Gallery

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.

Gallery

a simple childhood

a simple life
a simple life

Every so often I find myself thinking about the simple things in life which will create lasting memories for my kids, and how I can make them happen. I wonder which adventures will be the ones imprinted in their memories forever, generating those really special feelings about their childhood. It usually crosses my mind when it seems as though we are in the midst of one of those moments, and I feel deeply happy about it.

But I can absolutely guarantee, that although my own parents would have loved the sight of me and my siblings enjoying the simple things in life, that not a whole lot of thought would have gone into the creation of that moment, or into where that moment would end up in the grand scheme of lifelong memories. Why is that? Why do I spend time thinking about family traditions, and ways to create great childhood memories, when it seemed to just happen quite naturally thirty or forty years ago.

I think it’s because life was inherently more simple in the seventies. That’s my memory of it anyway. Those ‘towel over the shoulder, bike riding to the sea’ memories were a dime a dozen. Sunday picnics in the park happened more often than not in the warmer months, and camping was the natural form of most family holidays. Alternatively in our family, we would head across the Nullabor plain to visit relatives on the other side. We would listen to Abba, tear Mintie wrappers into the longest strips possible, and play ‘I spy’ for hours on end, to entertain ourselves during the 36 hour drive. Once there, it would be a total farm life experience. We would feed chickens, shoot guns, ride on harvesters, and do all the stuff city slickers rarely get the opportunity to do. Amazing memories. Nothing fancy. None of us needed to be reminded to ‘stay present’ or to ‘live in the moment’. Simplicity just seemed to happen, and we were there to experience every second of it.

Today it feels as though all of the simple things I crave for my family, need to be sought…and then created. Life has evolved into something so complex, that it needs to be consciously pared back to reveal the basics.

There are probably loads of factors influencing the shift; an obsession with consumerism and overindulgence, our need to be in a permanent state of ‘busy’ to name a few. But in my mind, technology is the greatest threat to a simple, wondrous childhood and life full of sweet memories. Technology, mostly screens, consume us. Our minds and our time is consumed, and our energy and creativity is diverted and sapped like never before. Children role model on screen obsessed parents who are unable to sit for more than a few moments without checking a device or looking for entertainment. There is an entire generation of young people unable to walk around without being physically connected to a device, and essentially disconnected from the world. No-one is denying the problem, I’m pointing a finger directly at myself as I write this…but it’s not something which will change without conscious effort. I would suggest that it’s one of the main reasons that so many of us are seeking lives less influenced by the rush of modern life, and more inspired by the traditions of the past. A life for our kids which somehow reflects the childhoods we remember.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

Gallery

work to live or live to work

image

A couple of years ago I came across a book quite by chance called Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel. I think I was already unconsciously searching for a simpler life, but I had no idea what that life was going to look like.

Rhonda and her husband had rejected their consumer lives to focus on a simple existence with a view to living modestly, but well.

One of the points in the book which really resonated with me was the concept of putting a work hour value on everything you buy. It made me really stop and think. Rhonda speaks about selling your life hours for money. You only have a limited number of hours in each day, week, month, year. Everything you buy costs you hours of your life that you’ve spent earning that money. It’s like a vicious cycle of earning and spending often to the detriment of all the things you really want to do in life, like “have time” for life, for example.

Obviously this is not about stopping work entirely for most people, but just about considering how many of your life hours are chewed up unintentionally by a life filled with consumer wants.

My life example, was with my partner working away (in a fly-in, fly-out role). My entire family started to really suffer with me squeezing in regular night shifts as an Intensive care nurse. I loved working, but the shift work took its toll and my kids suffered with a cranky, strung out, sleep deprived mum.

On the positive side, I have wanted to explore the possibility of writing as a career for a really long time. I finished a creative writing degree a couple of years ago. It now seems like the perfect conditions have collided and here I am. I made my life much simpler, I consciously dropped our living costs, and I have created the physical time and mental space to write. Perhaps one day I will actually earn some money from it! (I submitted my first manuscript to a local publisher today which is really exciting…and scary)

Using Rhonda Hetzel’s life as an example, she now not only lives the life she wants to live, but she has a thriving business based around her lifestyle. The simple life concept has generated so much interest amongst people disenfranchised with the endless cycle of working and buying, that she has blogged, authored, done speaking tours and generally inspired hundreds of thousands of people to find their own simple path…including me.