Whole living

I was rereading a perennial favourite book (Rose in Bloom, by Louisa May Alcott) and the following quote jumped out at me:

Of course this could not last, and disappointment was inevitable, because young eyes look for a Paradise and weep when they find a workaday world which seems full of care and trouble till one learns to gladden and glorify it with high thoughts and holy living.

This resonates (despite a slight bristle at the religious word “holy”, preferring to think of its etymological roots of “whole” or “health”) because I live very much in a workaday world full of care and trouble. And yet, I do think it is possible to “gladden and glorify” it. That is a large part of what Happy Parent UK is about – defining the ‘high thoughts and holy living’ that make life happier.

In the book, our heroine finds her high thoughts and holy living in wise words, charitable works, ongoing self betterment, and the love and friendship of those dear to her. And in fact, this is very much the same recipe I find in my life — Continue reading “Whole living”

Simplify and getting rid of the junk

This morning I watched The Labyrinth with my five-year-old. (Aside: I am so happy he’s really old enough to appreciate and watch it with me!)

And one of the scenes that has always stuck with me, and which struck me even as I watched it today for the thousandth time, is when Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) finds herself in the junkyard.

A hunched woman with piles of junk on her back tries to convince Sarah that her material possessions is what she was looking for. But as Sarah handles her various possessions – a teddy bear, a wind up dancer, a lipstick – Sarah remembers she is looking for her baby brother, who she needs to save from the Goblin King (David Bowie).

I am deeply repulsed by this image, of the darkening sky over a land of junk as far as the eye can see, as solitary figures dig to add more junk to their hunched and overloaded backs.

And whilst the metaphor is heavy handed and made for all ages to get, it remains powerfully apt for me.

We are drowning in junk

From the plastic piling up in our landfills and oceans to the rise in self storage because we have more stuff than we can fit in our homes, there is too much stuff.

And our homes have also become bigger than they once were. The 1905 workers cottage where I live was originally even smaller than it is now, having been extended during its lifetime to build a third room upstairs and a tiny kitchen and bathroom downstairs. I can’t imagine how a family of four might have lived here when it was just two rooms downstairs and two upstairs.

And the junk isn’t what we’re looking for. Continue reading “Simplify and getting rid of the junk”