Relaxation and the feeling of presence

31 March 2014
This is one of my favourite photos of Jamie, taken on the evening of his first birthday. Look at that tummy!

He was out in the garden with his dad yelling at the potatoes before he could walk. LOL
And this one is with opa, both having a quiet drink on the front verandah.

It's Jamie's third birthday today. It doesn't seem that long ago when we got a long awaited phone call to tell us that Sunny and Kerry were at the hospital and to come down. I can't imagine not being a grandma now but it was only three years ago that I made that very happy transition. Jamie, Sunny and Kerry are all in Korea at the moment but we'll have some Facetime with them later today. I'm really looking forward to it. Happy birthday, Jamie! We love you.


It makes no sense to me to try to relax after being massaged from head to toe when you know you're going to pay for the "relaxation experience". Relaxation to me doesn't involve people I don't know. I have a better way - it's more simple, it involves the great outdoors, it doesn't come as a bottled essence and it's there for the taking whenever I need or want it. Our backyards grow relaxation. If you let it and if you're completely present, with no phone or tablet, out there fresh air will fill your lungs and bring you back to yourself. The sweet, almost silent breeze, the insects and birds will welcome you back to nature, tranquility and gentle self-awareness.

 Blueberries are still growing.

There is a touch of autumn in the air now. I was out in my backyard yesterday afternoon, sitting, watching, picking, cutting, digging and tying. The temperature is at that perfect state of balance where it is neither cool nor warm. The wind blew the tops of distant pine trees I could see, but in the sheltered confined of our yard, the fences and shrubs kept the wind at bay. I tried not to think about anything other than what I was doing and that feeling of presence stayed with me when I eventually came back inside again. Relaxed.

Sunny, those are daikons front left.

Last week we had a lot of rain so the garden is growing strongly now. Little cucumbers are forming and pak choy is ready for picking. When I share some with the chickens, they go a bit crazy at first trying to reach the green and white crispness first, then they run away to a quite corner to eat their prize. I've pulled up most of the pumpkins and the vine has been added to the compost. They weren't a great success but I think I left it too late to plant the seeds. Next time, they'll go in two months earlier. We have two pumpkins from the vines, another one other was rotten and another still was only half grown and not worth picking. The 'Rouge de Marmande' tomatoes are going like the clappers and the first of the prolific cherry tomatoes are red and plump. Even though the rain brought a lot of growth to the garden, it stopped us planting out our seeds and seedlings. There is still a lot of bare ground out there. No doubt more planting will be done this week. There is always something to be done here. It's one of the benefits of living in a productive home.

It a wonderful time of the year now and I feel the optimism that only autumn brings. I'm writing every day to get the last three books finished and every so often I slip out into the garden to renew my energy and spirit. I hope you have a place like that where you can go to recover from normal life, whatever that is for you, although your relaxation place might not be a garden. It could be a room, your patio, a beach or any place where you feel safe and can just enjoy and appreciate the time you spend there.

Remember that relaxation is an activity you have to engage with. You don't just walk out there and wait. You consciously focus on the space you're in, you stop thinking other thoughts about what happens next or what you're having for dinner. You have to be really present in that space, at that time. If you can do that you'll have one of the many natural things that money can't buy.


  1. A lovely post Rhonda, I enjoy seeing pics of your garden. I agree that being out in the garden is one of the most relaxing ways to unwind. I live on the edge of a village with views to the West of fields and woods - great for sunsets too! Deer are a pest so it's difficult to grow anything - but I shall be spending more time out there when I retire in May. I'm looking forward to reading the new book on Kindle when it's available here in the UK in about a week. Anne

  2. Happy Birthday Jamie. Three years have just flown by.
    Love from Mum

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with your idea of relaxation. The only time I got a massage (a treat from a friend), I felt more stressed than relaxed afterward!
    Happy birthday to Jamie and congratulations again on your book. I do appreciate it, and I'm reading through the second time now. Taking notes and going a lot more slowly. We are in the midst of house-hunting at the moment, and I'm really glad I found this simple life beforehand. I just hope we'd choose the right house for us -- at the moment it's a difficult balance between distance and cost.

    1. A change of mindset certainly gives a new perspective to looking for a home. Good luck with the house hunting, Mrs M.

  4. Happy birthday to Jamie, 3 years has gone so quickly, they just grow up in the blink of an eye. I'm feeling very disheartened with the whole gardening/chooks thing two smallest chooks got into one of my veggie gardens yesterday afternoon and destroyed everything. Bok choy and spinach at harvest size. I have it fenced, everything is fenced, it's feels like Fort Knox sometimes, I'm not sure how they managed but they squeezed through where the sides join, despite it being tied. And I was there, right near them and they slipped in! I just came inside and cried, it's not just the waste of food and money, but my time and energy, it takes such a lot of work to prepare and dig a garden you know. So my garden's not feeling very relaxing at the moment, I have murderous thoughts of roasting chickens right now.

    1. Oh dear, what naughty chooks. I know that feeling you have right now. I hope you calm down soon.

  5. I totally agree Rhonda. I have been thinking a lot lately about how everything is good in my world when I'm gardening. When I have some time with my hands in the dirt I totally relax and I'm present. All worries disappear. When I go back inside that feeling of relaxation stays with me.

    Happy birthday to Jamie. The time has definitely flown. One of my neighbors has just become a Grandma for the first time a couple of days ago.

    Enjoy your week Rhonda. xxoo

  6. I love that relaxing feeling of being outside in the fresh air (no longer any Sydney smog - yay!). Working in the garden is like meditation for me, even if it's just getting rid of weeds, or trimming the lawn edges. One day I was doing just that when a couple of young guys walked past and offered to do it for me - for a price, of course. But no thanks, I actually enjoy it.

    But I do enjoy the occasional professional massage, to work out those nasty knotted muscles in my shoulders and neck. Bliss!

    And Rhonda, I just love your photos of your garden - so much variety, and so much space. I'll never have that much space, so I'm working with what I have. A question, though. Why are there pots on top of some of the star pickets?

    1. They are there so we don't take out an eye when we bend over them, but also because I like the look of them.

    2. Oh my, I figured you had a practical purpose along with the charm of those pots - definitely want to keep your eyes intact ;)

      I loved this post and agree with every bit of it. I can tell you're missing your beautiful grandson!

  7. Hello Rhonda,
    Enjoyed your post and pictures!! I have learned so much about Australia from reading your blog, and I have become quite a tea drinker, too. Now that you are beginning to feel fall in the air, I am beginning to dream of spring here in northeastern Pennsylvania, USA, even though we are being hit with yet another snow and ice storm at this late date. Planted tomato, pepper and broccoli seeds today. Happy birthday sweet Jamie.

  8. Happy birthday to Jamie! He is so gorgeous! I love that sleeping baby photo and the one where he is screaming in the garden :-)
    ~ Pru

  9. Hi Rhonda! Tis odd to think you are entering autumn when we are just hoping for spring! Here in NC we had snow yet again today and it is nearly April! By now, potatoes are in the ground along with snow peas, greens, and lettuces. Not this year! However, I am dreaming of putting my fingers in dirt and watching nature do her wonderful magic! To ease my desire, I planted a wee fairy garden yesterday! While she will not provide food for our bodies, she will for our souls until the weather becomes more agreeable!

    Jamie has grown so very much! I adore that curly mop of his! What a charming little man he is becoming! Enjoy those sweet, sweet baby kisses. They fade far too soon, don't they?

  10. Happy Birthday Jamie!

    Love what you've written here Rhonda!


  11. I can't believe Jamie is 3 already as I remember him being born (well by way of reading your blog of course). I loved the photos you chose him and the potatoes and sitting out the back having a drink with Opa, simply adorable. It's so hard that they are so far away from you at the moment. The "Simple Living" book arrived at my door this morning and I've been out and about today with appointments so looking forward to putting the kettle on later and having a little read before the afternoon starts with teacher interview, kids afternoon tea, preparing dinner and getting those uniforms ironed. Enjoy your week. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  12. I enjoyed your pictures and your garden it s beautiful. Here was raining today but now no rain and some cold. Just as you I love this d time of the year. Perfect temperature.
    Happy birthday to jamie!!

  13. I've been meaning to do a post on 'forest bathing' myself. It's been proven that surrounding yourself with nature and stillness, even if just for half an hour, has amazing calming and health benefits. When we lived in China the local parks and gardens had wonderful special pebble/stone walkways specifically designed to massage your feet as you walked along them. Such a great feeling! I do love a massage but don't get to treat myself very often.

  14. That photo of Jamie is just gorgeous.

    I really enjoyed this post Rhonda, I agree with you about relaxation and about being present with what you are doing at that moment with no distractions. I am trying to do more of this, it is definitely a learning experience.

    I had a lovely knock at the door just now, who was it, it as Australia Post with an envelope from BookWorld. Its very exciting. I will hopefully get some time before collecting the children later to start reading it (just sending this now and have not had chance to start the book it'll be on the list for tomorrow though). Congratulations again. It looks lovely sitting alongside it's sibling on the bookshelf in my sewing room.

  15. Lovely pictures, felt relaxed looking at them. Do you know if your latest book will be available by post sometime?

  16. The garden is my place for relaxation and centering myself too. But yesterday in the peace and quiet of the house with no family around and a pot of tea to myself, your lovely book was my relaxation.
    thank you

  17. What a wonderful garden you have, mine is rather bare too as we come out of winter. The green haze of spring is slowly emerging.

    You are right about relaxation, it is important to make this part of your day. I love my time just before I go to sleep when I read I look forward to this towards the end of the day :)

  18. Rhonda, thank-you for the timely reminder to be present in the moment. It is definitely one of those techniques that reduces stress and anxiety.

    I am tempted to travel up from Sydney to listen to one of your talks! Maybe one of these days......

    Jamie looks like such a character. He is a lucky boy to be surrounded by so much love!

  19. What a handsome. bright little boy Jamie looks! I hope it won`t be long before you see him again.

    Wise words about relaxing and being part of the moment. Your garden looks the perfect place to be after a busy time writing. I hope your talks go well.

  20. Garden's looking amazing Rhonda and Hanno! I think the garden is the most relaxing place I know as well :)

  21. Oh yes Rhonda the garden for me too. It really does centre me and I always find something to look at in awe no matter how small. On Monday I found some tiny almost Fairy size toadstools in the damp shady grass AND I was able to get some photographs to use in a blog. Fresh air and an unhurried pace go hand in hand.
    You do an amazing job with your large vegetable garden and all your inspiring writing

  22. I'm sure you have answered this before, so perhaps if you could point me to the information. We have recently purchased our own home and I would like to start some gardens using raised cinder block beds as you have. What are the steps involved in building (besides laying the blocks) and did you fill them with anything special? Is that just hay on top? Thanks for your help, been reading your blog for years.

  23. Beautiful garden. You made me laugh a little when talking about relaxation you have to pay for by people you don't know. Put like that, it does sound odd:-)



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