Hello, gorgeous. Welcome to wellness month! In case you hadn’t figured it out from my Wellness Challenge announced at the end of October, I plan to make November a month of wellness, love, balance, and kicking fear to the curb.
I wanted to share my thoughts on slow living, minimalism, taking care of yourself and cultivating gratitude. The truth is, there’s a need in my life to focus on these right now. I have a desperate need to find some quiet from all the noise. On my journey to start my life again, I’ve realized there’s too much noise, too many thoughts going around in my head, and most of them are not my own.
You see, when you’re trying to rebuild, restart and redesign life, you grasp at anything. You search for any routine, ritual, and life hack to help you find some light in all the darkness.
And of course, this creates noise and clutter. Maybe the paper sort, maybe too many online courses, and maybe too many thoughts from other people that drown out your internal guidance.
And that’s why I’m focusing on what it means to:
Be true to you — be you.
It took me a long time to stop being a people pleaser and to instead focus on being who I was (am?). I spent almost a decade morphing myself around what other people wanted or needed and rarely focusing on what I wanted. My marriage was a classic example of getting lost in someone else.
I lost myself in all the hobbies, life experiences, and mindsets of my ex-husband.
When my divorce loomed on the horizon in 2009, life suddenly became a golden opportunity. I faced the difficult question — who was I?
Divorce is difficult. But, I believe the best thing you can do for yourself is to take time for self-reflection, to cherish yourself, and come out the other side knowing at least a little bit more about who you are.
What I realized was I loved utterly different things from my ex-husband. I loved arts and culture and travel; he didn’t care as much for them.
Then, when I lost my job in 2015, another piece of my so-called identity fell away. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was yet another step forward to figuring out who I am and what my purpose in life is.
Yes, both divorce and losing your job are dramatic life changes. But, they are a golden opportunity to rediscover who you are.
The lesson? Never be afraid of who you are. You will be happier being you. Trust me on that. Being someone you’re not creates an internal struggle and a battle with all of your core values.
If you’re struggling with being the real you, try writing down your values or situations where you were forced to do something that felt against your true self or intuition. However you look at it, either of these methods will help you discover who you are.
Do what you’ve been avoiding.
At its root, cherishing yourself looks like buckling down and doing all the things you’ve been avoiding for far too long. For me, that looked like changing my diet, quitting coffee (and other crap foods), picking up the phone and scheduling naturopath, dentist and doctor appointments, keeping a better eye on my spending and saying no to anything that didn’t serve a purpose.
I’m both dreading and looking forward to most of those appointments. I’m sure some will come with a message to take better care of myself and that I’ve been neglecting my health or teeth. Others will be an awakening to a new way of life.
And yet, the simple act of making the appointments and giving myself some goals and a north star to aim for is refreshing and exciting. It’s the first step toward picking myself up from the neglect that has gone on for far too long.
Taking action and doing what you’ve been avoiding will look different for all of us. It might mean “eating all the frogs” and setting some hard goals, having an awkward conversation with a partner, family member or friend, or getting yourself out of some bad and unhealthy habits. Or, it could be as simple as admitting to yourself that you’ve neglected a few things in your life.
Be kind to you.
I’m the type of woman who is extremely hard on herself. I’ve faced down imposter syndrome, felt like a fraud, been a perfectionist, and generally underrate just about any achievement I’ve had. Why? I always feel there’s more to improve. I know. Tsk tsk and shame on me. It’s funny; I always say I have humility in spades. And quite naturally, I’ve decided I’m an ongoing self-improvement project.
While there’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, the fact is, when we embark on improving ourselves, we feel as though there’s a need to “fix” something. That a piece of who we are is unacceptable or somehow flawed. It’s usually around this time that the berating parade of negative self-talk kicks in. I’m sure you’ve heard a few — you’re not good enough, you’ll never achieve anything, you always spend all your money, you’ll never be a minimalist owning all this stuff, and so on.
There are so many beautiful ways to be kinder to yourself. It could start with creating new beliefs to replace old ones, telling yourself you love and accept who you are just as you are, forgiving yourself, not living in the past anymore, or asking a good friend to be a kindness accountability buddy.
Why is it that we forget about gratitude? We take so many things for granted in our everyday lives. Every day selfish and entitled people cross my path. The level of disrespect and privilege frightens me some days. The typical morning cup of joe is a perfect example of how we neglect gratitude.
Have we forgotten that a $6 latte is not a right? We should be grateful we can afford to buy a $6 latte.
Now, before I start spouting the tenets of “starving children in Africa”, let’s first understand what we really need to survive in life. Then we can add a few luxuries back in.
Humans need very little to survive. Shelter, food, water, exercise, sleep, love and companionship are the basics. The rest are the luxuries that our modern world has created.
Every day, we forget to be grateful for all the things we’re blessed with. Myself, I’m grateful I live in a peaceful country like Canada where I have access to fresh drinking water, wholesome healthy foods, friendly neighbours, great friends, and more.
If we want to lead happier lives, cultivating gratitude will make it happen. If we appreciate our homes, warm beds, access to healthy food and clean water, and yes, that $6 latte, we’d be a lot happier. We could end our misery.
But it can be difficult for some to cultivate gratitude when entitlement gets in the way. In our North American society, our expectation is to have electicity, heat, running water and fresh wholesome food. We never expect to be without it. And when we are without it, what do we do? We complain instead of being grateful we had it in the first place.
The most impactful thing about cultivating gratitude that happened to me? Losing my job. It made me realize all the things my high flying salary paid for. And working a minimum wage job has taught me to be mindful of what I spend my money on. Both experiences have provided lessons in gratitude. As they say, be grateful for what you have before it’s taken away.
Cultivating gratitude allows us to cherish ourselves through happiness. You can start your own gratitude practice by journaling what you’re grateful for, creating a list of achievements, opportunities and blessings, and shifting your perspective on life.
BRING MORE SLOW AND SIMPLE TO LIFE
Let’s start with what slow and simple living is:
What is slow living?
Slow living is a life philosophy; it’s about living with intention and purpose.
It’s about choosing thoughtfully what you allow into your life.
For me, slow living means living with soul, grace, intention and purpose. It means ditching “busyness” and putting your heart into everything you do. It means taking time to savour ALL the moments. More on slow living here.
My life today is a stark contrast to what it once was. Only three years ago, I craved a simpler life. A life that didn’t include “busyness.” The constant chaos and rushing from here to there without even being aware of what I ate for lunch was taking its toll on my spirit. Never mind what it was doing to my health. I was in the corporate rat race and on my way to a nervous breakdown. Thankfully, I made the choice to walk away from it and live simply.
Bringing more slow and simple into your life isn’t hard. Doing things like enjoying your lunch distraction-free or noticing your surroundings on your commute will encourage you to find more ways to bring simplicity into your life. You don’t need to chase what everyone else does — instead, experiment and do what works for you.
This month on The Classy Simple Life – we’ll be focusing on ways to cherish yourself — from cultivating gratitude to better habits, to what I’m thankful for, to how to achieve financial wellness, and how I’m choosing to give back over the holidays.
Now let’s all take a collective sigh of relief and repeat after me, to help others, I have to help myself first — being the best version of me will allow me to inspire and encourage others.