Breathing in, breathing out

So, spring is here. So lovely to have a couple of days of sunshine and warmth this week, what a difference. Time outside without our coats on. People begin to congregate together in open spaces, we hang out for longer on the common.

It’s been a tough winter, in our little family. Not harsh on a weather front – dreary, and cold, but not very cold, and no real snow or ice to really have felt in the depths of winter. But it’s not been easy. Chaos, uncertainty, and feelings of being out of control have presented themselves in our home. Mess has been overwhelming. Transitioning into new phases with each of our children, and within us too.

I have so many things to delight in, to look forward to, and to enjoy in each moment – such a rich, full life, for which I am extremely grateful. A strong circle of women, meeting intentionally at the Red Tent; regular gatherings at our place with beautiful, brilliant folk musicians and our wonderful friends; the Waldorf-inspired School Shop which I run with a wise, dear friend which oozes magic, connection and playfulness; the lovely community choir Lumina I’ve recently joined which had a special concert of sacred songs last night; our new allotment which holds the promise of deeper connection to the Earth and community.

But there’s a cost to all the wonderful things of which I’m a part, and I guess the cracks show within our home. I’ve had a long period of time when I’ve just felt engulfed by stuff, so much stuff. Here’s how our house actually looks, when we haven’t raced around for hours clearing up to host a gathering.

Maybe it doesn’t look so bad here, but multiply this by 7 rooms, every corner, every floor, every available space, and it’s very waring!

Last week I was chatting to a relatively new friend up at school, who’s full of wisdom and insight – and who lives a very simple life, with his family. He was sharing of how he can see the effects of 20 years of living simply with his boys, who are now in their late teens / early twenties. How they spend their evenings sitting together, reading, sometimes listening to music. His youngest son, still at home, wonders why the rest of his friends seem to like to be so busy, to fill their time with noise and movement, parties and media. At 17, he recognises the need for quiet – amongst a busy, active and full life.  My friend said to me “Decide now what you’d like for your children to be immersed in when they’re older, what gifts you want to impart about life, and live it. Now.” It really touched me. I deliberately don’t use the internet on my phone, but I do text people, most days. I spend almost every evening on the computer. Apart from our Sabbath day which is totally media free. And I don’t want for my children to grow up sensing that’s where life happens – online. Being sucked into the deeply habitual vortex of media usage. Sure, they spend a lot of time outdoors, they climb trees, build dens and fires, know how to whittle a stick, knit a hat, cook a meal. But they do see us spend so much of our time on media, and I really want to move away from these habits.

When Stu and I celebrate our Sabbath day together, we actually spend our evenings talking. Reading. Sleeping. And it feels so nourishing, and we say – oh, we must do this more than once a week. But then life happens, we find ourselves immersed in so many projects, and we spend so many evenings separate from each other, catching up with others instead, organising others, working. Blogging – which I would love to actually do more regularly – and there’s the paradox!

There’s a wonderful article in our next edition of The Barefoot Diaries on balancing our days: breathing in (focused time, busyness) and breathing out (playtime, meditative time, unstructured, intuitive). We spend so much of every day, every week, breathing in, we struggle to find space to breathe out – and this was so in my thoughts as I walked away from that important conversation with my friend. To breathe in balance through my days. That is what I want to show our children, how to breathe in and breathe out, every day.

I began that day to declutter. To simplify. To go into those stuffed corners of the rooms and clear them out. And it’s going to be a very long process, but already it is making a difference – not only to our home, also to our heads, and to how we behave in our space.

As we flow out from the Equinox, a moment of balance, of equal day and night, I hold to the strong desire, and need, for the balance of my in and out breath in my life, in our lives. It’s very hard. But I trust that as my intention is set, the way will unfold for me, for us, to find a new rhythm to our days. Not just because I want for the children to have a deep and connected, simple life when they’re older – but because I want that for me, for us, now.

As we walk into spring and celebrate Easter, may Wonder and Promise whisper their truth to us, and may we find some space to breathe out, as we sit amongst the daffodils.



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