Autumn habits in the van

I’ve never lived so in tune with the seasons as I do now.

We’re much more vulnerable in the van – so much closer to the elements. Every gust of wind, every downpour, every sweltering day requires our awareness and forethought.

I’m grateful to be this connected; to constantly be mindful of where we are and how we’re existing. Our days are dictated by the sun which, I admit, took me a while to accept. When we started travelling I had firm bedtime ideals that dictated the kids go to bed at a certain time. But within a few weeks I realised that without schedules or obligations, we had the freedom to follow nature’s clock. And so we do because it seems like the best, most natural way to be.

During summer in Tasmania the sun wasn’t setting till about 9pm and we followed suit, rousing in the morning at about 8am. But these past few weeks, with the end of daylight savings and the beginning of true autumn, I’ve been starting the evening routine by four o’clock, tea in hand, dinner bubbling on the stovetop.

I do love this time of year; the colours and the light and the call to close in and rest up. The silver lining to our car troubles has been the opportunity to settle and stay put after six month of summer travel. I always look forward to the reprieve of autumn and this year it’s much needed and came, rather serendipitously, at the ideal spot in our travel calendar.

I always experience a lull in energy once autumn hits. I need more sleep and more self-care – nothing grand, just a conscious effort to move more, drink enough water and send myself to bed before 10pm. Almost two years of breastfeeding Marigold (plus the fact that I’ve either been pregnant or breastfeeding – or both – since mid-2014) and I’m needing to take a daily dose of iron and VitC too (vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from both foods and supplements). I’ve woken with a slightly sore throat for the past few days; I can physically feel my body fighting something so I’m reaching for all the protective measures to make sure it doesn’t develop.

We’ve been house-sitting for the past week and with plenty of rain falling it’s been so good to have extra space to live in. Or to clarify; extra personal space because often the most powerful self-care of all is being alone, no disruptions, if only for a short while.

I’ve also been stepping into the wind, as wild as it currently is in Melbourne. The wind used to be my enemy. I’m a typical vata (look up Ayurvedic constitutions, it explains a lot) and being in the wind used to send me wild; I couldn’t think straight, I would get headaches, I would physically cower and tense (most probably the cause of said headaches). And yet because we now spend so much time outdoors, I’ve kind of had to learn to move with it. To just be in it.

Wearing a new jumper from Toorallie that’s made from Australian merino lambswool. It’s so classic and cosy and warm and I’ll be wearing it for many winters to come


And amongst all this self-care and seasonal reflecting, I’m keeping a close eye on the media surrounding our climate crisis. I read petrifying statistics and feel like turning a blind eye because it worries me sick. And yet that’s the worse thing that any of us can do. You know what’s also not productive? Being overly optimistic that our actions are enough or that someone else will do the hard work of saving the planet for us. Collectively we need to be informed, have hope and make our vote count.

Our upcoming federal election is a once in a generation chance to #voteclimate. Scrap climate change or global warming; we’re experiencing a CLIMATE CRISIS and we must act now. We’ve got 10-12 years to make a difference. Not one to ever mention politics before on this platform, I feel like now is the time to share all that I’m reading about making our vote count and voting for the planet. The priority? Making sure Adani does not go ahead. This visual gives you an idea of the expanse of the artisanal basin that’s under threat from coal mining. Look at it! It’s huge! All that water, all that land, all those ecosystems, all that (potential) food – at risk.

I urge you to read this guide to making sure your vote counts and if you’re interested in hearing a live discussion on getting informed, voting for change and doing your bit to save the planet, watch Sarah Wilson chat with Dr Kerryn Phelps and representatives from Extinction Rebellion here.

Extinction Rebellion have had such a powerful impact in the UK that last week, Britain went an entire week without using coal to generate electricity – a first since 1880. This story about milk in glass bottles also made me smile.

Mindless Scrolling

I’ve also been conscious of my time spent on the phone because it’s rarely productive or constructive. There is an ever-growing guilt attached to this habit; the mindless scrolling is such a time waster. A few days ago I listened to this ABC podcast about how the iPhone rewrote the teenage brain. I started listening as a parent keen to research the detrimental effects on tweens but instead I found myself reflecting on my experience with apps and scrolling. Confronting to say the least.

I’ve actually never met Rachael in person but I’ve been reading her wonderful stories for a decade now. We’ll share a hug and a coffee one day very soon. In the meantime, I share her work whenever I can because I’m always in awe of her lyrical yet powerful sentences. Today she published her most recent parenting challenge on ABC: The confusing, hypocritical world of a mother navigating screen time with a high schooler.

While it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of influencers selling stuff, instagram can also been a resource for powerful and inspiring information.

Herbal Remedies

This time last year I received an email from a Sydney-based naturopath keen to have some photos taken. A few weeks later Clara and I spent a morning together and it was one of my most enjoyable photography sessions. She made herbal tonics and teas, I photographed her in a gorgeous glass house and we chatted about the power of plants and the importance of being connected to our bodies. She is a wealth of wisdom and knowledge and she generously shares seasonal herbal remedies on her instagram feed.

Her recent post on Lemon Balm had me searching herbal tea stockists here in Melbourne. She says:

“Lemon Balm (also known as Melissa or Bee Balm) is one of my “could-not-be-without-herbs” in my naturopathic practice. It is such a beauty for when stress ties us up into tangled knots and doom and gloom begins to set in.
It’s a plant that reminds us to not take ourselves or life too seriously. Drinking a strong cup of lemon balm tea (even better if you can have it fresh) is a feeling of opening a window in a dark room to bring in the crisp air and warm sun. It will lift your mood, settle your stomach and possesses a host of anti-viral qualities. If your someone whose signs of stress of being run down are cold sores, mood swings and/or digestive upsets, bring this plant into your life.

Lemon Balm’s effervescence, light lemony + minty ways are impossible not to fall in love with a bit. It’s safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding in tea form too (not the essential oil though).”

Yesterday she posted an 8minute video on IGTV about the best, natural ways to boost your immune system this winter – vitC, zinc, sunshine on your face – I encourage you to watch it as I learnt a lot! As for immune boosting tea, she recommends the Immunity blend from Love Tea.

Tiny Living

Lastly, as Daniel, the kids and I live in a tiny home and plan the way we’ll live in the future, we came back to this family who live so simply in NZ. And it’s true; the trap of working to pay for a large home makes very little sense once you’ve experienced living small. It probably deserves a post of its own but living small and consuming little has been such an empowering experience for me. It’s given me the opportunity to observe, very clearly, the want/consume mindset and, instead, shift it to need/consume. To sit in our 24ft van and not want for anything more – well, it’s contentment. True happiness. Granted, we do look forward to creating a more permanent home one day, at which point we may seek storage for our van. But for now we plan, prioritise and just enjoy.

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