As I continue exploring the idea of simplicity, I’ve been reminding myself about gratitude again. I read something about the Tiny House movement last week and began wistfully wishing I had a teeny tiny cottage instead of our current semi-detached house.
I started day dreaming about how great a loft bed would be, how cosy the house would feel, the simple lifestyle it would encourage us to live. I lamented all the wasted space we have in our current home, the spare bedrooms that are rarely used, the three bathrooms that seem excessive for two people (and don’t get me wrong, they are excessive!).
And then I caught myself. We have a small garden, which is hard to find in Nairobi. I have my own study with a view of the most lovely flowering tree. Our hot water system works and we have the best neighbours. Our four bedroom house is cheaper than our previous two bedroom apartment. And yet, here I am lamenting the house I have and wishing for something different. I took a moment to be truly grateful… and it made all the difference.
Any one who has known me for the last few years will know how inspired I’ve been by Hailey Bartholemew’s 365 Grateful project. Hailey recently did a TED talk in Brisbane on how she found the secret of happiness and it’s a wonderful reminder of the power of gratitude. I love her comments on how her perspective of her husband changed.
The 365 Grateful website has been updated and it’s lovely. You can also buy the 365 Gratefuls book online (I contributed some photos!)
There’s a passage in a beautiful book called Bloom that has stuck with me long after I finished reading. The author, Kelle Hampton, had just given birth to her second daughter, a sweet little baby with an unexpected extra chromosome. In the first few days of dealing with the Down Syndrome diagnosis, Kelle’s sister flew in from out of town and delivers an inspiring speech on just how exactly she will go forward. The line that stood out to me most:
“I want you to picture some hypothetical person in your mind – someone who handled Down Syndrome exactly like you wish you could.
Now go and be that person.”
I keep coming back to that idea. Isn’t it so applicable to so much of life?
When I’m facing any kind of challenge and confused about how to move forward, the act of imagining someone else handling the situation brings clarity. And perspective. How do I want to handle it? How will I choose to move forward?
When I’m feeling powerless, I can decide to respond and not react, to let it be an opportunity to be the kind of person I want to be.
I always have that power.
P.S. – Speaking of advice, I mentioned Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed a few posts ago. It is such a beautiful book of beautiful advice. Cheryl wrote an anonymous advice column for awhile, and the book is a compilation of some hard and heartwarming questions and her honest response to them all. It’s definitely on my recommended reading list.
It’s Thursday night, Will is in the kitchen whipping up a delicious chicken masala dish and I’ve got Alexander Fairchild playing. Tomorrow is Friday and I work a half day and then we have a long weekend for Mashujaa Day (Heroes’ Day in Kenya). It feels like holidays! Especially because today was the most beautiful warm day we’ve had in a long time.
So in celebration of all things wonderful, here’s a handful of lovely things that have caught my eye this past week:
The most heart-warming photos of a baby giraffe.
Two lovely Australian blogs I’ve been enjoying: Practising Simplicity and This Little Port.
A truly spectacular Airbnb apartment. Hello Budapest!
A whole collection of free yoga class videos.
The most gorgeous set of salad servers.
I tested out the crispy egg this week. Yum.
A little lost boy finds his mother using Google Earth.
We watched this fascinating film at my friends’ monthly doco night.
(And I’m adding Project Wild Thing to my future documentary viewing).
Would you ever consider being part of an Articles Club? It sounds like the less stressful version of a book club (:
United Front: Breasts without Airbrush
We went back here last weekend and it was glorious!
Donna Hay’s peanut butter fudge.
Nairobi friends: A festival for this upcoming long weekend.
And thank you for all the book recommendations last week. I’m adding Anna Karenina to the list again – after a few failed starts, I will push through! In the mean time I’m reading the lovely children’s classic, The Secret Garden. I have a soft spot for beautiful children’s literature!
Have a wonderful weekend.
I did a headstand for the first time at my Monday night yoga class. I completely surprised myself – and in the shock of the moment I almost topped over. Thankfully my teacher was right beside me and kept me from falling hard.
It had been months since I’d even given one a try, so sure was I that I didn’t yet have the core strength, balance and general spunk one needs to turn oneself upside down.
So when I found myself suddenly there, legs stretched high, I couldn’t help but wonder – have I been able to do this all along?
More importantly, and perhaps completely unrelated to yoga, what else can I do that I haven’t yet realised? That I’ve been too afraid to try?
So, I’ve found two really great blogs that I have to share with you: Unfancy and Into Mind.
Since my little 30-piece wardrobe experiment, I’ve been paring back my wardrobe and remixing what I’ve got. I’m not usually a huge fan of fashion blogs because they can be so unrealistic and only spur on the ‘I need more!’ mindset. But as always, there’s an exception – I’ve been a long time follower of Kendi Everyday because a) she’s hilarious b) she styles outfits you actually want to wear and c) her 30×30 remix first inspired my 30-piece experiment.
But back to Unfancy and Into Mind. Both combine style + minimalism in gorgeously presented blogs, and both talk a lot about the capsule wardrobe idea. A capsule wardrobe is basically a minimalist wardrobe made up of great pieces you love to wear.
Into Mind is full of great tips to refine your personal style and build a minimalist wardrobe that works for you. There is so much useful content on this blog and I especially like the 20 Pieces 20 Outfits series that author Anushcka Lees pulls together.
Unfancy is a blog by Carolina, who lives by a 37-piece capsule wardrobe each season. She shares the content of each season’s wardrobe, and then blogs daily outfits she’s put together from her 37 pieces. I really like her approach to style and it’s always helpful to see a concept brought to life by someone real. Her FAQ page is a great intro to her approach.
Check them both out, I think you’ll really like them (:
P.S. – Since we’re talking blogs, what are your favourites?
I love Emily Henderson on design, Mr and Mrs Globetrot on travel, Wronging Rights on human rights and dark humour, Shauna Niequest on faith, and A Cup of Jo on just about everything.
My smart phone died a few months ago and I’ve been learning the not-so ancient art of living without an electronic device glued to my hand. It’s been a bit of a culture shock, I won’t lie, but at the same time it’s been kind of wonderful. As much as I try to limit my mindless social media usage through sheer will power, the whole exercise becomes infinitely easier when one doesn’t have a smart phone in the first place.
These days, I’ve been trying to squeeze in a spot of reading whenever I may have previously turned to my phone. I’ve been carrying my Kindle with me most places – and yes, the irony of replacing one electronic device with another is not lost on me! However my Kindle is incapable of doing anything other than providing me with reading material so it’s really not that different to a real ink-on-paper book, right?
Anyhow, I’m squeezing in ten minutes of reading here and there, as I wait for my bus, or get stuck in stand still traffic, or arrive early for an appointment. And now I’m flying through so many books I really need to get some new recommendations.
So, what are you reading? What’s been a stand out book this past year? What’s next on your own reading list?
I’ve just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (thought provoking) and Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (heart warming). And at our Wednesday night group, we’re making our way through James (practical, if not a little challenging).
I love non-fiction, but will always consider a fiction novel if it comes highly recommended. So, what should I read next? Comments here or on facebook are greatly appreciated!