Suddenly, winter seems to be upon us and harsh winds and pouring rain make it difficult to get outside. But the coming of winter of brings with it a wonderful opportunity for reflection and healing, a chance to slow life down and make sense of the long days of summer.
This year has been such a rollercoaster ride for me – elation, at having finally bought our new home; fear, of not be up to the challenges ahead of me and then full circle, back to joy that we have found this place and are living this funny little life together.
Life has its challenges for sure. So how do we sail through them and bring a sense of calm to our daily lives?
I used to feel that I wanted to make every day magical for my children, but of course, every day can’t be magical. What I am realising, what our life here and the changes we have made are helping me to realise, is that what is far more important is a feeling of contentment. Contentment with what we have now, not just finding positivity in our plans for the future, but in the life we are living right now – today.
Blue sky days or moody winter skies? I find beauty in them both.
Life, I am finding, is just the same. I have noticed this change in our children too and remember that, that is a part of why we chose to live in this old house, that needs time and care and sits surrounded by farmland and sea. We wanted to find a different way of living, we wanted them to see it and be able to make an informed choice for themselves, when they go out into the world to live their own lives.
There is a richness and sense of grounding that comes with a life without all the conveniences. Remembering that you don’t need all of the trappings of modern life to find happiness in the everyday.
Our oldest children are adults now, still at home for the moment, but I know it won’t be for long. Already I see them brushing off life’s challenges and starting to carve out a life for themselves. That in itself brings me joy.
And our younger children? Ah well, children are a gift. If ever there was a lesson in how to find joy in the every day, it is by looking through the eyes of a child.
Breathless with the excitement of chasing waves; giddy with the pleasure of cleaning out a mixing bowl, on baking days; so excited to show everyone a sparkly stone or beautiful feather, found on their walk.
Simple pleasures. I have been home educating my children for 16 years, but I think they have been the real teachers. We have so much to learn from our children.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the need to be pushing forward, to improve things, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of appreciating what we have now. It isn’t easy to stay in the moment, there are after all, lots of jobs that need doing, but I want to take the slight pause that winter brings and use it to reset; to remember to make each day count, because this life that I’m living is a good one and I am grateful for it.
Hi Jane. I have just found your blog. I love it.
Looping. Yes it is magical. Down under we often do it round rock treasures. Gives a form and enhances the rock if the fibre is magical.
I love your Northern Hemisphere approach to our flax. Very liberating.
I’m in Coastal Taranaki NZ where it is pretty wild but not on your scale at all. I long to visit your island- it speaks to my soul. I wish you all well in this adventure.
Thank you Viv! It must be gorgeous where you live too. Yes, I enjoy seeing the beautiful, traditional baskets from NZ, so skillfully woven. Such very different baskets to mine, but from the same wonderful plant. Best wishes, Jane x
I’ve often found myself wondering if there isn’t a degree of danger for us, as human beings—or rather, as humans, being—in that we don’t really know how to do just that: *be*.
Some of our difficulties emanate from the carelessness with which we (not you, Jane) employ certain words. We’ve become rather cavalier with words and their meanings, and because of that, two people (heck, entire populations, for that matter) can be using the same word or phrase and yet mean almost entirely different things by it.
But words mean things (as my own kiddos have grown tired of hearing me say 😂); and words are powerful, beautiful things, when used well. Word choice matters, and one such place is in discussions of life, purpose, meaning, and so on.
Here’s where too often, words are thrown around flippantly, but with grave consequences to our children. (And here’s where I wish you knew me a bit better, because I’m not some gloomy grammarian who thinks people should survive primarily on porridge and pea soup.)
What’s happened, though, is that somewhere along the line, “you need to do whatever makes you happy” somehow was promoted from awful coffee mug cliché to faux worldview; and the ill-defined-if-even-defined-at-all “happiness” became the goal toward which so many—including our kiddos—are working as a result.
But let’s play a game, shall we? Great. Thanks for playing along. 😉
Question #1: Is being happy the purpose of all this?
In other words, we should tell our kiddos when they’re trying to make a decision, “Well, do what’s in your heart. Do what’s going to make you happy.”
Question #2: If so, how shall I define “happiness” for my kiddos?
What are the defining characteristics of being happy? What is happiness?
In other words, how will they know when they’ve achieved this thing towards which they’re working?
Question #3: Are there degrees of happiness? I
only ask because, again, if I’m explaining this to my kiddos, I need to understand if I should prepare them for the experience of feeling happy, but still simultaneously feeling like it’s not quite enough. And in that event, they should still be looking for more and more higher amounts of happiness, even if they feel like they’re happy in a given moment, right?
Question #4: (I’ll stop here, but there’s a line of questions)
There’s a certain tension we all find ourselves trying to appropriately navigate, isn’t there?
We live in a present moment, and we ought to be present *in* that moment.
But we also want to grow, flourish, and thrive. We want to improve our lives and put our children in a place to do the same.
So what gives?
We need to come to an understanding of what a good life means to us, and what words like happiness, joy, growth, service, peace, contentment, purpose, and fulfillment mean to us.
How we see the world and how we specifically define those words will inform how we do and understand life. It will inform our “ought tos”.
For example, I would argue that happiness isn’t an end goal.
Rather, it is almost always an emotion felt in at least two different scenarios: 1) it’s a byproduct of other things in your life being aligned and lived out the way they should be, and 2) it’s an emotional response to a specific situation.
What people often don’t realize is that they’re looking for are things like contentment and fulfillment. Not happiness. The former two are far more lasting. More anchoring.
Apologies for the lengthy response. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Jane. (And hi, Matt. Been too long, my friend.)
Yes you’re quite right, happiness is a byproduct and you can’t feel happy all of the time. Life here can be challenging and there are some days that I’m glad to get to the end of, but it is a good life. Best wishes, Jane