Simplicity and being in harmony with nature have always been an important part of my existence and a life-saver during times of personal crisis. As a child, I was often to be found playing outside. I enjoyed a favourite spot of refuge high up in the branches of a huge willow tree where I could watch people and animals in peaceful anonymity whilst swaying gently with the tree as it surrendered to the breeze.
As a teenager and young adult, conforming to the tenets of our materialistic culture kept me out of trouble for a while. I worked hard doing what I believed others wanted from me and did well academically. Devoting myself to an unauthentic life, though, took its toll on my physical and psychological health. By the age of 25, although financially independent and in a well-paid and secure job, I was already on the way to my first divorce. Ten years later and part way through marriage number 2, I reached a point where I thought I’d ‘made it’ in terms of owning my own home and car, having a solid marriage and 2 gorgeous young children, but then hit a major health crisis. Clearly I wasn’t prioritising what was most important to me. I woke up to the superficiality of my life. I started listening to what life was trying to teach me and, most importantly to what my children were attempting to show me…
Both of my children, at age 8 and 6 yrs, were unhappy and stressed in school. I discovered that their educational needs were not being met and decided to quit my job and sell my business in order to home educate them. I was starting to prioritise what mattered most, firstly for the children and then, eventually for me. My quitting work reduced our income to the point where we could no longer afford to pay the mortgage. Coincidentally, my husband’s job had changed slightly in nature which meant that he was free to spend some of his time working from home.
We quickly realised that we needed to completely reassess how we were living and how we were earning a living. What we really wanted to do was change our focus and prioritise our family life together. We had set a conscious intention to change and had begun our journey. Having started to question the assumptions of compulsory mass schooling and finding many of them to be at odds with our personal values, we found ourselves examining many other cultural beliefs and for us this was watershed time! Released from the shackles of conformity, it was almost as though we had too many choices. We knew we had to sell the house to stay afloat financially, but really we could now live anywhere, not being tied by schooling or work.
We chose to move to the West Country to be nearer close family members. We also determined to use the opportunity to simplify our lives, buy a less expensive home and to reconnect with the countryside. This left us with the freedom to earn less money between us and gave us both the opportunity to choose work that enabled us to do what we really enjoyed. For me this was a chance to take a lifelong interest in wellbeing and personal development in a fresh direction, to commit to spiritual practice and to train as a professional coach.
As with many couples, deciding to reassess our lives in an honest way meant facing some challenging relationship issues. A few years after our move to the West Country, we chose, amicably, to part company. With the children growing up and venturing into adulthood, I was able to commit more energy to coaching and group facilitation.
A few tears later still, and with the help of my partner, homesteading and Yoga became important mainstays of my wellbeing on all levels.
Since 2015, I have begun to work with the dying and bereaved, as well as with those who aspire to simplify their lives. In a sense, death is the ultimate simplicity in terms of letting go of the material, of the ego and setting our sights on what really matters. And deep awareness and contemplation of impermanence in all forms, and of our eventual personal demise, can be a profound spiritual practice.
I now divide my time between this inner and outer work and living simply.
To arrange a FREE, not obligation, exploratory conversation by phone, please contact me by email here.
(Images by Maja Dumat and Emilian Roberts on Flikr Creative Commons)