The Sweet Meadow

living the sweet life

You have to break, take breaks, or both.

living the sweet lifeAishe Besim
I’ve never had a really creative idea sitting at my desk. All the big ideas that made a difference happened when I was playing outside.
— Barbara Corcoran

Lately, I’ve been on a mission to re-discover my creative self. Creativity is how we keep ourselves energetically alive. We express our creativity in all sorts of ways, from the way we dress, the art we make, what we cook, the books we read and the music we listen to.

Studies have shown that learning new things as adults can enlarge our brain maps. We benefit from the novelty of new experiences, and to maximise the positive effects on our brains, we need to be continually learning.

Quite often however, we become creatively blocked, held back by negative beliefs and worries about time, money and the support to pursue our creative dreams.

Rather than trust our intuition, our talent, our skill, or desire, we fear where our creativity will take us. Rather than paint, write, dance, audition, and see where it takes us, we turn back on ourselves.

Author Julia Cameron describes cutting off our creativity as making us savage. “We react like we are being choked. An artist must have downtime, time to do nothing. Without it, the inner artists in us feels angry, out of sorts. If such deprivation continues, our artist becomes sullen, depressed, hostile.”

For me personally, work is my creative block of choice. I feel guilty when I spend a day off away from the business, yet I will also feel resentful when I’m doing work on a day off (!).

“In order to recover our creativity, we must learn to see workaholism as a block instead of a building block. There is a difference between meaningful work toward a cherished goal and workaholism. That difference lies less in the hours than it does in the emotional quality of the hours spent. For a workaholic, work is synonymous with worth, and so we are hesitant to let go of any part of it,” writes Julia.

So in an effort to clear the way for creative flow, The Sweet Meadow is closed for winter holidays until Thursday, August 29. A business is only as healthy as it’s owner, so this is a good excuse as any to hang up the Dr. Martens and relax!

How do you hold space for yourself? What are your favourite ways to invite more presence and creativity in your life?

Who knows what magic we might invite into our lives as a result of re-discovering our creative self.

See you in a few weeks.

ABx


When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college…that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, ‘You mean they forget?’
— Howard Ikemoto, Artist
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Where the Wild Things Are

inspiration, living the sweet lifeAishe Besim
"Blue Eye", Sarande, Albania

"Blue Eye", Sarande, Albania

We often forget that we are nature. It is when we lose our connection to nature that we lose the connection to ourselves.
— Fem Gucluturk

Our cafe is closing for a winter break and I am bloody excited! I don't create well around chaos, so a chance to slow down and be present will help me draw inspiration from the magic and beauty of our incredible planet. 

I was recently reading about the concept of re-wilding, which, broadly speaking, referred to the ecological recovery and restoration of natural systems. Over the years however, the definition of the word has now begun to include the idea of re-wilding ourselves

The article explained it as, "...getting closer to nature, de-domesticating ourselves, and discovering our wilder selves. Through this, we may perhaps find a deeper, more authentic way to reconnect with our innate sensibilities and feel more holistically entwined with nature."

Of course, the idea that spending time outdoors is beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing is not a new one. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can have a profound impact on stress, happiness and healing. Walking outdoors gets our blood pumping and increases our intake of oxygen, invigorating our bodies and encouraging a supply of hormones that make us feel balanced and creative. Bathing in natural sunlight will give you a boost of immune-balancing vitamin D. Swimming in a cool river, lake or ocean is great for promoting mental wellbeing because it triggers the release of endorphins. It also exposes us to beneficial minerals and microbes that support the thriving biome found on our skin.

The thing I am most excited about doing over our 11 days off is switching off - literally. I plan on deleting my email app from my phone, along with logging out of The Sweet Meadow's social media pages.  It goes without saying that to feel more connected with nature, we really need to put down the technology. Some moments in life should be for fully giving yourself over to the experience and not capturing at all. When not looking down at our phones, tablets, or computers, we can become more absorbed in our surrounds and feel more connected. 

We'll be back on deck from Friday, September 7. Until then, stay healthy, be happy and get outside!


To slow time down, practice enjoying the moment. It is where we spend our entire lives.
— Wu Wei
Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island, Australia

Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island, Australia

Why we all need to be lazy

living the sweet life, travelAishe Besim
The habit of doing nothing at all is incredibly important to our individual and cultural well-being. Far from laziness, proper idleness is the soul’s home base. Before we plan or love or act or story tell we are idle. Before we learn, we watch. Before we do, we dream. Before we play, we imagine.
— Nikaela Marie Peters, The Kinfolk Home

Recently somebody asked me what I do for fun and I drew a blank. Seriously.

Not that long ago I could have answered that question pretty easily - hiking, photo taking, gardening, reading, taking a bath, road tripping, cooking. But running a business is all-consuming and I've found myself stuck on a cycle of eat (sometimes), sleep (not enough), work (like a dog), and repeat.

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But that is all about to change! I was reading an article in Fete magazine about the benefits of lazy days. Much like sleep, downtime allows the brain to process the huge amount of data that is poured into it every day. Prolonged relaxation is what our mind needs to consolidate and problem-solve, to rejuvenate and to restore creativity, balance and productivity. 

Relaxation activities have also been proven to trigger the production of feel good hormones including serotonin and oxytocin, which enhance mood, create better sleep and even offer naturally occurring pain relief. 

But we've known that all along, haven't we? As the classic nursery rhyme sings, "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream."

Just the other day I was watching an Instagram story from women's mentor Tara Bliss, who was on holidays at the time. She was talking about how taking time out, while beneficial for you as an individual, is also sometimes exactly what your business needs. In other words, it works both ways - your business needs a holiday from you too. 

So that's exactly what I'm doing. At the end of August this year the cafe will close for 10 days and I will be going on my first proper holiday in over three years, to Bali! 

I have promised myself I won't feel guilty about scheduling in days to do nothing, knowing that their ultimate function is to help me bounce back and perform at my peak. 

I have held on to a quote I read years ago about fashion designer duo Viktor and Rolf, who grew up in the depths of suburban Holland. When asked how their upbringing influenced them in becoming the amazing designers that they now are, they put their finger on the creative tendencies of suburbanites: "Because it was so boring. We had too much time to dream."

Looking forward to boring days spent amongst the rice fields of Indonesia. 

ABx

Photo of  Lauren Bullen  in Ubud, Bali

Photo of Lauren Bullen in Ubud, Bali


 
I’m lazy. But it’s the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn’t like walking or carrying things.
— Lech Walesa