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  • Writer's pictureJosie Coco

Living the dream, or is it someone else's?

Day 28/366 days Towards Self-Mastery. Status: filled with joy!

It was about 20 years ago that I took a good long look at where I was and whether it matched with where my heart wanted to be.

For so long I'd been striving, searching for that magic bullet that would catapult me into success and good fortune. And most of all, into happiness.

It shocked me to see how far from the things that I loved most, I had ventured.

Today's challenge is about knowing what you love to live with

The key to loving how you live is to knowing what you truly love to live with. A great place to start is with that pile of magazines you have that are full of loveliness.

Each day, take some quiet time, and sit with a pair of scissors and a blank art journal, and cut and paste those images that really touch your heart. They don't have to fit your current lifestyle, and they don't have to be in any order.

Do this daily for a while and see what you discover.

About 20 years ago after escaping my 2nd marriage and settling into a reasonably comfortable suburban lifestyle with my little boy, I had time to ruminate. There was also a ton of glossy fashion, food and fun magazines that I had unpacked from a stack of too many book boxes.

Since I was going to be settled for a while, it seemed like a good time to flick through them, take out the articles and pics that I loved and throw the skeletons away. A fond reminder of those beautiful mags is a stack of Christmas editions that I couldn't part with, the most recent, 20 years old and soon to be vintage.

So with scrapbook, scissors and glue to hand I began to cut and paste. What I discovered was an art journal filled with...

  • chooks

  • domestic ducks

  • veggie gardens

  • fruit trees

  • rural settings

  • farms

  • sunshine

  • warm weather

  • long white beaches

  • sailing

  • walking in the bush

  • trekking expeditions

  • natural fabrics

  • natural ceramics

  • and more...

The list was extensive, NONE of which I was living with where I sat at that time. Not only did this break my heart, it also gave me the biggest wake up call of my life.

The decision was made then and there to begin to bring my life back on track. It started with the garbage bin. The 3 Rs hadn't been invented at that time - reduce, reuse, recycle. Consumerism was in it's heyday so I just started out with the first, reduce.

Into that garbage bin went everything that represented my life that was about people pleasing, fitting in, looking the part, meeting other's expectations - Italian boots, shoes, French perfumes, top shelf makeup, handbags, outfits. There definitely could have been more thought put into all of that, but my shock turned to anger as I realised that I had spent my life living someone else's dream.

That turned my life around. It was going to be sometime before I could return home to Australia as my son was young and needed to be close to his dad.

Renovating and reshaping our home to be cosy and comfy with wide glass doors overlooking the valley, an open fireplace, restoring the 1960's garden, terracing and planting, and brewing compost tea, I was in my element filling it with flowers and fish ponds and backyard organics.

Exploring the local beaches and discovering bush trails to walk became our entertainment. Fishing off jetties, sailing dinghies, backpacking holidays, ferry trips, long road trips, pounding rivers, (we have an impressive collection of smooth river rocks), autumn leaves, marble mountains, arts and crafts, picking cherries, and settling into our cabin for 10 of the last glorious days of summer each April. Such were our family holidays, just the 2 of us.

The wait took 11 years more before I could return to the sunshine. That's 35 years lost in a lifestyle that I didn't fit into and that didn't fill me with joy.

When the time came my hesitation yielded me a broken arm, 9 months of incapacitation with said arm tied to my side, eventual surgery and a trip home to recover with the support of a life-long friend, whom I had also left behind all those years ago. Within the month of my recuperation time in Aus I had made my decision and was ready to return to NZ, pack up and come home.

And here I am.

When I escaped my family home all those years ago I didn't appreciate the things that brought me joy. Probably because the things that brought me misery were featuring at that time. My sights were set on finding a joyful life and I figured that it must be completely different to what I had known so far. How wrong was I?

That simple exercise, cutting and pasting from glossy magazines changed my life. A life that was filled with the good things that money can buy, but not very much else. Not the things that really made my heart sing. Not the smell of the earth, the fresh summer rains, the clothes sticking to my skin in the humidity before the thunderstorms, bare feet on wet grass, fresh fruit directly from the trees, veggies crisp and fresh from the veggie garden. These things surge in my veins, and now in my garden.

Are you living with what you really love? Don't underestimate the power of this simple exercise.


Simple Abundance

366 days Towards Self-Mastery

When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)

I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.

As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.

My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?

I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach

This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.


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