How to slow down to live your best life!

Present Over Perfect by Niequist

We are each given exactly what we need at the exact right time.  I believe this is our higher power (whatever you call your higher power) dropping breadcrumbs to help us find our path.

I read a book in December that was a big breadcrumb!  Does slowing down and living freely, honestly and guiltlessly sound appealing?  Do you know how?  Do you even know what that means?  

I am going through a profound period of expansion ( self-discovery, self-growth and self-exploration).  I am learning about self-healing and self-love.  I will turn 45 this year.  I am peeling back the false layers and figuring out who I really am, how I got here, where I want to go and how to get there.

The more I slow down and listen the more I can’t deny the nagging intuition that I just need to slow down, listen and be .  However, this is unnatural to me and I’ve fought it.  In a world where being “busy” is the norm- how do you slow down?

The Breadcrumb

At a dinner with friends in December, one of the ladies recommended a book called Present Over Perfect written by Shauna Niequist.  The title immediately rang true and I knew I needed to read it.

This book is a game changer.  It confirmed all of my thoughts and instincts from the past year.  It legitimized the way I have been feeling.  I know that may sound crazy to some of you.  However, when your personality is that of an overachiever-must-be-doing-something-to-be-respected-or-valued then having a New York Times bestselling book tell you that you don’t need to be busy is pretty valuable.

In my November 2016 newsletter, I stated “I am doing something that goes against my very fiber, seems totally counterintuitive, yet feels very freeing at the same time.  I am giving myself permission to lighten up and let go”.

Intuitively, I knew that intentionally doing less was actually going to mean more.

I knew this and I did it and it was a great holiday season.  Then I read this book and it says the exact same thing.  It backed me up.  It gave me “permission” to slow down and that was an amazing permission to get.  I read the book in December and since then have just been following my heart (thus why my first post of 2017 is in March!)

We all go through seasons of life.  Different seasons bring different challenges.  Although not everyone reading this right now is in the same “season” of life, I believe this book can speak to everyone.

The Message

The book’s premise is that when we leave behind our quest to complete that never-ending to-do list, the side hustle, the (insert whatever keeps you busy for the wrong reasons or provides a false sense of value here) and sit down and just be (be still – be present) then that is where life happens.  We miss out when we are chasing our tails.  We miss out on the best part of life.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?

It is enjoying the ride and the view  and the pit stops and flat tires along the way.  It’s not about a destination.  Life does not start at a certain destination.  Life is now and we are missing it.  We need to live intentionally along the way.

“…the truth that our worth is inherent, given by god, not earned by our hustling”.  Shauna Niequist

What is the exterior armor (identity) you put on everyday?  What is it that you have mastered in order to have some sort of control in your life?  What keeps you from acknowledging and dealing with the elephant in your room? What do you do because you “should”- not because you want to?  What do you do because you feel like you “have” to do?

Every person on this earth is engaged in some sort of struggle or hardship.  Everyone struggles and learns and grows from these hardships.

There is SO much more meat in this book.  It touches on problems we all face yet few are brave enough to openly talk about.  There are a lot of ways to escape dealing with reality, to numb our real feelings because they are painful and subconsciously sabotage ourselves.  I guarantee part of this book will speak to you.  It speaks truth and it is refreshing to hear it.

 

What did I take away from this book?

What this book screamed out to me is that “busy-ness” with anything is just an escape.  Busy-ness could be from a high demanding career, volunteering, cleaning, driving carpool and even exercising.  The never-ending to-do list.  These are all means of avoidance.

Busyness Quote

These things that keep us busy so we don’t actually live life are also supposed to give us worth.  Why do we need something outside of ourselves to prove our value?

I recognize that a step along my path is learning I am valuable without any external measure to prove it.

2017 is my “Season Of Self”.  I already KNEW this is what I should be focused on this year.  However, I was worried about putting my other “shoulds” on the back burner.  Listening and following my heart is my priority.

I love the following passage from pg 61 of the book:

The more I listen to myself, my body, my feelings, and the less I listen to the “should” and “must” and “to-do” voices, the more I realize my body and spirit have been whispering all along, but I couldn’t hear them over the chaos and noise of the life I’d created.  I was addicted to this chaos, but like any addiction, it was damaging to me.

What about everything else?  What about this blog for instance?  Is this just another attempt at making myself feel like I am accomplished, worthy and successful?  Why can’t I feel worthy without having some sort of side-hustle?  Why do I need some external measure of my value?

“It’s about learning to show up and let ourselves be seen just as we are, massively imperfect and weak and wild and flawed in a thousand ways, but still worth loving.  It’s about realizing that what makes our lives meaningful is not what we accomplish, but how deeply and honestly we connect with the people in our lives, how wholly we give ourselves to the making of a better world, through kindness and courage.”  pg 128-129.

My Truth?

This book just gave me permission to live this truth right now.  What is my truth?  I have broken parts I need to fix.  My family needs more nurturing.  That is my truth.  That is what I am focused on this year.  This is my season of life.  2017 is my “Season of Self”.

Does this mean I am going to quit the blog and never come back?  No.  If I am inspired to write I will write (I love to write).  One thing, however, is I won’t be busting my butt trying to increase page views and traffic and revenue.  I don’t need to monetize the blog to “prove” I have accomplished something or that I am worth something.  That is SO refreshing.

I started writing this post on January 8th and I just finished.  Obviously, my heart is elsewhere right now.

Once you start to live your heart it is really hard to stray.

I started painting again.  I had not  picked up a paint brush in 3 years.  I’ve come back full circle and ended up at my easel once again.  I’m not painting for the purpose of selling art (although I could end up in that space again).  I am painting because I enjoy the act of painting and being in a state of flow.  I am painting because painting is meditative and healing for me.

Slowing down looks like meditating, praying, practicing yoga, exercising, eating right, journaling, reading and writing.  It looks like time with family and friends.  It looks like making our house a home.  Gardening and yard work and cookouts.  Most importantly, it looks like all of this without any guilt for the things I am not doing.

(If you follow your heart what would it look like?  Do you know?  Have you spent enough time on SELF-CARE to know what fills you up???)

This is my “Season of Self”.  I do not need permission to engage in only what will serve me.  I am learning I do not need others acceptance to be worthy.  I am fine just the way I am and just the way I am going to live my life.

What about you?

What are some things you do because you feel like you “have” to do?  If you didn’t do these things would the world halt?  Would your world halt?  Or is it the fear that others might view it negatively?  Does it sound refreshing to let go of your “shoulds”?

What does your suit of armor look like?  The perfect mom?  The always dependable school volunteer?  The hostess-with-the-mostess?  The perfect wife?  The working mom that still kicks ass and gets it all done?  What is the image you portray?  Is it from your heart or is it how you gain value?

“Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice.”  Shauna Niequist

I am going present over perfect.  My hope is that this message might be the right time for you too.

Written with LOVE and GRATITUDE,

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