Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Motherly Advice...Finding Contentment in less...

I've written copiously on this topic over the years. You can read about my thoughts on surviving depression and disorganisation here, and here. I wrote here, about what children remember. Here we discussed Nurturing of Self, Home, Spirit and loved ones and how that brings contentment. And here in one of my Insourcing posts, and thanks to a friend and reader, Mel, I found much in my own life, for which I was thankful.
I've had periods of plenty and lean periods both. You too? Life does have a swings and roundabouts way of things sometimes. One year you're up, the next you're down. Relationships break down, life moves on, new relationships are discovered. Todays career promotion, is tomorrows stress. Toddlers become human (lol), before reverting to toddler like behaviour in their teens.
If you let every little swing this way, and roundabout circle that way, dictate your mood, you'll never find contentment.
I confess that when I was younger, I was convinced that contentment lay in self-fulfilment through my career. I certainly gained a great deal of financial satisfaction that way. I was respected by my peers and I liked that as well. But, I missed out on much of my sons growing up while I was at it.
That said, I do not regret my career girl days, and nor should you, if you're in that position now. They taught me a great deal about myself and the big, wide world out there, and certainly rubbed off some of the naiveté`, that was part of me back then. I should add though, that the cut and thrust of car/hair/jewellery/childs achievement type conversations, at School pickup probably did the same....lol! Hair raising stuff, I tell ya!
Thankfully the Universe saw fit to bless me with a daughter later in life, and the contentment that I have found in being a full time Mum and Caregiver, has been abundant.
Stage of Life?
Sometimes I think it is a coming-of-age thing, this contentment. You have to live a bit of life, to appreciate what's really important. And what seems important at 25 or 35, can only be deemed less so with the tyranny of distance. Certainly what makes us happy at 20, is not necessarily what brings us joy at 50. What is achievable at 50, is perhaps impractical or simply impossible, at 20. 
It helps to accept that part of the swings and roundabouts of life, is that each stage has it's own joys and relish them as they come. Your children will never be 3 again. Sometimes I wish for the days when mine were 3. But then I wouldn't be enjoying the fact that they're 23 or 33, now, would I?
Social Circle?
Some people think that you have to have a group of like-minded friends to find contentment. There is a little grain of truth in that. But quite frankly, I don't have a single friend in my day to day life, who is at the same stage of child rearing, financial thinking, and Nanna-hood, that I am. I do however, have a close circle of online friends who fulfill that need admirably. Thank the stars for blogging! Maybe you too, can find support and contentment that way.
Visitors Eyes
Anyway, the main thing I've learned in my lifetime, is that contentment has little to do with acquiring the small stuff. I confess I've been as guilty as anyone of thinking that filling my home with knick knacks that make a statement about my personal preferences, was the path to contentment.
One day I had this epiphany. I don't actually know why. But I was just about to pay for something in one of those glossy magazine worthy shops. You know. The ones that smell divine, and have something playing on their muzak that sounds like it's coming from an old French film noir. They also usually have lots of mirrors, twinkly lighting, and a great deal of temptation, right down to the divinely wrapped and scented soaps next to the register, that like the candy at the supermarket register, implore you to part with just a little more of your hard earned cash.
It truly was like a bolt out of the blue. I just suddenly realised that even when I got my purchase home (frankly, I don't even recall what it was), my own home was still not going to look anything like the shop in which I was currently standing. Because the thing I had in my hand was only appealing, nestled amongst the plethora of other similar items. All that twinkle and shine, all that crystal and glass. All. That. Stuff.
Without warning, I felt a bit claustrophobic. All That Stuff was suddenly Too Much Stuff. Both in the shop and in my home. I returned home, and looked at things with fresh eyes. With Visitors Eyes. Do you ever do that? It's actually a trick I learned in my career girl days. Whenever the Big Boss was visiting from wherever, we looked around the office with Visitors Eyes. Pot plants would disappear in a flourish, desks would be cleared, and office refrigerators cleansed of their stash of month old home lunches.
It's a good strategy. The Visitors Eyes.
Don't get me wrong. I still love my little pretties around me. But these days, I am far more discerning about what I have on display. I choose judiciously, and only display my current favourites. Those can change seasonally, or with my mood. Rarely do I have more than a handful out at any given time, and no longer do I hand over my hard earned dollars to glitzy homemaker stores. I make my own 'home'.
A Peaceful Life?
One thing I've decided unequivocally, is that Contentment for me, means a peaceful life. One begets the other. Peace = Contentment and vice versa.
Not for me a noisy Café` breakfast that relieves us of $40-$60 of our hard earned cash, when I can cook mouth watering Crepes in an instant at home for mere cents...
I find an odd contentment in having an organised home. A recent investment of just over $100 in clear kitchen canisters, actually saved us several hundred in renovations. We thought we lacked space, when what we lacked was organisation.

A beloved and extensive collection of vintage Harlequin canisters, was whittled down to just my favourite pinks. And they now shine as they are no longer jostling for attention amongst the many. Clutter begone!

Spending time passing on skills to my children and grandchildren brings me peace and contentment. I lost my Nanna at aged 11, but she has continued to be an enduring influence upon me in everything from baking to gardening. I want my children and grandchildren to have those same memories when I am gone.
My daughter recently baked this cake...

We enjoyed it with Passionfruit Curd made by her also, using home grown passionfruit. I used this as an opportunity to also teach her how to make 3 minute vanilla bean custard.

My Granddaughter looks forward to baking with Nanna, as I did when I was her age. And the fact that the icing isn't perfect, is completely irrelevant.
I've spoken often about drying inexpensive bouquets of supermarket roses, to use in craft projects, or simply to display as is.

And a recent decision to hand paint our own existing crockery, in preference to purchasing a set in the colours we wanted, has seen everyones creativity come to the fore, making memories in the process.

Everyone has a favourite flower or herb. It's always been a special joy of mine to grow a single favourite in abundance. Once upon a time, that was garlic chives and jasmine in tiny pots near my rented front door. Now I am privileged to grow fruit trees and flowers in abundance in my own back yard. My French Lavender is an ongoing pleasure.

And our citrus trees attract all kinds of wildlife. You cannot imagine my granddaughters excitement at finding this butterfly right at her eye level yesterday.
And then there is the supreme contentment of knowing that our own example, sets the tone for our loved ones.
After a busy morning of fun with my granddaughter yesterday, she declared it was time for a cupcake and a cup of tea. I made the tea, she found me a book (ironically A French Woman for All Seasons which I don't think advocates cupcakes...lol!), and brought me a cupcake she and I had made together.
Lessons learned, memories made.



  1. Awesome post Mimi...as I often say there is a time and a season .

    So true that what we do today hopefully will be an example for our children in days to come...maybe not straight away but in time....again a time and a season.

    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney

    1. Alexa yes! A reason and a season. I think much of what we 'teach' our children, is by osmosis. What we do, is often more important than what we say. Mimi xxx

  2. Less is more for sure. Peace is better than just about anything. The sight of your pantry is glorious! So is the cooking! I am in the same place kind of... I feel or have felt like I SHOULD want to socialise more, spend more, travel more and so on but I actually don't want to. Give me a picnic in the hills, a thermos of hot tea, a day home baking.... evenings in crocheting... I am actually so content with these kinds of things that Im a market companies worst nightmare haha! xxx

    1. Dear Annabel, I agree. Peace is the aim. If we can have a peaceful life, everything else seems to fall into place. I love my newly organised pantry. I look at it now, and it somehow says 'Mimi Lives Here'. Does that sound odd? But it really does. From the retro pink canisters and bread bin now in pride of place, which contain all my daily use stuff in the case of the canisters, and all of my cake decorating stuff in the Bread bin, to the neatly lined up Gluten free baking ingredients, and the three different kinds of chocolate buttons...lol! Balance, right? I hear you totally on the thing of feeling like you SHOULD want to do stuff, and yet being perfectly content NOT. I am constantly urged to join committee dinners, girls nights out (seriously...at our age??), Tupperware parties, and other whatnot. No thanks. I'm happy at home with my embroidery, a good book, my favourite unflavoured normal old black tea at my elbow, and a good movie...sometimes all at the same time ;-) Yep. Marketing companies would hate us...unless they were marketing to hermits ...hahaha! Love, Mimi xxx


  3. Me too!!
    I love being home, and outdoors!! I like to simplify so that things are not a burden.
    Home is the most contented place I know!
    I have so many favourite things now -- all basic things which bring contentment. One of these is knitting socks -- on and on!! It is immensely satisfying to make useful things from scratch!
    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel, I think there's an art to making 'home' the place you want to be. For some people it's about escaping an unhappy home environment, or a disorganised or cluttered one, or just an ugly one. That makes me so sad, because ALL of those things can remedied if you are brave. And I do recognise that you need to have courage to make those sorts of changes. You have the knack of making home the place you want to be. Well done. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. This paragraph was so very valuable to me:

    "It truly was like a bolt out of the blue. I just suddenly realised that even when I got my purchase home (frankly, I don't even recall what it was), my own home was still not going to look anything like the shop in which I was currently standing. Because the thing I had in my hand was only appealing, nestled amongst the plethora of other similar items. All that twinkle and shine, all that crystal and glass. All. That. Stuff."

    I found that myself a few years ago. All the little pretties just don't look the same in my home. You've hit wisdom here.

    1. Dear Laura, that was a real day of reckoning for me. I wish I could articulate why it happened right then and there. But it was just a sudden realisation, that I was spending money on things for a fantasy home, not my real one. It was a valuable lesson that has remained with me to this day. I'm glad to hear I am not the only one. Mimi xxx

  5. Oh Mrs. Mimi. You articulate so well what I need in my life. I so wish I was your neighbor so I could be your apprentice. Thank you for for your words of encouragement. Thank you for the pictures you post. I am a visual learner and need pictures as a reference. My grandmother passed away on the 10th of this month. A week ago today we said our earthly good-byes. I came home with some things of hers. I had my own epiphany that I don't want my house decorated with store-bought things when I can have concrete memories around. So I'm planning on purging and displaying. And I love the advice about only keeping out what you're currently in to. I needed that understanding that you don't have to display every thing you have.


    1. Dear Melinda, I wish we were neighbours too. Although perhaps neither of us would get too much done as we'd be too busy chatting over the fence...lol! I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your grandmother from your life. Grandparents are so special and irreplaceable, but as long as they are in your heart and memories, they live on. Yes, home should be about creating those memories, not as a shrine, but as a living example of who we are, and how we came to become that person. You are spot on with not having to display everything at once. That alone can be exhausting to the eye and the heart. Be selective, and put one thing away, before displaying a new treasure. You'll enjoy that treasure all the more for it's singular presentation. Have a lovely day. Mimi xxx

  6. Beautiful post. I find contentment in a clean and organized home as well. Seems since I've been so busy helping with these estate sales, my organizational home has fallen a little lax. LOL! I feel very contented and love this stage of my life! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Dear Jann, it's my pleasure as always. Mimi xxx


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