Our Slow Lifestyle
Why Slow Spirit?
Slow Spirit, a somewhat strange name for a website if you don’t know the meaning behind it. Well in this post I hope to solve that problem by explaining to you a little better the reasoning behind the choosing of the name slowspirit.com.
It all started with our lifestyle and if you have read our Blog Relaunch post this should complement what is in there but if you haven’t read it, I would recommend you do it now, as this post will make a lot more sense then.
As we mentioned in the relaunch post, we defined our lifestyle as: vagabonds, minimalistic, frugal and nomadic. We also mention how we, in many ways identify our lifestyle with the Slow Movement along with our care for the environment and the search for meaningful relationships with people we meet on the road.
Today, my intention is to talk a little bit more about these definitions, as for some of you this could be the first time you come across such terms. However, before I start, I would like to explain to you that these were not terms that defined the way we live – quite the opposite – it was us trying to find a way to explain to people how we live, that we came across them.
Minimalist and Frugal Living
As you might have seen on previous posts written by Greg and Gui, a minimalistic and frugal lifestyle has been part of their day-to-day lives for a long time. It dates back to their childhood, when they would tell their mother that, they would rather travel to Maranhão (North of Brazil) for a family holiday, instead of getting new expensive clothes.
When they managed to get the Portuguese passport and the dream to live in London started to became a reality, they somehow managed to consume even less and within under a year they managed to raise more than enough money to fund their trip.
Okay, but I still have not given you an explanation of what minimal and frugal living is, so let’s leave the examples aside and define the terms:
Minimalist Living derives from the technique or concept used in music, art, or design that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity which can also be applied to a lifestyle. It starts with the idea that you are above material goods, that you should only have the things you actually need. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be expensive or from a particular brand, it means that you should have fewer things and only things that are fundamental for daily life.
On the other hand, frugalism goes even further than minimalism, as you not only have less, but you consume less in general, from food, clothes, to nights out and gadgets. You learn to make the most of your money and life. For instance, you can choose to go to an open air free concert and take your own drink rather than paying £x to get into a famous nightclub where the drinks will cost probably 3 or 4 times more than the ones you buy at the supermarket.
For instance, my little sister is getting married at the end of the year in Brazil, and when she told me, of course I was very happy for her, but at the same time my frugal brain started to dread the expenses such as the dress, shoes, gifts and so on. My instinct made me open the browser and look for costs, the average prices were from £50 to £150 just for the dress. I then went on Ebay and found a beautiful second hand dress for £9, I did not think twice, this was the one. My friends could not believe I would use a second hand dress for my sisters wedding, but for me it was like winning the lottery.I’d also like to mention that it is not just me that feels this way, all four of us share the same ideals. Greg and Gui still have clothes they bought when they were teenagers which they still use as there is nothing wrong with them. Sophia just the other day was talking about the lovely dress she’d found in a charity shop for just 50p. Some people could never imagine using clothes older than a year or buying something that had already been worn by others. For us though it is a part of our life.
The nomadic part of our lifestyle I consider to be one of the most difficult to explain, or actually the hardest for people to understand. Unless you have at least once in your life left everything behind and gone to a completely different place, with different culture, food, climate, and language you will never truly understand. However, if you had this chance and have experienced being out of your comfort zone you will understand the addiction.
I first left my comfort zone when I was only 19 years old, I could not bear the life I was having – don’t get me wrong – I loved my country, my family and my culture. However,on the other hand being 19 and having to work full-time, study full-time, and having no money left over to have a social life and travel was not what I wanted for life…I needed more.
I won’t say it was easy at first, I did not plan as well as Greg and Gui did, I did not save enough money and on top of all that, I barely spoke the language. Somehow the fact that it was so challenging made me stronger and made me learn so much in a short space of time. Yet after a couple of years in the UK with my Italian Passport and now being able to speak English and Italian I realised once again that I needed more.
Meeting Greg and consequently Gui, showed me that I was not alone and that there were more people out there looking for similar challenges and experiences in life. Sophia joined us while we were experiencing another exciting adventure; our time in New Zealand, and there is no need to tell you that she too had no doubts at only 18 that she wanted to have similar experiences again.Our wish now is to take the nomadic lifestyle to another level and as we have mentioned already, be on the road full-time, and have these experiences on a daily basis. Finally, for me there is no better definition to a nomadic lifestyle than the one by Rolf Potts in his book Vagabonding:
“The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time. A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, good humor, and the growth of the spirit. A deliberate way of living that makes the freedom to travel possible.”
The Slow Movement is something that we came across more recently, to be more specific, I came across the concept while at university, although, without knowing we had been applying it to our everyday life without even realising it.
The main concept of the movement is to slow things down. In the world we live in today people are always in a rush, no matter if it is going to work, running past other commuters on the tube escalators or on your lunch break, by grabbing a quick bite in the nearest fast food place. And all just to save time, why is it we can no longer enjoy time? This is even more visible when you travel, as we nowadays rarely enjoy the actual trip itself, we just want to get to our destination as soon as possible.
Because of this hurry to do everything, we end up missing important moments in our lives. Like perhaps meeting the love of your life on the tube by addressing the pretty girl next to you and telling her that she is wearing a really nice perfume. Or simply by getting home early on a friday night and cooking dinner from scratch for your boyfriend, even though you have been together for over six months, he has never tried your speciality, the lasagne your grandmother taught you how to make.
I always loved cooking so Greg was lucky to try my lasagne only 2 weeks after we met, however the slowness of travel was something that we learned to appreciate together, especially after our trips to India and New Zealand. Now this is one thing that we like to prioritise whenever possible. I say whenever possible, because unfortunately sometimes in order to visit some countries, especially the expensive ones (Japan/Iceland), you have to restrict yourself to less days and maybe a faster experience.If you are interested in finding out a bit more about the Slow Movement, I have written a small post that goes into more details of the subject with links to related websites and book recommendations too!! Happy reading!!
The passion for the planet we live on is something I was lucky to learn from a very early age, as Greg and Gui like to tease me for… I come from the countryside!! My grandparents live on and run an organic farm and consequently I spent a lot of time with the animals and in the woods. I milked cows, I learned how to plant and harvest most of the food we ate, I even learnt how to make sugar and wine. So I always valued and respected the land and those who made their living from it.New Zealand was also an important chapter of our lives, that taught us to appreciate the wildlife side of nature. The encounter with sea lions in their natural habitat while being respected by the humans that shared that space with them. Baby seals swimming happily under a waterfall in a stream showing off their skills to curious tourists. The free campsites we stayed at in front of the beach in National parks throughout the country with ecological toilets and other basic facilities that did not disturb the beauty of the place. We were in love with this sustainable way of travelling and above all with the education and respect of the local population.
The experience inspired me so much, that once back in the UK I chose to study sustainable development and hopefully learn more about how I could make a difference in the other places we would visit in the future. And now I feel ready to, along with Greg, Sophia, Gui and you guys to start making a difference through the blog and our new adventures.
So guys, this is who we are and who we became after the different experiences travelling the world so far.
Hopefully after this you will understand a bit better our intentions with the blog. Although our main goal is to share with you our love and passion for travelling, we don’t only want to tell you about our trips or the places we visited. Our intentions are to tell you more about our experience in general, for instance, how we got there, how we planned, who we met, the vegetarian restaurant that serves local food, the eco hostel that we stayed in or even to tell you about the driver we met hitchhiking from Prague to Bratislava.We also want to tell you about the changes we are constantly making in our daily lives, like the way we bake our own bread, or the fact that we have a wormery at the of our back garden to dispose of our organic waste, the crazy fresh vegetable juices we got addicted to and how we are opting more and more to hitchhike or use trains and buses rather than flights and how we are choosing Couchsurfing or Airbnb rather than hotels and B&B’s. In a nutshell, we want to make a difference and want to help you and others to understand that too:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi