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Category: Simple bliss (page 3 of 3)

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.

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How beautiful is your world?

Monolithic concrete urban tower blocks. Forest at sunrise. A dog wagging his tail and smiling. A shabby leather armchair Winston Churchill sat in and smoked a cigar.

Which of these might you consider beautiful? Do you ever wonder why you consider something beautiful?

I’d venture that Venice is definitely beautiful. When I visited during a watery Autumn, saturated myself in magnificent art and walked across the Bridge of Sighs where we were told prisoners sighed at their last view of Venice through its windows, I was instantly overcome with this city’s man-made beauty.

I suppose I was programmed to find it beautiful and I did. It was awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping. And yet, its polar opposite – the all-natural, barely a man-made footprint on it, Red Centre of Australia, inspired in me a similar state of appreciation of beauty from an entirely different angle. And taught me something.

Standing in the middle of monotonous red sand stretching to nowhere and a hunk of bitty hill, much-photographed Uluru, (or as colonists referred to it, Ayers Rock) I thought, ‘huh? there’s nothing here!’.

And then someone pointed out a lizard. A thorny devil. One of the most magnificent creatures I’ve ever seen! Suddenly, I had a whole new pair of viewing lenses on. I was at one with the breathtaking vastness, the high sky so blue against the red sand.

In this deeply spiritual and reverential place, if you lower your hyped-up, over-stimulated vision-o-meter to zero and then look around, you are rewarded with a whole other kind of expanded perspective.

The shape of a rock. The millions of shades of red that happen in nature. How pretty ripples in sand can be, how calming their rhythm. The stark joy of a single plant, the only plant you can see.

When I think about the Red Centre and contrast it with Venice I find a beautifully simple analogy for changing my perspective on beauty to see the wonder in the smallest, fewest things.

What we perceive as beautiful is so clearly dependent on our individual Selves, our experiences, the mind behind our own eyes. The beauty of that is that it is not fixed but ever-changing so we’re always free to see the beauty in everything.

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Coloring-in for grown-ups

Can you believe I’ve been thinking about this post for a full month?

For some reason it’s become important to me to persuade you that coloring-in is a beautiful, relaxing, wonderful pastime for grown-ups. And that you buy yourself some lovely crayons, pencils or felt pens, brushes, quills, fine-nib fountain pen and inks, big, fat markers or an expensive set of soft pastels, choose a coloring-in book or two that you fancy and allow yourself the sweet, innocent, liberating pleasure that coloring-in brings us.

Why do most of us stop coloring-in when we love it so? I guess we take up more challenging endeavours in late childhood and then forget all about coloring-in. And, as I have been discovering thanks to my daughter, coloring-in is a deeply satisfying, simple escape from the hurly-burly and weirdly therapeutic.

My daughter and I often sit at the table and color in a picture together, in a free-form way where she may suddenly decide we start a new picture so I have to be flexible in that area! And all the while she is talking, talking, talking and I am listening. This is a brilliant way to let your child tell you things they’ve been wanting to say, in a relaxed, side-by-side way. But that’s an aside.

I really don’t want you to think you need a child or need to be child-like to color-in. There is an amazing array of colouring books with special appeal for grown-ups. Some are designed especially for grown-ups. Now, I am all for the gorgeous pre-school kind of big pictures like the one above (my daughter colored that one in, her coloring is much more textural and pleasing than mine). So grab one of those at your local store for a bit of nostalgia.

I am not really good with fiddly, fine-lined drawings but an enlightened friend gave me a Rosie Flo’s coloring book ages ago and I loved that. What a beautiful range of creative coloring books! Please check out the coloured-in gallery.

How great it is to be faced with the exact boundaries of solid black lines and white space inviting you to color it. How good a chunky, soft crayon feels in your hand. The smell of felt pens. How tricky it really is to stay within the lines (well, for me it still is anyway). In fact, maybe coloring-in is even more fun for adults than children.

But do we allows ourselves the fun? Says Sara of darling Etsy shop Kitty Baby Love, “We often get a lot of adults who love our items, but then sigh and say sadly that they don’t have any children to buy them for. It’s nice to have more encouragement for adults to enjoy these cute things too. Fun/cute/creative need not be for children only!”

OMG – look at these crayons from Kitty Baby Love! —->

Feast your eyes on these and see if you can resist getting yourself a coloring book next time you’re down the supermarket or — yes, the art supply store (most have them!). And remember to get yourself your favorite media; crayon, pastel, paint, colored pencil, marker, ink …… ah.

For those who are both hip and charity-minded:

The Yellow Bird Indie Rock Coloring Book

“I like coloring books. I also like charity. So as you can imagine, I definitely like this!”
– Russell Lissack of Bloc Party

“This is the greatest coloring book since coloring was invented. I’ve decided to have kids just so I’ll have somebody to give this book to.”
– Matt Berninger of The National

For the fashion aware:

My Wonderful World of Fashion: A Book for Drawing, Creating and Dreaming.”

If you love vintage items (or want to color the exact style of coloring book you did when you were little!) you can still find – amazingly – pristine vintage coloring books like these Cowboy and Holly Hobbie ones I just found with a quick search on ebay.com.

AND Prestel Publishing brings us FINE ART coloring-in books based on Warhol, Klimpt and Dali! Previously I would have thought this was sacriligious but now I’m thinking WOW! We found the Klimpt one at a charity shop and it’s great!

You can find these and more than ten thousand more coloring books on ebay in both the US and UK. Now, if you are an artist who creates coloring books or you want to recommend particular coloring books, please share your links with us in the comments section below.

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Seduced by peachy breast feathers

I’m a ‘Fierce Invalid Home from Hot Climates‘. Coming back to Scotland after twenty years I’m experiencing various culture shocks, thrills and a weird sense of re-booting my system by coming home to a place I’ve only previously lived in as a child.

One fundamental and enduring thrill is appreciating British garden birds. Every day my world is better because of our darling garden birds. I love supplying nesting materials (wool) and boxes, feeding and watching our garden birds.

I have been diligent about daily feeding ‘our’ feathered flocks over the past 2 years. And we’re members of the RSPB which has wonderful magazines for children and grown-ups for a tiny family membership fee. (Join the RSPB now.)

Robins, wrens, blackbirds, crows, chaffinches, wood pigeons, song thrushes, blue tits, great tits, dinnocks, damn feral pigeons … once we even had a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

It’s a delightful birding paradise in our back yard. I love all these beautiful birds. Yes, the robins are clever and come real close to me now which is heart-warming. And the great tits are precious and strikingly-marked. I’m naturally a very egalitarian person, not given to favoritism. Or so I thought until recently.

Oh foolish pride!

Several weeks ago my mouth hung open and I felt like calling some birding hotline at the stunning sight of a male bullfinch enjoying bird seeds and nuts from my home-made, and as such weirdly-designed, bird table. He had the most outrageously gorgeous rose pinky peachy breast feathers and stark black cap.

I felt so honored.

Honored?! Who knew I was so shallow? I am mortified to have been so easily seduced by bullfinches, both male and female, just because they look really pretty! I kind of like them better than the others, I watch for them especially each day – because they are so beautiful. Their beauty enriches my day. Argh. I hang my head in shame over such favoritism based on looks alone.

Do I do this with other things and just don’t know it? Am I so easily beguiled by prettiness? I think I will research bullfinches so that at least from here on in I can demonstrate some kind of knowledge rather than mumble about my little love birds’ fine feathers.

What birds do you have at your place? Have you noticed them? Do you watch them?

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Sunshine on skin

Today – a Summer’s day visits me in Spring.

An unexpected, warmly-welcomed visitor. Like an old friend at the door, happy and bearing pistachio cake.

I turn my face up to the blue sky. The heat of yellow rays penetrates my pores. It feels like they have sunk into my brain, pretty golden shards.

Simple sun-kiss; bliss.

Image borrowed from rawartletterpress. Thank you for making the world more beautiful.

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