“It is health that is real wealth. And not pieces of gold and silver.” – Gandhi

“Closer to the ground” is a mantra we often use when designing systems and supports for our life in the woods. Conversations around how best to live a more natural last chapter, flow alongside discussions dedicated to remaining as independent as possible while finding ways to support our health without leaving home.  And while I currently enjoy tremendous well-being, my husband lives with and suffers from a degenerative back condition.  So, together we work at acceptance, at paving a path of grace, and at constructing systems that support our collective health journey.

For many years, our family has benefited from soaking in a hot tub; enjoying it post-swim, post-surf, and especially post-workday.  When we moved here, that tub moved with us, alongside an indoor infrared sauna, which we had gratefully inherited from a dear friend.  While our hot tub fits beautifully between trees and gardens, our indoor space is too small to house our sauna. 

Enter the ‘Shirley Spa’; an outdoor space to house a health haven.  Designed to support our physical and mental well-being, it is surrounded by trees, sunshine, and starlight.  Our sauna will be housed in a sauna house, built specifically to keep out the elements, designed with leftover building materials, and oriented for a forest view while running on solar power. The hot tub will live next to the portable personal cold plunge and beside an outdoor shower that was part of the original house design (nothing beats an outdoor shower with streams of sunlight and warm fresh air).   Once everything is sitting where it’s meant to stay, we will add wood chip paths lined with plants.

So, while we can’t stave off the inevitable effects of ageing, what we can do is give ourselves a fighting chance, or in our spa, a loving chance, to feel and be our best selves, a little closer to the ground.