Inspired Life by Danica –
I am sitting in the most beautiful café of a lively organic biodynamic farm deep in the Sussex countryside. The sun is shining, the air crisp, and the smiles I see everywhere are warm and friendly; a twinkle and a joviality in the eyes greet me.
I have been on a wonderful journey of exploration this morning, discovering alternative ways of living and being, and – coming as I do from a London city girl upbringing – have been reminded of something truly beautiful.
Some of this may be obvious to many of you reading – but for me, I feel like the penny has finally “dropped”.
I grew up as a London city kid, but was fortunate to have a connection to something that we would consider “alternative”. My family came over from Serbia, so I spent my summers in Yugoslavia (as it was then called), living in my grandmother’s house – a simple “Hansel and Gretel–esque” cottage in a small country village. My grandmother has been a peasant her whole life; a farm hand, having never been to school or learned to read or write. In her home, she had no running water, and no phone (despite my mother’s offers to install them). We would go to the farm across the road to get drinking water from a well (a real well, with a real bucket), and carry it back and use it sparingly. We would use an outside standing tap to get washing water, and my mother would do the dishes outdoors, in 2 patterned enamel bowls, under the beautiful scent, loving gaze and great protection of a huge linden flower tree. The toilet was a long drop outhouse and in the winter, we would heat water on the wood stove for baths in the tin bath that lived under the iron bed in the kitchen. My grandmother would have fetched the wood from the wood shed that she had filled, chopping wood with her axe through the summer months. When we phoned my grandmother from our home in England, we would call the farm and then listen, giggling from our warm cosy London kitchen hearing the farmer’s wife running across the road calling my grandmother’s name, able to picture the whole scenario of our beautiful gap-toothed, black clothed and head-scarved Slavic grandmothers rushing to be quick in case the call was lost. “Dano! Dano! Telefon!!”
My grandmother first visited when I was 8 years old. I saw her have a true “Borat” moment on the escalators, and she slept with the navy leather handbag my mother bought her from Selfridges as a gift under her pillow. That handbag lived in her glass cabinet in her own home, once she returned, along with her best glassware, on display for all to see its preciousness. Inside it she kept only photos of us.
I have always been grateful to have had that experience, and that contrast – but I don’t think I really understood its significance until today.
That – from what I grew up with as a streetwise city kid– was an alternative life. However what I remembered today is that what we consider to be “alternative” is actually the “original”.
This has all been triggered in me today because I have had the gift of learning as a child would in “alternative” education. What I experienced was a remembrance in my heart of how life once was – and what we will I am sure return to.
My “alternative kindergarten” day flowed like this. We began by each making a little knome out of felt, sewing slowly, remembering stillness, peace, presence and how to create. We chose our colours from a great big mix and I remembered precision and the importance of focus on one task at a time. We then made muesli. Let me say that again. We MADE muesli. So we didn’t just take a whole bunch of ingredients and mix them randomly together in a bowl. We took groats – oat seeds – and milled them, in a mill (ie squashed them) to make porridge oats. For those who, like me, would still have no idea what means, it is this. You know those machines where you pop in a penny and the penny gets heated and squashed into a decorated souvenir you to take home to remind you of where you have been? You take a handful of groats, and put them in a mill, turn the handle and they all get squashed and come out. Apparently you can buy mills that mill the oats more finely and make – FLOUR. We grated hazelnuts in a handheld nut blender – one like my mother used to use.
I then went on a walk in the woods with the teacher and our “class” and we sat, in all our winter clothes, in the woods drinking organic lemon balm tea, followed by the muesli we made. And then we carved a little house out of bits of wood for our knomes. And we talked, shared, laughed, sang, and were together. We walked back past an organic garden, planted by the older children for the whole community – as part of learning about nature, food, growth, plants, science, the seasons and community. We were introduced to the camping barn that a group of German students, on a school visit, had built for themselves, yet left behind as a gift for all to share.
Now, I have looked at this way of living and to be honest wondered if it is “too alternative” in the past. My son wonders about with his plastic toys cars and trains, and I am not a fan of these, but I know he loves them. He is very “normal” in this world in many ways – yet I see how his heart loves the trees, gentle song, and the presence of connecting with others that stillness bring. So I have wondered about “alternative” options and choices for him, sensing how important they would be for him; yet wondering if they could be “too different”.
However I felt something in the gentle flow of my morning in an alternative life – something I wouldn’t have been aware of had I just read about what this type of living is like, or watched it being done by others. I felt a connection. I was connected to myself, in stillness, peace, concentration, and dreamy meditation. I was connected to others, because in the stillness I could receive them. Above all, I was connected to the beautiful natural world around me, to the trees, to the plants, to the food we eat and the crops we grow. I remembered that this is how we live.
Without the ability to grow our own food, we rely on others to do so, but we often grow up far removed from understanding how our food is grown or made. We know little of building homes, or indeed communities.
I am very very lucky to be surrounded by the most amazing beautiful wonderful people in my life, and live a life and enjoy a working life where I feel a connection to myself, to others and to life. But even then, I am not nearly as connected as I would love to be. This morning showed me that.
I was utterly blown away by what happens when we are still. We have built lives where we are constantly on the go, if we are not meditating. We multi-task at the rate of knots, but how often are we ever really still, focused on one activity, truly connected to that one activity, doing it with our whole hearts and our whole being. To sit, and be still, focused on one activity, without thinking, just doing, is an amazing way of connecting. With ourselves – and from that place – with each other. In fact, in order to truly connect, we must receive something wholly. If our minds are distracted, we cannot do this. – we lose connection.
That is what this alternative education places its focus on. The magical journey for the younger children is all about connecting with themselves, with others and with the world around them. Once we learn connection, we have an inner strength – and only then are we ready to acquire knowledge.
It has inspired me to look into doing something I can at home that helps me to connect – knitting maybe, or maybe tapestry work – which I used to love as a child. Or maybe drawing or painting. Something that helps me to be still, focused, “disconnected” from distractions, and re-connected to me.
Amazing. This is how life used to be. How much we have filled our lives with “stuff” – not just materially – but with noise too. I feel it is time to return to the original way we did things – but perhaps with some of the wonderful new gifts that modern life do bring us too. As a mother, washing machines come high on that list. However harmony can only happen with a beautiful interwoven dance of it all.
A leader in consciousness in business, she is founder of The Corporate Chrysalis, which supports organisations to connect with the amazing creativity and innovation within them.
Danica empowers others to connect with living wonderful lives through being authentic, whole, and connected to their infinite power, abundance and love in The Magic Keys. Her book "The 7 Magic Keys to a Wonderful Life" takes readers on a beautiful journey through love, healing, compassion, consciousness, and a unique understanding of Creation - connecting with our own infinite power.
Danica has also developed the accredited Spiritual Teacher’s Development Programme, bringing together her love of training trainers with her love of spiritual teaching. The Spiritual Teacher’s Handbook is published by O-Books.
Open, compassionate, but real and down-to-Earth, she brings together her many interests, including her many years as an inspirational trainer and facilitator with her profound experiences of a wide range of spiritual, psychic and intuitive disciplines. These include ThetaHealing®, Angelic Reiki, Angel Healing, Aura-Soma™ (colour healing system), and EFT, consciousness, empowerment, meditation, quantum physics, science, life between lives, numerology, herbal medicine, homeopathy and Bush flower remedies, as well as her own wonderful, and at times challenging, colourful series of life experiences, which she blends together with warmth, love and a touch of spirited cheeky humour.
Danica offers a range of empowerment and healing services, including talks & workshops, ThetaHealing®, Reiki & EFT sessions, and deep Transformation sessions to uncover the depths of an issue & transform it.