heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 2 of 7: Keep it simple


“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

Henry David Thoreau

swirly2This year, the inspiration for my New Year’s “Revelations” stem from some of the experiences, life events and lessons learned in the past year.

For me, it was – as Charles Dickens wrote (in Tale of Two Cities) – “the best of times, it was the worst of times…. it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

And with each year comes more wisdom.

I hope that some or all of these revelations resonate with you.


We live in a complex world and we , more often than not, tend to overcomplicate our lives.

Over the years, I’ve learned – both by choice and by necessity – to shed the layers of excess…. from the superficial to the significant.

By superficial, I mean (for example)… how many pairs of shoes does a woman really need?

By significant, I mean (for example)… do you need to surround yourself with a large group of so-called family, friends and acquaintances who may or may not be well-meaning and authentic versus maintaining ties with the people who have a shared history and/or heritage and who like/love you… no matter what?

Maybe it’s a function of age and acquired wisdom, but I can say that I have significantly simplified my life and I feel lighter (in the spiritual sense) as a result.

We reach a point in our lives when we have to face some harsh truths – about ourselves, about what motivates us and why, and about how we want to live/conduct the rest of our lives.

When we shed the unnecessary “onion layers” of our lives, we’re left with the essentials.

It makes life cleaner, neater, and more focused.

Personally, I feel much more at peace and happy with myself now than at any other point in my life. Simplicity, in my view, equals Freedom.

So, as this New Year commences, I urge you to try to simplify every aspect of your life… as much as you can. Think of it as a spiritual diet.  Just make sure you stick with it.  You’ll be happy you did.

“Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.”


Some Book Recommendations:

Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex Worldby Richard J. Foster


The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay



Photo via flickr.com



Living An Uncluttered Life


“What we’re thinking about is a peaceful planet. We’re not thinking about anything else. We’re not thinking about any kind of power. We’re not thinking about any kind of struggles. We’re not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. That’s not what we want. Nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life. A simple life, a good life. And think about moving the whole human race ahead a step, or a few steps.”

Jerry Garcia

And on that note, we send our prayers to the people of Nepal – they have suffered such devastation from that horrendous earthquake. Below are a few of the organizations that are involved in this gargantuan disaster relief effort:

The stories houses tell

Every house tells a story.  Who lived here before you?  What did they do?  How did they live?  Was there more happiness and laughter than sorrow and pain?  Were children born here?  Did anyone die here?  Why did they leave?  Where did they go?  These are just some of the questions that fill my mind when I look at a house, especially an old house.

I love history. That, combined with a natural (almost feline-like) curiosity, is what motivates me to research everything that catches my fancy — family origins, different countries, cultures, religions and, yes,  houses.

So, when we bought our historic home in the bohemian  (as in “free spirit, eclectic, artistic”) village of Coconut Grove (in South Florida), I was thrilled.  What struck me was that the house had really, really good energy.  Now, this is not my imagination.  Every friend or family member who has either visited or stayed overnight in this home has said exactly the same thing:  It’s got good vibes.  And, I’m happy to say, it’s also got good bones.

But,  like most  old houses,  it is not without some “challenges.” Built in 1928,  this small house – with loads of windows and creaky floors – has been a haven for many families. Laughter and tears, births and deaths, triumph and defeat – it’s seen it all. Now it’s our turn to play a role in its long history.

Coconut Grove was first inhabited in 1825 by an influx of Americans from the Northeastern United States, as well as British and Bahamian immigrants. Formerly an independent city, Coconut Grove became annexed to the city of Miami in 1925.  It is Miami’s oldest village and the beautiful architecture, rich tropical flora, artistic community, delightful restaurants, cafés and shops make it a highly desirable place to live … or, at the very least, visit.

Native flora in Coconut Grove

Our cottage-like house was built by the Bahamians (as in “from the Bahamas”) who first lived in it.  As was customary at the time, builders made use of all the available natural materials indigenous to the area, such as coral and Miami-Dade pine.  Homes were simple, yet full of character.  Back in the day, there was no air conditioning and, as such, air flow via windows (windows, windows, everywhere!) was  how the steamy South Florida weather was made bearable.

Thankfully, the previous homeowners have managed to preserve much of the original character of our home.  We have thick Miami-Dade pine frames around all doorways and windows. We have a beautiful coral fireplace.  And, we even have a barn — complete with the original doors!  Of course, we currently use it as a garage but we intend to convert it into a two-story architect’s studio with a roof-top deck. However, we will keep the first floor (with original doors) completely intact.

Our “barn” (with Bacchus standing guard!)

We’ve had to streamline our life. Over three decades, we’ve collected so much “stuff.”  Too much stuff.  At some point, it becomes almost obscene, this collection of material things. When this house beckoned to us (it really did!), we knew that it was time to downsize and simplify. So, we’ve been taking stalk of what is really important to us and, amazingly, the downsizing process has become quite simple.  There are many others who need these things far more than us. And it’s to these families that we will pass them on.

And, so, the house is a work in progress and its story continues to the next chapter…

My Silent Companion

He may be silent, but his eyes speak volumes.  He is my muse. A gentle, guiding spirit who curls up beside me whilst I write for hours on end.

As I’ve mentioned before, his name is Bacchus and he will be 11 years old next month.  Surprisingly, although his fur is greying, he is as spry as ever.  Nevertheless, we decided to buy him a large Red Radio Flyer Wagon, complete with padding (bottom and sides) and installed with an “umbrella” to keep the UV rays out. When we take him for a long walk, we lift him into the wagon as he gets tired.  He can lie down comfortably and enjoy the scenery or take a nap as we continue our stroll. I know this sounds a bit over the top but, he is – after all – our “son.” (Note: we also have doggie ramps ready to be installed for that time – hopefully not for a while yet – when stairs become a challenge for him). People do look at us rather strangely, but we don’t mind appearing a little “eccentric.”

We feed him natural, preservative-free food — a combination of home-cooked and Orijen (a wonderful brand – made in Canada, of course!) , which makes his coat shiny and soft.

Bacchus came into our lives when he was an 8-week old puppy. He has been a source of joy from the first day I held him in my arms.  He has taught us a lot about loyalty, love, patience, and trust. Most importantly, he helps us to understand — truly — that life doesn’t need to be as complex as we humans make it out to be.  There is serenity in simplicity.  Bacchus continues to help us keep things in perspective.

Right now, I feel his breath on my feet.  He is content, eyes half-closed and probably thinking that I spend way too much time on the computer.   He’d be right about that.  Come to think of it, maybe I should take a break and take him outside to the garden for a bit. It’ll do him good.  And me, as well.

Signing off for now …. h.f.t.g.

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader.  He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”    -Unknown

heatherfromthegrove: 7 New Year’s Revelations to Embrace the Grace Light

For those of you who have been following, reading and enjoying each of my seven New Year revelations …. Thank You. 

I would like to point out that they are not  New Year Resolutions.  I don’t make New Year Resolutions anymore.  They are my own personal revelations. Epiphanies. Discoveries.  In the past decade, I’ve faced some daunting challenges and heart-wrenching events.  I’d like to think that I’ve handled them with dignity, compassion, grace, and humor.  Always humor.  It helps take the edge off. 

So, the lessons that these “life tests” have taught me are my “revelations.”  As I move forward with my life, I will use them as my guide.  Wisdom has to be earned.  For me, it’s a work in progress.  I hope that they have inspired and even amused you. I hope that they have made you think long and hard. 

Here’s a synopsis:

Revelation No. 1:   SIMPLICITY

Revelation No. 2:   PAUSE AND TAKE NOTE!

Revelation No. 3:   SAY GOODBYE TO REGRETS 

Revelation No. 4:   TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE ……. ALWAYS!

Revelation No. 5:   ALIGN MIND, BODY & SPIRIT

Revelation No. 6:   OPEN THE WINDOWS … AND BREATHE!!!


So, there you have it.  I believe that 2012 will be an interesting year.  One for the history books.  I wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy New Year and may your own personal journey towards Grace Light bring you deep fulfillment and wisdom.




Image via blogs.canoe.ca.

New Year’s Revelation No. 1 of 7: Simplicity

As 2011 came to a close, I learned a valuable lesson (although – in theory – I knew it all along).  It’s a story about an oyster …. well, actually 36 oysters …. and celebrations-gone-awry …. . You’ll laugh, perhaps shake your head in disbelief, or roll your eyes in a “What-was-she-thinking?!” way. But, there is a moral to every story, and I will guide myself accordingly in 2012. Absolutely.

I like to do things somewhat “over the top.”  Those who know me well are snorting loudly with laughter as I write this (how rude!).  So, this is how my New Year’s Eve went:

AM – Tidied the garden (back front and side), went to the corner store to get sundries, then off to the local grocer to buy 24 mussels, a salmon filet, 24 oysters, chocolate-covered strawberries, and Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame. You may be wondering how many people was she having over for New Year’s Eve?  The answer: just me and The Husband.  My theory has always been to buy more, rather than less (that way, you won’t run out).  The natural question would be:  Why all that seafood?  Well, this was the plan:  make Oysters Rockefeller and Mussels Marinara for NYE and the salmon filet for NY Day.

And then the grocer told me that they didn’t have oysters (fyi … the salmon filet that I bought could feed a family of 6 and will last a few days…but, I digress….). “NO OYSTERS!” … exclaimed heatherfromthegrove (actually, more like a shriek, than an exclamation). The guy at the seafood counter shrugged his shoulders, completely unfazed that he just ruined my fantasy of an aphrodisiac-infused evening. 

PM – So, I went home with the mussels, salmon, strawberries and champagne and then called Whole Foods to verify that they indeed had oysters and that they would keep two dozen aside for me.  The time, at this point, was 2 pm.  I travelled to WF and lo, and behold, the seafood guru had the oysters set aside for me (only later did I realize that he added twelve more to the pack …. at my cost, of course!).  Always looking for the right tableware, I stopped by Z-Gallerie to get a platter for the oysters. I found a beautiful large faux-oyster shell that would be the perfect platter for my Oysters-bloody-Rockefeller!  I arrived home at 5 pm.

Because ambience is Everything, I had to spend the next 3 hours decorating — the house, front/side/back yard. This involved decorations, balloons (don’t ask!), and candles. 

At 8 pm, I commenced with the cooking.  But, first, I opened a bottle of champagne (not the Grande Dame, which was reserved for midnight).  As I sipped, I prepared the Rockefeller filling, thinking the oysters would be a breeze. 

Note:  I had never cooked oysters before.

At this point, you are probably wondering “Where is The Husband?”  Immersed in his work on the computer, completely ignoring me as I proceeded to take the holiday celebration waaaaaaay over the top.

I would like to say, at this juncture, that the ambience was gorgeous …. the house looked beautiful.  But, again, I digress …

I then began to prepare the baking pan, filling it with coarse sea salt and placing the pan in a precarious position in my overcrowded, space-challenged kitchen.  I began washing the oysters and started to “shuck” them … but realized that I did not have an oyster knife (blunt implement) so, I was forced to use a knife.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

As I “shucked” the oysters, I managed to nearly sever an artery in my wrist and stabbed myself in two other parts of my hand ….. and, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the pan filled with the coarse sea salt fell on the floor, spilling salt everywhere.  Everywhere. I had to take a deep breath, get a bandage for my hand and then vacuum the floor, before resuming the”shucking.”  Meanwhile, my black Lab — Bacchus — was stubbornly staying under foot in the kitchen because of the fireworks outside (he is terrified of fireworks) and wouldn’t leave my side.  At 11:38 pm, on New Year’s Eve, the table was set — complete with tasty appetizers (hors d’oeuvres), fine champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and, yes, the f-ing Oysters Rockefeller.  We toasted the New Year at midnight, enjoyed our feast, and I made a vow: 

In 2012, I will make a supreme effort to keep things simple.

 “A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think”               – Eleanor Roosevelt