Not an Island.

No man is an island...

Four years ago I took pride in being an island. I wanted to be self-governed. A rogue nation, population: ME.

“Me? Need help? No.”

“Do you think I’m incapable? Not strong enough? I don’t need help. I AM COPING.”

But rather than strengthen me, this self-imposed isolation had me on the fast-track to a crushing burn-out, only I didn’t know it yet.

Strung out, worn down, angry, resentful, a shell of my true self. I was in tears daily, shouting at my family and barely getting by.

Then, things got really bad. I got very dark. Started talking to myself. HATING myself.

One day I found myself staring in the mirror saying, “I hate you. I hate you,” over and over again. And a tiny voice spoke up and said, “Hey, you know this isn’t normal, don’t you?”

That night, I did the hardest thing I could have done at the time. I asked Ben for help. Thank God.

The next day was the beginning of the uphill battle to save my sanity. (Seriously.) Diagnosed with post natal depression, the process was: Doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, medication. Rinse. Repeat.

 

Why Am I Telling You This?

Truth be known, I am terrified to tell you this. It is raw and close and brutal. And you may judge me for it.

But the lessons I learned over the past five years are what have led me to where I am today – a place of contentment, joy, purpose, love, acceptance and happiness – and that is absolutely worth sharing. Even if it prompts one other person to ask for help.

 

The Most Important Lesson?

No matter what your story, your stage in life, your struggles, your support network:

Ask for help when you need it.

Don’t be too proud. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t put up with battling along by yourself. People care about you. People are there to help. Let them.

I care about you. If I can help, let me. Tell me what you’re battling with, because sometimes simply sharing what’s on your mind lightens the weight you carry. (Via email if you would prefer!) xx

 

32 from 32

32 Lessons from 32 Years

This week I celebrated my 32nd birthday. And when I was 18, man, that would have been old. But now that I’m here? Not so much.

In lots of ways, the past year has felt like a game-changer and I wanted to share 32 of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over the past 12 months.

(In no particular order.)

  1. There really is beauty in the tiniest of things, if you take the time to look for it.
  2. Don’t use an apology as a search for validation. It’s the same as fishing for a compliment, and while we all do it, it makes us feel unworthy.
  3. You’re not, and never will be, everything to everyone – so stop trying and focus on those close to you instead.
  4. Take time to create priorities your life – write them down, talk about them, commit to them – and then act accordingly. It makes a lot of choices much, much simpler.
  5. Physical exercise is vital to my mental health. Even a 15-minute walk is enough to help scare away the black dog that still lurks around here sometimes.
  6. Travelling with kids is challenging but so worthwhile – they bring a whole new depth to your experiences.
  7. It is possible to stop eating Nutella!
  8. Learn from someone else’s strengths. I look at Ben’s ability to celebrate the little wins with a fist pump and I try to adopt it myself.
  9. What I eat has a direct impact on how I feel, both mentally and physically.
  10. I have never regretted a single thing I have given away or decluttered.
  11. Peppermint tea is the best cure for a hangover.
  12. Accept that a new project might not work – and that is perfectly OK. Do it anyway.
  13. They were right when they said, “One day you will pray for time to slow down.” Our kids are growing so fast, some days I just want to stop the clock and soak them up, just as they are.
  14. There is no substitute for a quiet day of movies and popcorn at home when everyone is feeling strung out.
  15. Having something to look forward to is important.
  16. Talk to your kids from a young age about people’s differences.
  17. Exercise your forgiveness muscle whenever possible, with others and yourself.
  18. Indulgence is different to a habit so try not to get the two confused.
  19. Trying new things is, and should be, exhilarating.
  20. I always dreamed of running but never thought I’d have the fitness to do much of it. Turns out I can. And I love it.
  21. Stretching for five minutes every single day has seen my flexibility return and my back and neck pain almost disappear.
  22. It’s OK to feel hungry sometimes. We’re not meant to feel full constantly.
  23. That thing your kids do that’s driving you mad? It really is a phase. Maybe a long phase, but still a phase.
  24. Reading on my iPhone or iPad in bed makes it harder for me to get to sleep. A real book is where it’s at.
  25. It feels really good to just laugh with Ben and our kids.
  26. The Walking Dead is still my all-time favourite TV show.
  27. Time spent in comparison with others it wasted time.
  28. Honestly, people don’t think about you (or me) nearly as much as we fear. They’re too engrossed in their own thing.
  29. As taxing as I find it, getting out and meeting new people really has been food for my soul.
  30. Saying yes to things that terrify me (like speaking on stage) has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
  31. Becoming part of our community is something I resisted for a long time, mostly from fear and anxiety. Getting involved has been so rewarding.
  32. Above all, there is love.

32 Lessons from 32 Years

I’m Working on Something New and Need Your Help

You Are Wonderful - via Slow Your Home

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen that I’m working on something new. Come April, I’ll be producing mini-courses to help you work through specific obstacles and challenges in creating a simpler, more contented life.

And I’m looking for your feedback on exactly what kind of courses I create.

In April, I’ll be launching the first of my mini-courses, and you get to help choose what that course will be.

Will you help me by taking this super-quick survey?

Take the survey here.

Tell me which of the courses you would most like to take. There are four ideas to choose from, as well as space for you to share your suggestions, struggles and questions. 

Also – thank you. Thank you for taking the time to visit here, thank you for making this place what it is – a community of awesome, like-minded people – and thank you for wanting to create a better, slower, simpler way of life.

Happy Monday to you! (And remember: you are wonderful.)

The Beauty and Frustration of Choice

There is choice in every moment.Early this morning, as I lay with our daughter in her bed, trying to convince her that 4:27am is not, in fact, a great time to get up, I came to realise something.

When I try to write this something down it seems elementary and obvious. But it needed to come to me as a realisation, so I guess it’s a truth that I hadn’t fully grasped, elementary as it may be.

I laid down on her bed, frustrated that, yet again, I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t working on my thing. I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to be doing in that moment. And that frustration was exacerbated by the thought that there is so much I want to do, but rarely do I feel like I have the time.

Do you know that feeling? When you have so many plans, so many ideas, so much you want to do, only to be thwarted by the needs of others at every turn?

I don’t think this is an exclusive feeling. I think everyone bears it at some point in their day, whether the ‘others’ are your kids, boss, friends, family, co-workers or one of the hundreds of strangers you may cross paths with.

So what did I realise in the quiet dark this morning?

I realised that I was choosing to be there.

I had chosen to put her needs before mine. I had chosen to lay down with her and coax her back to sleep.

And that meant I was also choosing not to write in that moment.

See? I told you it was elementary and obvious.

But as I recognised that I was making a choice to be there (no matter how automatic it felt) I relaxed. Immediately the tension of being caught between where I am and where I wanted to be was gone.

Suddenly I could enjoy the moment for what it was. Not an inconvenience, but rather a fleeting moment of quiet, watching my girl drift off, feeling the passage of time move on even as I lay there.

And I relaxed into it. I decided that I couldn’t feel frustrated if I was making a choice to be there.

Suddenly I understood that at every moment of every day we choose one thing over another.

We choose sleep over running. Coffee over laundry. Work over play. Laughter over offence. Writing over planning.

But the next time? It’s laundry over coffee. Play instead of work. Planning instead of writing.

The choices aren’t always easy and they are often not obvious, but they are there. And I may be over-analysing here, but I found a beautiful freedom and lightness in this realisation.

Every moment is a choice.

 

 

Slow Home Essentials: What Exactly IS a Slow Home?

Slow Home Essentials - What is a Slow Home, Exactly?

You’ve no doubt heard the old adage, “home is where the heart is”. I don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly explained it, but that thought is central to this blog and my wider philosophy on life.

To me, Home is not just a house. Home is an ever-changing combination of:

  • family
  • relationships
  • the apartment, house, barn or tent you currently live in
  • memories being made
  • outdoor spaces
  • creativity
  • your kitchen and the food prepared in it
  • religion or spirituality

Home is at once all-encompassing and constantly changing. It is everything that is important. It is everything that makes up the essence of you.

The official Slow Home Movement was founded by Calgary-based architects, John Brown, Carina van Olm and Matthew North. And while that movement provided me with my first look at the idea of creating a slow house, I have since redefined it to something that covers my own expanded version of Home. The one that you can take with you, regardless of where you’re currently living.

Home is not just four walls and a roof. But what typifies a Slow Home?

To me, it’s a fluid combination of being:

If you look at each of these elements separately (and I plan to, over the coming months) they are all really positive traits to have in your home. Combine them – even some of them – and your life and home will benefit more than you can imagine.

OK. But what does a slow home look like?

Does a slow home have a vegetable garden and a chicken coop? Sure!

Is it a tiny home on wheels, able to shift around when the mood for change strikes? Why not!

What about an old cottage soulfully renovated and filled with happiness and memories? Of course!

The point is, a slow home looks and feels different for everyone. It’s less about features of the home and more about your approach to life. It is true that a slow home is less centred on stuff, and it is harder to create a slow home if your house is a 5-storey sprawling mansion (because cleaning), but anyone, anywhere can create a home that works – I mean truly works – for them.

It’s just a matter of priorities.

Tell me, what does a slow home look and feel like to you?

Slow Home Essentials - not all about backyard chickens and vegetable gardens

Slow Home Essentials - What is a slow home?

This is the first post in a new ongoing series called Slow Home Essentials, where I will look at different elements of creating and maintaining a slow home. If there’s anything you’d like to know specifically, feel free to leave a comment! 

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