Keep Moving

Keep Moving

Yesterday afternoon in Sydney we experienced a gorgeous sunset.

Like, a ‘social media and radio and news bulletins lit up with hundreds of photos’ kind of gorgeous. Everywhere I turned, people were taking a moment out of their afternoons, right around the busy peak hour, just before dinner time, to celebrate a natural beauty.

It was a brief shared moment across a city of more than 4 million people. A city that often feels as though it’s losing its heart. Hundreds of thousands of us all stood together (apart) and enjoyed something just for the sake of beauty. It just felt a bit…special.

But then I started seeing other #sunset comments on social media:

“Geez, we get it. There’s a beautiful sunset. So what?”

“So glad to see my feed filled with #sunset photos. Not.”

Come on.

Are we so self-absorbed that we get annoyed at a beautiful sunset? Or even at people who aren’t us enjoying said sunset? I mean… Really? Are we that fond of feeling pissed off that we take aim at a particularly pretty end to a Monday?

I have to say, I’m seeing this more and more online. People engaging in negative behaviours that are not only completely unnecessary, but unhelpful and often detrimental to their own happiness (not to mention that of others).

Rather than skimming over something we don’t care about, or ignoring a status update that we disagree with, we are engaging and getting indignant and becoming easily offended, all because someone else has the audacity to think differently to us.

Here’s an idea: just keep moving.

Keep scrolling. Unfollow if you must. By all means, roll your eyes and sigh in the privacy of your own home.  But honestly, when it’s trivial stuff, just move on.

Part of slowing down and living a more contented life is stopping to pay attention to those easy-to-miss moments of beauty, but another part is knowing when to opt out of the crap. Knowing when to keep moving, when to steer clear of drama, when to ignore negativity or even just dissenting opinions. Particularly when there’s nothing you will say that will make one shred of difference.

There are absolutely battles worth fighting, but an over-shared sunset ain’t one. Nor is an inspirational quote, a movie trailer or a braggadocious (it’s a word – truly) selfie. Just keep moving.

 

 

The Slow Kitchen: Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

Let’s say it’s Thursday night. You’re feeling a little worn out, you’re short on time and food-related creativity but you’re not ready to call for pizza. You still want to prepare a healthy, nutrient-packed dinner that everyone will love but, ugh, can’t someone else do it?

That’s where this super easy baked chicken breast and vege dish comes in. Just like other recipes in The Slow Kitchen series, this weeknight dinner is simple, easy, healthy and full of real ingredients. Enjoy!

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

(Serves 4, Ready in 45min)

You’ll need:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 sweet potato – skin on, roughly chopped
  • 1 zucchini – roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms – sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tin red kidney beans – rinsed and drained
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • brown rice

Simply:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/420F and put the brown rice on to cook.
  2. Chop the sweet potato, zucchini and mushrooms and spread over the base of a non-stick baking tray (a deep one with a lid is perfect, otherwise use a castiron pan. A regular baking tray or casserole dish is also fine – just make sure you can cover it well with aluminium foil).
  3. Lay the chicken breasts over the top of the vegetables and rub with garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  4. Top the vegetables with the beans and then the tin of tomatoes. Drizzle this with a little extra olive oil.

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

5. Cover the dish and put in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken is steamed all the way through. (It should be deliciously tender.)
6. Give the entire contents of the baking tray a good mix, add in the baby spinach and pop back in the oven for another few minutes.
7. Serve over rice, topped with more basil, chilli sauce or the topping of your choice.

Variations/Additions:

Meat-Free?: Leave out the chicken and add in some more veges. You could also up the protein content with some pre-soaked red lentils. (If this is the case, you may want to add a cup of vegetable stock to the mix too, as the lentils will soak up a lot of moisture.)

More Vegetables: This recipe will work with virtually any vegetables you have on hand. Pumpkin, squash, kale, potatoes, carrots – they all cook up beautifully in the tomato base. Just note that you may need to add more crushed tomatoes or a cup of vegetable stock if you up the vege content by a lot.

Vegan: Cut out the chicken, obviously, and you’re good to go.

Gluten-Free: This is a gluten-free dish, happy days!

 

Tiny Beauties

#tinybeauties

It’s easy to see that the world is full of beauty when we stand on the ocean shore or gaze at the mountain peaks. It’s easy to recognise the wonders of life when we hear the cry of a newborn or see tears in the eyes of the groom as the bride walks towards him.

But when we’re in the trenches of the daily grind? When we’re elbow-deep in laundry? Driving to work? Doing the groceries? Ferrying our kids to and from sports practice or dance class? In those times we often miss the beauty.

I’ve been in a funk lately, and while part of that is the bi-annual rut I find myself in around mid-winter and mid-summer, it’s also tied up in the fact that I feel empty. I’ve stopped my regular practice of gratitude and I’m failing to pay attention to the plentiful good that’s around.

So I want to start something new. Something that might help me realise that, actually, beauty is almost everywhere. We just need to look for it a little harder sometimes.

#tinybeauties

I want to document the tiny beauties that we so often walk by, never noticing. I want to stop, even just once a day, and pay attention to the little miracles.

The dew on the front lawn. The graffiti in the alley. The flower about to bloom. The way my son reaches up to hold my hand when crossing the road. The seedling pushing up through the dirt. The glittering shine of the road after a downpour.

#tinybeauties

These things may or may not be natural. They may or may not be traditionally beautiful. They may or may not be tied to a story. But they are worth noticing.

When I spend time every day noticing these little joys, I feel fuller. My downs don’t feel so low. I’m more easily able to see everything I have to be grateful for.

So I’m going to be posting my #tinybeauties to Instagram, and I’d love for you to join in by posting yours too. (You can follow me here.)

I don’t have any plans for these posts, other than to share these tiny beauties with whoever is open to seeing them. There’s no grand plan or product idea here. Just a need to see more of the beauty the world has to offer, beyond mountains and beaches.

#tinybeauties

#tinybeauties

 

Enough

What is enough?

I’ve been struggling with the idea of enough. (Am I enough? Do I do enough?) And rather than rehash my thoughts on this same idea, I wanted to resurrect an old post where I ask, “What is enough?”

Interestingly, it was first published almost exactly a year ago. Turns out that my natural seasonal rhythm lends itself to quieter, introspective winters!

——

As a parent, friend, sister, daughter and wife I struggle with the notion of enough.

Do I play with the kids enough?
Am I healthy enough?
Do I call my sisters enough?
Have I been a good enough friend?
Is it enough to be content?
Am I trying hard enough?
Am I attractive enough?
Do I give enough?
Do I care enough?

Enough – not too little, not too much. Just… enough.

After struggling with the idea for a very long time – never feeling good enough, never satisfied, never entirely content – I’ve started to frame the idea of ‘enough’ in a different way. And can I tell you, it’s helping me find some much-needed perspective.

Much like the idea of tilting – where we willingly throw things off-balance and tilt in the direction life requires – I wondered if we could view the idea of ‘enough’ as a long-term notion, rather than something we need to achieve every day?

I think we can. And I think we should.

But what does that look like in real life?

Do I play with the kids enough?” Maybe not today, but sometimes clothes need to be washed, emails returned, toilets cleaned and phonecalls made. On the other hand, do I feel good in my gut when I ask if I’ve played with them enough over the past six months? Yes.

Am I trying hard enough?” Some days, I phone it in. And on those days, I am lacking. But, again, over the past 6 months? 2 years? 10 years? Yes, I try hard enough.

There are peaks and troughs, mountains and valleys for everything in life. Sometimes we feel that we are enough, other times we are filled with doubt. I think that’s simply being human. But reframing the idea this way has shown me that enough really IS enough.

But what about when it isn’t enough?

When you ask yourself the question, “Am I doing enough over time?” and the answer is silence. Or worse, when the answer is a pang.

What do you do then?

When that pang reverberates in my gut I know I need to pull up and listen. I know I need to make a change, or ask a different question.

Do I call my best friend enough?” PANG. No. Pay attention and make a change.

Have we made enough time to unplug on the weekends?” PANG. No. What can we do differently?

Am I present enough when I do play with the kids?” PANG. No. How can I change my approach?

My aim, in turning the idea of enough upside down, is to be mindful and intentional about what I’m choosing to do. Instead of being carried away by panic and regret and frustration at not being enough every day.

Essentially that means if I haven’t played with the kids enough, there’d better be a good reason. If I haven’t called my best friend enough, again, show me a good reason.

It’s a matter of listening to your instincts, your gut, and that little voice inside your head that when given a longer view of things suddenly becomes quite wise.

“Relax. You’ve done enough over time. That counts,” it says.

I think it’s time to listen.

 

 

 

What does simple living mean to you?

What does simple living mean to me?

Ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers to the question: “What does simple living mean to you?”

In fact, ask me 10 times and you will get 10 different answers.

Not because I’m flaky, but because simplicity can be kinda complicated. What we need it to be will change depending upon circumstance, seasons in life and who it applies to. And that’s OK.

Recently a friend asked me to describe simple living. And while it was easy enough to give the expected answers:

  • cutting away the excess in life
  • getting back to what is truly important
  • decluttering
  • saying no to things that we didn’t need or didn’t need to do
  • taking time to do nothing
  • looking for contentment
  • practising gratitude
  • living an environmentally conscious life…

what I found myself thinking about were the benefits. What the actual day-to-day nuts and bolts of life look like now that we have embraced simplicity. Instead of focusing on the what, my mind was drawn to the why – to the things we’ve gained simply because of living a simpler life.

My answers weren’t about living in a clutter-free home (although that is so lovely) or having only clothes that I wear in my wardrobe (even though it makes getting dressed in the morning infinitely easier) or cleaning our home with natural cleaners (although I appreciate the impact of this).

Instead, I focused on the time I got to spend in the garden. The tiny beauties I now notice and appreciate. The giggles of our kids. The joy of a lazy Sunday afternoon. The sunlight in the trees.

And I know these are cliched answers, but that doesn’t make them any less real. If we hadn’t taken the time, and worked for years to create a simpler life, I wouldn’t have been around to notice these things. If I hadn’t suffered a crushing breakdown and closed my business, I’d still be working all hours, I’d be falling further and further behind at home, I’d be barely present in my kids lives and I would be missing out on the tiny (and yet massive) joys of the sun on my face, the dirt on our hands and the hugs of our kids.

That’s what simplicity means to me.

It’s not a destination. I don’t think I will ever look around me, brush my hands together and say, “Well, that’s it. I’m done.”

I believe that our ideas of enough and simple and freedom will continue to change over time, as our perspectives and seasons of life change.

Simplicity is a mindset, but it’s not the point in and of itself. The way we live, and the life we live - this is the point. The sun, the dirt, the travel, the laughter, the memories. These are the point. Noticing them and carving a life from these tiny moments – that is the point.

The decluttering helps us to get there. Learning to say no helps us to get there. Letting go of constant busyness helps us to get there. But those aren’t the point.

So what does simple living mean to me?

Living. Simply.

In October this year, a group of simplicity advocates and enthusiasts will gather in Minneapolis to share their ideas on living a simple, intentional life. You have the opportunity to join them and join the ever-growing movement towards a simpler, slower way of life.

SimpleREV

The first-ever SimpleREV is being held at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis on October 3-4, and shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking to slow down, simplify and get real in a world of hyper-consumerism and endless busy-ness.

Those who do attend will work closely with workshop leaders and keynote speakers such as Joshua Becker (Becoming Minimalist), Joel Zaslofsky (Value of Simple) and Dan Hayes (Simple Life Together), as well as an entire community of people who value a simple life just as much as you do.

This event is for anyone interested in living a simple life – whether you’ve sold 90% of your belongings and live in a campervan, or if you’re merely dipping your toe into the pool that is simplicity.  There will be encouraging keynote speeches to uplift you, while intimate workshops will help you craft a more intentional, simple life. At SimpleREV, there is something for everyone. (And can I tell you, the line-up of workshops and presentations makes it sting even more that I can’t attend. Unfortunately, living on the other side of the planet has its downsides and I can’t swing it this year.)

Grab your ticket today, or visit the SimpleREV website to discover more about the event, the founders and what you can expect during the first weekend of October.

 

Wake Up. Come Home. Fill Up. Be Simple.

 

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