breathe dearheart, breathe

Category: Inspiration (page 4 of 5)

Hello authentic life

Yesterday I talked a little about how we could all be more ourselves – the individuals we are – and feel more empowered instead of running around like Loraxes.

But how exactly to do that? How do you live your authentic life?

First of all, you are an individual. It follows that your life ought to be one based on your individuality. You are not just a person in the system, a potential customer, a consumer or one of the target market. Yet so many of us are unwittingly brainwashed and just bob along with the waves of patterns of behaviour that move around the ocean of our populace.

It seems to me that while most people understand we have free choice – and so many less fortunate people in the world do not have this essential foundation of a free society – they don’t use their free choice. (However, there are anomalies in our society, for example, parents-to-be in New York have no choice about whether to have their baby at home or not.)

Free will and free choice means we have the luxury of being more conscious of the tiny as well as big choices we make every day.

Each choice has a consequence. When we choose carefully and thoughtfully, when we ask ourselves what we want to do instead of just automatically doing what we think society wants us to do, we instantly empower ourselves.

The more we listen to our inner Self, and act on our intuition, the stronger we feel, and co-incidentally happier. The more we consciously strip away unnecessary things by de-cluttering, creating breathing space in our lives, being more mindful, honoring the things that make us feel good and doing more of them, the more authentic our lives will be. Our lives reflect who we are.

So in the hope of inspiring you, I gave myself 15 minutes to write a little stream-of-consciousness list of my ways of authentic living – practical choices I’ve made and continue to make that have helped me strip away layers of accidental falsity and live a more fulfilling life.

Hello authentic living –

Hello handmade, nature, wilderness and conscious living. Hello make-do-and-mend and minimalism. Hello connecting with my community and guerrilla gardening. Hello buying local produce and seasonal food.

Hello stripping away unnecessary things, including people and ideologies. Hello looking at bees and butterflies instead of watching them on TV. Hello letting children feel free and safe and able to play without adult supervision and interference.

Hello walking instead of driving. Hello knowing more about my family and friends than I do about celebrities and TV characters. Hello Waldorf / Steiner education and toys made of things that once lived like wool and wood. Hello not window-shopping and buying into retail persuasion.

Hello wearing the same dress I wore ten years ago because I love it (fashion doyen, Vivienne Westwood would approve). Hello making your own clothes, buying vintage clothes, revamping your old clothes, buying clothes from charity shops and expressing your individuality through the clothes you wear.

Hello being indecisive so you are always open to something new happening. Hello being spontaneous and going with that whole “who moved the cheese” thing.

Hello learning to be storytellers again instead of always reading books. Hello buying online direct from artists and creators on Etsy instead of big brand manufacturers. Hello upcycling and finding new uses for things we might otherwise throw away. Hello guitars around campfires, sleeping  under the stars and taking courses like Guy Mallinson’s woodland camps.

Hello farmers markets and people raising animals and crops the old-fashioned, expensive way. Hello curative classical homoeopathy and the slow movement. Hello creating communities of like-minded people online so it’s like we all live together in a village. (I’d like WildelyCreative as a neighbour.)

Hello supporting the people working with white knuckles, gritted teeth and in tears to save our planet, the species we share it with and the welfare of animals. Hello the rebel, the maverick, the weirdo who stands up and is not afraid to go against the tide.

Hello having your baby at home, being supported by other parents and breastfeeding for as long as you want. Hello hand-me-down clothes that have the energy of other children about them. Hello dads being good at supporting and protecting their family and moms being good at nurturing and home-making and hello all parents feeling supported and confident instead of thinking they need to read parenting books <– although I recommend that one).

Hello feeling connected to people via the magnificent universe that is Twitter that you’d never meet in real life. Hello listening to our instincts and acting upon them so we get more gut instincts and start to rely on them instead. Hello thinking for yourself instead of what everyone else seems to think.

Hello doing the exact things we loved as children, not matter how childish like playing with modelling clay and crayons, making things from twigs and collecting feathers. Hello not feeling you have to see the latest movie. Hello walking barefoot and getting your hands dirty.

Hello attempting to fix something instead of just buying a replacement. Hello getting to know your neighbours even if you don’t like them. Hello having a cat or dog in your life to teach you important life lessons and bring you companionship, fun, love and joy.

Hello photographing wildlife instead of shooting it. Hello going on guided nature walks instead of shopping trips. Hello home baking, making meals from scratch and growing our own wild foods.

Hello taking things out of skips and picking up things off the street that people have put out as garbage (we got 4 rolls of thick cream wallpaper on the street yesterday, great for HUGE painting and pastel works of art).

Hello looking up old friends and just saying hello. Hello realising you are beautiful. Hello loving what you have and being grateful.

Hello more displays of public affection. Hello more adventurous sex. (Bye bye stupid inhibitions.) Hello sharing secrets and talking more about what you feel. Hello writing silly notes and saying thank you.

Hello finding out about the insects and other little beasties you share you home and street with and looking for them and being able to name them. Hello smiling at people and acknowledging people more.

Hello realizing how far you’ve come and helping those coming up behind you. Hello leaving whole days open and unscheduled to do what you like in the moment. Hello risking looking foolish when you ask a stranger if they need help with their bags, car, crossing the road or anything else. Hello getting better about saying ‘no’ without giving an explanation as to why not.

Hello having wildflower meadows and wilderness areas in our gardens. Hello making gifts and cards for friends and family instead of giving money to a shop. Hello more people doing things like moving your tomato plant so the noise won’t disturb a leafcutter bee’s nest.

Hello healing ourselves by listening to our inner wild.

I’d love it if we did a kind of brainstorming thing here and you added your individual ‘Hello‘s in the comments below. I might add a few more too.


Start living your authentic life —-> Why be a Lorax when you can be YOU?

Am warning you now, I may be a bit rambly in this post. I know I should be single-minded. Alas, I am taken today with the idea of becoming more folk tale-ish (sorry).

So if you’re not into that right now, just skip to the video I’ve managed to successfully embed at the end of this post, sit back and experience your own, personal life-changing event.

I saw this film, “The Story of Stuff” presented by Annie Leonard, on Jonathan Fields’ blog just the other day and it has had a huge impact on me.

I knew all the stuff Ms Leonard spoke about but watching her present this information on STUFF has crystallized my thoughts and mobilized me in the same way another film did when I was a teenager.

For many years as a child I had “boked” as we say in Scotland, which means gagging on food or vomiting when I asked what this food was on my plate and my mum replied, lamb or beef or any other kind of meat.

I hated the idea of eating animal friends (remember I was 10-13 years old, also I was an only child in a menagerie of pets) but everyone I knew ate animals so what other choice was there?

Then I happened to see a private screening of The Animals Film. And that was it. I became vegetarian and still am a hundred years later.

Similarly, I’ve recently been feeling a strange sense of disconnect with how things are going in our society. So many things just didn’t seem ‘right’ or natural. Why were people so unhappy? Why did so many people not care about their environment or each other?

Why did some people stone ducks to death at one end of a park while in the same park not far away, other people were feeding them? (I have witnessed this particular example of the dichotomy of humankind).

Then I re-read The Lorax by Dr Seuss. Why have we all learned so little in the last 30 plus years? Written in 1971 by the visionary Theodore Seuss Geisel (his real name) it’s a clear warning for future generations and yet have we heeded it?

While many of us have understood its premise, resonated with the desire to care for our wildlife and wilderness, treasure nature and our natural biodiversity, and have felt moved by Dr Seuss’ plea, we have run around like Cassandra Loraxes.

We’ve identified with the powerlessness of the Lorax, rather than the direct “YOU” of the character Dr Seuss wanted us to relate to.

Enter Annie Leonard. (Thank God.) Ms Leonard has done something grand to alleviate our powerlessness. She is fully equipped with the facts, the evidence and the passion to help us all. She explains things clearly to us, with simple diagrams and straight-forward narrative in “The Story of Stuff”.

She is the YOU of The Lorax. She took the Truffula Seed idea and did something huge with it. She planted it in a film. I suspect that if Ms Leonard read The Lorax and its last page:


Catch!” calls the Once-ler.

He lets something fall.

“It’s a Truffula Seed.

It’s the last one of all!

You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.

And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.

Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.

Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.

Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.

Then the Lorax

and all of his friends

may come back.”

she decided to take up that responsibility. And by God has she ever.

So thank you Dr Seuss and Annie Leonard. I will be a Lorax no longer and simply be ME.

I too am shifting from feeling powerless to taking the steps to disentangle myself and my family from the unnatural, unsustainable, unholy threads that tie us to big corporation’s stranglehold on our planet. I realize I’ve been doing it for a while.

Tomorrow I’ll share some practical and simple new ways you can not only reverse the cycle of Stuff in your life but simultaneously liberate your inner wild man / inner wild woman.


Stay or go, your choice

There I am, just walking, not really even thinking, being in the moment, at one with it all.

BAM! I’m hit by a sudden dilemma. A grand philosophical question. A sign painted in the window of a closed-down cafe has caught my eye:

“…to go … to stay …”

Well, crikey, um, I dunno. This is the sort of question that can root an indecisive Libran like me to the spot for hours. I could have spent all day in front of that window, weighing up the pros and cons of staying or going before making a decision.

So I stood and I thought. I took a photo. I thought some more – about my life and whether I was going somewhere or staying, which somehow implied being “stuck”. Where I had come from? Where would I go? Where am I right now? Do I even know?

And yet, relief. This scrawly-painted sign in a window reminds us that there is always a choice. You don’t have to stay. You can just GO.

Yes, it was talking about coffee. But this coffee shop has closed down. (Suffocated perhaps by the nearby chain cafe, “Beanscene” which doesn’t pose such weighty, life-evaluating questions.)

Did this cafe’s customers look at this when getting coffee and decide, upon reading this statement, to leave a violent relationship or an energy-sucking job, to leave an unhealthy situation or to stay in something good and commit to making it work…?

Was the sign writer aware of the effect their question might create on people’s lives? I mean, this is one of the greatest, most recurrent dilemmas in my life. Stay in this situation or go to the next, unknown one? Stay in this country or go to another? (I’ve repeated that one quite a lot.)

I hope this little statement stays in the window for as long as possible. I think it’s a valuable reminder of something we forget. That even when we feel locked-in to the most horrid of situations, or think ourselves trapped in a negative state of mind or hand-cuffed to an abusive person, we always have a choice.

And it really is a therapeutically healing, simple choice – go or stay. Once we make that choice we have already made huge progress.

Phew. Definitely time for some coffee …


Cup half full? Great! ———–> Next question: blank piece of paper – intimidating or exciting?

Where are you at with the whole ‘blank canvas’ of your life thing?

Given that we can have the power to change everything in our lives moment to moment, the present is a continuous blank canvas for our future – or if you prefer, (and today I do) a blank sheet of paper.

Quite suddenly the blank piece of paper becomes a metaphor for your life.

I admit to occasionally feeling intimidated by blank white paper. Especially if it’s fancy laid paper, watermarked, letterhead or handmade paper.

On analysis, I realise this happens when I’m feeling either fearful, creatively overwhelmed/bottle-necked or remembering that a tree died to make that beautiful blank, smooth whiteness.

How can you dare break the serene silence of whiteness if you don’t feel you can make the paper any more lovely that it already is?

Strangely, my dumbness is overcome by A2 and A1 pads of paper. I LOVE those. With their maxi size and lots of leaves, I feel giddy with freedom. I always use huge pads for mind-mapping and big ideas, (of course).

When I’m feeling confident, filled with prosperity consciousness and I am holding a pen I like to write with and there’s a sentence in my mind that must be captured and contained on a sheet of A4 paper, not via my computer keyboard, I thrill to the blankness.

I guess a lot of people don’t take much notice of a blank piece of paper. It’s the same with most things we use every day, yet these tiny things can be incisively indicative of our general attitude. As humans, the potential of tiny things tends to get overlooked as we turn our heads to the glitzy sparkly BIG thing over there, we can’t help ourselves.

But wait! To redeem us all there is at least one, rare individual who is divinely inspired by blank A4 paper. Peter Callesen not only turns something 2D into something 3D, he inspires us all by creating delicate majesty with his imagination, A4 paper, glue and a blade. He also has these glorious words to say about it all:

“I find the A4 sheet of paper interesting to work with, because it is probably the most common and consumed media and format for carrying information today, and in that sense it is something very loaded. This means that we rarely notice the actual materiality of the A4 paper.

“By removing all the information and starting from scratch using the blank white 80gsm A4 paper as a base for my creations, I feel that I have found a material which we all are able to relate to, and at the same time is non-loaded and neutral and therefore easier to fill with different meanings. The thin white paper also gives the paper sculptures a fragility which underlines the tragic and romantic theme of the works.”

Ah, Peter, you are SO very fine!

Thank you for demonstrating how something humble, something ordinary like a blank piece of paper, can become remarkably extraordinary. Just like us.

Images borrowed from Peter Callesen.

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