Grace and splendid simplicity

14 December 2015
It's that time of year again when I slow down a lot, think about what I've done this year and consider the worth of what I'm doing. In some years that process has lead to some big changes and in others I made none because the balance was right and life was going along nicely. I feel privileged to live as I do but I don't take it for granted because I know that life can change on a pin head for all of us. So I continue to look at what I do and prepare for change if its necessary.

When I'm in this period of self-evaluation, I like to think again about why I changed the way I live. I remember back to the old days of spending for the sake of it, of mindless shopping and wondering why what I had then didn't make me happy. Simple life is never easy for any of us but in my experience it still beats my old life hands down. Life makes me happy now so at the end of every year I put aside time to decide what is working, what isn't and what needs changing. There is no doubt that most of us make our simple lives easier if we plan and organise and you don't do that once. Life is never static, it's ever changing, and these yearly assessments will help you change as your life changes.

Planning a simple life is like writing a love letter to yourself. You can include what you want to include, you live by your own values, love who and what you love, develop your own usefulness and eventually you become the person you wanted to be in all those private moments of hoping for a life of grace and splendid simplicity. In times of contemplation and reevaluation I always aim for balance. I plan for what I think will happen during the year but I'm realistic enough to know not everything will follow that plan. I try to be flexible and tolerant and I forgive myself if I don't do the right thing at the right time.

Simple life is different for all of us although there are many common elements as well. Don't judge yourself in comparison to others because you'll always be comparing apples with bananas. There are some of us who think baking is symbolic of what we do and others who don't; some who count every penny making sure they pay the least amount for everything and others whose aim is value for money; there are many of us who work our land and think it's a fundamental part of simplifying and many who have no land, no time and no inclination for growing food; there are list makers and those who plan by following patterns and rhythms. I could go on but I'm sure you get my meaning. How you think about your life, what you do on your ordinary days, what you find value in and what you seek sets you apart.

Deciding to take control of what you do instead of being led by advertising and what your friends think is a liberation that will define your days and what you want for yourself. And what elements you control and how you go about it should be the result of understanding your own circumstances and needs rather than anyone, including me, telling you what will work.

I can tell you that for me, the work I do here helps me create a home that satisfies my need for occasional isolation from the outside world. I can tell you that for me, focusing on my work here helps me slow down but still get everything done. I can show you photos of my rooms and where we sit at our kitchen table, I can show you the plants we grow and what I sew and type out old recipes to share with you but all those things should guide you, not force you to do what I do.

Copying what I do or someone else does, or mindlessly following what is in a book or on a website is the same as listening to advertising - it's someone else's version of life based on their own experience. If I can pass on anything of value to you it would be to work hard and live your own experiences, develop a sense of generosity and kindness, build your life with what feels right for you and choose your influencers carefully. The true prize here is living your own authentic life and that's the result, not of advertising or what others value, but what you plan for yourself and what you work towards. So when you write that love letter to yourself, you need to be at the centre of it because you will do all the work to make it happen. The advertisers and all those who think that one size fits all will be long gone then. It will just be you, me and the chooks.  ♥︎

I've shared this poem before, but here it is again for those who didn't catch it the first time.

I have found joy in simple things
by Grace Noll Crowell

I have found joy in simple things
A plain clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof over my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.

I have found such joy in things that fill
my quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace
A potted plant upon my sill,
A rose fresh-cut and placed within a vase,
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I have long loved beside me there.