Dr Lauren Tober: Sarah, in this moment, what are you grateful for?
Sarah Armstrong: On this rainy, cool Sunday, I am grateful for how cosy my home feels; the wood stove warms the room, my daughter and her friend are quietly singing and drawing in front of the fire, and the house is filled with the smell of the biscuits that my partner, Al has just baked (to the recipe of his late mum).
Lauren: What are you most grateful for in the Byron Shire?
Sarah: The peace and natural beauty. The like-minded community. The way that the non-material is valued. Access to excellent health and wellbeing practitioners.
Lauren: What does a day in the life of Sarah Armstrong look like?
Sarah: I wake at around 5.30, which is when Amelia, our five-year old, comes into our bed for a snuggle. We get up and light the fire and I go for a walk around the block. We eat breakfast (porridge or buckwheat pancakes or kicharee) then puddle about doing things until I make Amelia’s lunchbox and drop her at preschool (where I like to linger for a few moments and watch the other gorgeous pre-schoolers do their thing). In my light-filled backyard studio, I work on my novel until preschool pick up (with a lunch break and 20 minutes of meditation). Amelia and I have some time together: watering or weeding the garden, drawing, cooking dinner, or doing a few yoga stretches (hello legs up the wall!). Then it’s Amelia’s bath time and we have an early dinner, then a game, puzzle or read a few books before Amelia’s 6.30 bedtime. Then Al and I have some time to chat and catch up; we might watch a TV drama together (with lots of writer commentary all the while). I’m in bed by 9 and either do a guided yoga nidra, or read for a little while before sleep.
Lauren: What piece of advice have you been given that you’re grateful for?
Sarah: Slow down. I seem to have a default setting of rushing, even if there’s no rush. Every day I work on slowing down.
Lauren: What quality in yourself are you most grateful for?
Sarah: My determination.
Lauren: Can you think of someone you haven’t met, but you’re grateful they exist (or existed) in the world? Tell me about them and why you’re grateful.
Sarah: The Dalai Lama. For modelling compassion and mindfulness (and not being too serious about it).
Lauren: Please share one of your own gratitude photographs.
Sarah: This is Amelia when she was an hour or so old. I’d wanted to be a mother for a long time and it was not an easy journey to motherhood. She’d arrived, healthy and gorgeous, and we were snuggled up in bed after breastfeeding, and I felt an earth-shaking gratitude. Remembering it moves me, to this day.
Sarah Armstrong is a Mullumbimby-based novelist and writing teacher. Her most recent book is Promise. For many years, she was a journalist with the ABC in Sydney, but she realised that journalism would always keep her from writing, so she resigned and moved to a rainforest valley in the hinterland of Byron Bay, where she wrote her first book, Salt Rain, which was shortlisted for several awards including the Miles Franklin.