Inside: It’s easy to get caught up in watching what others are doing – aligning with their vision, living their dream, following in their brave footsteps instead of owning the truth of what we want and need and working with our wiring, not against.
I’m hard-wired for slow and simple.
Partly by nature, partly for self-protection – this is how I’ve known to survive with a highly sensitive spirit and a tendency toward anxiety – I’ve made conscious decisions from childhood to guard ample breathing room in my life and keep things simple. I’ve chosen a slower path.
This is not to say that I’ve never fallen into the trap of perfectionism, performance or people-pleasing, nor that my life has been without seasons of struggle where I felt so far beyond overwhelmed that I couldn’t see my way back.
Slow and steady is my favourite speed
I care about where I’m going not how fast.
Deliberately choosing slow and simple has meant staying off the well-beaten path – the well-lit path – to forge my own way. It has meant keeping my eyes on my clear and compelling Life Vision while loosening my grip on on a particular outcome. It has meant breaking “rules” and reframing what success looks and feels like for myself. Trusting that as long as I live aligned with my highest values I will end up somewhere good. And it means choosing to enjoy each step of this unpredictable journey.
My slow and simple one, five, or ten year plan might look and feel wildly different from yours. And that’s fabulous! They ought to look different.
I know where I’m headed and though I’ve learned to hold my plans loosely, I’m committed to building a life that feels like home, and to course correcting when I realize I’m moving in a direction that no longer reflects who I’m becoming or what I need in a particular season.
Pave a Path that leads you home TO YOURSELF
Life surprises us if we let it.
Joseph Campbell wrote “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
It’s easy to get caught up in watching what others are doing – aligning with their vision, living their dream, following in their brave footsteps. We need to be careful. Each of us is gifted uniquely for a reason, called to something new.
The steps you take should be guiding you home to yourself, to a life that feels in integrity to YOU, that answers your deepest needs and reflects your core beliefs and a world you want to live in. We don’t get there by following someone else’s path.
If we heed the call to pave our own path, we will be required to break new dirt, pull up the roots and stumps that trip us up, prune and chop away everything that distracts from our mission. We will have to get our hands dirty and put our backs into it. It might feel like hard work.
But it will be worth it.
Today I hold the gift of perspective. I can look back and see how this slow and simple, sometimes challenging and even heart-crushing life of mine turned out unexpectedly beautiful. How daily, deliberate choices have added up to a life well-lived.
Life unfolded as I released urgency and ambled along, slow and steady.
But I clearly see some junctures in my life where a deliberate decision to let go of preconceived plans and ideas, to trust my inner voice and direction, to follow my gut onto a less-trod, meandering path, has led to some of the most incredible gifts of my life.
4 INCREDIBLE GIFTS of my slow and simple life
Slow and steady, one intentional step at a time, we can handcraft a life that feels like home and tells the whole truth of who we are and what we want and need (and the kind of world we want to live in).
We can translate our bigger life vision into imperfect action by working with our wiring and not against. As I’ve practiced this imperfectly but on purpose, I’ve received incredible gifts along the way.
1. the gift of authentic and brave Relationship
I knew within two weeks of meeting my husband, when I wasn’t looking for a relationship, that we would build a life together. It didn’t make sense. He was 10 years older than I, we didn’t speak each other’s mother tongue, and at 30 years old he had recently arrived in Canada from West Africa on a student visa so there were some immigration and cultural challenges ahead.
But I could see something in him – a steadiness and gentleness to build a marriage upon. Despite some concern from family, 23 years ago we merged our lives and birthed a home and family. What looked so different on the outside was similar at the core. We both wanted slow and calm and believed in attachment parenting; we prioritized family and connection above possessions. We’re in it for the long haul.
Likewise, although I spent much of my life feeling like I never quite belonged anywhere, as I befriended myself and stayed true to who I am and the life I want, I slowly formed a circle of brave, wise, growth-minded friends from different corners of the world. I also realized that I could build brave community with and for others through my work. I had no idea this would be possible way back at the start but I’m deeply grateful that I kept my eyes on my own path and did not quit.
2. the gift of purpose and meaning
My core values are freedom, integrity, curiosity, brave community, and contribution. Clarity around my values helps me live brave, whole, and with joy in every season.
After years in university training to teach other people’s kids, we decided to homeschool our own. I released my plans of teaching full time and turned my heart toward home. Money was tight as we lived on one income and repaid student loans and as an introverted mama, there were days I desperately longed for solitude.
Instead of new furniture or nice cars, we invested in art supplies, music lessons, and basketball shoes. I became a student of my children and as I taught them French and fractions and learned to parent, I also learned to grow up. Homeschooling is not all nature walks and cuddles on the couch; there is hard and meaningful work involved. But this choice also meant deep connection, ongoing learning, freedom from arbitrary schedules, and flexibility to be with family when they were dying.
Now I’m in a different season of life and I enjoy the money I earn and the privileges it affords (health care, good food, travel). But I continue to prioritize my values over wealth, productivity, or accolades. I love my work and I’m good at it. It lights me up and fuels me on a soul-level because it’s values aligned.
3. the gift of resilience and deep roots
During one of the most painful seasons of my life, I felt a call to return to school. At 40 years old, I was homeschooling and my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was in horrible pain as I awaited then recovered from a hip replacement and was struggling with a multitude of symptoms from an autoimmune disease that was yet undiagnosed. We were paying for braces and feeding teens so nothing about my decision to study again made sense on a logical level – it appeared neither slow nor simple. Yet I knew it was right.
Immersing myself in the world of mind-body health ended up being a lifeline for me in a season of despair. It reminded me to fight for mental and physical wholeness, to advocate for myself when I was drowning. And out of this dark and painful season emerged a clear vision for the work I do today.
Weeks before the death of my son I felt a call to launch my Brave and Beautiful Membership Community. I knew it was time. What I didn’t know, of course, was that three weeks in I’d be in a serious car accident and that a few weeks after that my beautiful son would succeed in ending his life. Through deep grief, PTSD, and severe panic disorder and all the healing required in this painful season, my community served as a lifeline in the storm. Once again I reaped the benefits of trusting myself and keeping my eyes on my own path.
4. the gift of joyful possibility
In each new season as I listen in and respond to what I hear, as I love my family, offer my gifts, heal, and become more fully myself, I am challenged to new growth. I am invited to go deeper not wider.
I loosen my grip on what feels safe and familiar so that I can step into the unknown. I make peace with uncertainty, learn new skills, and sit with discomfort. I ignore the call to hurry and make the choice to be present to each ordinary day.
I have learned to open up to the gift of joyful possibility.
Slow and steady, bravely and with curiosity, I carve my path and see where it leads. I care more about where I am going than how fast.
Originally published December 2017 + updated April 2022