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.
It was in the small everyday decisions and simple acts that she began to craft a life she loved, one she didn't need to escape from.
We surrender our power when we choose the narrative that we'll only be happy, content, fulfilled, enough... 'when'.
When we're laying on the beach in Fiji, cocktail in hand, when we have a home that looks like the pages of an interiors magazine, when we have a circle of friends that support us daily and never let us down, when we have a partner, when we have a partner that initiates a grand romantic gesture every week, when we can have eight hours uninterrupted sleep a night, when our children behave themselves for more than four hours in a row, when we lose five kilos, when we're completely on top of our anxiety, when, when when...
'When' leads us down a never ending spiral of discontent and misery. We never arrive and thus we are never truly satisfied and at peace.
If we hide behind 'when', we shut off the myriad of beautiful possibilities that lie behind simple moments during the rhythm of our days. Let me tell you this, there is magic in a ordinary day, when we stop to see it, when we choose to craft and create our lives as only we can. When we start right here, right now, with who we are and what is available to us.
And perhaps, we also surrender the possibility of a life we're truly in love with when we give too much power to external factors in our life.. like social media.
Since I was a teenager, I have loved the Eleanor Roosevelt quote,
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
It rocked my world when I first read it and it is something I still think of regularly, often in relation to how we interact with the media... social media in particular. We lose the magic in our every day when we defeatedly believe that forms of media rule our lives.
Social media makes me feel like a failure.. everyone is in the Greek Islands, everyone is out doing amazing things, achieving their goals with glowing skin and incredible friends that never forget to invite them anywhere.
When we allow the things that we choose to look at and engage with (and remember lovely people that we choose to look at these things in the first place!) to make use feel inferior, or to believe the lie that we'll only be happy 'when'.. we miss out on so much beauty and joy that is right here under our nose all day long. And it often impedes us from creating a life we love.
There are very real limitations that many face physically, mentally and just... logistically. Different seasons in life can have their own beauty and restrictions. Many people have heartbreaking challenges in their lives that are beyond their control. But perhaps we don't give enough weight to all that we do have control over.. all that we can change and create and craft.
The interconnectedness of our world is pretty incredible. I have friends around the globe.. some of whom I've met traveling, some I've met in the online world and social media allows us to glimpse into each other's lives and connect and relate and that is amazing.
Social media has allowed Nourish and Nest to reach people who would have never connected with our brand otherwise. I stumble across inspiration for travelling, cooking and generally being a nice human in this online world, events and projects and ideas and stories that I would have never known of otherwise and I am thankful for it.
But being connected with what hundreds or thousands of people are doing daily through social media can be a bit of an overwhelm too. I have to put some rhythms and routines into my life to make sure I'm not scrolling the grid all day, staring at other people's moments when I should be living my own. I don't want to be just watching other people's lives.. I want to be consciously and intentionally creating my own life. Day by day, moment by moment.
For me, when I feel that overwhelm creep in.. I make a few choices. I choose not to start or end my day with social media and focus on following accounts that inspire or interest me. I have at least one social media free day per week and try and disengage with it when I am on holidays.
Maybe those kind of boundaries are a no-brainer for you or maybe some mindfulness around how you interact with social media would be helpful for you. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to how we engage with the online world but we all definitely need to take responsibility for how much time we spend scrolling through other people's lives as opposed to how much time we spend creating a life we love.
If you are allowing the way you consume content to keep you living in the land of discontent.. may I gently and lovingly suggest that you take back your power and remember that you are designing your life, day by day, moment by moment?
What do you want more of in your life? What do you want less of? What are the small acts and rituals that could punctuate your day with joy? You are incredible and (as Mary Oliver so stunningly puts it) this is your one wild and precious life.. what are you going to do with it?
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.
Small rituals: lighting a candle, pouring tea, running a bath or gathering around a meal allow us to pay homage to the beautiful wonder of the ordinary present.
These simple acts, undertaken with intention, have the ability to calm, nourish, inspire and foster gratitude. Such small rituals are ordinarily, elegantly beautiful. They are ancient and yet they are ours.
A candle-lit bath, an early morning cup of coffee when all is quiet, an end-of-the-week glass of bubbles, a stolen moment in your lunch break to sit on the grass with the sun on your face.. the possibilities are boundless.
It is a simple but profound luxury to have a few uncomplicated pleasures in life that nourish and allow you to create your own personal sanctuary, even if it is just for a moment.
Often we look for happiness, inspiration and sustenance only in the big moments, in the occasional, in the grand. But, perhaps, joy is to be found in the small rituals, in the everyday. This perspective looks upon life with wonder, believing that there is beauty to be found.
Small rituals allow us to create beauty in the most common of moments, these simple acts create pockets of grace.
The virtue of small rituals is that they allow us to see the beauty in the most common of moments. There is a shift when we start to become aware of the sweet moments of joy hidden throughout our day. Gratitude is fostered, the tribulations of life are put into perspective.
To seek and discover the endless beauty that surrounds us amongst the ordinary day-in, day-out of our lives is not to bury our heads in the sand. It is not a delusional facade that all is perfect. Rather, it is an intentional quest for the joy amongst the heartache, the peace amongst the chaos and the beauty amongst the ordinary (or better still, the beauty in the ordinary!)
Beauty can be hidden in plain sight unless we intentionally distinguish it amongst the mundane moments in which it is intertwined. It is the sun on your cheek, an unexpected warm breeze, the steam from your tea cup, a small kindness, morning light in the kitchen, laughter at the table, a brief caress, the flicker of a candle flame.
When it is our daily ritual to seek beauty, it is our daily experience that we find it. Everyday beauty inspires us, it colours in our life and invokes gratitude.Small rituals create pockets of beautiful grace. To embrace the art of small rituals is a mindset, a way of looking at the world that brings beauty and joy to the rhythms of our days and our life.
It has been a little while between drinks but I am glad to be back in this space and looking forward to sharing some fresh and exciting things here on the blog this year.
Earlier this week, I gathered with a small group of fabulous women for a photo shoot for the Nourish and Nest range of Organic Teas and Herbal Tisanes. It was such a fun, refreshing, inspiring time and we finished with afternoon drinks in the garden.
It was a perfect late-Summer style of gathering and I will be sharing all the images in the coming days as well as some ideas and inspirations for gathering and celebrating the last of the balmy weather.
Sitting at the table and enjoying relaxed conversation (well, as relaxed as you can be when you're having your photo taken!) and iced teas got me thinking about all that is fabulous about this time of year. I am also aware of how easy it is to get caught up in always anticipating the next season and in doing so, missing what is in the here and now.
The end of every season is a time to relish in the goodness that is unique to that particular time of year. The awareness that seasonal delights may soon come to an end makes them all the more precious, be they Summer's balmy nights, Autumn's crisp mornings, Winter evenings spent fireside or the freshness that comes with Spring.
And so, as we find ourselves in late Summer, I am grateful for the particular pleasures of this time of year. One of my favourite aspects of this season is the ease with which we can gather with our friends. There is a simplicity to Summer entertaining - a blanket thrown on the grass is really all you need.
I am also delighting in the little things - my youngest babe naked in the backyard as she waters the plants, simple dinners based around what's in the garden (which is predominantly chillies at the moment - not that helpful for feeding children!) and the warm evenings that allow us to work on projects around the home late into the night.
Part of the Nourish and Nest philosophy is to align yourself with the seasons. It is so easy to always be looking ahead to the next season (in the cycle of the year and in our lives), to what is to come. To be 'here' physically but not mentally. But in doing so, we often lose our contentment and miss out on the everyday beauty and opportunity that surrounds us.
Whilst as a lover of Autumn I look forward to the season that is to come, I am also choosing to savour late Summer and all that it entails. I hope you are relishing all that is good in your current season - in the year and in life.
Image credit: Sasha Crofts
"...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.”
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit”
I have been involved in several conversations recently where someone (generally a female and often a mother) has put themselves down for not being able to do it all. Or have compared themselves negatively to someone else and scratched their head wondering how on earth 'she does it all?'.
I know most of us have felt like this at times. Like everyone has it together except us. And I hear and read things that I know perpetuate these untruths. I adore reading interviews of inspiring people, especially dialogues done well, where people are asked challenging questions and they answer with courage and vulnerability. But it drives me a little crazy when people are described as superhuman, or they are questioned about how they do it all and they give any answer other than 'I don't..'
Now please understand that I am a bit of a time management nerd, I love productivity and hacks for working smarter. I want to live a life of purpose and am always keen to learn how to do life well (especially when managing a small circus of little people). But the truth is that whilst we can always be looking to improve, no one is actually doing it all. We can do absolutely anything, but we can not do everything. At least not well. Eventually something has to give.
The art of it all (in my humble little opinion) is being aware of the season you are currently in and assessing the following things:
What has to stay in the juggle out of pure necessity (if only there was a dishwashing fairy)
What you are valuing and prioritising at this season of life (hello my love, my family, my faith, community, my business and cups of tea in bed)
What you try and fit in when you can but accept may not always happen (such as my vegetable garden, the pile of books next to my bed, coffee dates, writing, doing my hair, thorough house cleaning..)
What has to be sacrificed temporarily but not necessarily forever (my sewing machine hasn't come down from it's shelf since my third daughter was born, my much-anticipated plans to do my Masters are still on the back burner)
What we are ok with sacrificing indefinitely (I have never found the time to watch the Bachelor and I am really ok with that).
This is not a very typical Nourish and Nest post, but part of our philosophy is to love extravagantly (including yourself) and to stay true to your path, so I believe it fits. I am also humbled that people really do come to this space and read what is (sporadically at times) shared and so if I can use this space to encourage one person today, it is a good day.
You are doing great. No one is doing it all. Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind. Love extravagantly, others and yourself. Let go of the unhealthy comparisons and stay true to your own path.
With love xx
An important part of the Nourish and Nest philosophy is to align oneself with the seasons, those of nature and of life. To appreciate the unique beauty of each season and celebrate all that it has to offer.
To keep with this philosophy of seasonal living, Nourish and Nest are releasing a limited edition candle to pay homage to the season at hand - 'Autumn'.
Our 'Autumn' candle is an enticing blend of spicy chai tea, fresh pear and just a hint of sweet mandarin and I have been lighting it whenever I want to create just the right amount of cosy. If you would like to do the same, they are now available in the online store.
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house..."
Adventures at the ocean's edge are becoming far less frequent and there's a slight crispness to the early-morning air that seems to bring my senses to attention - these are my personal markers that we have shifted into Autumn. And a subtle shift it is too in comparison to those of you who experience far more extreme versions of the seasons. But a shift nonetheless. There is worth in truly accepting these changes and making small adjustments to honour the season we are entering.
To live aligned with the seasons is to be mindful of natural rhythms and to embrace the particular beauty of each season - whether it be an abundance of Summer stone fruits, the reprieve from the heat that Autumn heralds, the pull of the home that Winter's chill encourages or Summer's carefree, balmy nights.
But there are also seasons in our life. Just as we can waste our precious days wishing away colder seasons and determining to only be happy again when we are basking in Summer's glow, we can also squander certain seasons of our life. Determining we will only be happy when a certain life stage has passed or sadly longing for the return or a past stage of life robs us of the beauty, the lessons, the opportunities and the adventure to be found in our current season of life. The difference being that the quarterly seasons of the year are cyclic, whereas seasons of life are unique and not-to-be-repeated. A wise woman once said to me 'you'll only ever do this season of life once, so do it well'. A sentiment I want to live by.
So as the produce in my kitchen, the seedlings being planted in my soil, the items in my wardrobe and the comforts in my home alter to accommodate the new season, I want to fully embrace and adapt to the season of life I currently find myself in. That despite it's inevitable challenges and difficulties, I would see its beauty and live it out passionately.