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The Practice of Simpler Times - The July Beagle

"When you can't stay motivated stay consistent. Consistency is gonna bring back your motivation." - unknown
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. - Luke 5:16

Hello friends,

Is it just me, is anyone feeling a little wilted and weary? Maybe it's the onset of summer's heat and restless nights with the cool fan on full-bore. I feel so harassed some days, what with doorbell deliveries, errands to run, appointments to make, places to be, to-do lists that seem to self-refill . . . sigh, oh for some quiet, for the hamster wheel to STOP, for a 'little sea bathing' as Mrs Bennett so wistfully said.


I think this could be part due to my personality, The I/ENFJ club anyone? 🙋🏼‍♀️


My friend dropped round today, I do so love when friends drop in. I remember growing up, we had a tiny little kitchen in our council house with a small dining table that could fit four people if we pulled it away from the wall (which I never recall happening). I'd often happen upon one of my mum's friends or a neighbour sitting at that table, cup of tea on the go, robust natter and chatter filling the small space. One neighbour's cigarette smoke would snake and swirl from the ashtray into the air as did their gossipy hushed tones. They seemed to have nowhere else to be, no urgent demands upon their time, this appeared to be what mattered, what constituted the stuff of life.


Simpler times? I think so, pre-technology for sure.


Alas, this is the world we are a part of now but I've learned that despite the relentlessness of productivity I can choose to carve out sacred space for restoration. By sacred I mean, set apart, away from, untouchable. I've learned that if I don't keep some things untouchable someone or something will soon have it's hands and plans all over it.


I've learned the art of the 'No' and that boundaries are my friend. It's hard saying no when you're used to being a people-pleaser or a chronic 'good-christian-girl'. I do giggle at Lotty's voice in my head (The Enchanted April) who seems to understand why it's so hard to have boundaries -

'We've been too good - much too good,' Mrs. Wilkins kept on murmuring as they walked up and down the platform at Victoria, having arrived there an hour before they need have, 'and that's why we feel as though we're doing wrong. We're brow-beaten - we're not any longer real human beings. Real human beings aren't ever as good as we've been. Oh' - she clenched her thin hands - "to think that we ought to be so happy now, here on the very station, actually starting, and we're not, and it's being spoilt for us simply because we've spoilt them! What have we done - what have we done I should like to know, she inquired of Mrs, Arbuthnot indignantly, 'except for once want to go away by ourselves and have a little rest from them?' . . .

I don't know, maybe it's my age and stage of life but at 53, having raised and home educated two children, supported my husband's demanding work, been in ministry for over two decades, ridden the rapids of menopause, navigated mental health issues at home, teen and mid-life challenges, you reach a point where you stand on the line of life, locate yourself, and take stock.

To borrow a phrase from Anne Morrow Lindberg, I think we need to seize upon this 'second adolescence' and invite ourselves and God into this season, to reimagine the remaining years. I believe we can only do this with the cultivation of stillness.

"You remind me that I must try to be alone for part of each year, even a week or a few days; and for part of each day, even for an hour or a few minutes in order to keep my core, my centre, my island-quality. You will remind me that unless I keep the island-quality intact somewhere within me, I will have little to give my husband, my children, my friends or the world at large. You will remind me that woman must be still as the axis of a wheel in the midst of her activities; that she must be the pioneer in achieving this stillness, not only for her own salvation, but for the salvation of family life, of society, perhaps even our civilisation." - Gifts From The Sea

Owning my time has definitely come more to the forefront in this season. It takes an intentionality to lean in and listen, a bravery to dare to respond to what you might hear in that space. I spoke with a photographer the other day who during lockdown realised she wanted to study to be a nurse. She walked away from her photography business and sold all her gear, no looking back, no regrets. For all that it took Lockdown gave us space, it gave us a quiet some of us needed. Now, we must fight for it. We need to carve out sacred moments which gives us breathing space to anchor ourselves.


It can be hard to make sweeping changes and often they don't stick. But making one small goal, introducing a granular adjustment each day is key to building a new habit. Stick with it, make friends with your desire to nurture your spirit, soul, body, mind. Over time this becomes the new normal.

 

Did you know I link every book, film, recipe etc in the Beagle? Where you see words highlighted, simply click the link.

 

Still Life

Sweet Pea Dreams


My sweet peas came into blossom the past couple of weeks and I could't wait to make them the star of the show. These rich purples, mauves and blues really pop against the moody shadows of the background. I picked up this pretty green vase in a charity shop a few weeks ago for £2, the colour contrast beautifully compliments the floral tones.

I had play with the light, shaping and moving the point of focus so as to highlight the subject further. Which do you prefer?

I'm hoping for armfuls next month as all my garden work seems to be ready to burst.

 

Poetry

Sabbath poems, The Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Berry


XIII.

The body in the invisible

Familiar room accepts the gift

Of sleep, and for a while is still;

Instead of will, it lives by drift


In the great night that gathers up

The earth and sky. Slackened, unbent,

Unwanting, without fear or hope,

The body rests beyond intent.


Sleep is the prayer the body prays,

Breathing in unthought faith the Breath

That through our worry-wearied days

Preserves our rest, and is our truth.

 

For fun

 

Reading


Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. This is a departure from the norm for me and an adventure into suspense crime stories. I hear good things so here goes.


The Incorrigible Children of Aston Place, Book 4, The Interrupted Tale. Pure joy, sheer delight. These are middle-high level but I find them charming, witty and packed with wisdom. Great read alouds too. Even my eighty year old mum is hooked!

 

Watching


Please don't send me hate mail 😅


Persuasion with Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, Henry Golding and Richard E. Grant.


Okay, so if you can suspend reality, the facts, and imagine that the only thing this film has in common with the venerable Miss Austen's work is the title, then is is a fun watch. If however you are a stalwart JA devotee then I suggest giving this a wide berth and resisting the urge to set it on fire (and maybe have your heart medication handy).

I loved this film. It was witty, clever, beautifully acted and fun. Breaking the fourth wall was a pleasant surprise. The diversity of cast refreshing. The romantic tension between the characters of Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth was palpable. Bear in mind these are not JA's characters, they're a very different modern twist! Claps all round for costuming, cinematography, choreography and score.


I think if you want to see a more faithful depiction of who JA had in mind for Anne Elliot you can't go wrong with ITV's version starring the brilliant Sally Hawkins.


And of course, there's the book!


[Occasionally my recommendations may not be for everyone. My choice of films, books etc are based on my particular tastes and tolerances. Just a note for my G-rated friends]

 

Listening to


I've been enjoying this curation made just for me by Spotify, the Feel Good Happy Mix. Good for a bop, a drive, some overall good vibes.

 

Snaps from home

This feature has moved to Substack and is available to my paid subscribers.


Last month:

This post is way overdue, thank you for being so patient with me!


This photo of me and my daughter was taken nine years ago on the grounds at Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath. During our Home Ed days we were delightfully drawn into the world of period reenacting and were fortunate to experience many wonderful, joyful adventures in regency period style. But that’s another story.


I wanted to share this with you today to whet your appetite and let you know that my daughter and I are plotting to don our gowns again this year and capture some fun images at our favourite National Trust houses. I can’t wait to make new period memories and share them with you all. I hope the dresses still fit!



Once again, a big thank you to those who have gotten behind my work with their hard earned cash. Because of your financial support I was able to purchase a new flash last month as well as upgrade my tripod, which if you remember broke a few months ago.

 

Podcast


I'll be sharing something that's been on my heart all week on a special podcast next week over on Substack. This will be available to all subscribers, free and paid. Be sure to sign up and be notified.

 

Recipe


I'm a big fan of Carleigh's recipes and got her cookbook earlier this year. Our consists of vegans, veggies and meats so I find her recipes easy, no fuss and adaptable.


There are many go-to yummies we enjoy in our home, her Mac 'n' Peas is so good, as is the Sunshine Scramble, Lasagne, Pulled 'Pork' Burgers and on and on.


The great thing about this basic recipe is you can tweak and add more of what you like and change to your taste. I love cold pasta dishes in the summer, especially if they're quick.


I hope you like this one!


 

Signing off


Do you have summer plans, any holidays or are you working through? Aside from a wedding this weekend in Scotland we will all be working through. I'm already planning little mini-breaks by way of days out at National Trust houses, evening fires outside in the garden with a glass of wine, board games and long walks. I'd love to hear from you and apologies if you've written me and not heard back yet, I will do that shortly.


A prayer for daily rest;


May God bless and keep your every moment.

I pray His face shines upon you and that you feel the warmth of His gaze.

May you have wisdom to nurture your own humanity, to fill your own cup.

I pray your cup would then overflow in good works for those around you.

May God's deep joy bubble up in creativity and fresh vision.

As your soul is refreshed I pray you have strength to refresh others.

May you see the cracks and snatches of grace to breathe deeply in your schedule.

I pray the God of light and love surprises you with delight in the everyday ordinary.

I pray you'll be anchored in Him, invisibly tethered to His boundless love.

He who created the heavens and earth, the creatures, seas and everything in them,

also created and fashioned you, and he gives you rest.

You are loved.

In Jesus' name, amen.


With love,

Jacqui X











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