Though I've long been an advocate for the 'art of slow living', I've not actually been living slowly myself. Elongating the 'do as I say, not as I do' scenario to new lengths. Adding an extra layer of guilt to the feeling that though this year was a vast improvement on the year previous, I still haven't quite found my stride. Struggling still to embody the change I wish to see both inside and out.

☾⟠ 2017 #CollaborationOverCompetition ⟠☽
This past year I found myself disorganized, impatient, and constantly questioning myself ... a sort of one step forward, three steps back type of growth. It was frustrating and uncomfortable but was led by the knowledge that discontent was a catalyst, not a curse. Despite the many blessings of my life, change both internal and external was naggingly necessary, I knew which direction I had to go, but I couldn’t quite find a clear path forward ... 

In terms of this blog, I struggled to shake the feeling I was missing a note. The conscious community had started to successfully mimic the formula practised by mainstream bloggers and brands, a shadowing that could never truly work for the industry or the lifestyle we were trying to promote. Competition in the industry felt fierce, content repetitive, it was as if evolution, especially mine, had stalled. To top it off the whole industry was quite clearly burnt out, we were all stuck scraping by with what works for others instead of having the time and energy to discover what works best for us individually as well as our community. 

I started experimenting with the idea of collaboration, attempting, through my work to unite multiple brands and multiple bloggers in projects which would entice brands and/or bloggers to unite and distribute their power through cross-promotion. It wasn't a particularly new idea, but it was new to me, and a few days ago,, when I looked at my yearly stats, I noticed each project done with this scope, were amongst my most successful of the year, and in many cases, for all time.


☾⟠ 2018 #VanVie ⟠☽ 

My husband and I had been struggling financially for the past few years, scraping by despite the constant output of energy we've invested in our career-focused rhythms. Though things had slowly begun to flower, it was clear we couldn't flourish in the life we'd built. Something had to drastically change in terms of circumstance and habit, or we'd undoubtedly sink.

Three years ago we spent nine months living in a VW Van (read the travel diaries here). We drove from Texas to California, California to Colorado, Colorado to Oregan, and from Oregan through California to Texas again. It didn't exactly go smoothly, in fact, the van broke down multiple times and we sunk every penny we had saved for our dreamy adventures fixing it up to be roadworthy for the next people who owned it (check them out btw, they're inspiring humans). It left us feeling somehow cheated of the wanderlust lifestyle we'd set out to achieve, and ever since we've been whispering about a life on the road, slowly working up the confidence to try it again. 

Mid-year, as we started brainstorming ideas on how we might edit our lives to fit the lifestyle we dreamed of, the subject of tiny house living kept coming up, but we didn't have enough money to build one, nor a clear idea of where we would put one. We considered other cities we could live in; Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Barcelona, Lisbon and so on ... but moving to yet another big city when we were clearly craving a slower lifestyle drenched in nature seemed like a backwards way to go. 

I counted up the number of days we had rented out our place in Paris on Airbnb. Over the course of 365 days, we had been away from home for 192 days, over half the calendar year. It no longer made sense for us to keep a super spendy apartment, so we made a decision to downsize, find an apartment on wheels and hit the road for a while. It took us less than a month to find our home, a 1985 Mercedes 508D which had been built out by the kindest, most warm-hearted couple. My dad's neighbour had found the beast on eBay, and we went down immediately to the stunning coast of Cornwall to see it.

When we arrived the waves were wild and the sky was billowing with indigo coloured blue. The van was parked up on a hill overlooking it all, the smokestack billowing smoke through its little white roof. We had exchanged warm emails with the couple who owned it, they were about our age, exactly our size and had been living in the van full time. We walked into the warmth of a cozy fire, greeted with genuine smiles and with the smell of percolating coffee filling the air. It felt, almost immediately, like home. The four of us sat there like old friends, grinning shyly and sharing our life plans around the fire.

We had 12 hours to decide if we wanted it and we made the decision on faith rather than taking the responsibility. Every penny of our savings was sent over and a month later we picked it up, driving it up to Kent through the magical Devon fog. I've shared a private link of the live video tour HERE on youtube for your viewing pleasure, it's the perfect size for two, designed beautifully, and drenched in the care and love that Debbie and Joe, its makers, put into it.

As of March, we'll begin our journey down Europe's Atlantic coast, beginning in Biarritz, France and making our way down to Portugal by Christmas. Our plan is to shift to share our lifestyle with a weekly blog, weekly vlog and more regular Instagram content. Our plan is to avoid being annoying #VanLife people, and instead, concentrate on really honing the minimalist, zero waste, eco-friendly, plant-based lifestyle we're trying to live by. By reducing our expenses significantly, we're freeing up time. Our goal is to work no more than 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, embodying, hopefully, the art of slow living, hopefully creating in the process a healthy foundation for us to bloom both individually and as a couple.

Though there are heaps of resolutions I have listed for myself to personally overcome, I'm hoping the shift in lifestyle will help them naturally find a way to move on. I'm wishing you all a beautiful year to come, may each day be filled with love and laughter and may health and happiness reign down on us all.