‘Ask not what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive. Then go do it. For what the world needs is people who have come alive.’ Howard Thurman
To be honest, I’d been in transition for about four years; probably longer.
That space, so difficult to describe in words, between where you’ve come from and where you’re headed. The no mans land. The holding pattern. From the outside, no one would have really known. Other than the debris that comes with the ending of a long, long relationship that bore two children, a home and a dog! But I owned this decision with a whole and thankful heart knowing the time had delivered me to exactly where I needed to be, but that it no longer served where I, or he or they, were going. Other than this, the facade glistened with the sparkle that had become my badge. But in truth, I was out in the water, treading, sometimes furiously, sometimes patiently, sometimes apathetically. Sometimes just floating. I’ve always known, innately mostly, the power of living in pure alignment with your truest self. I’ve worn the knowledge like a comfortable cloak, a guidance system for my life, that had always delivered me to exactly where I needed to be even if the journey was a little arduous, bumpy, fraught and uncomfortable along the way. The knowing that, when you are living in true rhythm with your highest good, your clearest consciousness then you are playing out the role that was designed for you to play. When you own your truth you feel better. And when you feel better you can give to yourself, to those you love, and to the universe with a whole heart. It’s an energy thing. It always has been. When you’re not living in alignment your energy is scattered. You make poor decisions. You end up pushing against road blocks. When you live in truth, then the energy flows and you feel a kind of peace.
But this place?
Well I hadn’t been here before. The place where the dreams you had created for yourself had all but been achieved. The place where the next leg of the journey had yet to be imagined. A mid life crisis is the technical term for it. My term? Blah. When you are living in Blah it’s harder to see. Blah is kind of grey. A little foggy. In Blah, it’s more difficult to make out the road ahead. There’s no clear road map and there are no exit signs. You have to make your way out of Blah by finding the unmarked door with no handle that’s located in a dark room. Hmmm. A short way into Blah, I got myself a pair of glasses to try and clear the path ahead. They didn’t work. Getting out of Blah with grace requires creating a new path. A connection to your third eye. An understanding of your energy system. An alignment with a you that you are yet to become. This takes work. And time. For me, it’s took about four years. I reckon I got out of Blah quickly. Some people stay trapped in Blah forever.
I knew that for me, Blah was not a place to stay for too long. It was a pit stop. And so I waited patiently for the sign to appear that would be my marker to move on. This sign came one day, when I was going through a pile of old photographs on a rainy Sunday in Byron Bay. In reality, the sign had presented a number of times before, but I didn’t listen. I didn’t see the significance. To back track. I’d seen two psychics in my life. Both of them told me I needed to go to Greece. They didn’t say why. But they said it was important for me, my life’s journey, my life’s work. I listened, smiled and parked the idea in the recess of my mind. Not that I didn’t want to go to Greece. Who wouldn’t? But there were other places that were taking my attention. Other learnings I needed to master. Greece just didn’t seem relevant. But on this Sunday, I came across a pile of old photographs of a place I knew I hadn’t travelled to. I looked closely and saw they were of a trip my ex husband had taken to Greece just before we met 20 years earlier. In his gladiator years. I giggled. Greece is everywhere. One day I’ll get there. That afternoon I attended a meditation. The teacher told me she had a feeling that I needed to go to Greece. Okay. I’m hearing you now. That evening I booked a trip. I didn’t know why. But I trusted the universe. It hadn’t let me down before. The six month countdown to my departure began then and there. I started posting pictures of the Greek Isles on Instagram! See it, feel it, become it!
I had been working informally with my friend Paula from Mediterranean Wanderer for a while on her transition from the life she was leading in Byron Bay to the creation of a new life that encompassed everything she loved – food, travel, connection. And the written word. A process that proved just as beneficial for me as her. When she heard I had booked a trip to Greece she screamed down the phone with an unparalleled level of enthusiasm that touches everyone who knows her. She said we had to do something in Greece – her motherland. She wanted to show me the heart of Greece. The feel of Greece in a way that only those with a key to the cultural door can experience. Always one for an adventure, I said absolutely. Let’s do something. Not having any idea what that would be. The next day she called back saying she’d spoken with photographer Carla Coulson, her mentor and friend and wouldn’t it be grand if the three of us held a retreat together on her family island of Lemnos. I had met Carla, she photographed my family in Paris years earlier, and of course I’d admired her work and her journey from afar. Carla had hosted many retreats. I’d spent years running design/styling/brand workshops in my studio on my farm that I had coincidentally stopped hosting four years earlier. So I said fantastic, sounds like fun. Let’s make it happen. Frantic phone calls ensued. Emails were sent. Skype meetings were had. Dates were set. The Creative Immersion Retreat was born. Marketing was created. The retreat sold out in ten days. What was once merely a spoken word had become a reality in the flash of time. Like all things that are in rhythm and alignment with your highest self.
I knew I wanted this trip to be a transformational one. Not just for me. But for everyone attending (all women even though the door is always to the blokes too!). Tapping into your creative self isn’t a one stop bucket shop experience. Although most people think it is at the outset. Being creative requires a digging deeper. A seeing the world between the cracks. Seeing the invisible. It’s about vision. The process to finding vision can be a challenging one. A confronting one. An exciting one. An exhilarating one. When you find vision, you align. When you align the universe flows to you like the gentle lapping of Mediterranean sea. Quietly. Peacefully. With no push pull. With no extra strain. Any tool can be used to tap into this beautiful space. The baking of a cake. The painting of a canvas. For Carla, Paula and myself, we used the medium of photography, styling and the word to facilitate this for our Creative Immersion Tribe. Beautiful tools to use. Filled with joy, colour and life. It’s difficult to describe what happens to people when they begin the process of unfolding. It’s a subtle thing. It’s energetic. Fears drop away. Confidence is restored. Aligning takes place. You have to experience this to understand it. The more you surrender to it, the easier it is. You can see it in these images so beautifully captured by Carla. For five days, we watched as our Tribe of beautiful women forged connections with each other, with themselves and with the planet around them. And me. Well, in the process of watching them, I found the key to the door, the exit from Blah, carried on the wind stirred up by our Creative Immersion Tribe.
It’s true. Sometimes we need a tribe to carry us through this life. To lift and transport us from one place to the next. To help us to Come Alive again. For me, this was the tribe. In Greece. Exactly as the wise women foretold. From the outside, no one would have known that I was transforming from one paradigm to the next. It’s a subtle thing. But there it is. And with it, a new path has opened up ahead for me. A new vision for the next leg was created. A restoration of the energy and verve for which I’ve become known. Thank you tribe. Watch as the vision unfolds. xx
All photographs by the uber talented Carla Coulson
Journey From Heart To Home is a document of my travels from the desert heart of the USA to my coastal home in beautiful Byron Bay. I’ve always valued travel as a way of exploration, not only of the beautiful world around me but also of my inner world. That part of myself I know is my core, or my soul. As a 60s girl, I seem to be born into the realm of inner exploration! Travelling is a wonderful opportunity for me to connect and to see life for what it truly is.
The desert of the USA – Sedona through to Palm Springs has always provided inspiration for me. There’s something about the rocky landscape that captivates. I’m drawn to it, in a completely irrational way. It’s raw. It’s bold. And there’s nowhere to hide. I find I come up with the best inspiration in this kind of landscape. So many books have been born there! It eeks out the best parts of what’s going on inside – and I relish these times. I tend to travel to the desert on my own – just me, myself, I and the land around me. Indigenous cultures have always valued the heart beat of the land. They know the land speaks to them – it provides a pathway; a kind of road map for life. A connection to the heart. This is what I experience when I’m in the desert – so any opportunity I can seize to spend time there, I do. Connecting to my heart is an important ritual for my life. Living life from the heart – an open heart – ensures that I’m living my truest life. A life that’s in rhythm with the universe. When you dance in unison with the universe, then you are living exactly as you are meant to.What could be more captivating, inspiring and honest than that.
What inspires me most about travelling though, is the coming home. It’s the bringing back of my best self, into my day to day life that drives me to keep exploring. Home is the place where I can be myself. Home is an expression of how I see life. Sometimes it’s only when you step out of home that you find the truest value in it. As a mother, it can be difficult to justify times spent away from my teenage angels. But I find that when I do step out, it benefits not just me, but adds a layer of experience to the kids lives also. Everyone benefits when mum spreads her wings.
I’ve created this collection with the hope to inspire you to explore the world – both your inner and your outer world. Through this collection I hope that you choose to surround yourself with the things that resonate most with who you are and how you see the world. After all, it’s the things that we surround ourselves with, it’s the stories that we build and the earth that we choose to tread that is the sum of who we are.
Working with the team in the creation of this range has been a joy and a privilege. We launched SF Bedlinen in 2012 and the range keeps growing and the story keeps building. Our story is one of individuality, of being yourself, of creating a life that fits your skin. Of being confident. Of knowing exactly who you are and how you want to live.
‘Making a garden is somehow like conducting a symphony – different plants come forward at different times and you need to think carefully about their placement in relation to each other’ Dame Elisabeth Murdoch
I love this quote, taken from the book Garden of a Lifetime by Anne Latreille and written about Cruden Farm, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s vast and inspiring garden in Victoria Australia. It’s such a lovely reminder of what it means to grow a garden – and how, at the heart of it all gardening requires a certain kind of rhythm for the plants to flourish to their full potential…
From a practical perspective, it is simply the thoughtful arrangement of plants in a space that makes for a harmonious garden. When I look outside at my own little patch, I love to imagine that my plants are all dancing in rhythm and ‘coming forward’ in unison Of course, I don’t always get it right – but I find the process of trying to create a symphony is the most satisfying thing of all.
When growing up, I’d leave my city home every summer to spend the school holidays in the countryside with my Nan and Pop. Nothing much happened in the little town where they lived, and so time passed slowly, punctuated by the small rituals of their daily routines.
Hot hazy days were filled with simple practices that, for the most part, revolved around caring for home and family. For Pop that meant tending the vegetable garden and ‘keep his grass down’. For Nan it was time spent at her old Singer sewing machine and cooking in the kitchen. Hours went by watching Nan sew my Barbie doll’s new wardrobe or pottering around the kitchen, stewing peaches that fell from her peach tree and brewing jams and marmalades that she’d later offer as gifts to relatives on ‘visiting’ days
Although legend has it she was no gourmet, I relished observing how Nan did things in the kitchen and in turn, her teaching me how things were done. If it’s true that one’s passions are handed down through those who are passionate, then I know where my love of life (and stewed peaches and jam!) was first nurtured. ‘The only true gift is a portion of thyself’ said American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and I believe it is the precious objects of time given to you by others that makes up the sum of who you are. And although all the time in the world has not turned me into the sewing expert she once was, I do fancy myself as a bit of a gourmet in the kitchen. Or so legend has it, that is!
‘I want a house that has got over all its troubles. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life bringing up a young and inexperienced house.’ Jerome K Jerome
If the walls in your house could speak, what stories do you think they would tell?
Would they be thrilling tales cloaked with high drama and suspicion, or charming fables of love and romance? Perhaps the walls would talk of joy and celebration or the laughter and the tears that make up your life and the history of those who have come before you.
Would they be words of wisdom – words of comfort and guidance? Or are they brand new walls, just assembled and a little wet behind the ears, waiting eagerly for their story to begin?
The houses we choose to live in say so much about who we are and how we prefer to live in the world. They speak of what we need to survive – not just from a functional perspective of providing shelter for our family, but from an emotional one.
Your home is a participant in your life, not just an obersver. It should both inspire emotion and satisfy the senses. At its very best, if should reflect and support the very essence of who you are, providing you with a place to retreat from the world, a place to cast off your pretences. A backdrop on which your story can unfold!
In this way, every room in your home offers its unique emotional perspective, working to enhance the ambience of your home as a whole. The kitchen, for example, is the hub of the home. It is the engine room, ensuring your survival on the most basic of levels – we need to eat to live.
But it does so much more than just feed the hungry hordes. The kitchen brings families together. Where there is food about, there are people about, all gathering to feast and let go of the events of the day. In this way, the kitchen is the great connector. It is a place where we can communicate authentically and revive ourselves enough to move on to the next leg of the journey.
The bathroom, on the other hand, is our sanctuary. It provides us not just with a cleansing space but a place to unwind, to reconnect with our souls and our hearts. The ritual of bathing purifies the spirit and calms the inner self. The act of sloughing away the residue of daily life helps us to feel renewed and ready to take on whatever life throws our way.
If you think about your home as having a kind of heartbeat of its own, then when renovating and decorating it makes sense to address your choices and the assemblage of things, not just from a practical point of view, but from an emotional one.
For it is the feeling in a house, created as a result of the stories unfolding there, which will best convey the story of your life so far.
In the work that I do, I rarely look back – it seems that when it comes to design and living (as in life) – the here and now and the trends going forward become the focus… But, every now and then, when I’m feeling a little nostalgic, I’ll go back through my past work; possibly as a way of reminding myself how far I’ve come… By chance today, I opened a copy of my very first book – sense of style: colour – written in 2005 whilst sitting on my bedroom floor. The writing of this book was a watershed moment for me… The first time I braved myself and declared my most inner thoughts and feelings on design and living to the world. That is, my belief in home as more than just a collection of things that we buy. But rather an emotional support structure – our heart centre – that needs to be tended in the image of our truest self… Upon opening the book today – my eye was drawn to one paragraph. And of course, it’s the most important paragraph of all, for me, right now. I thought I’d share it with you…
‘I believe that the simplest principles of living provide the best instruction. Life teaches us that to develop a relationship of any kind – whether with a person, or even with food, or in this case with your personal colour palette – you must begin by simply being open to the possibility of it. I know this is tricky in this day and age when we allow ourselves such small increments of time for carrying out our daily tasks. But, it’s impossible to connect with anything if you don’t give it exactly that – time.’
‘Find a quiet part of the world – this could mean lounging in your living room, sitting in the park or lying on the beach and just – STOP. Live in the moment for a second. Have a cup of tea to give yourself an excuse to just be still. You’ll enjoy it. I promise. Then look at and absorb the wonderful colour combinations that exist around you. Engage your ‘third eye’ and simply think, see and feel. Reconnect with your senses.’
‘Understanding colour is, to some degree, a process of enlightenment. Remember, that colour is not a mystery – it’s always available to you, it’s there everyday, there are beautiful combinations in every corner of your world. Becoming aware of them is the first step on your journey towards forming a relationship with colour.’