Around a decade ago a friend introduced me to Jodi Wilson’s blog, Practising Simplicity. Filled with beautiful photos and articles about how to embrace the simple things in life, Jodi had a way of making a genuine connection with her readers. Despite being at very different life stages, she and I shared much in common. A love of nature, a desire for minimalism, the ongoing intention to slow down and appreciate the present moment and a deep reverence for the role of motherhood.
A few years after Jodi and I met, she and her partner Daniel made a courageous decision. They packed up their home and belongings and embarked on an adventure with their four young children, caravanning around Australia.
Their journey was a practice in mindfulness. Without the distractions of everyday life, Jodi and her family embraced the simple things that allow us to properly engage with the present moment.
As Jodi shares in her beautiful new book, Practising Simplicity, the adventure wasn’t without its challenges but despite those challenges, it was a life-changing experience for all of them.
In our interview, Jodi shares what it’s like to take a courageous leap of faith and the importance of living in alignment with your true values and pursuing the things that call you – even when they are less conventional.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the journey you’ve been on with your family over the past few years?
In 2017 my partner and I decided to sell 80 percent of our belongings and spend our hard-earned house deposit on a caravan and 4WD. We had never caravanned or camped before but we recognised that we were in a real moment of choice and change and if we didn’t travel then we never would.
At the time I was overwhelmed and anxious, leading a very busy life as a mum to 4 kids and a freelance writer. I have always feared change (predictability is always my preference) but around that time I was sensing that my fear of complacency was actually much bigger. Intuitively it felt like the right thing for us to do so in mid-2018 we hit the road and we spent 2.5 years living and travelling in our 24ft van. It changed everything for us because we realised that we could live so well with very little and that naturally prompted us to consider what the essentials for a good life really are. We’re originally from just north of Sydney and we knew that we couldn’t go back to a life of rushing and racing and huge mortgages. The slow, simple life is for us! We now live in a little town in NW Tasmania and every day we wake up really grateful for the life we’ve created.
Can you share a little about the work projects you’ve undertaken recently?
My first book, Practising Simplicity – small steps and brave choices for a life less distracted is about all the lessons I learnt on the road. I definitely don’t nag the reader to declutter their home and I don’t promote minimalism as a sure path to happiness but I do question the way our society is so productivity-driven and how that affects our happiness, our mindset and our energy levels. I write about nature as a salve for my overwhelm and I mull over the uncertainty of our lives and the way the past few years have forced us to live in the present by focusing solely on today. It’s a blessing, really, because when we are present and when we slow down without distraction we start to notice the joy that already exists in our lives.
I also work alongside Sophie Walker and her podcast Australian Birth Stories. It’s beautiful, meaningful work because we’re encouraging pregnant mothers and their support people to actively prepare for birth and consciously plan for postpartum. Along with birth education and mind/body awareness, active preparation sets the foundation for a smooth transition to parenthood. I’m also a prenatal yoga teacher so I bring 12 years teaching experience to this writing role and I’m genuinely invested in the birth world and Australia’s maternity system. Most women start their pregnancy journey with very little knowledge and often that knowledge is fear-based so to be working so actively in the birth education space is a real privilege. My eldest child is 15 now and since I was pregnant with him there hasn’t been a book available in Australia that supports, educates and informs pregnant women. So, Sophie and I have written it. The Complete Australian Guide to Pregnancy and Birth will be published 31st Jan 2023 and it’s a conversational and accessible companion for all pregnant women, regardless of where they’re birthing, how they’re birthing and who is supporting them along the way.
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
Nature, always, There is perspective and inspiration in abundance when we are outside amongst nature. And my bookshelf…..endless opportunities to be inspired.
How do you maintain a sense of balance while working for yourself and being a mother of four children?
Motherhood and work life and self-care is more of a juggle; it tends to ebb and flow with the demands of life. That said, I prioritise a few things to ensure I’m in a good headspace and semi-balanced; I got to bed early, I also rise early and walk on the beach first thing, I eat well (I’m coeliac so I need to be quite strict with my diet), I don’t spend too much time on screens and I focus on the simple things that offer me comfort; a good book, my morning coffee, cuddles with my kids.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished Heather Rose’s memoir Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here which was one of the most profound and beautifully written memoirs I’ve ever read. I’m recommending it to everyone! I also subscribe to WellRead’s monthly book subscription which I really look forward to every month because each pick is always a good literary read – wellread.com.au.
What’s one piece of advice you would offer your twenty-year-old self?
Ground yourself. I lived in my head at that age and had absolutely no awareness of my body, my breath or the power of being grounded. My very first yoga class changed everything for me.
What’s one thing you’ve done that you feel most proud of?
Going on our caravan trip. It was so hard and every day between the night we decided to do it and the night we hit the road, it would have been easier to not do it. But I couldn’t ignore my intuition that was telling me loud and clear that it was the best path to take. It changed my whole life; what I value, what I prioritise, where I live….sometimes you really do have to make the big changes to discover a new and more authentic way of living.
What are you most grateful for?
The privilege of motherhood and creativity…and the little house we bought last year which wasn’t without challenges (buying a house with a small, freelance income is no joke) but….we did it.
What’s one (or more) change you hope to make in the world through your work?
I really want to shift the narrative for women, in particular, and encourage a slower, more mindful day-to-day. Overwhelm is rife and it’s the cause of so much distress because it’s distracting and anxiety-inducing and it seeps into every facet of life. I honestly believe that practising simplicity each day – being very aware of the choices you make and the steps that you take – can allow you to ground yourself, tune into your body and breath and make decisions that are good and right for you. Small steps, brave choices.