Why I Embrace Slow Life

Slow. It’s been the bane of my existence my entire life.

© 2019 Alyson Toone All Rights Reserved

© 2019 Alyson Toone All Rights Reserved

Why? Because it’s something I’m good at without even trying. I’ve experienced many people trying to admonish my slow movement as a bad thing. Whether it was my mother rushing me along when I want to investigate things or my boss expecting faster results. And many of my friends could tell you, that I am not conscious of time. I walked through my life feeling like I don’t fit in this fast society.

Then I heard about the Slow Movement.

My first brush with this was in college. On a mission to lose weight healthily, I read French Women Don’t Get Fat in which Mirelle Guiliano discusses how the lifestyle of the United States has made us fat. I just want to point out that I chose to read this over joining the masses following Atkins and South Beach Diets which were popular at the time because they promised quick weight loss. Guiliano wrote about the importance of daily meals being special rather than mindlessly fast. I quit eating fast food at this time. (I started eating fast food again later but rarely.) As Guiliano explains, making meals special includes using quality ingredients. This means spending more money on locally grown produce and going to your local food artisans (bakery, butcher, and deli). This was later reinforced with all the artisan businesses that opened in the late 2000s. This was my introduction to the Slow Food Movement.

sustainable fashion, using high-quality materials and relying on personal style rather than trends

My next movement introduction should be a longer post. Actually, it is. I worked in the fashion industry for years. A large part of the reason I hated it was because of the ubiquitous nature of fast fashion. Fast fashion became the only way that many apparel companies could survive. My job was about creating “new” designs for retailers in which the merchandise was constantly turning over. I felt like I was spinning my wheels trying to meet the needs of buyers. Fall collections reach the retail floor in Summer, Holiday lines are available in Fall, Spring clothing is the stores in midwinter and so on. If you need a swimsuit suddenly in August, you can’t find one. No one in my jobs ever discussed this madness. We just put our heads down to work crazy hours at an aggressive pace. Then I read two books: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline and Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell. Both books gave a clear explanation of what was happening in the world in which I worked and lived. It disgusted me that I designed apparel for the world’s largest retailer who had left small, local US retailers in its wake when it set up shop in a small town. Not to mention the things done to developing nations and the planet in the name of high profits for shareholders. This was my introduction to the Slow Fashion movement. A group of people devoted to making sustainable fashion, using high-quality materials and relying on personal style rather than trends. As a designer, this is what I REALLY wanted to create. But alas, I lived in New York City. In case you didn’t know, New York City has some of the highest rent in the nation. So, I stayed making things I didn’t love while contributing to a system that served the few over the majority. My reconciliation for my role in all of that is here and now.

Your vacation should be restful, not stressful.

Me enjoying our neighborhood juice bar in Miramar, Cuba

Me enjoying our neighborhood juice bar in Miramar, Cuba

More recently, I heard about Slow Travel and Slow Journalism only to realize that I was already living in those movements. Considering the titles that I mentioned in this post, I already take part in being informed by Slow Journalism. Devoted to delving deep into issues to tell all sides to a story, slow journalism is the opposite of the “hear it from us first” wars in today’s media. The Slow Travel movement is all about enjoying one place for a period of time rather than trying to get your passport stamped in as many countries as possible in one trip. Your vacation should be restful, not stressful. I always traveled on a limited budget which kept me from paying for tours. Then I realized that many tours just cart people around from one attraction to the next. I preferred to pretend to be a local for a week.

I had always enjoyed the slowness of creating. That had been lost in my professional life. Jewelry making, embroidery, and surface design all force you to slow down and enjoy the process. Cooking is another slow process that I cherish. And occasionally I sew my clothes.

It took years, but I now accept my love for all things slow. This society has ways of making your natural inclinations seem like unwanted mutant abilities (BTW, I love the X-Men). Once I accepted my own natural steadfastness, I realized that there were voices in my life that praised me for it. I have had people tell me that I make them feel comfortable and bring stability. I feel like that is what I have to offer to the world in my work.