It's Friday again.. And my mind is whirling with ideas. June does that to me it seems, a mid year burst of creativity perhaps. A time to reflect on what's been achieved so far in the year and how much there is to still do. The ideas just keep coming.. While I'm folding the washing, making mud pies in the sandpit, brewing a third cup of tea. Some are big and enchanting, some small and useful, some are solutions to previous ideas that just weren't working out. But with all these ideas, buzzing around, my head is full and multi-tasking just isn't working. I decide to write everything down, but I can't find where my notebook is hiding. My phone is running out of battery, it's nearly nap time and I'm wondering where the morning has disappeared to. And all of a sudden, I realise why I'm so scattered. I feel like I need to act on every idea immediately, or it might vanish or not ever come to fruition. It's a constant juggling act, even at 3am. It's in this moment I realise where I really need to work on simplifying my life. It's not in my wardrobe or kitchen cupboards, but in my own head. And right now there's only one cure.. A retreat to the garden.
With nap time underway, I work quickly to gather the essentials, tea, journal, pen, blanket and some crochet flowers I've been working on, just in case the words don't flow. I pick a sprig of lavender on the way and inhale deeply. There is instant calm in the raw scent of lavender. A gentle reminder of meandering through sweet country gardens and antique treasure troves. The sun breaks through the clouds in the perfect spot, right between the kale, beets and rosemary. And it's here, among the leafy greens that I find myself again. My shoulders drop, my mind clears and I retreat, just for a little while. My journal remains closed and the crochet untouched, for what I really need is the warming embrace of Mother Earth, from the earth below and the sun above.
These days, are just perfect for tea and crochet.. New ideas and designs are flowing and I'm truly feeling like I've found my creative bliss.
These days, the kitchen is the place to be, with new recipes in hand. Eccles cakes care of Michelle's beautiful book were just perfect for Winter Solstice celebrations.
These days, are for enjoying breathtaking sunsets, beautiful celestial alignments and bonfire festivities with friends.
These days, dreams become plans, pages are filled and hearts are bursting of excitement.
These days, are for falling in love with lilac roses and playing in the Old Homestead rose garden.
These days, there is always plenty to do in the veggie patch. Thank goodness we have an eager assistant.
These days the sun light hours are fleeting and moments are savoured more than captured. It's these days I'm so often grateful to have a camera in my pocket to be able to catch something quickly and go back in enjoying the moment rather than missing it altogether. And while I do miss getting my camera out and of course look forward to using it again soon, I realise in beautiful moments when we are exploring together, gardening or covered in flour, it's the last thing I'm thinking about. Sometimes, life is so much better enjoyed, without thinking about framing it through a lens.
This Sunday marks the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, an important date on the yearly calendar, celebrated by the ancients as a time of hope, renewel and a sign of brighter times ahead. And this week in my little part of the world, it's certainly been feeling like Midwinter. Cold mornings, grey clouds, rainy skies and short days are making our usually warm and sunny desert oasis feel like something from a Bronte novel. Coupled with the heightened emotions of today's transformative new moon, it feels like a rather mystical and auspicious time of year.
And while warm blankets, mugs of tea by the fireplace and rain on the tin roof are all rather romantic, I couldn't help but feel a little unsettled yesterday by the lack of sun, day light hours and overwhelming desire to fulfill creative ideas and dreams all at once. And rather than heeding my own advice, stepping back and slowing down, I just became more flustered, unorganised and upset that winter wasn't giving me enough hours in the day. It was only when I checked the calendar that I realised my emotions were aligned with the celestial movements and after a cup of chamomile tea and a good laugh with my mama over Skype about the crazy day we'd had, I went to bed knowing I needed to do the rest of the week differently.
So today now focusing on getting as much out of these daylight hours this as possible, no matter how cold and rainy they are. I've never noticed how much the weather and lack of sunshine can affect my productivity, but as I sat down to dream up summer designs and working on new products yesterday, I realised it just wasn't the time for brainstorming tropical rainforest photo shoots. It was however, perfect for making chicken soup and listening to old jazz records.
Like everything in life, I'm realising that my connection with the seasons is all about balance. Creative moments can't be forced, the sun will shine again and after Sunday the days will start to get longer and we can once again play in the garden until after the sun sets. Until then, I'm slowing this week down, taking time to do some new moon soul journaling, embracing the beautiful soft grey hues of winter and nourishing my soul with yoga, meditation and soup. Some weeks, were just made for lingering, and this midwinter week is definitely one of them.
And just as I make peace with these wintery days, the sun peeks through the clouds for the first time this week and baths the kitchen in its warm embrace. A sure sign of wonderful things to come.
For as long as I can remember, I've been creative. And by creative I mean, pretty much always making a mess. The first thing I'd do when I visited my grandparents when I was little, was raid my Nan's craft drawer and begin making collages and cards on the living room floor. My bedroom was always filled with whatever project I'd decided to try, beads in the carpet, paint on the walls, recycled paper clogging the drain. I've always lived in an enthusiastic, creative mess. I got older, got my own place and my own studio to create in... And that's when the fun really started. I got to buy and collect things to put in it, try more new things and ultimately end up with boxes and shelves of 'someday' stuff. You know the 'someday I want to sew a dress, some day I'll learn to paint, someday I'll finish that crochet blanket and mend those jeans'.
At about the same time the DIY trend took off, and I feel deeply for making anything and everything myself. My creative soul just wanted to give anything a go and in the process I ended up with more 'crafty stuff' than I knew what to do with, or had time to use. Even when I tried to get organised, I just felt overwhelmed instead. Nothing was ever simple and I didn't know where to begin, so I'd get sidetracked and come up with just another idea. And so often, I didn't have time to go through with those ideas, so they went away for someday.. Except some day never came.
Instead I found myself abruptly and unexpectedly packing my life into boxes, wondering why on earth I'd accumulated so much stuff and at the time, in my grief and anger, I just wanted to throw it all away. Three moves later and much de-cluttering and refining of my own creative ideas and I've finally found a way out from under the weight of my craftiness, to a happy place where for the first time in my life, I can live a simple, creative life. Here's some things I did along the way that really helped..
~ Over the course of about two years, I've allowed myself the space to let go of past creative endeavours that I found no longer resonated with me.
~ I've de-cluttered numerous times, given plenty of things away and found great joy in a 'less is more' approach.
~ I've made peace with the fact that I don't have to try or be good at every new, cool crafty thing.
~ I've stopped craft shopping 'just because' and if I do need something I make sure I don't already have an alternative I could use in it's place. (This one sounds simple I know, but those places can really make you want to come home with so much that you don't need).
~ Where ever possible, I source the most ethical, fair trade and eco-friendly products available, or I go without.
~ I keep my supplies to a minimum and make do with what I already have, especially for personal projects.
~ I try to finish one project before beginning another one. (Something I've always had trouble doing).
~ I've allowed myself to create slowly, at my own pace and really enjoy the process rather then race for a finish product.
~ I realised I need to think about what I really wanted to spend my (nap) time creating and whether I have the funds, the space and the time, to make my ideas happen.
~ I've allowed myself to shelve ideas for later in my life, rather than rushing out to 'do it' next weekend.
~ I now select my creative projects based on whether they are small, simple, time efficient, achievable, movable and toddler friendly.
~ I no longer make things, 'just because'. Everything I do, must have a purpose and not create further waste or a negative impact on the planet.
~ I have found that the concept, 'beauty in utility' is incredibly helpful in identifying what projects I undertake.
I've still got a little way to go, I'm not totally happy with some of the clutter still on my shelves, but I'm getting there a little bit at a time. I've finally got a studio space I love, that's simple and organised. I know where things are and feel more inspired than ever, because I'm not overwhelmed by stuff. By freeing myself all the creative 'noise' of DIYs, craft stores and Pinterest, I've found a more simple, conscious and joyful way to fulfill my creative dreams.
Today I'm reminding myself to live intentionally. To really pause and take notice and revel in the everyday. Some weeks I find myself getting to Friday and feel like I'm flying a little on auto pilot.. As I boiled the kettle for the third time this morning, I stopped and noticed magpie calling from the roof top, I listened to the clink of the spoon in my mug and watched in delight as my sweet little cheeky toddler twirled merrily in front of me. I settled for that moment in the bliss of the day, and realised that it takes a constant reminder, a gentle touch of the soul, to live with this sense of presence and place.
I've been thinking about mindfulness a lot recently, and realising how quickly my mind wanders to during the day, from one thing to the next. Scattered between so many things, trying to be too many places all at once. So today, I'm reminding myself to choose an intentional path. One so intentional that, rather than continuing to ramble about the things I should be doing, want to be doing... I'm going to pick one, just one and do it.
A book I think.. A real book. Just for a few quiet moments, in the nurturing arms of nap time. I might just read a book.
Winter and I.. The last few years, we've danced this dance, winter and I. It's a to and fro of love and melancholy. Some days the dance is sweet and light, as I bask in the afternoon winter sun or watch the last of the Autumn leaves catch the early morning frost. Yet at times, especially in 2012, I can only ever remember this, as a season of sorrow. This year though, my heart is full, my steps are light, my dreams are vast & wild and my little world is filled with warm morning snuggles, sweet little sets of pink flannelette pajamas and tea parties by the fire place. So as I turn the calendar page, to the first of June and greet Winter's first full moon, this year I welcome Winter with open arms. A warm loving embrace and a long overdue forgiveness, for the season that in the past, I always wanted to forget.
I'm welcoming winter with a big bowl of lemons.. for warming drinks &broths.
I've peeked out frosty bedroom windows to witness the breathtaking full moon sunrise.
I've greeted the first frost with childlike joy (and then dashed back inside to put on more layers).
I've found the perfect spot for morning tea parties, while we wait patiently for the garden to defrost.
I've gathered the first of our leafy greens ready for our homemade supercharged ginger and turmeric chicken soup.
And I've rearranged my studio space, to make the most of the afternoon winter sun.
Yes, the days might be short, the mornings might be frosty, but this year, I'm going to embrace all the tiny moments that make winter truly magical. And I think there will be plenty of tea & crochet involved.
This weekend we said farewell to our little 1970s caravan. It's been a bittersweet journey with the lovely yellow van, I affectionately called Asher. And while it's been sad to say goodbye, I know there is much more in store, for all of us.
Asher was my Christmas present back in 2011. I had wonderful plans to paint,renovate and take her on all kinds of gyspy adventures, perhaps even selling my wares along the way. But when our lives were forever changed in August of 2012, Asher went from our someday project, to our getaway car. As we left our cottage and town behind, she became our new home. A place to feel safe in, to call our own, while everything else around us seemed to be falling apart. We ventured all the way to Queensland with her, took her to Byron Bay and Woodford and spent a summer we'll never forget hanging out in our little vintage van.
Fast forward a coincidental nine months and our beautiful rainbow girl was born. Our endless summer was behind us and we now had to start thinking about the future for our new family. In the end when we moved back to Mildura, we had to decide between bringing Asher back with us, or all our belongings. At first we said we'd just transport her down when we were settled, but that was easier said than done. The windows needed to be properly secured and in the end, moving costs were going to be more than we bought her for. So she'd been sitting in sunny Queensland two and half years now, enjoying a little holiday and we were at a cross roads about what to do next.
As our dreams expanded last year and we talked about working forwards buying our own patch of land and starting our own family enterprise, we realised there were parts of our current life stopping us from fulfilling our dreams and one of those was all the things we'd left behind in Queensland, including the caravan. So, last weekend, after a long drive and a chat, a clear direction and exciting plans for the future, we took a leap and put a few photos of our beloved Asher on Gumtree. She sold within 24 hours to a lovely young family. They picked her up on Saturday and have told us they'd keep in touch.
The whole experience has felt a little like saying goodbye to a part of the family. Never in my life, did I think I'd become so attached to a caravan. But we knew we had to let her go, the memories we so strong, both happy and sad. And we just couldn't bring ourselves to continue the renovations or change her into something else. So now she's another family's dream.
So where to from here? Where will our gypsy adventures take us next? Well you'll just have to watch this space. We've got something very exciting in the works and it may even include a spot for the gypsy wagon of my dreams.
Here's to fond farewells, to finishing up with the old and starting new adventures. To taking leaps of faith and having the courage to begin again.
Much Love & Light
PS. You can see a few of our adventures with Asher here..