As a 22-year-old journalist and budding yoga teacher, Jodi Wilson became pregnant with first of her four children. She started blogging as a way to make sense of the beautiful, challenging experience of parenting within a new relationship... figuring out who she was along the way.
Fast-forward 10 years, and she’s about to take her life of practising simplicity on the road around Australia with her husband, four children and a caravan in tow. Here’s a window into her world…
You're a mumma of four, writer, yoga teacher and blogger. Tell us, is there another role that you dream of one day adding to your bio?
When my children are older I would really love to become a postpartum doula. I wholeheartedly believe that, in general, our society doesn’t value the importance of a gentle and nourishing fourth trimester and as a result, mothers are suffering. I know that the lack of village support is the primary reason for this, hence I would love to be that village.
Ultimately I want to be on-hand for those first few weeks with a new mum – supporting her physically, emotionally and spiritually and creating that space so she can rest, recover and bond with her baby.
Can you share a little about your life before you had children and created the Practising Simplicity blog?
I was working as a freelance writer after completing a journalism degree at UTS. Shortly after my 21st birthday, I attended my first yoga class. I was recovering from a nasty break-up and brimming with nervous energy and anxiety and I thought that yoga might help.
From my first class I was hooked and within weeks I was attending multiple classes with a variety of teachers. The owner of the studio, Mardi, starting talking to me about teaching and I knew it would be the very best way to compliment/support my freelance writing career. So, I enrolled in a teacher training course at the local ashram and fully immersed myself in yogic life.
After my first semester, I was back at the studio when Mardi mentioned her son. Fast forward a few weeks and I met Daniel, we fell in love and within four months we’d moved into a little beach shack together. And then? Pregnancy.
We were spinning in love and shock and overwhelm and life-altering newness, and yet we knew that it was meant to be. I was only 22 and, in retrospect, so young, innocent and naive. Those first few years of motherhood were beautiful and challenging…. navigating parenthood, a (still new) relationship and figuring out who I was, too.
I started my blog in early 2008 when my firstborn, Che, was six months old. I had no idea at the time but by writing about motherhood and life, I was slowly carving an online career for myself that would come to include photography.
In 2018 you are going to embark on a road trip around Australia, where you will be living in a caravan and homeschooling your kids. How are you feeling about this?
Scared, excited, overwhelmed, enthralled and nervous. It’s a BIG undertaking in that we are packing up our lives and spending most of our savings on a caravan and car (which we haven’t purchased yet). But I also know that it’s exactly the right time to do it, and while it will be challenging it’s also going to be wonderful. And I know with all my heart that if we don’t do it now we won’t ever do it.
And so right now I’ve culled my kitchen items down to fit in one cupboard, I’m giving away and selling all the clothes my kids have outgrown and I’m looking at everything in the home and thinking that we can probably do without it. As a friend said to me recently: “You’ve had your babies, now you can pack up, hit the road and start a new journey.” And that’s precisely what it feels like.
You maintain an online presence & blog that’s filled with the most beautiful things such as growing herbs in your garden, knitting baby blankets, reading incredible books, baking muffins and moments of the crazy realities. Some women might feel that they would never have the time to do all of these things… How do you prioritise your time?
I haven’t had time to do any of those things this week…and to be honest, I’m not very good at prioritising anything! Right now I’m surrounded by washing that needs folded and dishes that need doing (we don’t have a dishwasher and washing dishes is so terribly time-consuming).
More than ever, I’m intent on writing the honest reality of motherhood which, at the moment, involves a messy house, a tight budget, baby weight that refuses to shift, sticky, humid late-summer days and the overall tiredness as a result. But then there’s healthy children, fresh organic deliveries every Monday, breastfeeding in the late afternoons under the fan and an adventure that awaits.
I try to recognise my privilege every single day because it puts everything into perspective. We live the most abundant life and we are so very lucky.
With over 10 years of motherhood experience, how have you learned to become more compassionate towards yourself?
I’ve always been a perfectionist and a high-achiever… both of which are detrimental to happiness, I’ve discovered. I’m compassionate to myself in that I’m not so caught up in the little, insignificant details. I don’t have the time or energy to make everything perfect and so as Elizabeth Gilbert said in Big Magic, “Done is good enough!”
When I’m critical of myself, I come back to my strong points, the things I got done that day and I ultimately express gratitude. Sarah Wilson discussed the power of gratitude in her book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, quoting Alex Korb’s The Grateful Brain: “Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on your life because it engages your brain in a virtuous cycle. Your brain only has so much power to focus its attention. It cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli.”
Literally, you can’t be grateful and anxious at the same time. You can, thus, derail your anxiety by being grateful.
While the cultural underpinnings of minimalism go back to the 1960’s art scene, today minimalism has become more mainstream, with people aspiring to clear the clutter and achieve a greater wellness connection. How is it possible to achieve this when you are a family of six?
To me, minimalism/simplicity is not an aesthetic or a trend. It’s a way of living that celebrates resourcefulness and mindfulness – rarely easy but often satisfying.
Living simply is a lifestyle choice and I think today, more than ever, it’s the best choice from every angle – financially, aesthetically, environmentally. But it does take time and awareness and in my experience, it’s a two-steps-forward, one-step-back journey.
I’ve been decluttering and attempting to live simply for years now… but it’s only in the past 18 months that I’ve really made big leaps. I can no longer justify buying expensive clothes that fall under the fast fashion category. I try my hardest to say no to single-use plastics (I even take glass containers to the butcher!) I’m a pro at using up all the food in the fridge so I’m minimising food waste. And I’m pretty content to keep everything simple and minimal; to fix things when they’re broken and to sometimes just go without.
Earning less (yet having more time) has been the best catalyst for this change! Sticking to a budget and getting creative with your money and resources is a great starting point.
With your experience, what tips could you offer people who perhaps live faster-paced lives in the city who are looking to subtly simplify their lives?
- Declutter your home, sell/donate what you don’t need and watch the physical space open up.
- Start thinking about the impact your lifestyle is having on the earth.
- When you want to buy something, wait a week before you purchase (you might not really want it).
- Cook from home and take your lunch to work.
- Buy a keepcup for coffee and a stainless steel water bottle! There is absolutely no need for takeaway cups or plastic bottles.
- One of the best motivators for simplicity is getting out of debt. Being debt free is incredibly freeing and the only way to get there is to live simply, buy only what you need and be resourceful. It’s empowering and happiness inducing!
As a yoga teacher, can you share your thoughts on how to infuse presence, intention and awareness into everything that we do?
Oh gosh, I think you’d better ask the Dalai Lama about that one! Honestly, I think the best way to do all three of these things is to come back to the breath. Your breath brings you back to the present moment, it brings you back into your body and it slows your thought process. It’s simple but very powerful.
Tell us your top five self-care rituals.
Drink lots of water, be still and quiet, hydrate my skin with nourishing oils, get an early night and… sit it alone in a cafe with a coffee and my diary.
You are a fantastic photographer, with a wonderfully organic aesthetic, capturing those beautiful childhood moments that are irreplaceable and precious. What tips can you share to help others to take great photos of the people that they love?
Oh, thank you! My advice is get in the photo with the people you love! I cherish the photos that I’ve taken of my children but every so often I hire a professional to take photos of me with my little ones. I don’t want my kids to look back at photos and say, “Where was Mum?”
For you, happiness is…
the simple things. I don’t know if it’s age or awareness or mindfulness but I’m not fussed with expensive clothes, grand holidays or fancy home interiors any more. Honestly, I’m just happy with a beautiful meal, a sleep-in, a really good coffee, a good chat, a fabulous op-shop find, painting with the kids, reading a good book, Marigold’s milky skin, recognising all the good that’s right in front of me.