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what is a simple life?

Our morning walk
Our morning walk

A simple life is a completely subjective concept. For some people it means having free ranging children and chickens, producing all of your own food, and going off-grid with water and power, or being somewhere along that path. For others, it means reading or sitting peacefully for a small part of each day. Or it could mean finding peace within yourself by just ‘being’ more, and doing less. Every person interested in a simpler life, has their own unique interpretation of what that actually means.

For me, simplicity means being as well as I can be. It’s a reciprocal arrangement. I live simply to stay happy and healthy, and I’m happier and healthier because I choose to live simply. Pretty much everything I do, has become a part of my life with wellness either directly or indirectly in mind.

A small window into my simple life, is not me saying that my life is great, and yours is crap. It’s me saying that my life before slowing down wasn’t working very well. Only certain aspects of my needs were being met. I was always very fit, but not always really well, and not always doing all of the things which ultimately I’ve discovered make me feel more me.

When I wake early to meditate, it’s a conscious decision I’ve made to be a calmer person. To step away from a life where stress and raised cortisol affected every part of me. Meditating every day has been the best decision of my slow living life. I’m not simply hoping for peace in my day, although sometimes it does just happen by chance…I’m doing something which literally calms my nervous system, and sets me up, generally, for a peaceful start to the day. My morning mantra for the entire family is ‘Start each day, in a happy way’. Hollie Hobbie. A corny flashback to my seventies childhood.

When I’m writing, I’m happy. I am expressing myself creatively in a way which has satisfied me deeply since I was a kid. I love words. I love playing with them to create meaning and truth. Writing is such a powerful art, and for me it feels as though I’m touching on my ultimate purpose every time I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. My Mum was the first to instill the thought that I should become a writer, and it has been dancing around in my head ever since. It’s a very happy place for me.

When I crochet a tiny granny square of a greater rug, there is joy not only in the making, but also in the visual art of the project, and in the connection to my creative past. To my mother who taught me, and to all of the women who preserve the gentle arts as a part of their daily existence and tradition.

The same joy drives me in food production. There is happiness and health at the bottom of every jar of sauerkraut. I love picking cabbages, and feeling that connection with the earth (especially when I have to hunt through the layers of leaves for slugs and snails!). The whole process allows me to become entwined in the mystical elements of fermentation. There’s an enormous sense of accomplishment which comes from producing complex food. A cupboard full of ferments, learning to make sourdough bread, waiting for a batch of Kombucha to finish brewing. It’s not necessarily easier or a more efficient way to live, not at all, but it brings such positive energy into my life. It’s useful, and I have the knowledge that my food is living, simple and as unprocessed as it can be.

When I grow my own food, I know exactly where it has come from. I’ve had the chest swelling pleasure of watching it grow, and the enjoyment of seeing it become part of a meal. I love to pick and collect vegetables and herbs to make juice. It’s deeply satisfying, and it feels very right to me.

These are some of the elements which make up my simple life. It’s nothing dramatic, it’s just me being, and enjoying the very basics of life. It’s not about money, or having or doing. It’s about peace and happiness and wellness. I enjoy every small part of the life I’ve created, rather than feeling stressed or overwhelmed by a life that’s just whizzing by.

That’s what a simple life means to me.

Shared with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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fruit mince stars

‘Twas the Sunday before Christmas and all through the house…there was nothing but stillness and magic, as two little boys filled tarts and cut out stars to make the yummiest, scrummiest fruit mince pies ever. It’s been a project I’ve promised for a week, and today was the day. Thank you to Teresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef for yet another cracker of a recipe, and to two little men for generating enough excitement and joy in the kitchen this afternoon to power a small village in Lapland for a really long time.

A slight twist on regular fruit mince, made mostly with just finely chopped apple, dried fruit and  spices
A slightly different twist on regular fruit mince, made mostly of finely chopped apple, with dried fruit and spices.

Deliciously crispy and perfectly rustic almond flour crust.
with a crispy and rustic almond flour casing and star.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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balancing your energy

Saturday morning at Leighton Beach in Perth. Photo courtesy of the lovely Louise Bowles
Saturday morning at Leighton Beach, Perth. Photo courtesy of the lovely Louise Bowles

The high energy of the festive season generates such a buzz within my body and my mind. A lot of the energy translates as warmth and happiness, making me feel amazingly positive. But some of it (particularly the organisational pressure of the season), feels like a huge burden. There are often high expectations, crazy schedules, and deadlines wafting around what are essentially meant to be wonderful, relaxed, family celebrations.

I often try and talk myself out of the stress that I can, but as a yoga teacher said in a class yesterday, you can’t always change it, so you have to know how to balance it.

Finding the peace inside of yourself. Generating an opposing force to that consuming frenetic energy, by doing whatever it is that brings you calm, so that you can handle the heightened energy, but also enjoy the warmth and happiness of the season.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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the happiness of the universe

Charlie the magpie
Charlie the magpie

For the past few weeks, our family has been engrossed in the activities of a small family of magpies nesting high in a gum tree in our backyard. The parents have swooped Bob the dog mercilessly, but have tolerated our interest in them without much concern. We’ve sat outside for meals to watch them, enjoyed the squawking of feeding time, and followed the movements and progress of the babies as they learn to fly. Late on Saturday afternoon, we were horrified to find one of ‘our’ babies on the ground, clearly injured but still breathing. With all of the adults birds guarding the baby from the tree, it felt completely intrusive to be taking him, but it was obvious he had done major damage to a wing and needed help. It wasn’t long before baby maggie, since called Charlie, was wrapped in a towel inside a shoe box and on his way to a native animal rescue centre to be assessed for damage.

Our connection with this little magpie family has been so joyful and entertaining. For just a brief moment in time, it has felt like we have had an extended feathered family. Our interest and our nurturing instincts have been piqued by our mostly airborne neighbours.

We are all connected.

I meditated this morning to the dulcet tones of my good friend Deepak, and with his parting words he left me with this centreing thought, which has stuck in my head all day, for lots of reasons, but just a little bit for Charlie.

My happiness is the happiness of the universe.

It’s a beautiful thought, and a perfect way to exist in this universe. In a completely symbiotic state of mutual happiness.

I am quite certain after listening to Deepak speak, that the depth of meaning of this statement is greater than anything I could even begin to imagine. But what comes to mind for me, is the simplicity of happiness and interconnectedness. When I smile, you smile back…generally. Laughter from one person infiltrates the emotions of others. Laughter in itself generates feelings of happiness. Being in nature can trigger happiness. Seeing a family of magpies in a tree can trigger it. Showing warmth and kindness to another generates deep happiness. Giving of yourself does the same. Children readily absorb and reflect the moods of those around them…we all do. The way we decide to reflect our mood to the world influences everything which happens to us. What a huge motivation to be happy!

It’s Sunday today, and I said a little prayer for baby maggie Charlie, hoping he’s OK. The rest of his family have been poking around outside all day, closer to the house than usual…looking for Charlie perhaps. He’s unlikely to be returned to the wild here. They are highly adaptive apparently, and will find new birds to hang with wherever they are, singing and spreading their birdy happiness everywhere. They do swoop a bit I know. They swoop to protect their kin from threat, sometimes for hair for their nests (according to my mother anyway). It is funny the way that when something penetrates your world, you notice it so much more. I’m seeing magpies everywhere, and I’m looking at them quite differently too…they really are quite lovely birds.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT