A shift in mind and space - what's the future of the magazine?
Since my baby boy was born in the summer, it's been a quiet few months in terms of creativity. He is my best creation of the year, which is how it should be. There's something about having a baby that seems to give me clarity. It doesn't happen straight away, and the process is painful, but once I come through the darkness of utter exhaustion, I feel like a new person.
The turning point was when my home became so messy that I couldn't take it for a moment longer. I very nearly chose to get a cleaner, but then decided against it as I truly didn't want to spend the money. The problem wasn't cleaning; the biggest issue was all of our "stuff" that was exploding out of every cupboard and covering every surface. It was causing my head to feel cluttered. Our home needed more than regular cleaning, it needed an entire overhaul.
Soon after this realisation, I started going from room to room and donating huge amounts of things to the charity shop. I was fed up with rearranging the same mess everyday; the rooms were always a mess as there was too much in them. It was a never-ending battle that I was always losing. Plus, I felt like I was wasting precious time. Surely there had to be a better way to live, I kept thinking to myself. This is when the major purge began.
At many points in life I've questioned the meaning of life, and this was one of those. Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly) I found it very easy to give away bags and bags of my things. I'm still on this journey towards a simpler life and I continue to give away a few bags a week of unwanted things every week -- and every week I feel a bit lighter with an even clearer mind. The process is far from over and I have more rooms left to tackle.
It's made me think about what we truly need, and I realise that I don't need or want very many possessions anymore. For example, I gave away half of my books! (In the past I would have sold them, but I know in my heart that I don't have time to do that right now and it would become an excuse to hold onto them for a few more years. I needed immediate change and results.) Many of these books were bought for "inspiration" but were rarely looked at. I began to feel stifled by the huge amount of unused and unloved things in my home. I don't seem to feel as much attachment to material possessions anymore. Some may think that this is unsentimental, but the memories are in our mind, not in objects. We don't need to hang onto unnecessary things to recall those memories. But of course I will keep my most cherished objects, but if we have too many things, then the special ones get buried. I also had the realisation that I am making new memories with my children; I don't need to hold onto so many things from my past.
This journey towards simplification has helped me rediscover what my true passions are, and of course the central one is the natural world. I truly wish to live in closer harmony with nature and plants. Our hectic lives keep us so busy that many of us don't get the opportunity to live a life aligned with nature - but that's where I believe we can find true happiness and peace. Many of us are on a lifetime quest to discover what this truly means to us.
This week I remembered why, around this time last year, I felt compelled to begin Plants Are Magic magazine. I wanted to celebrate the amazing gifts that plants offer us! I don't need to pack my home with material possessions to feel happy and inspired. I don't need endless books and objects that I've collected over the years to give me ideas (we have libraries and the Internet for information). I don't even need many craft supplies beyond the basics. We only really need nature.
It's also been a confusing time for me as an independent publisher - a creator of books and magazines. How do I feel about putting more "stuff" out there in the world? My immediate reaction after my huge purge at home was to switch to eBooks and eMagazines and stop selling paper copies. After all I don't want to clutter other people's homes!
But is this the right thing to do? On reflection, I don't think so... It would be convenient for me, as the logistics of printing and distributing magazines is not simple. But the information in Plants Are Magic magazine deserves to be kept forever. I continually strive to make the magazine even more beautiful and fascinating so it's worthy of being kept as one of your favourite magazines. In fact it's more than a magazine - each volume is a mini book. This was my original vision and I feel this more than ever.
Since I have given away many of my own books and have stopped buying books and magazines (with a couple of exceptions), perhaps it is arrogant of me to hope that others will buy my magazine. Whether or not you are striving towards a simpler life and home, a magazine or book is always a considered purchase. Money is not endless after all. But Plants Are Magic isn't my voice - it's the collective ideas of other makers and plant creators from around the world. I've just woven them into a narrative. It's those stories that I'm still passionate about sharing.
My aim is for each magazine to be life changing, in some way - either big or small. Perhaps you will learn a new skill from one of the tutorials and then take this idea further, or perhaps it's the exploration of a new concept in the magazine that will trigger a series of thoughts and bring you to a new place or a fresh way of thinking. This has always been my aspiration for the magazine; I believe that the stories within the pages are magical and worthy of being shared. Perhaps you chose to hold onto your copy and you revisit the content regularly, or perhaps you decided to gift your magazine to share the plant magic with others.
Undoubtedly the aspect of creating a magazine that excites me the most is that the same information is read by (hopefully) hundreds of people, and each of those individuals processes the information in a unique way and comes to a different conclusion. If you and I read the same piece, then we would each take away different points and they would potentially affect our lives in different (hopefully positive) ways. With knowledge, we can do anything! It's powerful. We can create our futures however we choose.
I now feel more inspired than ever to start working on the next magazine that will be released in mid 2018. There are lots of contributors lined up and I need to get back in touch with everyone to get things flowing. I'm not sure how I will find the time I need, but from past experiences, I believe that when we feel called to do something, we will always find some way. Right now I'm writing this blog post in bed with my sleeping baby in my arms. There is always a way. I just need to be patient and stay focused and the stars will align. I hope you will be happy to wait with me too.