I am passionate about slowing down and simplifying my life and I talk about it sometimes with a real sense of urgency. I am finding that the more I speak to others about slowing down, the more I see their eyes light up and then they basically say they want to slow down their busy lives...but don't think it is possible.
There is a sense of guilt that accompanies wanting to slow down. We would feel guilty because our society does not accept the concept. Instead our society has always rewarded whatever or whoever is faster. Being faster connotes being more productive, more vital, more energized. Our society has created this myth that whatever is faster, is automatically better. We have been conditioned to think this way.
So here are some tips to help you slow down without the guilt:
1. Take a step back and think about what you are doing. Is the activity you are doing, or have signed up for, something you really want to do or are you doing it because you should do it? Is this something that you can politely refuse and say no to? What's the downside of slowing down? There is none. You only have to gain from it. It is a quality of life decision.
2. Realize that wanting to slow down is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. You have the reins on your life and want a stronger quality of life. You value your time and want more time to do what you want to do. This is through simplifying your life.
3. Know that having and doing more activities does not make you more productive. It is a misconception. How about toning down your extra activities and concentrating on only a few that you really enjoy doing?
4. Speak with others and become passionate about slowing down. This is something to be proud of and not something to keep as a secret. You will see the eyes of others light up as they too want to regain the reins of their lives. They will ask you how you did it. Make it a conviction of yours and others will follow.
5. Be your own person. Just because your neighbors are on the fast track treadmill of life, does not mean you should be. Just because the other chilren have three afterschool activities does not mean your child should. Don't go with the flow. Instead make a conscious decision to slow down and simplify your life. Be a role model for those around you. Afterall your child never asked to be put on the treadmill.
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The Mediterranean diet is healthier. Italians live longer then almost the entire rest of the world. Can we learn from them? I think so. In Italy caregivers including mothers, fathers, grandparents, babysitters, daycare and schools traditionally offer healthier alternatives to their children as snacks. Here are some more healthy snack ideas for your children. The next time your younger or older child asks for a snack, think of offering these:
The slow food movement began in Italy and Italians have one of the greatest life expectancy rates in the world. Their Mediterrean Diet is a factor for their good health. After 16 years living in Italy, I have learned what Italian children eat on a regular basis. Here are the easiest and healthiest snacks Italian children eat in Italy that you can prepare for your children no matter where you live.
1. Fresh bread with extra virgin olive oil.
We may not be able to purchase fresh bread everyday but we can choose amongst many different breads that are available. It is a good idea to read the labels and select that bread that has the least amount of preservatives, additives and food colorings. With regard to extra virgin olive oil, make sure you are using a quality product that does not have any added preservatives, has an expiration date, is stored in a glass bottle. High quality olive oil is not cheap and if it is, you are probably not getting the best product.
Use one or two slices of bread (toasted or not depending on preference) with the olive oil drizzled on top. The bread should not be swimming in the oil. I sometimes sprinkle very little salt on the bread before drizzling the olive oil but this too is an option.
2. Fresh fruit.
Italians opt for fruit that children can easily manage and store in a backpack such as bananas, tangerines, apples, oranges, .
3. Dried fruit and seeds
Here Italians use dried figs, apricots, apples, bananas and seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
4. Freshly squeezed orange juice (not from a carton)
In the winter I see Italian caregivers give their children freshly squeezed orange juice. They will take 3 or 4 ripe oranges and juice them for the children.
5. Fresh bread sandwich with "frittata" (omelette)
Often times the omelette is fried but it can also be made in the oven with very little oil. Cool the omelette, cut and place within the sandwich and you have an instant delicious healthy snack.
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I am always trying to find ways to not only simplify my life but how to do less. Let's face it quality of life has to do with not cramming more activities into one's precious day. Quality of life is about having more time to do what one really wants to do. I am not into multitasking, which is defined as simultaneous execution of more than one program or task by a single computer processor (wikipedia). We are not computers nor shall we want to be. We are not meant to be doing many things at once. So in all my research and talking to women, men, young people, college students and elderly, I am repeatedly told "Lucia, I want to slow down but I just feel it is a lost cause." So this list is for all of us and starts with you taking the first step.
1. Say No without the guilt. It is ok to tell your son's coach that your son cannot make it to the game or cannot come three times a week for training. It is ok to tell the dentist's secretary that you cannot schedule that appointment that day. You don't have to justify yourself with anyone. It is ok to say no to your child that you cannot take her to the mall. It is ok to say no to your spouse that you cannot have Mr. and Mrs. X over for dinner tonight.
2. Wash and dry clothes only once a week. If possible, hang your clothes outside to dry. Even if there is no sunlight, the air and wind will dry your clothes. This was something I did not know and learned from the Italians. There is nothing like air dried clothes and you will save in electricity costs.
3. Shop for groceries only once a week. Be creative with your meals and use what you have without having to repeatedly go to the supermarket.
4. Run your dishwasher only once a day. The more you run your dishwasher the more you have to empty your dishwasher which also consumes more electricity.
5. Keep only one waste / recycle bin area in your home. You don't need waste bins in every room. More bins equal more trash equal more physically having to empty them. If your home has more then one floor, each floor should have one recycle area.
6. Don't bring home unnecessary advertisements, pamphlets, business cards. You can find most anything nowadays online and these create clutter which will then lead you to have to do more de cluttering. I now refuse any free gifts and all the packaging materials, free pamphlets, free gadgets, free clutter!
7. Tidy up your bedroom as soon as you can first thing in the morning before leaving your house. This means fold and put away clothes, make your bed, etc.
8. Clean your kitchen, counters, etc right after mealtime. This will save you loads of time and help you feel less cluttered.
9. Go outdoors. Spend as much time as possible outdoors. It is an energy booster and will rejuvinate you.
10. Eliminate your telephone land line. I was constantly interrupted by solicitors all day. I eliminated the land line and have one personal mobile and one mobile that I use as a land line for emergencies. This one change has freed up my time and put a skip in my step.
I want to hear what your suggestions and tricks are for doing less and living more!! I welcome your comments.
For more information on living a slower and simpler life as the Italian lifestyle reach out for my book and resources at:
I am no jet setter but I have done my fair share of traveling with my children when they were in my womb, infants, toddlers, elementary school children and now adolescents. Not only have I done a lot of traveling with them but I have done long sixteen hour plus flights with them.
These have included all sorts of unexpected arisings: dropping the pacifier on the airport floor, diaper changes in every imaginable place and then some, hauling carseats across various European airports, suitcase breaking apart at check in, dropping my bracelet in the airplane's toilet, accepting stares and glares from other passengers when my son's ears were hurting at landing, etc. The list goes on and on and I can sure give advice on all sorts of do's and don'ts. I go on long trips for long periods of time with children. The following is what I have learned about packing that will make your trip so much more enjoyable:
Packing your luggage:
1.Each family member should have one small piece of luggage. This will save loads of time when searching for items, clothes, toys, shoes. Also each airline allows for one piece of luggage (within maximum weight limit) per person.
2. Bring only one week's worth of clothes for each family member. Yes this actually works! Each family member should only have one week's worth of underwear, socks, nightwear, tops, pants, sweaters, one jacket (heavy or light depending on season), and one extra pair of shoes. You will love me for this. This tip alone will make travel so much more enjoyable because it entails less packing, less clutter, and less unpacking. Think simple!
3. Bring clothes you won't mind discarding at the end of the trip. You will want to donate them or discard them so you will have extra room in your luggage for new purchases, souvenirs, etc.
4. Pack one or two favorite toys, books or activities per child in his/her luggage.
Packing your carry-on luggage:
5. Give each child over the age of 5 his / her own small backpack to carry with a favorite toy and healthy snack. Itg ives the child a sense of responsibility and is one less thing the adult has to carry!
6. Bring one extra top, bottom, socks and underwear for each child with your carry on baggage. This is for possible spills or accidents. Each child should wear Velcro strap shoes with socks for easy on and off.
7. Bring plenty of healthy snacks and keep them in zip lock baggies in your carry on luggage.
8. Bring medicines you may need for each person. I usually bring fever medication for adults and children, allergy medicine, cortisone ointment, asthma spray. These will be according to your particular needs of course.
9. Buy water right before boarding. Any other liquids will be asked to be tossed.
10. Don't bring lots of toys and activities for flight. Children get bored quickly and toys end up on the floor or between the seats.
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The Slow Food Movement originated in Italy. It is no surprise then that Italians rank one of the highest countries in terms of longevity. Italians live to be a whopping 83 years old!
I did not realize I was living a fast paced life until I received certain signals from others around me in Italy. When I began to look around me, I realized I was multi tasking, stressed and definitely not living the Tuscan lifestyle I had envisioned. In fact I was even more restless in Italy then I had been in Los Angeles. After many years of observing and researching the Italian lifestyle, I learned and am learning the steps to live slower and simpler.
I would say the first step to slowing down is knowing it is time to make some changes. The following are the five ways to know you need to slow down:
1. You speak fast. Often times you do not let others finish speaking and you interrupt them. While speaking you are thinking about the next thing you have to do. You are not attentively listening to the other person.
2. You walk fast. You walk fast even if it is not for exercise purposes. You don't know how to stroll. You are always in a hurry.
3. You multitask. You are constantly doing more then one activity at a time. You have not finished one thing before you start another. You multitask also in thoughts. You are doing one thing but thinking of another.
4. You eat fast and have poor eating habits. You don't sit down at a table and slowly consume your meal. You usually do not chew your food at least 20 times before swallowing. You do not eat healthy meals. You don't take the time to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. You eat or drink standing up, on the go, or at your desk.
5. You cannot just BE. You find it difficult to just sit still and relax. You cannot be without an electronic gadget (computer, television, phone,etc). You become fidgety.
To learn more about taking the steps to living a slower and simpler lifestyle get my ebook
"Living the Italian Lifestyle: A Self-improvement Program for Living a Slower, Simpler, More Fulfilling Life Anywhere"
What is minimalist dressing? Why do I need to master it? How will this tiny change in my life grant me loads of free time? Minimalist dressing is dressing by removing the superfluous or constitutes a style that uses pared down essentials. The Italians have always used this concept and they not only look impeccable but probably don't spend hours trying to figure out what to wear. There are only three requirements: the clothes must be clean; the clothes must be in good condition; the clothes must fit properly.