Chasing Adventure

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”  ~Leonardo Da Vinci

 

I went to my first airshow yesterday.  The daring do of those pilots just blew me away.  The wind helped, but the pilots definitely were amazing.  I also got to see the Snowbirds in action, but those photos are on my phone.  Yes, I forgot the back-up batteries.  Oops.  Live and learn.

So anyway, being there, watching those magnificent men -and women- in their flying machines got me thinking:  I have been playing small in terms of chasing my passions.  It’s as if I’ve been tamping down my fire.  Anyone else ever feel that way?  If so, what did that bring you to?  I’d love to hear your stories and inspirations.

I have to ask myself what lights me up.  More importantly, how do I make that into a bigger part (or all of) what I’m doing on a daily basis? 

Well, here’s what I want: I want to go out into the world and meet good people.  I want dinners where strangers become friends -and dinner goes until breakfast.  I want to hear people telling their stories, and tell some of my own.  I want to eat amazing food, and see amazing places that take my breath away.  I also want to be surrounded by cozy beauty, read good books, have real friends, and find love.

That’s the adventure I choose.  I have no idea where that’ll take me, but it sounds like a great way to live my life.

The Perfect Day

Who hasn`t done that exercise, “describe your perfect day, in detail.  Who are you with?  What are you doing for work?  What does your home, wardrobe, life, look like?” 

My answer: Good food, good people, work I enjoy. 

Or maybe it’s good food, no people, and quietly reading a good book while rain lashes the windows. 

It could also be stargazing with one person in particular, or catching up with an old friend over coffee, or even throwing axes with great people.

There just isn’t a one size fits all perfect day.  For instance, today I went on a hike with a group of people I’ve never met before.  We had a great time.  Yesterday I got a massage.  Also a great day.

All that really matters is that you experiment until you find something that works for you, then you keep doing that.  If you outgrow it, you experiment again.  Makes life something of an adventure, I think.

For all that, I do have a few constants that are worth striving for every day.  Good food tops my list.  So does spending time with these two:

 

I mean, just look at those faces!

Coffee is another staple, sipped and savoured.  Anyway, the point is that there are innumerable little pleasures that I can build my days around.  And isn`t that marvelous!  I get to build whatever I like into my days.  True, I would like to change jobs, but that isn’t going to stop me from finding pleasure in every day.

You mustn`t waste time bemoaning whatever isn’t going as you would wish, when you could instead be delighting in what you can do.  So if you want to dance, sign up for a class, or blast some music and have a ball.  If taking tea in the afternoon sounds too lovely for words, then put that kettle on the hob, warm your best tea pot, and make an occasion of it. 

Now is the very best time to do what makes you happy.

Moments of Pleasure

It ha​​s been a really lovely week.  Of course. the long weekend really ices the cupcake.  I find it delightful to know that I do not have to wake up at four tomorrow morning to head to the office!

The thing about exploring hedonism is that you really have to get into bed with pleasure.  Yes, I phrased it that way, put your eyebrows back and read on. 

Waking up to pleasure (I could go all night with this) means being present and aware.  It’s closing your eyes as you sip your coffee, fresh pressed, with cream… mmmmm, perfect!  Oddly enough, although I do enjoy my fancy coffees, there really is nothing quite like the simple pleasure of that French Pressed brew.  

So, I’ve covered my feelings around eliminating distractions and keeping things in perspective.  I want to take this blog in its proper direction now.  My aim is to delve into my adventures in hedonism and hygge. 

Can you have adventures in hygge?  Well, I certainly intend to find out!  

I feel very strongly about the importance of creating beauty in every day life.  I think that beautiful surroundings and the lovely touches that add style and grace to daily life are crucial.  There is something soul satisfying about coming into a space that feels warm and welcoming.  Being surrounded by things that make me smile, make me feel good, that contributes to my overall wellbeing.  I know, big newsflash, right?  But I’m wildly passionate about the importance of style and beauty to our daily lives.  I’ve only just discovered this passion, even though I trained in interior design!  I’m only just beginning to understand the bigger picture.

Living with pleasure is all about showing up to create pleasure.  Food, clothes, design, work, it all matters.  I get to choose how I feel about all these different things, too, and some things do need to change.  My house is definitely not an example of design and elegance – there are too many different things happening here right now.  I realize that pleasure is in paying attention to the details, and I admit, I have been ignoring those details.  Well, some of them.  I said I get to choose how I feel, well I also get to choose what I do.  Sometimes I choose the less proactive or even satisfying options, but hey, I am learning.  

At the end of the day, the most important thing I can do is to show up and create pleasure.  The details of the house can be worked on.  I already made a start on my wardrobe – I donated so many pieces to charity because I did not love them, it takes my breath away to see how empty my closet is!- and I am loving the challenge of putting together great outfits with way less.  I created my Dreamy Buttermilk Biscuit recipe today, and I am very pleased with my results.  These are the details that I can build my life on, what matters is that I not wait.

After all, when would NOW be the right time to start?

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Down, Drop In

This past week, I’ve been making a conscious effort to be present with the people I interact with as I go about my daily round.  I’m definitely going to need to practice, because I’m just as trained to “check off the to do list” as most anyone else.  But a smile, eye contact, please and thank you, that’s really all it takes.  Acknowledgement of the cashier at the grocery store, or the neighbour you pass on your morning walk.   Set aside the interminable list and just see and be seen for those brief interactions. 

A couple of summers ago I took my first trip to Paris.  I learned a lot (it was also my first solo trip anywhere outside of Canada) but what struck me most was the pace of life.  Thinking back, I didn’t see one local rushing down the sidewalk with their nose stuck in their phone.  They were also impeccably dressed, and we can talk about style later.  But seriously, sweatpants are not suitable work wear unless you work in a gym!  I digress, what I really noticed was the time they spent just being.  Lingering over a beautiful lunch, enjoying a sunny afternoon in the park, or (my personal favourite) toasting the end of the school year with a bottle of bubbly at ten in the morning.  I loved seeing those students, and recall them fondly.  A table full of twenty-something university students, nary a distraction in sight, just laughing, talking, and toasting together. 

 

Something wonderful happens when we cease the attachment to being distracted and too busy.  I have found that space has opened up in my life so that I can pursue my passions, I’ve made new friends, I’ve tried new things, but most importantly I’ve begun the process of facing myself.  Now, I think that’s really healthy, because I firmly believe that I need to have a great relationship with myself in order for all my other relationships to flourish.  

And I’m only just beginning to explore living my life on my terms!  Indeed, I still waffle or lose the path I’m creating, but each time I catch myself and come back sooner than the last.  That’s progress, loves.

The thing is, I’ve spent too much time denying what actually calls to my heart.  Maybe we all do that from time to time, just to keep ourselves from getting hurt.  What I’ve come to realize though, is that denying my truth, or light, or authenticity, that hurts me more than any tumble or mistake ever has.  I know like I know like I know, that no matter what happens, I will be okay, so long as I trust myself and follow my heart.  I forget that sometimes… okay, more than I’d like to admit.  I am learning to hold onto that faith, though, and that’s progress, too, my loves.

Why I Crave Simplicity

My window is open -it always is in the summer- and right now I can hear the rain falling, birds cackling and chirping, and a squirrel telling someone exactly what he thinks of their stash stealing efforts.  These things bring me such peace.  And they’re so simple, too, all I have to do is show up and pay attention.  I think that could be one of the big secrets to life: the real magic is in the found moments.  It’s noticing, with all our senses, what delights our hearts.  

There is a lot to distract us in this world, and that’s okay, because we actually do have the power to choose.  For instance, today I’ve chosen to leave my cell phone switched off.  I know, wild, right? 

I plan to spend most of my day enjoying reading these:

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Sipping on this:

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And looking out for this little fellow to come back:

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Again, very simple pleasures, but pleasures nonetheless. 

That’s the thing, you see, I’m choosing to spend my day this way.  It’s Sunday, why shouldn’t I do it my way?  Following that to it’s logical conclusion, why shouldn’t I create all of my days in this way?  Well, for the time being, I’ve got limited amounts of time that are my own.  We can all say that, I know.  And to be honest, life well lived does include having to work around other people.  I know, I know, some days… right?  But that doesn’t mean I should just hang up my heart’s desires for “someday when…”  On the contrary!  What that means is that I need to make room in my life for doing what matters to me every day.  Even more importantly, once I create that space, I actually have to sit down and do those things, but that’s a separate issue.  

So for now, I’m simplifying, or better still, refining.  I’m letting go of “not my favourite” in order to make room for “I love this!”  I started by tossing some lipstick and perfume I never wear, donating books I’ve no intention of reading again (or for the first time), and packing up some jigsaw puzzles I have no room to assemble.  This makes space for makeup looks I actually like -I’m a five minute face girl, enhance the natural all the way- books I actually do use (though I do solemnly swear that I’m not buying more just now), and a dining room I can actually eat in!  See?  Refinement!  Not only does it make space in my surroundings, but it stops the energy drain of leaving things undone that sort of silently nag at the back of my mind.

I’ve come to understand that there is never going to be a better time than right now.  In fact, I very much advocate for not letting “should” and excuses prevent you from doing what you really want to be doing.  I’ve said it before, the chores will always be there, but some things like doing dishes or washing clothes do kind of need to get done on the regular.  I also know there are other things that I’ve been clinging onto because I just haven’t wanted to admit that they don’t fit me anymore, if they ever did.  These are where I can simplify, refine my life, and make room for beauty and pleasure to grow.

Now, isn’t that the idea?  Build a life of pleasure by making room for pleasure to build.  Such a simple shift, but it’s all in how you face it.  At the end of the day, what matters is how I choose to show up in my life.  In the name of refining that energy, I have reached a point where I have to let go.  Whether it’s an outmoded idea, an outfit, or even props for a lifestyle I thought I wanted, what I require most of all right now is the space to let my own truth grow.

And who knows, letting go of something good could make room for me to grow something great.

Pleasure in the Everyday

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Creating pleasure everyday is all about simple shifts.  I’m beginning to seek out ways in which I can infuse pleasure into my daily round.  Fresh flowers for my bedroom is one of those ways.  Yet, I have often made excuses: “Not enough space… the bedroom isn’t clean enough… the dogs are too rambunctious… etc.”  Look at them, they look rambunctious, don’t they?

Well, let me tell you, the biggest block to creating a life you enjoy, is you.  I know it, I’m right there with you, figuring this whole thing out.  Learning how to get out of my own way.  We’re told from morning to bedtime that there’s a world full of worry out there and we’re not doing our duty if we’re not talking, thinking, fretting and stewing, over it morning, noon, and night.  Imagine if we make an effort to break that habit?  What would you rather do with your time?  What if you chose, actually deliberately decided, to do things that make you feel good instead?  I don’t have any scientific evidence to back me up on this, but I’m still willing to bet that if we make a more consistent and deliberate effort to feel good, a lot of life’s worries and problems would resolve themselves.  Even if they don’t, when you feel good and maintain as positive an outlook as possible, solutions have a way of becoming obvious.  Life is kind of magic like that, you just have to be open to it.

So, it got me to thinking, “How would I like to spend my time?”  And I should add that no matter the reason, this is a very worthwhile question to ask yourself.  After all, the housekeeping/PTA/social obligations, will always be there, but that sunrise/your kids at this age/the once in a lifetime trip, will not.  Living well, cultivating a life filled with pleasure, it’s a dance, a delicate balance.  Funnily enough, discipline and boundaries are the key to freedom, but we can delve into that another time.

Right now, let’s just mull over what kinds of things we’d rather be doing.  We might now be able to fit it all into every day, but I’m pretty sure we can add a few things, eh?

  • Go for a stroll
  • Read a book
  • Try a new recipe
  • Cuddle under a blanket and watch a funny movie
  • Binge-watch “The Great British Baking Show”
  • Brew a pot of tea to sip and savour
  • Wander around a park, gallery, or museum
  • Take myself out for lunch, or a nice coffee break
  • Indulge in a nap -one of my weekend favourites!
  • Have a facial or a massage

That’s just ten ideas, but they all sound far more pleasurable to me than tumbling down the rabbit hole into stinking thinking and worrying over the state of the world.  Who knows, maybe part of the answer is islands of calm in the form of people who choose a pleasurable, happy existence no matter what.

I think that pleasure is a practice, even a skill.  I can learn to frame my whole life differently if I choose so to do.  And really, why wouldn’t I?  At worst, I’ll become a happier, healthier, me.  It might surprise the people who think they know me, but I’ll still recognize myself, and that’s better than good enough.

 

The Sweetness of Nothing

It’s really not easy to do nothing these days.  Have you noticed?  

Over the last week, I’ve been making an effort to notice when I’m reaching for my smartphone instead of staying in the moment.  That’s just one aspect of the busy-ness craze that seems to be sweeping our western culture, but it’s huge.

I can’t help but wonder, when did we become so scared of the here and now?  Why would we rather check our FB and IG streams for the umpteenth time in the space of thirty  minutes than just be?  And I am so guilty of doing this, but I’m working on it.  Here’s what I discovered:

 I also felt the breeze lift my hair.  I heard the robins singing and crows cackling about their daily business.  I took in a concert.  I watched the sun through the leaves of the trees. 

I experienced the life that was happening all around me.  I drank it in.  It was glorious!

This is what we cut ourselves off from when we live life on autopilot.  And these moments are truly beautiful, so it’s a shame to waste them in search of the next “like” on our feed.  It seems that we’re forget that our devices are just that, they’re tools.  Not a lifestyle.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my smartphone, I market my styling and design on IG, and it’s great to keep up with family and friends all around the world thanks to FB – though I really don’t care if your post says something like “I just brushed my hair, and now I’m eating chips,” I will scroll right on by.

It seems to me that the fascination with being busy is counterintuitive to our lives.  Why spend five bucks for a fancy coffee if you’re not even going to take the time to savour at least the first sip?  Why work your guts out in order to afford the fancy vacay if you’re going to be spending the whole time posting photos to FB?  Remember the old days when you had to take your photo album with you to annoy the people who weren’t on the trip?  That took planning!  And do you ever look back over those posted photos without FB putting together a slideshow for you?  I know I got a few surprises when one of the automated mashups turned up on my feed a few weeks back.  These are memories, people.

The thing is, there is a whole gorgeous, glorious world out there just waiting for us to acknowledge it.  The phenomenal beauty of this world just fills my heart to bursting.  It’s just that we’re a little off kilter, focusing more on the doing than just being.  The good news is that it’s a choice.  If you feel that you might like to stop for five, ten, fifteen minutes and just be, you can do it.  If you feel like you need permission, I’ll give it to you.  The world will not grind to a halt while you close your eyes and breathe for five minutes.  Or watch the birds… brew a cuppa and savour each sip… curl up with your love by a roaring fire and just watch the flames dance…

The world won’t end, but you might find yourself smiling a little brighter, laughing a little more, maybe even feeling a little more relaxed.  It is not selfish to take time for yourself, it is an act of utter self-love, and it will infuse good into your life. 

Believe me, frantic and frazzled serves no one.

 

 

New Beginnings

Oxford English Dictionary defines hedonism as: 1. the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence.  2. the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.

To me, that`s mindfulness in a sexier outfit.

Hygge: A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)

Well, that sounds really good, too!

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Here`s the scoop:  I have hit a point in my life where I`m ready to make changes.  Don`t get me wrong, my life is pretty great.  But it`s an external kind of great, and I`m ready to be brilliant from the inside out.

You see, happiness is an inside job.  

Coco Chanel said, “My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.” 

That’s what I’m going to do, too.  Starting with diving into hedonism, exploring pleasure, and infusing pleasure into my daily life.  Because I’ve spent more time reacting to life than actually living it, and I am so done with that crap!  So, I may not have my dream job yet, and my bank balance may be a little anemic at the moment (but the bills are paid, YAY!).   All of that is yesterday’s news.  Today is my beautiful country’s 150th birthday (yep, I am Canadian) and I can’t think of a better time to draw a line under it all and say, “The End.”  After all, every ending is a new beginning.

From now on, I will slow down and live my life in real time.  I will taste my food, eat with pleasure, and stop when I’m elegantly satisfied.  I will take note of as many sweet moments as I can throughout the day; the sunrise, the wind in my hair, my dogs snoring, a sweet strawberry fresh off the vine, candlelight, frost on the window, a starry night… the list is really quite long if I stop to think about it.  I will cultivate the discipline I need to really dive into and experience the most of what life has to offer.  And I will create the beautiful life and living that I crave.

I believe that we are all hungry for this.  Our western culture is so fast-paced and focused on instant gratification, that we’re missing what we actually need: time, space, coziness, and beauty.  It’s out there, just waiting for our souls to cry out in recognition, but we’re becoming too busy and distracted to even acknowledge that longing.  Well, I’ve had enough, I tender my resignation from crazy-fast living.  From this moment on, I choose to be happy, and to live on purpose.