Inside: One of the clearest signs that life has gotten off track a bit is the feeling that I’m wearing someone else’s shoes or trying to walk in their path. 10 ways I plan to keep life simple moving forward.
It’s easy to complicate life despite our best intentions.
We live with competing tensions and desires and, let’s face it, we’re messy people.
I want to learn all the things and be the expert at everything.
But I also need lots of sleep and time to putter and think; I like making simple food and hanging out with my kiddos.
Rhythms and routines light me up, I love time blocking and goal setting, and everything in its place (if you do too, you’ll love these purposeful printables!).
But I’m a messy person in many ways: emotional, deeply sensitive, with a tendency to be reactive and carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Messy doesn’t lend well to simple.
I run an online business that feeds my spirit, helps pay for braces and feeds kids at university, and makes a way for me to offer my small gifts in this big world.
Yet sometimes I want to run and hide and ignore social media for days. I’m concerned I’m just contributing to the noise, I’m scattered or unmotivated.
Worst of all, I have the feeling that I’m trying to walk in a pair of shoes two sizes too big.
Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.– Parker Palmer
In order to thrive, I need to SIMPLIFY MY LIFE EVEN MORE.
This was true for me when I was having babies and homeschooling three kids. It was true when recovering from surgery, learning to let go of people I love, or when I returned to school at 41 years old. And it was certainly true for me as a sensitive, calm-loving child.
I’m wired for slow and simple. I keep life simple first and foremost by listening.
Every year, around the time of my birthday, I choose a new mantra or verse to guide me.
This year, I am being called to listen. Or more specifically, to listen to my life speak.
I need to come back and ground myself in my voice and vision. Honour my inherent wiring, core message and the ideas that most light me up.
I want to listen to my body and to what gives me pleasure – what I want more of or less of. I want to listen to others with less anger and more gentle curiosity. I want to listen to my breath and the birds and my inner voice. To the leading of spirit or intuition but I also want to simply hear and then release the voice of my inner critic. The fear and comparison. I want to hear and see the truth of how I show up and offer myself compassion.
I need to ditch the noise and deepen my roots so that I can show up with clarity, calm, and confidence – and keep life simple.
I need to wear my own shoes (hint: they’re flip flops!). One of the clearest signs that life has gotten off track a bit is the feeling that I’m wearing someone else’s shoes or trying to walk in their path.
Since I’m a big fan of birthday lists AND I often find answers via writing, I’ve decided to share a list of intentional ways that I will keep life simple moving into this new birthday year. My hope is that you’ll be inspired to craft your own list.
RELATED: You can read about my 2020 Mantra: Tell the Truth, my 2019 Mantra: Say yes to life: dive in heart-first, my 2017 Mantra: Don’t try so hard; just enjoy yourself, and my 2016 Mantra: Choose joy. My 2015 Mantra was “just offer your small gifts.”
10 ways that I plan to keep life simple
1. Narrow my scope.
I can’t teach, write about, expend energy learning about all the things – this is seriously painful for me:) I’m writing out lists to remind me of my core message and priorities and will practice saying no to the rest for a season. I will write down – maybe make a cute printable – my primary mission which is to be a light of hope & encouragement. This serves as a filter for all my decision making.
2. Track my energy and moods.
I love tracking and honouring the energy ebb and flow of my monthly cycle and the seasonal shifts that affect my mood and energy. Noticing when I am happiest in the day getting deep work done, engaging with others, or moving my body helps immensely too. I’ve created a new weekly rhythm with time blocks for deep work and rest for the summer and will craft another for the school year. Because I am such a strong introvert, I may move client days from 4 to 3 in the week and leave more space for writing.
3. Nourish my body and mind.
This body of mine has special needs (so does yours) and when I care for it well, I am happier, more productive, and kinder. I cannot run full speed ahead and want to be even more intentional about not filling up all the spaces in my life with doing and insist on time for simply being, even if that looks and feels indulgent. Dawn & Dusk Rituals to bookend my days help keep me mind-body healthy. I think it’s safe to say that I have formally entered perimenopause and listening well to what my body, mind, or spirit needs will be helpful moving forward.
4. Tweak my values-based budget.
I will have regular money check-ins and be more vigilant about sticking to my grocery budget this year. We have more exciting travel plans in the works and this requires saying no to other pleasurable options. We’ve paid off a second set of braces (hallelujah!) and my computer just died unexpectedly (boo!). I also want to boost our “emergency fund” by another $1k.
5. Celebrate imperfect action.
I suppose I’m pretty good at this but could be gentler with myself about it. I’m often winging things – like writing this post at 10 pm the night before publishing. If I get stuck in thinking I ought to be better at things by now or tip over into comparison, I end up hiding. So I’ll continue to celebrate imperfection and just showing up and honouring my commitments to myself.
6. Prioritize collaborations.
I’d like to outsource a little more the things I’m not good at or which aren’t the best use of my time. I hire my daughters sometimes to help me with tasks and have learned that collaboration (even for this lone ranger) is a superpower. I’m excited about several collaborations in the works and will stay open to new ways of leveraging individual strengths and working with people I respect. This also meets a deep need in me for connection which has been quite unexpected.
7. Maintain a minimalist wardrobe.
I wear the same thing several days in a row, buy almost only black and grey clothing that I feel like me in, don’t wear makeup and keep a simple hair cut. This is a definite happy thing. I actually hate shopping but recently bought myself a couple items (to replace worn-out clothes) from eco-friendly, Canadian shops – pricey but pleasurable.
8. Craft a life of simple pleasures.
Although we are currently in a season with flexibility to travel a little, our life is rather humble. I find great pleasure in simple things (that are still luxury for many in the world): my French Press and a favourite pottery mug in the morning; library books; an occasional meal out; fresh, colourful salads; the late afternoon sunlight in my living room; walking hand-in-hand with my husband; visits to my big kids in the city; an occasional long chat with a sister or friend; meaningful work. I refuse to defer happiness and make a great effort to live with an attitude of abundance and gratitude.
9. Be the real me.
I can’t handle wearing clothes that don’t feel like me and I am equally uncomfortable trying to fit into someone else’s shoes or way of showing up. For the past several years one of my mind-body-spirit intentions has been “authentic.” Played out, I know. Still, it reminds me to just be me. Take me or leave me. Being raw and real, honest and vulnerable in my relationships, life, and work is foundational to my sense of well-being.
10. Take time to rest.
I’ve been running A Life in Progress part-time for almost three years. Some weeks I work very little on my business and other weeks are very full – but I appreciate the flexibility to take days off as needed. While I don’t mind writing late at night on occasion, I found myself doing this too often for comfort this past year. I will need to more often embrace the discomfort of leaving things undone this coming year in order to respect my work boundaries. I may post a little less frequently or invite more guest posters. I really love my work but I am listening and what I hear is that I can’t pour out what I do not own.
Life is messy and noisy. I don’t want to live scattered, stressed out, pulled in multiple directions by all the shiny things. I want to wake up each day calm, clear on my purpose, and confident about my greatest points of contribution.
MY MANTRAS FROM THE PAST FEW YEARS
2020 Mantra: Tell the Truth
2019 Mantra: Say yes to life: Dive in heart-first
2018 Mantra: Listen to Your Life Speak
2017 Mantra: Don’t try so hard; Just enjoy yourself
2016 Mantra: Choose Joy
2015 Mantra: Just offer your small gifts (I didn’t write for this birthday)