I’m delighted to bring you another inspiring woman for my Live Your Best Life interview series. Living your best life isn’t about having all the answers or a perfect life (nobody has that). It’s about being true to yourself, making a contribution to the world in a way that works for you and focusing on being the best version of yourself each day, however that looks.
Here Jessica Cresswell of The Woodland Wife blog talks openly about creating a life that works for her and her family as well as with her challenging health condition…
Hi Jessica, tell us a little about yourself, what your life is like and the path you took to get to where you are today.
I’m Jessica, I write a lifestyle blog, The Woodland Wife, inspired by motherhood, our day-to-day life in our woodland home, wild nature and living a simpler, more sustainable life in a fast paced modern world.
Up until our daughter joined us (nearly four years ago!), I was a self-employed graphic designer and to this day, I love nothing more than tinkering with design ideas, still occasionally taking on design projects for small businesses. I fell into graphic design after leaving university after only a few terms, having grown frustrated at being shoe-horned into one creative area after only a term, despite wanting to explore a wider range of creative fields, such as photography, fashion, drawing.
Some time spent in India in 2010, taught me about meditation, mindfulness and yoga. I took some time to work on personal development, exploring areas in my life where I had perhaps been applying too much pressure or had assigned fear in the past. I came home feeling a much deeper connection and understanding of who I was and how I didn’t want a life of being conditioned by society to have countless material items, aspiring to a life of material substance, in the TRUE sense of the word.
After years of searching for “the dream” creative job and embarking on the incredible journey that is motherhood, I set up The Woodland Wife when my little girl started pre-school (nearly two years ago) to focus my mind a bit more on something and get my brain going again after years of devoting myself to motherhood. I very much craved a creative outlet that I hadn’t found through those short terms at university, and life as a graphic designer.
The Woodland Wife has given me the wonderful opportunity to work with like-minded creatives and thinkers, as well as some really inspiring brands; I finally feel that I am working on something where I can apply many creative aspects.
I live in the middle of the woods in Kent, with my husband who makes absolutely beautiful oak framed buildings (Sackville Oak Frames), our daughter, two spaniels (my “furbabies”), and four hens! Our days are slow, allowing us to focus on each day and exploring the environment in which we live.
What inspirational quotes or mantras hold meaning for you?
“The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day.” This is a quote I shared recently on Instagram and is one I have not only shared a few times before, but I have it on my phone to read when I start getting too far ahead of myself. I also remind myself every morning when I wake up to be ‘grateful’ – grateful for being who I am, where I am, being alive… the list goes on, but every morning I remind myself of this quote and what I have to be grateful for.
Before my trip to India in 2010 and subsequent trips since, I was someone who always wanted to be ten steps ahead of where I was, whether it was in my job or personal relationships, I could never just enjoy a moment without looking at what I didn’t have or what I was living without.
When those negative thoughts really took over, my world imploded personally at the end of 2009 and I decided for the first time in my life to go away, completely by myself (as a twin it was a big deal to ‘go it alone!’) to find out about myself and why these things bothered me quite so much. It was this trip that taught me about meditation and mindfulness, and it is this particular quote that keeps me on track of staying in ‘the moment’ rather than ten steps ahead.
How do you recognise when life’s getting on top of you?
I always know I’m taking on too much when fatigue, lethargy and physical pain sets in. Up until a year ago, I put these symptoms down to taking on too much myself, or perhaps not taking enough down time. However, a year ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition, Ankylosing Spondylitis; chronic fatigue and pain are the main symptoms of this condition, so, now, more than ever, I know when I need to slow things down when these symptoms ‘kick in’!
There are also the occasions where, after some time trying to work on a particular problem or concern, I will have an emotional meltdown, and this too is a sign that I need to take things down a notch and take a long, deep breath!
And what do you do to get back to how you want to feel?
I take a walk! Without fail, this not only helps a lot of my physical symptoms of my auto-immune condition, it also gets my mind in a better place. I can diffuse most situations within myself, or within our little family unit by getting us all outdoors.
There is so much to see outside, whether you live in an environment like we do, or if you live in a bustling town, there is so much to take in during the changing seasons, and often it just takes shifting my focus on a walk with nature to start taking more productive breaths and it is this alone that soothes me.
What are your plans, hopes and dreams for the future?
To continue as we are currently, I try to live each day as it comes. If I look too far ahead, the old anxieties I used to suffer with often creep in as I end up putting far too many expectations on myself.
Creatively, I hope that The Woodland Wife continues to be a source of inspiration, as well as a source of discussion for those seeking a slower and/or more sustainable lifestyle.
I also hope to continue working with and building a community via my Instagram; I have some ideas in mind for a future project… but the ideas are very much in their infancy, so not wanting to tempt fate, that’s all I’m going to share for now!!
How intriguing! So finally, Jessica, what does living your best life mean to you?
For me, it is about living in the moment as best as I can, living a slower, more sustainable way of life with my family. Enjoying the small things that are so often overlooked because we are often focused on other things and so easily distracted. It is about enjoying the environment around us, as well as the materiality of things rather than focusing on the material value of an item. Staying happy and focused on what truly matters.
You can find out more about slow, sustainable living on Jessica’s blog, The Woodland Wife, and Instagram, she’s happy to answer any questions about her family’s life in the woods, mindfulness and sustainable living. You can also find her in Twitter and Pinterest too.