WITH MELANIE BARNES
OF GEOFFREY AND GRACE
Melanie is the mother behind UK lifestyle blog Geoffrey and Grace, a home for wholehearted and slow living. She believes that in order to experience those wholehearted moments that are present every day, we need to slow down and reconnect with our bodies. Before having her daughter, Melanie was a yoga teacher and a massage therapist, so well-being is at the heart of everything she does. Nature and the seasons are her big inspirations, and she thinks creativity and connections are fundamental to our happiness. She is also a freelance writer and photographer and lives by the sea in Sussex England with her husband Leo, their 5-year-old daughter, Bailey and cat Juniper. Read our interview with Melanie below.
Can You Tell Us More About Slow Living?
Slow living is a lifestyle that cherishes the simple things. Whether you live in the city or the countryside, whether you are a full-time parent who also works, or you are retired, anyone can have a slice of slow living. By choosing quality over quantity, and by simplifying your home and your schedules, you are able to experience life in a more mindful way. For me, the art of slow living is not in how much ‘free time’ you have, but how intentional you are with that time.
How Long Have You Been Celebrating Slow Living?
For the last 2-3 years, I have really been exploring the principles of slow living and figuring out what it means for me and my family. However, there have always been elements of slow living in my lifestyle. My body seems to naturally want to go at a slower pace and I find it is better for my well-being.
I actually grew up with a mum who instinctively knew how to ‘live slow’.
Through watching her habits and how she prioritised things, it has given me a great foundation into what slow living is. Creating and writing the Geoffrey and Grace blog has allowed me to look into slow living as a concept in more depth, and for that, I am very thankful.
I find that a dose of fresh air and a bit of
space is fantastic at helping us slow down
and boosts our spirits
What Made You Want To Embrace This Lifestyle?
It all comes back to getting the most from life and being as present as possible. It’s so easy to rush through our days and miss out on the important things. Or we are too
stressed and anxious to really connect with others and enjoy our days. To me, it just makes sense to prioritise one’s well-being. Life is so short and precious, I really want to soak up all those wholehearted moments.
Has It Changed You?
Yes, it definitely has changed me. Slowing down has made me be very conscious about all aspects of our lives. We have decluttered our home and are taking steps to simplify our environment. With work, it has helped me prioritise what work I take on and what opportunities aren’t quite right for me. When you shift your thinking to value time as a commodity, it becomes very precious, and you are naturally mindful of how you spend that time.
What Do You Love Most About Slow Living?
That it makes you tune in and reconnect with your body. Our bodies are inherently wise and often know what is best for us, just somewhere along the way most of us forget how to listen to them.
What Are Some Of Your Ways To Be Present?
Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and simple practices like setting intentions and a gratitude practice all help me to be more present.
Do You Think Slow Living Has Helped To Create A More Magical, Carefree Childhood For Bailey?
I hope so. It means we have days where we go where the wind takes us, and that sense of freedom is pretty magical. In contrast, it also means that sometimes she misses out on things. For example, if she has been invited to two birthday parties in the same weekend, we generally won’t attend both. We prioritise a family day where we have no schedules, as I know this is what we all need to fill us up before the week starts again.
(I hope) she grows up knowing
what is truly important in life
and that this world needs
as much kindness as possible.
What Do You Like Doing Together As A Family On Weekends?
We like to go out in nature. We are lucky enough to be near the sea, so we often go down to the beach or head up to the South Downs. I find that a dose of fresh air and a bit of space is fantastic at helping us slow down and boosts our spirits. We try to have at least one day when we don’t plan anything. I try to not organise too many activities for my daughter, as it’s great to be able to just hang about at home and play, and I think it’s even important for her to get bored sometimes.
How Are You Hoping Her Upbringing Will Impact Bailey’s Outlook On Life?
I hope she is relaxed and confident in who she is and her abilities. That she has the courage to be vulnerable and understand the importance of vulnerability for creativity and connection. That she grows up knowing what is truly important in life and that this world
needs as much kindness as possible. That she loves and respects nature and this wonderful planet of ours.
What Is The One Thing You Want Your Daughter To Remember From Her Childhood?
That she knew we always had time for her, and that she laughed a lot and had fun.
And Finally, What Advice Would You Give To Others Who Are Interested In Learning More About Slow Living And Embracing This Lifestyle?
Everything I have learned through our journey so far can be found in my free e-book on slow living. It is full of advice and tips on how to slow down and reconnect back to yourself.
You can sign up to receive your free copy here.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to get you started…
Simplify Your Lifestyle
Cut out anything you do that isn’t a necessity and doesn’t bring you any joy.
Look After Your Body And Make Time For Your Well-Being
Try to take time out each day to slow down and re-connect to your body in a way that works for you. In the e-book, I
talk about finding your ‘slow moments’, then making sure you create space for them in your weekly routine.
Listen To Your Body And Do What Feels Good For You
Simplify Your Environment And Declutter Your Belongings
Try To Find A Community
This can also be an online community, one that understands your lifestyle choices and provides support.
With thanks to Melanie Barnes X