Simplicity looks different to each of us and changes throughout the various seasons of our lives.
But whatever our lives may currently look like, it is profound the difference it can make to our days when we begin to look at situations through the lens of simplicity.
And what better time to seek simplicity than during the busy festive season?
Embracing simplicity can be as easy as asking yourself throughout your day:
Of course, there is busy-ness that is realistically unavoidable during the festive season (and every season) but we can seek to not overcomplicate these things that do need to be done.
Tradition can be a comforting and bolstering part of our festive season but we needn't be afraid to change things up a little if those traditions cause stress and pressure.
Whether it is having conversations with family or friends about alternatives to gifts or a kris kringle style set-up if present buying is spiralling out of control, simplifying gatherings by getting everyone to pitch in or just not trying to cram in an unrealistic amount of things into our days.
How can you embrace simplicity today?
Every year without fail, I would find myself sitting in the waiting room of a doctors surgery a couple of days before Christmas. Tonsillitis was the usual unwelcome visitor but some years my body threw in some other kind of virus or infection just to keep things interesting.
This began long before I had children and the cycle only really stopped a few years ago. Whilst the malady may have differed, the cause was always the same. I was simply exhausted. Burnt out, run down, knackered.
Not just due to being busy at work, but because I was thoroughly overwhelmed. You see, I love festivities - people, parties, events - and get pretty excited about all the opportunities to make and cook and entertain that the festive season provides. Now these are all good things of course but I found that I couldn't say no to ANY of it. On top of all that, I would put highly unrealistic pressure on myself that Christmas was going to be *perfect* and that I had to have any unresolved issue in my life (or mind) fixed and and tied in a neat little bow by the end of the year.
Yep, no wonder my tonsils gave out.
When I started to embrace simplicity in my life, which was essentially the beginning of Nourish and Nest, I started applying those principles to Christmas too. And it really, really helped.
Especially once I had three children on the scene, I realised I wanted them to have beautiful memories of this time of year, not of a manic woman who was too frazzled and frantic to enjoy it all.
The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind of projects and events and plenty of hard work, up until the last two weeks when I experienced the rather humbling back-to-back visits of both a nasty infection and the flare up of a neck injury. I just got back on my feet after feeling quite poorly with the infection when I was laid out again with a seized up neck and a considerable amount of pain to go with it.
It was a timely reminder of the importance of self-care, especially at this time of year, and of being intentional about how we spend these celebratory seasons. What really matters, what really doesn't and how to be present and joyful and content throughout it all.
So, for my own good, I have put together a little series for the first week of December - Calm + Bright. I need it and I thought I would share it in case you do too. Think of it as a week of daily ideas and inspirations for enjoying small rituals, embracing simplicity & finding beauty in the everyday this festive season.
Want to join me? Simply sign up below and you'll receive your first e-mail on December 1st.
I was sharing in this post that it's taken me a little while to find my groove this year. You know, adjusting to the new schedules of the fresh year, emerging from cruisy January with some focus and purpose and finding a rhythm to the day that works in this current season of life.
I love a good list and also find that having a daily focus, small rituals to look forward to and gratitude reminders all help me fall in to a good groove.
So I put together a daily list with a few little Nourish and Nest-style extras to help myself along.
There's a place for the necessary 'to-dos' but also somewhere to write down a simple focus for each day, some self-care rituals to incorporate into our rhythms plus space for notes and gratitudes.
Sound like something you'd be in to? Then print yourself out a few copies of the Nourish and Nest Daily Rituals sheet, click on the image to download.
When it comes to embracing simplicity, it is helpful to be intentional about the goods that we choose to fill our spaces with. We aim to purvey goods that are both beautiful and functional. For this reason, the tumblers that our candles are poured into are created from thick-walled moulded glass so that they can be re-used once you've finished with your candle.
To remove any remnants of wax from the bottom of the candle tumbler: fill with boiling water, allow to sit for 10 minutes, empty the water and then wipe the inside of the tumbler clean.
Then, you have yourself an empty vessel to use to store anything from paintbrushes to toothbrushes, to use as a vase or a planter for succulents or even as a tumbler for drinks.
"...if you don’t have the time to be slow, then you aren’t really living properly. You’re racing through life instead of living it. People worry about missing out on life if they slow down, but life is what’s happening right here, right now. As for steps to lead a slower life: Do less. Buy less. Consume less. Drive less. Unplug more. Walk more. Sleep more. Stop multitasking and do one thing at a time. Embed slow moments and rituals into your schedule".
As I have shared before, as attracted as I am to the idea, a 'slow life' can seem so unreachable at times. But small rituals throughout your day that cause you to slow down and be present are something far more achievable, even if just as a starting point to embracing simplicity.
I share these thoughts on embracing simplicity and the art of slow not because it is something I do well. Quite the contrary, fast and busy seems to be my default setting, so I find I need to regularly read about and explore these concepts to help me stay on track towards a life of greater balance and intention.
As much as it has become a sign of social standing to constantly boast about how incredibly busy we are (I am sure we will look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of this in decades to come), I am acutely aware that busyness does not equate with happiness, productivity or even purpose. In fact we can actually busy ourselves with so many distractions that we miss the opportunities for what really matters.
In consciously slowing down, even if just a little, we take back control of our lives rather than being slaves to obligation and mindlessly following the crowd. It can be freeing to step back and realise that we don't have to attend every social gathering we are invited to, our presence is not required on every social media platform, our kids don't need to do multiple extra-curricular activities and the world won't fall apart if we turn our phone off for a day.
Which leads me to the idea of a digital sabbatical.
Have you ever taken a digital sabbatical? It is essentially a break from technology - e-mails, social media, the internet. A chance to look up from our phones, overcome any FOMO tendencies, genuinely relax (as opposed to simply distracting ourselves) and heighten our experience of the real world around us.
Obviously, it helps to take a digital sabbatical when you are on holidays (unless your job doesn't require you to be online in any way) but even a technology break over the weekend can do us the world of good. I used to have phone-free Wednesdays (the 'weekend' for my shift-working family) and even just that 24 hour break can be enough to simplify our lives a little.
There needs to be no great preparation, but if you are intending on going digitally off-grid for a substantial amount of time it can help to set up an auto-reply on your e-mail, let those close to you know you'll be uncontactable (or let them know an alternate way to contact you if totally necessary) and, if you are having quite an extended sabbatical and you're a social media junkie, maybe briefly mention it online so no one sends the police to your home in your absence.
I took a week-long one last Summer and again in Winter and it really works for me. I find that it breaks the pattern of constantly checking-in with your phone so that when you do return to your online life there's a bit more balance. It also helps you become reacquainted with moments of nothingness. Moments when we are waiting are usually, for me at least, times when we quickly fill the space with some mindless scrolling. It is incredibly freeing to sit and just be alone with our thoughts and available to ponder.
“The pondering heart is a thankful heart.”
But beyond the material, it is a concept that also spans to include our commitments and schedule as well. There is much that is realistically unavoidable (hello washing dishes) but we can spend the hours that we have left in ways that mirror what we are passionate about, what we cherish and what we would ultimately like to be part of the footprint of our lives. There is room for anything, but not everything. And so the importance of a life well-curated.