Delighting in Sensual Joys to Nourish the Brain

I had a full body creative light bulb moment yesterday.

small thingsI found the most heavenly store on the weekend, Simple Things Small Joys in Cabarlah in Qld. This was most definitely MY kind of store, which I proved by walking out with French linen cushions with feather inserts, hand-made olive soap balls, French country quilts and a few other cute knick knacks. Simple Things Small Joys is in the loft space above Black Forest Hill, boasting Australia’s largest display of German cuckoo clocks and grandfather clocks. Black Forest Hill is easily spotted from the New England Highway, around 20 minutes outside Toowoomba, and is a great little spot to visit anyway.

Simple Things Small Joys is filled with all the things I love but so rarely ever invest in because I am ‘too sensible’. Why would I buy a French country styled quilt when I don’t actually need one? The answer, as I am slowly coming to accept, is because I love it and it brings me joy.

We are currently working through a massive renovation of a 100-year-old Queensland workers cottage on the Sunshine Coast and, truly, it would almost have been easier to build a new one from scratch. But what it means is that we get to start again, find a new style we love, a consistent, nurturing, beautiful style. French country. It’s what makes our hearts sing.

I recently started meditating again (and realised the last time I did so was the night before my baby was born and therefore more than 10 months ago!). And I started with a small (sixteen minutes) daily themed meditation program put together by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. Well, one of the themes for the day focused on your external environment. Yes, I think we all know by now that clutter has a negative impact on our psyche, but what I really got out of that meditation was Deepak’s explanation that surrounding ourselves with the sights, sounds, smells and textures of things that bring us joy actually nourishes our brains. And your brain can’t work very well if you don’t nurture it.

small things2Big. Lightbulb. Moment. I could instantly see the metaphor of beauty as food for our brain. We all know we need to eat well in order to function at our best and what our brain is crying out for is its own version of food. You couldn’t expect your car to run without petrol. You couldn’t expect to live without eating. Yet so often we expect our brains to work doing the millions of things it does every hour of the day without giving it what it needs. Joy. Love. Stimulation. Sensory input. And of course, if you’re familiar with Julia Cameron (I know, I know, I bang on about her all the time, but seriously, she’s brilliant) you’ll know that your inner artist needs these things too.

I’m also coming to accept that I’m a bona fide artist now. You know, with a paid writing gig. So it’s actually imperative that I stock the well with creative goodness if I expect my brain to expel some of that onto the page.

So when I found the gorgeous Simple Things Small Joys on the weekend, I faffed around thinking, oh I’ll just buy a soap, for about half an hour before coming to the realisation. Why am I buying soap when what my heart and brain really want is the linen? It’s a bit like craving a chocolate, and you think, oh but I don’t need the chocolate. I’ll just go and eat a banana, and a biscuit, and a pizza, and a glass of wine… and a million calories later you still want the chocolate so you eat it too. Just eat the chocolate! Or in my case, buy the linen. So I did. And I love it 🙂small things charms

If you get a chance (and you’re into this kind of thing), I can’t recommend highly enough a visit to Angela Oament at Simple Things Small Joys. You won’t be disappointed!

(And no, I didn’t get paid to say that. I just like to share the joy!)

The Awesomeness of Tea and Books

Trust me, you don’t ever want to be the person who serves me a ‘pot of tea’ in a cafe only to bring out a teabag swimming in a tank of water.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me" (CS Lewis)
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me” (CS Lewis)

I love tea. I love it so much I wrote a whole book all about the business of tea and designing teas. Hopefully, you’ll get to read this book in its published version in 2013. I called the book, Take a Chance on Me, and (quite seriously) nearly called it Take a Chance on Tea.I’m passionate about not only tea but the beauty associated with it: the teapots, the teacups, the doilies, the butterfly cakes, the sugar cubes and tiny teaspoons. While writing the book, I began collecting teapots and cups before I eventually realised that I live with a soon-to-be-running-around-the-house baby, two large dogs and three wild cats and the chances of any of these china beauties lasting in our tiny house would be a minor miracle.

So while drinking my cup of chai this morning, I did enjoy this post from Book Riot on bookish teapots. I’ve pasted my favourite one from that post and look forward to part 2.