The Hobart

Practicing Simplicity

by Sarah Aitken
Practicing Simplicity

When New South Wales woman Jodi Wilson, her partner and their four kids decided to change everything, buy a caravan and go travelling, they changed the trajectory of their lives. Their journey eventually brought them to Tasmania, and they decided not to leave!

How did you feel before your big trip, compared to after?

Beforehand I felt overwhelmed, agitated, desperate for change because I’d become so complacent with a life of rush and stress and busyness. Now I’m more settled, I have far less anxiety, I under­stand the importance of a slow life and I know that going into nature is a powerful way to reprieve.

And you decided to settle in Tassie at the end of your journey. Why Tassie?

Tassie has always pulled at me, I feel a very distinct sense of belonging here. I was born in England and my parents are from England and New Zealand so I feel like this belonging – at home with the wind, the cold, the layers of wool – may be ancestral. The sense of community is really strong here and no one’s in much of a rush. After so much time on the road we knew we couldn’t go back to a life of city commutes and working to live and darting from one place to the next. Landing in Tassie was one of our best ideas.

You’ve just released a book Practicising Simplicity. Why did you want to write it?

Yes! I knew there was a story that I needed to share, one that feels particularly pertinent in these uncertain times. I set out to share what I’d learnt from living in a caravan, living with less and spending most days outside in nature but I think I’ve written a story that really gets to the crux of simple living; all we can really do is focus on today; to work out what matters and what doesn’t. Regardless of where or how you live, I think you can go to nature – to the sea, the back garden, the mountains – and find perspective. You don’t have to go on caravan adventures to realise that despite all the big, undeniable stuff that’s going on right now, there’s still a lot of good all around.

How has the idea of simplicity worked for you as a mum of four?

It hasn’t always worked but it’s always there to guide me to what’s important and what’s not. I think it’s allowed me to really consider my priorities at any given time, hence its given me permission to embrace weekends with no plans, to understand that life is fleeting and all we really have is today and to step off the treadmill and forge a new path. It’s also proven to me that despite where I live, whether it’s a house or a caravan – we are going to have stuff; clothes, books, the miscellany that comes with family life. Frankly, there are always going to be odd socks. Four kids equals lots of socks!

What’s the difference between simplic­ity and minimalism for you?

Simplicity is a mindset and an attitude; it’s a way of living that ebbs and flows with the demands of life. I think many people consider simplicity as clean lines and decluttered spaces but I think it’s messier than that; it’s storing hand-me-down clothes for your kids so you don’t need to buy new next season, it’s keeping the practical things despite the fact that you don’t really like the look of them, it’s growing a garden and enjoying its bounty and then letting it go to seed if life gets too demanding. It’s also consciously considering and then choosing what you buy, how you buy and what you choose to go without. I think simplicity is also about time; saying no to obligation, pri­oritising rest and embracing a slow pace. Minimalism is decluttering to live with the minimum which can, I think, lead to a lot of waste. It’s more focused on aesthet­ics…but that’s just my perspective.

What are some tips for people who would love to simplify things in their lives?

Start where you are with what you have. Spend time in nature; it will draw you back to what matters. Once you figure that out, you’re more likely to make choices that feel right, even if not everyone around you agrees with them.

What has surprised and inspired you about Tassie?

The distinct seasons and the powerful way they encourage you to live in the moment and embrace the rituals that come along with them. If it’s warm we drop everything and go swimming at the beach. In winter, we were all tucked up in bed by 8pm and now, in high summer, we’re barefoot outside till the sun goes down at 9. I’ve spent this past year writing two books so it’s definitely inspired my crea­tivity; dark winter days reading, writing and editing are quite lovely with endless cups of tea and a roaring fire. We’ve also just bought a house which is such a powerful lesson in simplicity; in enjoying what you have and not pining for what you don’t and being grateful for a little space to call our own (little for a house but much bigger than the caravan!).

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May 2022

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