Monday, August 7, 2017

A simple life

Daffodils at our new house

When I think about it, my background dream is always to have a simple life.  I sometimes ignore my inner guidance and clutter myself up with too much, but for the most part I am winning.  Moving out of the city to a less populated area and living in the country (but five minutes from civilisation) is part of it.  Decluttering and streamlining is part of it too.

The sun rising on another glorious Hawke's Bay day - from our sitting room

Another aspect of my dream simple life is to have time to be and to have a loosely structured day.  When we sold our business at the end of last year and suddenly did not have a seven days a week business to run, I realized that I had been getting somewhere by a certain time since I was five years old - for forty-one years!  First school, then work, then our business.  Apart from school holidays as a child and a three-week trip in 2001, I have never had extended time off.

Shall we sit outdoors and have a tea?

It takes time to get into a structure though.  At first you think you'll just magically fall into a wonderful daily routine and get all those things done that you always wanted to but never had time.  That did not happen.  As I have heard other people say and as you may have experienced yourself - tasks expand to fill the available time.  That's why giving yourself an artificial deadline can be so useful.  Then you can use the rest of the time to do something fun.

See those two lemon trees past the daffodils?  There is ALWAYS a lemon on the driveway having rolled down the hill

It seems silly to have to be intentional about hobbies and have them written into your diary, but it's true, otherwise you'll constantly put them aside because there is a more important job to do.  That's how it works out for me anyway.

I love our clothesline - covered in case of rain showers but always sunny; it catches the breeze nicely too

What other things have I found belong in my simple life?



Feeling abundant by not having too much around me.  I feel the most broke when I'm surrounded by too much stuff.  To me it feels 'rich' to have a home that is sparse, organized, simplified and calming to the eye.

Also, 'still time' to write in a journal and let my mind wander.  I haven't really journaled much, well not on any regular basis, and I've been enjoying a new habit of going to our bedroom between dinner and bedtime to play spa music softly and sit up on our bed with a pillow behind my back surrounded by my journal(s), current book, Kindle, notepad and tap into my creativity and quiet mind.  When I write in my journal I'll ask myself a question, then list down all the answers that flow from me.  This is one of my favourite times of the day; I sleep well after doing this too.

My husband hard at work mowing our huge lawn.  From start to finish it took him two hours...

When I take the time to find out what makes me happy and do more of that, it helps me happily do my everyday errands; so it's actually the opposite of selfish.  I'm sure I am a nicer person to live with also.

It doesn't need to be something like reading or sewing either.  Washing my makeup brushes and tidying up my petite collection of makeup seems frivolous, but the next day when I put my makeup on it's a joy.  Everything seems new even though I've not been shopping.  Taking care of what I already own is such a gratifying pleasure.

And chopping wood for our fire

I like to keep my wardrobe simple too, but perhaps we'll talk about that in another post.  Tell me about your simple life - what keeps you feeling calm, content and at peace?  Make a cup of tea and tell me all about it in the comments.  Won't you share?  Soothe me with your shimmering vision :)

Fiona

View Fiona Ferris books here

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31 comments:

  1. I love, love, love this post.
    Last night we had wonderful, much-needed thunderstorms and I spent the greater part of today weeding the garden--the weeds slipped out effortlessly from the moist soil. I am not somebody who enjoys gardening, but seeing it all free of weeds was VERY satisfying. It was such a simple pleasure. For the moment anyway, because weeds are always a work in progress.
    As for simplicity: my kid (the ultimate ascetic) said to me yesterday: do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? I think you found the answer in moving--you are in charge. Lots of people wouldn't have moved, because....stuff.
    Being chic, in a way, is being in control. Either you have the resources to have "staff" to handle lots of "stuff" or you streamline and focus on what is important and that you can handle without stress. As you are doing. Bravo!
    BTW, that runaway lemon made my day.

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  2. Here's the thing: for me, life has not become simpler after retiring and buying a 3000 square foot Victorian home. It has, however, become more JOYFUL. I love our home and enjoy the care and maintenance of it and as someone who has loved planning and scheduling for decades (even as a child I remember reading a book about nuns living in a convent and how their days were spent hour-to-hour) I love planning out my cleaning/gardening schedule every day.

    Right now we are accumulating more necessary "stuff" (lawn mower, snow blower, garden tools) but they all contribute to the joy of taking care of our home.

    We also just bought a grandfather clock to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary - we're moving away from strict minimalism to accumulate items that represent a life well-loved and well-lived. I find myself understanding Alexandra Stoddard's "travel heavy" dictum a bit more now that we are in our "forever home."

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    1. Thank you for your thought provoking comment, Amy. You're right, and what a simple life means to me is that I have chosen all the things in it. I am not being told what to do by an employer.

      We need to buy new items like you have. Looking after 4 acres is different to looking after 400sqm. We are in our forever home too, so it's easier to plan.

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  3. It is lovely to read about your new simpler life. My simpler life was forced on me by illness and it took a long time to see the blessings. But I have and I wrote about it here.
    http://www.susantelford.com/2017/07/25/on-recovery-being-present-and-hope/

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your illness, Susan. I'm glad you can see the goodness now, and what a beautiful blog post you wrote, just lovely.

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  4. Great post, Fiona...the simple life seems far away today as we are moving in two days and I am surrounded by boxes and items that need to go into boxes. But, on the road to simplicity we just took several boxes of stuff we really do not need to the local charity store. And, I am sure when we unpack we will do even more of that...this move came up quickly so I did not have time to purge too much ( a few yard sales and family coming to take what they need) before packing. This will be our "forever home"...or forever apartment - so we will need to buy some things to suit our new surroundings. But I am looking forward to getting everything unpacked and then enjoying a simpler life. Journal writing...YES! Have fallen away from that lovely practice but packed up several beautiful journals that I got as retirement gifts and cannot wait to slow down, enjoy each day, READ as much as I want, and live a simpler life.

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    1. Not far to go now, Ann! You can do it! I kept a few things rather than donating when we moved. I didn't know if I'd want them here. Some things I am glad I kept, and some I have donated now.

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  5. I so relate to your comments about getting things done and fitting things in... you think when the time becomes available, that it will just magically happen. But no. It has to be planned and done so that the simple pleasures - like having tea at your table and chairs on your deck, happen. Today is Big Clean Up day, and I got up early to do it... otherwise, with the new relaxed life... it would take up my whole day. Best wishes for your wonderful new lifw.

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    1. I love Big Clean Up days, when everything is clean and tidy at the same time!

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  6. I agree with you, Fiona. Just the other day I accompanied my tradesman husband to a job in a very large, very expensive and positively-drool-worthy home. It had an inground pool, large kitchen with Miele appliances (the island bench was the size of our kitchen at home), countless bedrooms with king sized beds, several bathrooms, manicured lawns, a large modular lounge that could seat 10 people. It was decorated beautifully and tastefully. We were two of five people in the house that afternoon - the others were two cleaners and the housekeeper/property manager. Whilst I was there I was thinking how wonderful it would be to have a pool and a large couch for my cat and I to nap on and admit to being envious of the eight seat dining setting. Some hours after we'd left and were snuggled in bed with our respective books and our tummies filled with the simple yet nutritious dinner we'd made that night I told my hubbie I wouldn't switch houses for anything. That other house needs a whole team to clean, tidy and stage everything just so - what a responsibility ! Jennifer L Scott (aka The Daily Connoisseur) made a comment on her blog that every time you bring something into your home it is another object that you must find a place for and care for. This has stuck in my mind. These days I do very little shopping other than food. Husband and I both eat well - like you I have dietary requirements and restrictions for medical reasons - and I enjoy my role as the 'chief cook'. I borrow books from the library, I borrow or hire DVDs, I have plenty of whatever I need under our roof already. Neither of us would ever achieve the minimalist look but likewise I don't feel the need to fill every space, nook or cranny with more 'stuff'.

    ps you may need to invest in a ride on mower to save your husband's back :)

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    1. I love our bigger home, but I know what you mean about needing staff with a huge mansion!

      And yes, a ride-on mower is on our wish list, it may be needed sooner rather than later :)

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  7. I'm joining you on the patio drinking Lemon Mojito green tea! Just reading your post caused me to relax, keep calm, content, and at peace! So beautifully expressed. I know when I came home to finish raising my son I had a friend warn me it would take 6 months for my mind to slow down. Boy was she right. I kept feeling like I was on vacation and would have to go back any day now. So to keep the hard-won peace, calm, contentedness, I make sure Alpha Hubby and I take time to relax, connect, talk about our blessings, share gratitude, and realize that everything we have, God blessed us with. After that? Nothing bothers us.

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    1. Your friend is right, LBD, I don't know where the first seven months of this year has gone, and I'm sure the rest of the year will be just as fleeting. Oh well, it was a big year for sure, so no wonder!

      Like you, I feel like we are on holiday and we'll have to go back to Auckland soon. I'm so happy when I remember that we live here now :) And remember to slow down...

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  8. Im currently downsizing my wardrobe and jewelry etc. I have too much right now and it's making me feel unhappy . Just the opposite of what a lot of people would think would make you happy. I agree with Lara's comment above about the riding mower . It takes my husband 4 hours and that's on a riding mower!

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  9. It helps me to have a quiet weekend at home doing only the things that I want to do - which usually means sitting by myself knitting or reading, spending quiet time with my husband, and/or seeing my children and grandchildren. As much as I love my women friends, knitting group and dinner out with neighbors, sometimes it just needs to be me by myself or with family. Lovely post, Fiona.

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  10. I am finding that starting my morning outside is a way to inject peace and calm into the entire day. While I sit on my driveway, it allows me to wave a neighbors walking by and watch the neighborhood. I spend time eating my breakfast, writing my morning pages journal, and saying a prayer for a good day and blessing to my son in the Army and all those that I hold near and dear. It really is the simple things done intentionally that makes all the difference!

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    1. I love the kinds of houses where you sit out front Jenifer, it looks so social.

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  11. This is such a great, timely post. The glimpse into your new life is lovely! My husband and I are moving to a new apartment soon and I feel a little overwhelmed with all the items we need to buy. Hopefully with some careful planning I'll achieve that chic but sparse decor style that I'm equally a fan of :)

    I so know what you mean about scheduling hobbies. It seems silly but it's true that they often fall by the wayside. I have so many books I've been wanting to read, I've decided to make a top ten list and work my way through them. I've been trying to be more strict about my sleep as well so allotting an hour for winding down and reading sounds like a good solution.

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  12. HI Fiona: Lovely post. Like your previous life, my husband and I own a small business which requires 7 days a week. We do enjoy some time off, however, when we're caught up and perhaps ahead of schedule. For peace and contentment, I enjoy a clean, organized, clutter-free home, we both work to keep it that way. I have a cleaning lady come every two weeks, and that is money well spent for us. I like to spend my precious free time reading on my back deck in warm weather or in front of the fire in the winter. We enjoy cooking and watching a movie together, especially in the winter. Next on the list is what you're doing...going through old makeup and his tools to declutter. I love your new home beyond words.

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  13. Time is a luxury and owning your own time now is so special. I love how you are scheduling in your own hobbies now that you can spend your time as you want. Paul will love a zero turn mower. J just got one for the camp and he absolutely loves mowing now. He bought a used one and it's great!

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  14. You have never looked lovelier, Fiona!

    So happy for you and your sweet hard-working husband! Everything is looking great.

    What makes me feel content? I love to putter around my house and yard. I feel good being in my house when it is quiet and clean and not cluttered. When there's not too much on my calendar I'm so excited!

    Enjoying all your new house posts. Kay

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  15. Such a calm and soothing post, Fiona; I loved the serenity it exuded. How I would love to have a lemon tree or two providing endless organic lemons for my countless uses! They're great as gifts too.

    Personally, feeling content at the end of the day means living in alignment with my values and goals with equal parts productivity and pleasure, i.e. living my dream life. I've devoted myself to a 10-minute meditation practice two months ago and am reaping the benefits of a heightened mindfulness to what I do or do not utter. This has most definitely increased my day-to-day tranquility as I pause more and retort less.

    I also concur with your description of space as feeling rich. A spacious home with only items that are truly useful and if possible, aesthetically pleasing, is one that I desire for my own abode. I'm happy to say that I do live in a lovely home that is mostly to that ideal! :)

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  16. How lovely to have all those fresh lemons! I've found that I need some sort of schedule (not too rigid that I get rebellious about it -- haha!) so that I get done what needs to get done and can have time to pursue things I love like reading and knitting and journaling and puttering. I putter a lot. One of my favorite things to do. Your new life sounds lovely, enjoy! xo Deborah

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  17. Sounds to me like you have found freedom in your new home...and time to spend as you desire is a true luxury!

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  18. Our life hasn't really changed much and we've been retired for almost 20 years (or husband has, I mean; women don't retire!) A simple life is what most of us desire, I think, but rarely can we achieve it as life encroaches. We have two sons and their wife/partner, and a grandson, and we help quite a lot with various things which are family-related, so that each day is quite full. Down-time is being able to get up when we life (to a certain extent) and if it's ten o'clock in the morning if we've had a bad night, then so be it, the time police won't be on our tail!
    A more spacious home would be lovely - well, for a day or two. I'm happy with our home here, for two people it's ideal as we have spare rooms now our children are no longer at home (they're middle-aged chaps themselves); I think, overall, pensioners like ourselves need more and not less space, it's nice to have a choice of room to decamp to, so that we're not always under each other's feet. We don't have a huge home, just sufficient space for our needs, and in that I consider us very fortunate. Having four acres, such as you have, Fiona, would be lovely for a while, but land needs careful land-management and I've no idea what we would do with so much land, lovely when you are young, as you and your husband are, but not for us in our 70s/80s. But so glad you have moved and have, at last been able to have a more simple and therefore more enjoyable life.
    Margaret P

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    1. I meant get up when we like, no life. Silly fingers again!
      Margaret P

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  19. You look refreshed! I'm so glad you are enjoying your new home and surroundings, it's beyond gorgeous.

    I would love your recipe for early retirement. Since following your blog for so long, I know your frugality has an enormous effect on finances, but is their any other word of advice alongside that? Although I know it's a very personal matter so I understand if you're not interested in divulging :)

    D.

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  20. Your post made me laugh, because everything you say is SO true but it's as though we all have to discover it for ourselves. I retired 3 years ago with plans galore about all the things I was going to do, and found my time just frittering away. This year, finally, I feel as though I've got control of it again.

    Mind you, I complicated things a bit. My guy & I have known each other for over 35 years but have only been together for the last 15. We've always maintained our own homes until this year when he (& his bossy cat) moved in here. In terms of the relationship it hasn't made much difference: we were always at his place or mine anyway. But there are still bumps to smooth out as we combine two households [I gave up the half of the garage I used for garden stuff to house his 5 motorcycles; he gave up fixing the darned things on the kitchen table, although I still find boxes of Harley engine parts underfoot now & again :)].

    But we're working on that "simplicity" you mention. And finding relaxed routines that suit us both. One thing we've both come to realize is that it's not something that happens accidentally. You need to decide how you want your life to be & make real plans & then do some work to make it happen.

    Living simply & with ease, making time for friends & family & self & other, making time to care for our health & well-being (because being healthy makes everything better!), making time to read & walk & laugh & love . . . it's kind of what life's really all about, isn't it.

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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