Aaaargh! No wonder people are stressed.
(Marie Kondo the world needs you.)
Aaaargh! No wonder people are stressed.
(Marie Kondo the world needs you.)
Supposing is my word for this year and is proving to be a most helpful one.
I use it if I find myself saying things like I will never manage this task/house/garden/journey/event on my own. I stop and say Supposing I could? Supposing I just took the first small step? Supposing I am actually just like the people I know who manage wonderfully well on their own.
When I lost Barry I also lost this establishment's joint decision maker, patient and hard working gardener, good cook, willing chauffeur, (I have an eye condition which means I can no longer drive) repairman and DIY man. We used to joke we didn't do DIY we did DEY (do-everything-yourself!).
Clearly things have to change.
Here are three things I have to change-
I have to ask for help (Why is this so hard?)
I have to pay for help (Juggle and prioritise! Get realistic about what DIY I can do.)
I have to keep simplifying and reducing stuff to the point where I can manage it myself.
Would you add anything to this list? Ah, I notice I am asking for help here :-)
Is your chosen word working for you?
OK I know it's a bit early in the year to get serious, after all it's not even the Twelfth Day of Christmas yet. (It's a bit early for Easter too but there were Hot Cross Buns on sale in the supermarket today! Truly!)
Seth Godin's recent post chimes so well with my reading lately that I just have to share it with you. I have been re-reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death (1986) and watching a YouTube video of the same man at the beginning of the internet age in Six Questions On Technology. It is 45 minutes long and I found it worth listening to, but if you want the short version (haha Seth) go to 42 minutes
I realise that one of his questions - and you know I like a good question - has stayed with me and influenced me quite a bit in my search for a simpler life. It is:
What is the problem to which this technolgy is the solution?
Poppy, are you listening to me?
It is hard to be simple in a complex world.
I try to live simply and simply live, and I also try not to be simplistic, so the title I Think You'll Find It's A Bit More Complicated Than That made me smile and pick up Ben Goldacre's book...so far so very interesting.
Meanwhile the garden is at it's most abundant and the chair needs rescuing from the alchemilla mollis....
I have just given up, in a bad temper, half way through an online shopping transaction!
I would like to pay my money and have the product.
NO! I have to register, create a password, enter a code, join a club to 'feel rewarded and feel involved' (?) sign up for emails, and points on future purchases which I have no intention of making, accept a free gift I don't particularly want and give my grandmother's uncle's middle name....
Forget it Body Shop.
1 Clean the grill pan every time I use it.
2 Remember birthdays.
3 Try to make my blogposts more exciting than this one. :-)
If you like classical music you may enjoy this series of interviews on Living The Classical Life. I loved the one with the amazing Stephen Hough who talks so illuminatingly about learning and relaxation and creativity. Wonderful. I do like insights into how other creative people think - poets, dancers, musicians, sculptors, writers....
OK I've just thought of another resolution -
4 Take more time to listen to music.
Thank you Oh Amaryllis for the little burst of joy I get every time I look at you!
Thank you Oh Larch Branches (actually I think they may be alder!) for falling just where I could find you, and bring you home to adnire fully your twiggy lacy cone-scattered decorative loveliness.
I was reminded by my friend Julia of thanking our things (a la Marie Kondo). I had rather got out of the habit, and it is such a fun habit - it makes me smile every single time I do it!
Go thank you favourite things.
Did it make you smile?
..my dear Watson,
I quite often use the word elemental about things that move me deeply, and thought I'd take a look at the four elements of earth, air, fire and water and consider how they play a part in our chosen life here in rural west of Scotland.
There are quizzes you can do to see which element you are....be warned that many of them are actually ads for something else (dating agencies, chat lines with psychics!). I soon gave up, and I had already figured that earth was my favourite element. followed by air, fire and water in that order.
I am not into astrology, but when on our landscape course we discovered that 13 out of 15 of us were earth signs I did wonder if there might be something in it. Momentarily.
Earth then: feet on the ground and down to earth. Walking is my favourite (sometimes only) exercise. I love the wild landscape around us here. I am interested in the geology, and the ecology. I love the variety. We have forest (man-made) behind us and sea-loch shoreline in front. Glens with rough grazing (no arable) mountains and lochs. I feel at home here.
In my element in fact!
As a passionate gardener I love the soil. Half an hour with my hands in the earth and I feel restored somehow. Good soil in good condition delights me, and I get a real satisfaction from composting our household waste into rich crumbly stuff and adding it to the garden.
You can click on the photos to enlarge (though I will understand if you don't want to look at a close up of the contents of our compost bin....)
Which is your preferred element?
I asked in yesterday's post about unfulfilled dreams and got to thinking that it's good to have dreams or ambitions, but also that they needn't be grand like swimming with dolphins or trekking the Himalayas. They can be small and simple but precious to and unique to you, and private to you.
I am fulfilling one as I write.
Sarah from Down By The Sea Dorset has often posted beautiful photographs of the sunrise and I thought how lovely it would be to see that event (I am a night owl and very rarely see dawn!). It is 4 am and I came down for a drink and I am looking at an apricot blending to duck-egg blue sky reflected in the loch, changing every minute. I went through to the studio to fetch the tripod and saw the half moon still shining brightly - in a different, cooler shade of blue - utterly beautiful. I had to open the back door to experience it fully, the sounds and the smells as well as the view.
Alas! The camera needed charged up so I didn't get the photographs but I did get the experience, which is a little dream fulfilled, and I got the pleasure of sharing it with you.
Have you fulfilled any little dreams lately?
21 degrees Celsius. Well by Scottish standards this is a heatwave!
Before it got too hot for me, I had breakfast with a cheeky robin, while the swallows fed their four babies above my head.
Sniffed the first sweet pea to open - Matucana - small flower, big scent.
Bees buzz in the poppy Papaver ruprifragum.
So tempting, but there's work to be done first!
More buzzing in a cloud of catmint: Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.
And the first whiff of scent from the honeysuckle.
The fuchsia 'Hawkshead' in the background, about 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide..
started out as a small pot plant on the balcony of our previous house.
Simple pleasures to share, to savour and to celebrate.
Have a lovely day.
..that you will see when you open your eyes tomorrow morning?
Make it something beautiful, something that will make you smile. Flowers? A postcard? A photograph? What will it be?
You could go fix it now and start your day on a happy note tomorrow....
Have a basket under the table for the clutter, or find a bedside table with a drawer.
Little things can make a big difference, don't you think?
(Thank you for the great comments on 'filtering' yesterday - it is a subject I will certainly be coming back to.)
I suspect a new essential life skill might be filtering out a lot of the data and information that comes our way (see yesterday's post).
Would you agree? Any suggestions? I shall start by unsubscribing a few things I am no longer really interested in.
Meanwhile in the garden -
I'm thrilled by this new foxglove 'Pink Illumination'.
It's a sterile hybrid, so I shall try to propagate it by basal cuttings in autumn and in spring, but it should flower over a longer period than the white ones.
I'm also thrilled to have a garden big enough that I can pick a bunch of flowers for a friend without denuding it!
My garden's not huge, but it is the biggest I have had (not counting the 2 acres of the cottage on a moor where the sheep always got in and ate everything I tried to grow...I gave up and learned all about the wild flowers instead.)
Radio/TV/iPlayer/computer/email/mobile/smartphone/phone/answerphone/iPod/iPad/blogs/RSS feed/comments/facebook/DVD/podcasts/twitter/instagram/pinterest/news/newspapers/magazines/junk mail/advertising/sales calls/surveys/cold calls/charity appeals/apps/spam/passwords/updates/texts/chatlines/special deals/LinkedIn/favourites/likes/newsfeed/trends/games/search/subscribe/FeedBurner/Feedly/Blog lovin/cookies/follow....
When it all gets too much, remember - there's usually an off switch.
You mean it's allowed?
In the words from Evita -
'Let the world turn without me tonight'
Once I got over my indignant resistance to it ('But I'm not a baby!') I found this approach so useful! You will all have heard of it before, but have you actually tried it?
When I use it I get through tasks faster and with a lot less stress. A friend once cut out baby sized footprints from paper and laid them on the floor to remind herself...
Cath wants to organise her writing things (see comments on this post). Now if she is like me she'll want it all done NOW. Actually she is more sensible and talks of taking a month over the job, which tells me she probably knows all about and practices baby steps already - but just to use her task as an example -
In the past I would set to with great energy and enthusiasm, pull everything out - the stationery, cards, stamps, diaries, writings finished and unfinished, poems, books about writing - while making a vague sort of plan, then discover, you know how it is, that I can't put them all in one place until I've moved other things from the shelf and to do that I need to sort the said things into keep and find a place for, give away, throw away, put aside to return to owner, and ..all these decisions soon tire me out and now I have twice as much stuff to deal with, and I feel overwhelmed and want to give up!
If I baby step it, I break the job down into tiny parts. The first part might be to collect together all my stationery from around the house into an empty cardboard box - and then, and this is the important bit for me - I STOP.
I've completed my task.
I've achieved something.
I feel satisfied.
I go and do something else.
When I come back maybe 10 minutes later, maybe next day, I have a little bit of a handle on the scale of the task and can decide the next baby step, and before I know it the job is done and , to my surprise, I've enjoyed doing it.
If you've never tried baby stepping you might try it on something you've been putting off....
I find this a really useful question.
Worried? Stressed? A difficult decision to make perhaps.
Try asking 'Is there a simpler way?' Step back and give yourself a little bit of time to think.
It may be that you're being perfectionist and could lower your standards, it may be that you could ask for help, it may be that you could opt out of something you don't really want to do....but there is nearly always a simpler way I find.
What if it's not actually as complicated as you think...
..but a lot prettier. It's hard to believe that the lovely sea thrift here was completely under salt water for a week during the storms in January.
One of the ways of simply living for me is to be in touch daily with the natural world and I always look out for the flowering of thrift, armeria maritima, on these particular rocks. I've done a number of paintings of it.
Maybe it's time to do another, to keep, since the others all sold long ago..
It's not going to go viral is it !!
But I don't suppose you come to a blog called Live Simply for excitement and scandal..
I decided today to take snapshots of my day just as it sometimes is - ordinary. Peaceful and quietly productive.
Ordinary can be a blessing, can't it.
I hope you had a good day too.
Thanks for reading.
Maybe your dreams are more of sunny tropical islands, but I loved these remote cabins from a huge collection of photographs at http://cabinporn.com/
Which would you choose?
I can imagine myself staying for a month of writing in that first one, and I was lucky enough to spend Midsummer in a smaller version of the one above in Dalarna, the traditional heart of Sweden in a meadow just like this. It was magical. And romantic..
Thanks Julia for the link - you do find some lovely things!
So, have I simplified my life?
I am trying to summarise my progress here - and I have made progress. By thinking through some issues one at a time through blogging about them over nearly four years, I have come to my own solutions to some ethical and practical dilemmas which nagged me and made me anxious and stressed.
I have realised that I don't need to save the world, but I do need to make a difference. (By being informed enough to make ethical choices where I can.)
I have accepted that it's hard to be simple in a complex world, but decided that doesn't mean I shouldn't try. (By asking for example 'Is there a simpler way to do this?' and doing it.)
I have decided that it's worth taking the time to get things simple and right, then sticking to it (clothes, home, routines).
I have made a conscious decision to focus on the good news, while of course being aware of the bad - how could you not in today's world - but not to dwell on things I cannot change and to change the things I can.
I have tried to be content with what I've got (shopping at home, living well with less).
If you are also trying to live simply what would you add?
Well the awful weather is my excuse! (I did go for a walk in the lashing rain today.) Here are some things I have found....
1 A bargain. Here in UK at www.eastcoast.co.uk you can pick up bargain rail fares. I've just booked Edinburgh to London for an amazing £30 return.
2 I don't expect you come to this blog for shock/horror, but watch carefully here how quickly a (male?) air brush technician can change a normal woman into a Barbie doll. Why do we put up with this?
3 January and bad weather might provide an opportunity to organise all those photographs. For a few tips from a remarkable photographer go to the comments on this post from a couple of days ago. Thank you Lucent. You can link to Lucent's beautiful blog here.
4 More words for 2014! Sarah has chosen doing, and I like Swiss Rose's make-it-happen, and Kristie has chosen the Danish word hygge - see here for an explanation.
Tomorrow Sugar: The Bitter Truth . Be prepared for more shock and horror! What is this blog coming to?
Looking back over 2013.
What should I post? My favourite posts/images/links/ or something from each category or each month?
Looking through my photgraphs of the year I remembered my question - What would be simplest? The simplest images of course! Some I have posted before, some not....so, going backwards from December to July....
Tomorrow - June to January.
Back briefly to the present....I finally got off the sofa and took an invigorating walk up Pucks Glen!
They are from the Scilly Isles (So that's all right then. Whew!)
In a little research after the event (I do try to be an informed and ethical consumer!) I discovered that we can grow daffodils for six months of the year in UK. the first come from Scilly Isles, then Cornwall, Hampshire, the Gower Peninsula in Wales, Lincolnshire and Scotland. See here for more information, and here about supporting British flower growers....
Aren't they fresh and dainty? They simply delight my eye and my heart many times a day.
I plan to have some fun with the woodland Trust's online Advent calendar - check them out at www.naturedetectives.org.uk A different activity every day (and healthier than the chocolate filled one!)
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)