Today I was going to share a bit of a rant, as the demands of my job have been rather high recently, but I decided that was too negative and I'd rather focus on a slightly more positive aspect.
Do you have a focal point, a part of your life or home where you see the progress you have made and (in your mind's eye) the changes you still want to make? This is mine:
It's the window to the balcony, next to the kitchen sink. This is the window I gaze through as I dry the washing up every day. In the mornings, I get my first glimpse of the sun welcoming me to the tasks of my day. On clear evenings, I watch the full moon loom large, asking silent questions without answers and keeping watch over the sleeping rooftops.
In the summer, the clotheshorse sits just outside this window and I can see the clothes moving in the breeze. In the winter, we use this space as extra cold storage and you can probably find the beer for the next rugby match out there.
Just in front of the window is a row of jars reminding me that that we now cook so much from scratch that we need to keep the flour, sugar and oats within easy reach, that I make my own breakfast cereal, and the shopping list reminds me that we plan our meals and weekly shops with care. The empty dishrack and shiny clean draining board make me smile.
I can mentally see the changes I have yet to make. The first potted plants of my urban veg patch will be here - herbs and salad leaves, within easy reach of the kitchen. I've been thinking about making some bunting from some of the fabric offcuts and old clothes in my ragbag. The window is rather dirty and I hope to try cleaning it with homemade cleaners soon, so the light can stream in even more. There may also one day be curtains here - perhaps lace or net to let the light in, or red check gingham because sod it, tradition is underrated.
This is a space I come back to several times a day and each time, I slow down and I think about how after every meal ever cooked, someone had to do the washing up. After they signed the Versailles treaty in 1919. At the height of the Cuban missile crisis. At the battle of Waterloo. At every moment in history, people still need to eat and someone still has to scrub the pots and pans. I wonder what they thought as they did it? Did they feel the weight of history hanging around them like a cloak, or were they grumbling about some dried-on food?
It makes me feel connected to everyone who ever washed a plate, it starts me thinking about the unobtrusive rhythms that shape the lives of everyone, from a President to the UN Secretary General to seemingly insignificant employees and people at home, little cogs in big wheels making society work.
So today I'm consciously revisiting this space to give myself a bit of a hug and remind myself that simple living isn't so much about what you do or have or make, but how you approach the tasks and rhythms of your life - slowing down to savour them, thinking about the meaning behind them, and taking pride in a task well done - even if it is only the washing up.