Did I ever tell you about how the week after I gave birth to my second baby I started two of my MBA classes and began teaching an online undergraduate course? Yeah. With a newborn and a 2 year old at home. Sure, it helped me finish my MBA 4 months early and allowed me to get some teaching experience. But it also made those first 6 months of K’s life really difficult for me. In fact, looking back I now see that I had a really hard time enjoying her babyhood because I filled my own plate so full.
I have been on overdrive for years. I used to thrive on it. I felt antsy if I didn’t have a million things going on at once. But somewhere in the last couple of years I began to feel like I was wasting time and energy and not giving enough attention to things that matter. I began to realize that I haven’t been living in and enjoying the now because I am always looking toward things that will happen in the future. Getting a degree, completing a project, finishing a class, planning an event. Always working toward future events and never really just taking in the present. Keeping my plate so full that if I stopped for just one second I’d drown in my commitments. It is time for a change and it hasn’t been easy, but I have found much inspiration, motivation, and encouragement in reading what others are doing to bring simplicity to their lives. Stick with me as my work to do the same evolves over time. Here are some of the most inspiring and encouraging articles I read this month.
Reading through this post, I started out going “yep… ok… uh-huh, good tips…” and then I came to this sentence:
“I started to recognize and name out loud, the very thing I wanted more of and it was simply a less busy and more connected version of me”
I read it again. Because I saw myself right there in that sentence. Then Liz Smith of The Connected Life says this of the changes she has made to live more simply:
“I know I am more pleasant to be around and possibly the most significant shift, I have become a more present mother.”
Wow. That really hit home for me. A more present mother? I mean, honestly this brought tears to my eyes. I did not fully realize until reading this blog post that being a more present mother is a huge part of the change I yearn for. This post ends with a list of ways that “life flows more joyful” in Liz’s family by living a bit simpler.
That last article led me to Liz’s blog, The Connected Life. Browsing her posts, I came across her post Two Little Words where she talks about changing your If Only’s to What If’s. Liz stops me in my tracks again when she apprehensively admits that she still gets caught up in wanting stuff she doesn’t really need. Isn’t that the looming challenge of creating a simpler life after all? I have this internal battle all the time. I want new clothes, I want new carpet, I want I want I want… Which translates to “If only I had a new pair of jeans.” And “If only I could get rid of this old berber carpet.” But when you change your thoughts to What If’s, you can ask “What if I already own enough pairs of pants?” and “What if I DON’T get a new pair of jeans? What will happen?” And that opens up a space for you to begin to change your thought patterns, which is the key to changing the patterns of your life.
In this post, Brooke McAlary talks about saving stickers as a kid because she wanted to wait for that perfect occasion. This is all too familiar, isn’t it? Saving stickers as a kid becomes saving the good china, or saving that cute outfit, or saving your kids’ finger paint for just the right time to use them. And what happens? You wait so long that the finger paint dries out, or worse, your little ones outgrow finger painting before you use it up. Brooke says:
“Don’t discover too late that you had something of joy and beauty at your fingertips, only to let it slip by, too afraid to “use it all up” or break it.”
What a great message and reminder to take joy in TODAY. Don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait until you finish that project, don’t wait for the special occasion to begin finding joy in life.