Zig Zags

by Rachel Ashwell

Recently I made an Instagram post stating my life had “taken a few zig zags in recent times”. 

I don’t see that as a bad thing. My life had been quite a safe, controlled and straight line for some time. Some of the zig zags that have transpired were voluntary and some involuntary. But to a certain extent, expected when I decided to set up part time living in my homeland of England. Initially I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be based in London and visit the countryside or vice versa. But after a few short months, much as though I love my frequent visits in London, the country girl in me feels at home in Somerset (a county about 95 miles south west of London).

I have shared some of my journey on past blogs & IG posts, but its only now that I even have clarity as to why and what I have been doing these past months and what my experience has so far been. For so many years I have been The Shabby Chic Lady & my kid's mum. I have a lovely home and established relationships and support in my Los Angeles life. Life  runs smoothly.  And with that comes a built-in comfort and identity. 

When I decided to make the change my identity of course came with me to England. But in saying that as my kids and my company has been established for many years, my role and how I best can contribute is different. And that takes some reevaluating of my own sense of value and belonging... And it also creates both space and in some ways a need to reflect inward. It took me time alone to get comfortable and find some structure to my discovery. It wasn’t all so easy, it took me a while to find my anchors and focus.

This blog is a little about my experience.

Over the years I have journaled from time to time. Typically, when something is upsetting  me and I need a cathartic outlet or because my friends are bored by my repetitive woes. But I have found myself wanting to use journaling to move myself forward, to discover and evolve, not to just ramble in cycles. I came across The Holistic Psychologist on IG  and I have found her Future Self Journals very effective. I have found real transformation in my thoughts through this structure of writing, how I see myself, how I view my relationships, and most importantly my discoveries blend into my behavior throughout the day.

I find at the end of the day I look forward to checking in with myself and see my growth, or where I am stuck.   It’s a process, proven with how I re-read prior entries and see my journey. I filled 3 journals at this point. 

Living in the countryside can be challenging as far as technology goes. Sometimes I have Wi-Fi and sometimes I don’t. Due to this I have become acquainted with the radio. It’s been really refreshing as I never know what I will hear. Often classical music with a commentary of history or talk show discussions that I may not have chosen if I hadn’t stumbled upon it... Sometimes if I can I delay leaving the house if I’m in the middle of something that holds my interest. Even though it’s so convenient that we have so many options to choose from exactly what we want to see or hear in today’s world it does remove the opportunity for surprise and to gain knowledge we may not have otherwise...

In saying that I am a big fan of podcasts. Along with being educational on an array of subjects, I am endlessly inspired to hear other people’s journeys. I was particularly engaged by two of Oprah's Super Soul Conversations recent guests.

On the on set- of my part time relocation I had a story book vision of living an English countryside life. I wanted to live both roles from the movie The Holiday.  

I moved into my little rented cottage during the dark and bleak winter months and had very little to start with. I shipped a Shabby Chic sofa, my mama’s paisley Shabby Chic chair, and a few boxes of necessities. And patiently, little by little I gathered treasures from the local flea markets.

I stepped away from my beautiful and beloved Los Angeles home.

I have gone back several times this year and always love it but I too am very content with my simple  English countryside existence. I wanted to remove myself from my comfort zone but very quickly made a new comfort zone.

I live on a farm and the owners of the property have a beautiful house that I drive past to access my cottage. Oddly every time I drive past  their home it feels like an English version of my LA home.


 Funnily enough at the back of my home in Los Angeles I built a barn.

However, a barn in the countryside has much more of a practical use. To house hay or the animals when it is too cold in the fields.

Now that I have been here from the winter though the summer I have seen the cycles of nature. This is what I had been yearning for in Los Angeles. I have seen the trees go from losing all their leaves to the abundance of foliage that makes for a covered arch as I drive home.

I observed lambing season and now the lambs are frolicking in the fields in confidence of their footing... Eating all day and moved from one field to the next as they deplete the grass. They have become my friends and I speak to them daily. Not quite sure who they think I am really.

Interestingly enough I have a lovely pool in Los Angeles that I rarely use. 

However, albeit a short drive away is a pool at my beloved Babington House where I go most mornings to swim. No doubt it’s a beautiful pool too  but I wonder if the fact is Isn’t mine is what make the occasion more special than in my own home. Or perhaps I feel it’s more acceptable an indulgence when it’s not mine. Have to think about that one.

There are a few compromises living in a rented space but I rather like the detachment that it isn’t mine. There is emotional and practical freedom that comes along with that. And while if it where mine I would make a couple of changes but it would distract me from my mission of acceptance and letting things be just as they are. Back home I have a pretty lovely walk in closet (to accommodate my jeans and tops that range from grey to white. However, in my country life I compromise with trunks and a couple of dressers.

Having beams and slanted ceiling also makes having too much tall furniture tricky. So, I place things where I can, and providing they are pretty its fine.  And I miss nothing. Except for maybe a bathroom mirror. Due to the slanted walls, there is no place for one, even though I've always liked smaller mirrors in my bathrooms in LA.

But in England I have a little round hand mirror to powder my nose. Often I go out never really knowing what I look like. Because I've always had quite an edited wardrobe I kind of know what most of my outfits look like. And so, there is something freeing about not having a reflection to obsess over. 

My edited life fits me perfectly.  It’s funny I always thought once you have a home where you can spread out would it be hard to be in a small space. But now. I’m wondering the opposite. How will I feel with so much space around me again? I like this humble fancy living.

Whether in London or the countryside if the opportunity arises I go to church. Even though I wasn’t raised in any particular religion I did go to a Church of England school so I do have fond memories of singing hymns as a little girl. So, the moment I enter a church there is a recollection of innocence that I reconnect to and it feels simple and pure.

One of my pass times that somehow has given me structure to thoughts, in a very practical way is pulling a tarot card every day. 

While I consider myself spiritual I have always felt tarot cards to be a bit too mystical for my comfort. But I have learnt to understand they are thought provoking in an unconventional way. I read my daily card for guidance of things I need to think about, perhaps in a different way than I was. And in doing so it sets my day with an intention that somehow “mystically and mysteriously” always seems relevant. It's uncanny how I pull the same cards over and over.

And then my last practice which has been the most challenging but rewarding is meditation. Over the years I have tried many forms but have never quite managed the art of settling my mind. Being a busy, emotional and curious person it was hard for me to quiet my mind... But one of my goals on my journey is to write. And I wanted to create a platform for my mind to imagine and be clear. So, I came across the technique of guided meditation. For someone as visual as me, I found having a visual journey has been a more effective way for me to meditate. And I have found if I meditate before I start to write, it is like a cleansing of my thoughts.  Not to the point of a writer’s block, but simply to make room for me to focus without my inner chatter.

So, as I continue this journey of zig zags, so much is reveling itself to me. My latest realization is understanding I have forever been so goal orientated. Maybe because I have always had a creative platform of Shabby Chic to direct my passion. But I have done it in a very literal way. Now I am finding by letting my interests and creativity be more fluid without any special end goal, I am finding I am feeling more creative than I ever have.

It occurred to me I have loved everything about ballet my whole life. The music, the shoes, the tutus, the palette. I never danced as I never thought there was an end goal, but the other day I found this painting, and I saw myself somehow in her.   And so now I’m wondering why not try on those shoes. There may not be a reason to, but there also isn’t a reason not to.

So I am forever grateful to my Shabby Chic village back behind the scenes in Los Angeles... They are giving me the freedom for my to find a new way to resource my creativity, from which we will all benefit.

(and later on in the summer my vintage buying team will be joining me shop in the fields of the countryside.)


11 comments


  • As always, your words resonate deeply. Wishing you the best always. Let me know your favorite tarot card. My daughter is an artist who has shown her work at Sundance. Would love to send you a Lino print. I never thought they would fit in my shabby esthetic, but they do, beautifully.

    Jane on

  • I truly loved reading this. You have always inspired me and now even more✨💖✨

    Jenny on

  • Dear Rachel, I love your zig zags… you are here to teach and inspire in such beautiful way that is very sacred to all. I could never put into words how much I admire you. thank you for giving us your insite to a deeper understanding of what’s important in this life and making the world a beautiful place to be. 🙏

    Laura Venosa on

  • Thank you very much for sharing all your feelings and your new life and routines… It’s very inspirational. Kind regards from Madrid. 😘💛

    Sol on

  • I am so proud of you, Rachel and happy for you on this journey . Glad you are at peace where you are and exploring growth which we all need. Come back soon. We miss you! Can’t wait to see your new inspirations and creations. Happy Summer. Love, Piper

    Piper Summerlin Gerrity on


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© 2017 Rachel Ashwell