning products as much as possible instead of all the nasty chemicals, my favorite ingredients are white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon for the kitchen, I would love to make my own dishwasher soap sometime in the future.
- I've been enjoying using my natural cleaning brushes instead of the old plastic brushes, plus the heads can be replaced yay!
- Wooden pegs instead of plastic pegs I just love this swap so much, plus they look so pretty in pictures!
- Not kitchen related but wanted to share how easy it is to make this swap. I have been using linen fabric for wrapping gifts, any reusable fabric would do really. when I run out of it I use paper wrapping, though I learnt my lesson will stock up more this time.

Food to grow 
So I can only give total credit to my husband for his idea to have a small greenhouse and plant some veggies and herbs! he had planted rocket, parsley, chili, and mint so I will keep you updated if we get to make our home-grown salad any time soon.

Some pages organizations and individual to follow for inspiration and education, though I'll always strongly recommend scientific research and documentaries.
1- Libyan Wildlife Trust starting with the trust I worked with for about five years. Mainly focused on wildlife conservation but are actively engaged in environmental campaigns , you can see a lot of my work if you scroll down in the albums.
2- Sustainab.ly a very informative page on Instagram I've just recently found about, they regularly share educational material educating people in a very friendly way! they need all the support possible.
3- Plastic free july a global annual movement that takes place in July the aim is to reduce plastic waste, its possible very much so!
4- Lets Do It Libya amazing guys, have been working in Libya for a long time!
6- Libyan Youth Climate Movement another lovely organization, incredibly passionate and driven, I wish I had more hours in my day to join them.
7- So much inspiration and strategies these guys share regularly Lessplasticuk
8- Zero waste Libya a really great project by Amiramade you can follow along and support this cause and share your knowledge and awareness of zero waste, use the hashtag #zerowastelibya.
9-  Jourys.mermaids is not a typical beauty blogger, alongside sharing her expertise in skincare she shares many of her recycling projects, one of my favorite Libyan bloggers.

Other accounts that I enjoy following and did benefit so much of :

Arabic translation will follow soon.