Category Archives: Experiencing Life

Here’s to a simple year

A Simple Year

While I’m still technically offline until next week, I wanted to pop in briefly to wish you a Happy New Year!

I’m not really one for resolutions but I always find this time of year really exciting. Possibilities are refreshed and hopes are new and there’s just something wonderful about the potential fizzing just below the surface, don’t you think?

More often than not though, this feeling of excitement and possibility disappears before January is behind us. We find ourselves stuck in old habits. Revisiting old issues. Battling the same old piles of clutter and mess, and feeling the same old sense of overwhelm as we realise we don’t know where to begin.

That was me for years, until I discovered the delight of living with less. Less stuff, less stress, less pressure, less comparison, less shopping, less debt, less clutter.

I’ve spent the last five years learning that having less stuff actually gives you a lot.

It gives you the opportunity to focus more on the people and important experiences in your life.

It gives you more time, more energy, more care and more compassion.

It means you can focus on experiences over things. Travel instead of trend-hopping. Memories instead of souvenirs.

Over the past five years as I’ve slowly learned to pare back, find what’s important and live (mostly) according to those priorities, life has become easier. Simpler. Sweeter.

  • We have afternoon naps on the weekend
  • Cleaning up takes minutes, not hours or days
  • I spend less time dusting and organising
  • There is more time together on the weekends
  • We entertain more
  • Our horizons are expanding and we’re travelling more as a family
  • I worry less
  • I compare our life with that of others far less
  • The overall feeling of life is that of contentment
  • In other words, life is good.

Not to say that living a simpler life makes things perfect. It doesn’t.

Our kids fight. We get things wrong – alot. We make poor spending choices. We get impatient. There is still the annual influx of gifts at Christmas (although this is much less than it used to be).

Simplifying life just makes it easier to deal with this. And to me, that is the single biggest benefit of living a simpler life – over time it just makes living life easier. The daily tasks, the constant stresses, the annual pressures – these things become easier to deal with when there is less stuff cluttering up your home and your head.

The difficulty, I would say, is in getting to that point. How do you actually create that simpler life, when right now everything feels so complicated? When you feel so overwhelmed? When you don’t even know where to begin?

A Simple Year.

There are literally thousands of places to find simple living information and inspiration, both online and off. This blog and many others similar to it have hundreds of suggestions on how to start, where to begin, how to declutter and what to do once you’ve finished. And they’re all great sources of information. In fact, that’s how I came to discover simple living and finally get started on my own journey.

But if you’re looking to make 2016 the year you create a simpler life, you might be interested in joining A Simple Year.

This is the third year I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this course and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’re achieving.

Rather than having to work through the process of simplifying by yourself, A Simple Year is an interactive online course created by some of the best known writers in the simplicity movement (and me). Leo Babauta, Courtney Carver, Cait Flanders, Colin Wright and Tammy Strobel (among others) have come together to create something amazing. Each month you focus on a new area of simplicity by working with one of the simple living advocates mentioned above.

  • January – Clutter
  • February – Busyness
  • March – Travel
  • April – Cooking
  • May – Digital
  • June – Work
  • July – Money
  • August – Self-care
  • September – Mindfulness
  • October – Eating
  • November – Relationships
  • December – Gratitude

If you’re looking to make 2016 the year you simplify your life, I can tell you that our 2014 and 2015 members have had incredible success and this year is going to be just as transformative.

There are already hundreds of people signed up to take part, and registrations close at the end of January. Check out for a full outline of each month’s module and to register.

In the meantime, we’ll be back to regular podcasting (and maybe the occasional blog post!) real soon.

Happy New Year! xx

The Best of 2015

{Image courtesy of the delightful Julie Williams Photography.}

{Image courtesy of the delightful Julie Williams Photography.}

2015 was a curious mix of saying yes to new and exciting projects (the podcast! our workshops! The Bloom!) and realising I’d bitten off way more than my slow-living self could chew (taking a long-term blog sabbatical! closing The Bloom after only a few months! succumbing to overwhelm and pnuemonia!)

Personally I’ve found it both incredibly challenging and wonderfully rewarding, and can already see that the things I’ve learnt this year will act as a strong foundation for an even more intentional year in 2016.

I’ve learnt a lot about passion, focus and saying no, and that I need to get better at the last two.

I’ve learnt about the joy of taking a risk and seeing what happens.

I’ve learnt that my personality isn’t naturally inclined to slow living, but it certainly benefits a great deal from it.

I’ve learnt that my challenges and obstacles aren’t unusual and I’m not alone in trying to overcome them.

I’ve learnt that I need to create boundaries for myself, and that if I respect them, others (almost always) will too.

I’ve learnt that The Joneses don’t hold a lot of appeal anymore and many, many people are looking for another way – a simpler, slower way.

It’s been such a big year of discovery and learning and mistakes and finding my feet, and I just want to say thank you for being part of it. I appreciate you endlessly and think you’re ridiculously awesome. 

As far as highlights go, we launched The Slow Home Podcast earlier in the year and have reached more than half a million downloads since May, and this website has connected with more than 1 million people since January. I can’t tell you how crazy those numbers sound to me.

We were also named by iTunes as one of the top new podcasts of 2015, and reached Number 1 in Australia. Again, none of that would have happened without you, so many thanks for reading, listening, sharing and commenting.

I can’t pick favourite episodes of the podcast as they’ve all been fascinating and inspiring to me, but in terms of downloads and comments, some of the most popular episodes have been:

And before I took my long-term blog sabbatical, these posts resonated most this year:

And just for fun, these are a list of some of my favourite things of 2015:

  • Best Book: Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow
  • Other Best Book: Yes Please! by Amy Poehler
  • Best TV Show: The Walking Dead
  • Other Best TV Show: Parks and Rec
  • Best Album: Sing to the night by Shred Kelly

Thanks again for a cracking good year, and here’s to a wonderful holiday season, a restful and safe break, and an amazing 2016!

I’m taking time offline between now and mid-January, but I’ll see you on the flip side.

Much love. xx

Tell your story, then live it.

Tell your story, then live it. (via Slow Your Home)

One of my favourite things to do on holiday is visit bookshops. I almost always buy a new book while away and have purchased countless Moleskins (unlined – all the better to doodle in!) before boarding a plane.

Last Christmas, while on holiday in Banff, I bought myself two game-changers. One was Amy Poehler’s ‘Yes, Please’ and the other was a squat little book called ‘642 Tiny Things to Write About’.

One of the first Tiny Things was to write the opening sentence of my own obituary.

It sounds a little macabre, a little morose, but it was truly one of the most inspiring and instructive things I’ve done.

Being a chronic over-writer, I couldn’t keep the exercise to just one sentence. Instead, I wrote four that summed up what I want to see, and more importantly, what I want others to see, when looking back.

Those four sentences have already had a huge impact on my life. They’ve made me reframe what is important, what is worth risking and what is central to my core. They’ve clarified my goals, my dreams and what I hope to see as my legacy. They’ve helped me hone in on what is important for me, but even moreso, for my family.

If we take a moment to imagine ourselves standing at the end of life, looking back at the journey we’ve taken, we get the beautiful benefit of hindsight and the incredible opportunity to act upon it. That never happens.

So often we lament, “Hindsight is 20/20,” and accept, rightly so, that we simply don’t know what we don’t know. And while we still can’t know what the future holds for us, we can imagine – in brilliant detail, no less – what we hope to see as we look back.

Having that benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to act upon it is like rewriting a history that hasn’t happened yet. And it gets to be the history you want.

I’m not talking about manifesting yourself a life of wealth, power and fame. But the things that matter – family, friends, love, compassion – can exist regardless of the circumstances of the life you live. And I’d wager that these feature heavily when looking back at a life fully lived.

Not the car we drove. Or the school we went to. Or the brand of jeans we bought.

Adventure. Willingness to try. Joy. Spirit. Compassion. Heart. Sense of humour. Fair-mindedness. Ambition. Tenacity. Unconditional love. 

Take a moment to ask yourself: what will I see when I look back?

And for what it’s worth, I hope my obituary will be delivered by my two children and given to a room full of friends and family. I hope the service is followed by one heck of a shindig in my honour, and I hope my remains are buried and allowed to grow into something beautiful, like a tree.

“Quick to laugh, creative, compassionate, with a wicked sense of humour, Mum was never without a new plan or adventure on the horizon. She was spontaneous, loyal, introspective and a little moody, and she made one hell of an Old Fashioned. Mum, we will miss you always. Thank you for our roots, but thank you even more for our wings.”

This post originally appeared on The Art of Simple.

How to Embrace Slow

How To Embrace Slow

We’ve just had an incredible long weekend, although there was really nothing extraordinary about it.

We spent time with family, slept in, watched movies, had a backyard campfire, took a long, slow bushwalk together and enjoyed some beers at the pub. I read a little, wrote a little, thought a lot.

When we slow down, we give ourselves time and space to really think about things, to be present, to embrace what’s happening right in front of us, as opposed to flitting from task to task, never quite spending time in the now.

I tried to think about how it’s come to be this way for us, how it’s come to be easy to slow down and enjoy the moment. And I realised two things:

1. There are no rules that apply to everyone.

2. You can’t wait for a perfect time to slow down.

If we waited until the house was immaculately tidy and work was quiet and the kids were perfectly settled and we had no stresses, then we would still be waiting for permission from life to slow down.

It doesn’t happen like that. Life is messy and layered and there are always things going on. It requires constant tilting.

This weekend could have been stressful. The kids have been sick, work is very busy and there are always (always) things to do at home.

But instead of waiting for those things to not be an issue anymore, we simply embraced the opportunity to slow down anyway.

Chores? They’ll be there tomorrow.

Kids unwell? Take it easy and enjoy the opportunity to watch Star Wars and Jurassic Park. (Side Note: It’s such a happy day when the kids start requesting something other than sugar-soaked animated films.)

Work stresses? Don’t check in over the weekend. It can wait ’til you’re back at your desk.

It’s amazing what comes to the surface when we slow down and stop cramming stuff in to life. Ideas, thoughts and memories come bubbling up alongside realisations and discoveries.

We think clearly. We pay attention to the moment. We learn things. We come away feeling rested and rejuvenated and at peace, because we’ve spent time living in the now.

That’s the feeling I have this morning as I sit with my coffee and write these words. Peace. Because I can look back at the time I’ve just spent with my family and can see that I truly spent my time with my family. I was all there.

And while the emails need to be answered, the lunches made, the floor mopped, the meetings attended, it’s these times of being present, of living slow, of paying attention that will be important.


Fighting the Resistance

Resistance - via Slow Your Home

I’m very much a yoga novice. I take a class twice a week and practice most days, but I’m not much more than an enthusiastic beginner.

When I’m in a pose or a stretch I find difficult, my body does this weird thing where it resists the movement. It actively works against itself to stop me from going all the way into a stretch.

Recently I’ve learnt that breathing into it, letting go, releasing the resistance and relaxing helps. A pose I don’t think I can get into (mermaid, anyone?) often becomes easier when I mindfully choose to release the resistance and breathe into it.

(As an aside, that’s one of the things I’m loving so much about yoga – it’s such a mindful practice. No matter how preoccupied I am when I walk in to the class, my mind is clear of everything except yoga for those 60 minutes. I come away feeling mentally light.)

This weekend, as I was doing the washing up, trying to listen to music, hearing the kids squeal and play, thinking of all the stuff I had to do before going out later in the day, I could feel my shoulders get tense. I could feel the muscles of my back crawl up my spine as I continued to resist life.

I didn’t want it to be noisy, I didn’t want to be washing up, I didn’t want to go out that afternoon.

But I realised that resistance was coming from me, not from the circumstances I found myself in. I was resisting those not fun parts of my morning. I was resisting the things that needed to happen. I was resisting life. The everyday, mundane, not fun parts of life felt like something I wanted to fight against.

Of course, the reality is that I can’t. And I don’t really want to.

I don’t live in a vacuum, and there are things I need to do simply because I would be a jerk if I didn’t. There are parts of daily life that aren’t amazing, so it’s best I quit resisting and soften into it.

Standing at the kitchen sink, my shoulders climbing higher up my neck, I took three big deep breaths and told myself to quit fighting and enjoy the moment, in all its mundane normalness.

And while this sounds like typical bloggish hyperbole, the truth is that my shoulders dropped, the fuzzy feeling in my head disappeared and I felt peaceful. even amongst the everyday noise and chores and life stuff.

When it comes to mindfulness, I feel like I’m pretty much an enthusiastic beginner, much like my yoga practice. But I have learnt enough over the past few years of slowing down and simplifying to recognise the benefits of releasing this kind of resistance.

I feel happier, more content, more present, more at ease with wherever I am in life. I feel less stress, less anxiety, less strain, less distraction. Simply by not fighting the resistance.

(Which sounds like some kind of Star Wars reference. But, really, I’m not that clever.)


I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who listened to The Slow Home Podcast last week. The number of people who tuned in blew my mind (well over 20,000 people at last check) and the feedback I’ve received has been amazing, so thank you.

I also received a few emails asking about the blog now I’ve launched the podcast, and I wanted to reassure you I will still be writing blog posts here every Monday. I think much more clearly when I write, and I also know there are a lot of people who would prefer to read than listen, so the written posts aren’t going anywhere.

Every second Friday 6,000 people also receive my newsletter, which includes an exclusive post (for subscribers only) and a list of Five Things For Your Weekend – a collection of links, thoughts, challenges and other tidbits. If you want to receive the newsletter, you can sign up here.

So the good news is you can now get your Slow Home inspiration three ways: