But we still kept our nerve and held together as a tribe, we stayed close and helped each other up into new beginnings. And just this morning, I am rejoicing. Read on for the things making me happy today.
I am so happy and proud about the women my children have grown into. Today, the two whose house I and my husband share have make record earnings — as much on working as freelance artists as they'd have earned with a really good job; but doing what they love according to the timetable they set. I'm not sure if you know what a massive achievement that is. They have become indispensable to their main place of work as letter-cutters in a monumental masonry, because their work is of such excellent and beautiful quality. The other three of my children are also doing so well — one is making her way in the world by putting together a whole patchwork occupation, starting not with "what job will someone give me?" but with "who am I, where do I want to be, and who do I want for my companions on the journey?" Better questions, IMO. Of the other two, one works both as a musician in theatrical and concert performances (solo as a harpist and in ensembles playing brass — mainly trombone) and in a responsible administrative post in a university. And then there's Buzzfloyd, who is doing brilliantly home-educating her children — they have kept their softness and eagerness, the innocence of their youth, even in these harsh times. Her children are like flowers (but rather noisy and active). Not only that, but she is just the best preacher, and a druid, a writer, a musician. In fact all my children are musicians and I am blown away by the joyful and glorious sound they make when they all play together. It's fab.
But it doesn't stop with my children. Having had my nose to the trail pursing health my whole life, the electronic revolution brought the internet along with all the information I've needed to understand the basis of health and how to repair it (see the work of Natasha Campbell McBride, David Perlmutter, Gary Taubes, William Davis, Robert Lustig, Gerald Green and Charlotte Gerson, if you are interested). I am more well now than I've been since childhood – both mentally and physically; and not so long since I was in a very low place and really struggling.
Then there's the influence of minimalism, which truly is a kind of super-power all of its own. I can live happily on a very small income, in a very small space, with all the time I need to write and live at the tempo of happiness. It was a long, long journey into simplicity, but worthwhile. Having travelled into wardrobe experiments that included Plain dress and saris, I finally landed on a ten-hanger principle that leaves me with all the clothes I need to feel comfortably and presentably dressed every day in all four seasons without exceeding the storage space available in my just under 7" x 9" accommodation.
One area of expansion has been a movement back to paper (as opposed to electronic) books for my reference reading, partly to make lending possible, partly to cut down screen time, and partly to make it easier to dodge about in the book checking and looking things up. Even so, most of my books are on Kindle.
But one of the greatest delights of my life, which I want to show you, is our garden. It fills my heart to overflowing. We have worked away at our vision for turning it into somewhere to relax and enjoy that would at the same time feed us and also be a welcoming space for pollinators and birds and wild animals.
We moved into this house in November 2009. By November 2013 we'd made some changes, divided the garden with a fence, repaired the garden walls, laid a foundation for Komorebi and built Tony's woodworking shop:
By January 2014 Komorebi was in place:
Then we did this:
I have no words to tell you how happy this makes me. Together we've made it through. I love our way of living, in a shared home — of course it is not always easy, of course we have to work at it and approach it with humility and sensitivity, of course we have to keep our possessions to an absolute minimum and carefully consider the schedules, boundaries and preferences of the others we live with, relinquishing the luxury of having things all our own way. But that, too is treasure.
Here's our home:
Our corvid totem:
(with added bee-intention; and now we have our own swarm):
Where we dry our clothes in wet weather:
Of course, I know life cannot be all plain sailing, roses every day. I know I and my husband will grow old and there will be aspects of that hard to bear. I know my children will encounter difficulties and experience struggles. But I also see it really is possible, on modest resources, to overcome adversity, to make new beginnings, to find paths of health and make wise choices that flower into beauty and contentment. I am so grateful for my life today. There has never been a time when I was so content. And I am so grateful for the kindness shown to me personally, and for the work of people I will never know (to create the internet where I could learn, to tell me about minimalism and simplicity, to research and experiment on building health, to give advice about managing finance and good diet). I know myself blessed beyond measure, and I give thanks.