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The world around us asks for so much. The pace at which we’re expected to participate, to preform and to produce continues to accelerate. The deadlines and the to-do lists all focus our attention on tomorrow, often at the cost of today. The time will pass regardless - but it’s what we notice, what we’re present to - that matters most. 

So we’re launching a space to chat in depth with those who’s lifestyle inspires us to continue the search for balance and for a slower, more rhythmic pace in our day to day lives. 

In Search of Slow is our invitation to appreciate what’s present, to savour those fleeting, seemingly ordinary experiences that when strung together, create the richness, the foundation, and the very fabric of our lives.

And we are sooooo excited to kick this series off with Nicole Gagnon, the inspiring maker and incredibly talented artist behind RARE OLIVE designs...

 We think a home says a lot about the people who live there, so first off, how would you describe your home?

Our home is a tiny one-bedroom house. Think condo size, but with the addition of a yard and workshop space. It is everything we need, no more and no less. We can vacuum its entirety with one single battery charge of the cordless Dyson. A convenient size - we think so. 

Our home is comprised of husband, Sean and wife, Nicole, and our cat Jaxon. We are passionate designers/woodworkers. When we initially purchased our house 5 years ago, we saw the garage… and we were sold! It was nothing fancy, but it was a detached space to do our craft. For us, this was always the dream.

We have taken a great deal of time in selecting our interior decor, picking up special pieces here and there as we come across them through our life’s journey. Most of what fills our space are pieces found at markets or from fellow maker friends. We love and value supporting local and handcrafted.

What/who inspires the way that you live? Is there a thought or expression you try to live by?

Though we are by no means minimalist, the teachings and lessons from those who are, are what inspires the way we live. The idea of only owning and obtaining things that bring us joy certainly resonates with us. We find it worth our while to shop for quality over quantity. We want to be able to fully use and cherish everything that we own. The goal then becomes to make mindful purchases, and purchases that we will love for many years.

The same goes for the people and experiences that we cherish. We are mindful of the relationships we form. Exhaustive relationships haven’t much place in our lives. We prefer to surround ourselves with those who lift us up, energize us, and encourage our dreams, and it is our intent to do the same for others. We love to inspire through positivity and encouragement.

“Use it or loose it,” is an expression we find ourselves saying often. This may sound like a bit of tough love, especially when is comes to sentimental things in our lives. But, this relates back to making sure all that we have in our lives is for the better. If it causes more frustration then it’s worth or hides away collecting dust with no future value in sight, it has got to go. We find that ridding our physical space of clutter, is a powerful tool that additionally helps clear our minds of clutter. And most times, if we can’t find a use for the item, someone else likely can.  

What daily rituals do you have? What do they give to you?

A lot of our daily rituals surround health - both physical and mental. Both of us live with autoimmune disease. Another big reason we have had to learn to “slow” down. A compromised auto-immune system demands “slow,” and if ignored, our bodies will let us know that they are unhappy.

We often start our days off with a warm drink, something hydrating to help set the day’s digestive system off on the right track. A favourite go-to is: warm water, squeeze of lemon juice, ginger root, and honey. More recently we have been trying to make walking part of our daily ritual for movement, fresh air and getting that natural Vitamin D. We head to forest trails, if we can. Nature walks on the daily just simply heal and resets the mind for a productive day.

I enjoy baths and a good facial routine. This helps break up my day or end my day. I re-purchase the exact same skin care products each time I run out, in order to reduce decision fatigue. I personally love “Garden City Essentials”, a small local company based out of St.Catharines. I’ll use a guasha stone to massage my favourite serums into the skin. There is nothing like quiet meditative music, soft candlelight and a facial massage in the evenings to wind down from the day.

What’s a favourite piece in your home? Can you tell us why?

We have a large wood and metal clock in our living room that is our absolute favourite home décor piece. In this case, the clock was designed and made by Generational Design Works, a small family run business here in Ontario. This clock was our very first large artisan purchase. A splurge for us, but well worth it! What we have come to learn from supporting local and investing in quality pieces, is that we automatically treat them with that much more care and they do hold a higher intrinsic value. These pieces are often one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable, making them that much more special to have as a conversation piece in our home.

How do you search for slow in your life?

We try hard not to “chase” for the sake of it. It can be easy to fall into that “trap” of wanting goals reached very fast just because we see and compare ourselves to others. Don’t get me wrong, we still have ambitious goals and plans for ourselves, but we try to be very in-tuned with our own personal reasons for where we put our energies and efforts rather than simply trying to keep up with the status-quo. This often requires a great deal of thought and mediation in figuring out what it is that we truly value in life. Jumping in on quick fads and trends, might be the initial thought, but if we dig a little deeper we might find that they don’t always do a whole lot to serve our core values or to bring us longer lasting joy. ‘Slow’ for us can be as simple as spending time in thought about our values before jumping into decisions about things. We try to think about our purchasing decisions, where to spend our time and energy, with whom to spend our time and energy.  Not simply saying “yes” to everything is key to slowing down life. 

Thank you so much, Nicole!! 

Click HERE to learn from about Rare Olive and her beautiful collection. 


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