Last week, I began my mission to reclaim the art of slow. I stumbled across Carl Honore‘s book In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed some years ago when I found myself with adrenal burn out.
I had spent the past 14-15 years in a whirlwind of university, falling pregnant, getting married, having more children, working, home educating, having a miscarriage, 5 c-sections, my husband studying, me volunteering in various churches, pioneering ministries and even a business (ok I am not the best business woman).
A move away from family to big city life brought new challenges. Here, I spent years supporting my husbands career which meant very long days alone with 4-5 little children often bearing the lion share of parenting myself. I remember one day sitting down and working out that I had one free afternoon every fortnight.
Throw into the mix leaving a church that ostricized us and cut us off, an international house move, a recession, loosing our life savings in a stock market crash, another miscarriage and one of my dearest friends dying of cancer. I emotionally, physically, spirtually and mentally burnt out in a new country with no support networks, thoroughly knackered.
Honore observes that many people come to a similar place after such experiences. They realize there has to be something more to life, there has to be another way.
Amidst all the stress, strain and depression I discovered a glimmer of hope in the knowledge that life didn’t have to be like that.
I could be free to make different choices. Soul choices.
The kind of choices that I was deeply yearning for. I didn’t have to continue to find my identity in how busy I was (or wasn’t), I didn’t have to use busyness as a protective armour for my insecurity, I didn’t have to compete with anyone’s stories of busyness. The universe wasn’t keeping score anyway.
What I did have to do, was listen to my body, and listen to the heart beat of my family, and find a flow and rhythm that suited us. I needed to put down some roots, make some friends, and start living slowly from the heart.
Recently (at the behest of a counsellor) I have been reflecting on periods of my life where I felt happiest, and one of those was moments was Friday pizza night. This started as two families sharing dinner before the older kids all went off to youth group. My friend Jen and I would meet, bringing with us various supplies that we found in the fridge; lamb left over from a meal, or roasted veg, the last bit of fancy cheese that needed using up, half used jars of olives, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes and for me houmous.
We would buy pizza bases and the kids would make their pizza’s first (Jen has 4 kids and I have 5), then later when the kids were fed, we would sit down with ours and a glass of wine. We would chat, in a somewhat quieter space with full bellied happy kids around us. Sometimes husbands joined us, sometimes not. It was a chaotic noisy, happy mess.
Looking back it was the hearthstone of my week. A warm, solid foundation to stand and warm ourselves beside. It was where conversation happened, problems shared, tears shed, jokes were told, space was held and I felt at home.
The practice took a different turn when we moved to the UK. We still kept our tradition of pizza, but it morphed into convenience food night. Cheap pizzas, bought so the kids could throw them in the oven when they were home.
No communal food making and sharing. Not for me anyway.
Last week I decided to try to get back to my roots with pizza night, and recapture some of the joy I had felt in the past. However, I wanted to slow it down even futher.
During the day, I made sure we had the toppings that people would like, and made the dough from scratch. When it was ready, the four of us that were home, made pizza together.
The TV was off the lights were dimmed, and while music played we chatted about ways to improve our bakes. There may have even been gin, ok there was definitely gin.
We made slow, deliberate pizza, and in doing so there was something special about it. Woven together moments of shared experience.
My husband, (God bless him) who is normally not the most observant of people when it comes to human behaviour (his gifts and talents lie in other areas like champion DIY man, and pancake maker), asked me several times throughout the night if I was enjoying the evening? He could sense there was something different, something different about me.
I was enjoying it, I was experiencing unforced, joy.
I don’t know if this will become a tradition, but I do know that I need to make space for creating more of these times in my life.
I need more houmous pizza moments.
What are your houmous pizza moments? Those created or incidental events that you share with others, that bring you rejuvenation and joy?
Houmous really does make a great alternative to tomato based sauce on pizza, I have been eating it for years. You just smother it on as you would a sauce. I add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it drying out.
For the pizza bases, I used the above reciepe that my daughter who is at uni has been making in an endevour to save money!