Happiness is a journey, not a destination

March 2016

The other day I came across an article about International Internet-Free Day, whereby you give up your virtual life entirely for 24 hours, to become reconnected with the ‘real’ world.
interent-or-waterI think it’s a great idea, in fact, I believe it should be adopted on a more regular basis. By temporarily cutting ties with your bandwidth, you can concentrate on the more important elements of your own life, without the distractions of everyone else’s. Having said that, we recently experienced a whole week without Internet access and it wasn’t through personal choice. I have to say that on a professional level, it was most inconvenient! Of course, you could argue that having lived in France for all these years, I should know better than to change Internet providers the week before I launch my business!

Indeed, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. My English workshops started on the same day that our Internet and phone line got cut off, my mobile phone number got changed (without my consent) and my all-in-one printer, scanner and photocopier broke down! The new modem got lost in the post and it took a week to get a new one out to us…a week which mainly consisted of me fighting a losing battle (in French!) with numerous automated telephone services, and if I was lucky enough to get through to anyone at all, it was generally the most incompetent and rudest customer service advisor imaginable. After my toughest encounter with French bureaucracy to date, I came down with a bad case of the flu and lost my voice just in time for my first English conversation class. Add to this, two poorly children and you start to understand why it just wasn’t my week. What can I say? I guess it happens to us all.

One week later and we are all nearly back to good health now, any technical issues are practically forgotten and my English workshops are going remarkably well. We got eight eggs from all eight hens, including ‘Hoppy’ (the one with the limp!), who is doing much better now and will no longer be going in the pot! The only one who needs to watch out is our cock, Norman Slide, who has been getting quite aggressive lately and went for me the other day when my back was turned! He only clawed the back of my leg but he took me by surprise more than anything. Let’s just say, I always keep him in my sights now!

The polytunnel is coming along nicely and has become my retreat for ‘quiet time’ lately. I find it really calming sowing seeds, and it gives me time to think and reflect. We already have a few seedlings starting to come through and the raised beds are beginning to take shape. We started to prepare a potato bed in the garden yesterday, using the top layer of grass to extend our hügelkultur.

IMG_3666Unfortunately, we lost one of our two woodpeckers this week, when it flew into our kitchen window. I found it lying on the ground outside with its incredibly long tongue hanging out. Seeing it close up, it is a remarkably beautiful bird, and although it can no longer enjoy the haven of our garden, its mate could still be heard the day after, pecking away as usual. A bitter-sweet reminder that for some, life is short, and for the rest, it continues as usual.

Speaking of life, during our Internet-free week, despite doing a lot of painting and sticking with the children, I also read a most inspirational book, ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman. I have since, watched the film, but like with most adaptations, I found the book to be much more compelling, teaching us to live and be happy in the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future. There was a particular page that caught my attention, so I thought I’d share it with you:

I asked Soc whether he thought rich people are any happier than ‘poor stiffs like us’. 
His response, as usual, shocked me.
“I am not poor, Dan, I’m extremely wealthy.
And as a matter of fact, you must become rich to be happy”[…] 

“If you have enough money to satisfy your desires, Dan, you are rich.
But there are two ways to be rich:
You can earn, inherit, borrow, beg, or steal enough money to meet expensive desires;
or, you can cultivate a simple lifestyle of few desires;
that way you always have more than enough money.

The secret of happiness you see is not found in seeking more
but in developing the capacity to enjoy less”.Way_of_the_Peaceful_Warrior

I can totally relate to this, and feel that we are much richer now than we ever were, although not in monetary terms. We love the simple things in life: home-cooked food made from our own produce, listening to the rain fall on our very own roof, hearing the cock crow at 5.30 in the morning and the simple sound of a woodpecker, pecking at a tree. As Dan discovers in the book, “There are no ordinary moments”. If you just empty your mind and open up your senses, you will find that there is a world of richness right at your feet.

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