Monday, October 14, 2013

thirteen | practising simplicity

paper-like marigolds; delightful decoration

Living a less-distracted life: when you live out of a suitcase for a month, without the distraction of work, homelife, school and to-dos, you soon realise that your simple life is actually quite complicated.

When all your belongings fit into one bag and you don't have anywhere to be but here, and now, you get to know yourself quite well. And sometimes, the things you discover aren't all that pleasant, especially when you realise that for the good part of a year you have been worrying, unnecessarily so. 

I definitely inherited the worrying gene but this year, as my workload has increased and our life has become busier, I have become rather anxious. It's easy to dismiss it when there's a good excuse at hand but when I was sitting in a villa on the edge of a ricefield, nowhere to be and nothing to do, I was all out of excuses. It was just me, my anxiety and the admission that it was something I needed to deal with. 

Whilst mulling over the causes and effects of everyday worrying I had the opportunity to observe life in a small village just south of Ubud. The locals live in simple stone compounds with the most basic of belongings. They work hard, but happily, and their days are punctuated by ritual and ceremony in keeping with their strong Hindu faith. They laugh and they smile and time is not something they adhere to. In Bali, there is no rush. Ever.

As I watched and contemplated I realised: Bali lacks convenience but life is rarely complicated. My life, at home, is all ease; I don't need to sweep dust out of my two-room dirt-floor home, I don't have to wash my clothes by hand and I don't need to carry buckets of cement on my head to feed my family. At home, everything is convenient yet the day-to-day is rarely simple. My diary is brimming, deadlines are the norm and I (along with so many others) am racing against the clock and the calendar.

               I am still moving to a Bali rhythm; slowly and with little urgency. The things that bothered me before I left don't seem that big or important anymore. Spending time away from home definitely offered me a good dose of perspective and I've returned with a new set of priorities. 

So: identify the complications in your life and ask yourself - are they necessary and are they worth the worry?


  1. "So: identify the complications in your life and ask yourself - are they necessary and are they worth the worry?"
    Sound advice. Your time in Bali sounds fruitful. I hope you can maintain the mindfulness in your everyday. If you find it gets pushed aside in the busyness, Thich Nhat Hanh's "Peace is Every Step" offers encouragement in doing that, and does Russ Harris in "The Happiness Trap" (a favourite of mine).

  2. Love this! I too have felt life amp up another notch this year and have been experiencing anxiety over anything and everything. Good fodder, thanks.

  3. I definitely love your posts on practicing simplicity. They are so good to me... My year out of business brought me quite a sort of distance from "hurry" and I am so grateful. Slow down is essential I think now from this point of cue. I need time to feel the changes (in me, in the seasons). Thank you a lot to put these words on my feelings!

  4. Jodi, I absolutely relate to this right now. Since starting freelancing my old job from home, whilst still solely looking after Josephine in the day, I have come to realise how slow, simple and lovely life was before. No deadlines to keep to, emails to constantly check, no computer I must be glued to in case something important arises last minute - all the while taking me away (physically and mentally for my gorgeous family). I've missed the easy going, laziness of mine and Phiney's days - and I didn't even realise that that they easy going and lazy before. It's been a tough couple of months (with 5 weeks still to go inc. this week) but it's made me appreciate how lovely our days were before, and I am so looking forward to embracing those simple days when work finishes.

  5. This speaks to me so much right now. x

  6. Maybe because life is so 'easy' for us in the convenient way you mention that we have more time to feel anxiety about the over busy-ness of our lives. I often wonder about this. All these things that are supposed to make our life better, like social media for instance, bring stresses and strains that previous generations didn't have to think about. Like you say I think you have to face your anxieties whatever they are and keeping life as simple as possible has definitely been my path to keeping sane in the 21st century!

  7. I love this post. It rings so true to me.
    Modern life brings with it needless worries, and busyness. We occupy our spare time with so many to dos, activities leaves little time to relax and enjoy the moment.
    A reminder to always focus on what is most important.
    Thank you!

  8. This is a really wonderful post, Jodi. I recently read a somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece about Americans (though I think it applies to all 'first world' cultures) and it stated that we often confuse comfort for happiness. This idea rings true with me, and it seems it does you, as well. Thank you, as always, for your thoughtfulness!

  9. love this, 'identify the complications' wow now there's a challenge x

  10. I've been dipping in and out of your Practicing Simplicity series but have been thinking about it a lot. My life has become so very busy, so many opportunites and things happening that I find myself stopping and catching my own breath sometimes. I'm finding just getting out in the forest around me a huge step towards clearing my thoughts, to trying to slow myself down (I am my own worse enemy I am sure). I think that your surroundings can have such a big impact on you emotionally. I'm about to embark on a decluttering mission, both in our home and my mind too - I'm hoping they'll go hand in hand.
    Sorry for the waffling comment x

  11. Bali and it's lifestyle sounds similar to what we experienced in Fiji. A real eye-opener into simple pleasures and happiness. x

  12. Your words just hit me like a tonne of bricks. I feel on edge 24/7, i am constantly stressed & i feel myself becoming more anxious every day. Most of it stems from financial problems & working out how to be the best mother possible to my daughter & going to work 3 days a week to a job i hate when all i want is to be at home with her. I think some time away from everyday life would help immensely but that will be afew years away. I am looking forward to seeing & hearing more about your time in Bali.

  13. Well written Jodi and I can totally relate to your words. I love how visiting a simpler environment and removing yourself from your schedule can shine a light on things. (For me that place was Lord Howe island, and often just the remote countryside). My complication is I'm the type of personality to try and bite off more than I can chew in a day, most days. Loved your post! Alison x

  14. The whole racing against the clock thing is definitely the first thing I would change about my life - and I might not be able to do it just yet, but I've got plans and ideas to put it into motion within the next few years. Lists and schedules are handy in everyday life, but I can't wait to live the kind of life where I'm not a slave to them.


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