Please welcome guest contributor (and my daughter!) Heidi, who has a personal story to tell about finding contentment in a simpler lifestyle. It’s been a joy to watch her grow as a strong, competent, capable woman. She is absolutely fearless, standing up to the challenges of daily life as a mother to four boys, and trying new things – from baking beautiful cakes to growing stunning plants. She’s amazing!
Hello, my name is Heidi and I am a recovering perfectionist. Growing up, I put a high prize on what I would “become”. I graduated at the top of my class and had huge dreams of a successful career. Then I met my husband at 18, married him at 20, and we knew we wanted to start a family. My priorities began to change, and while that dream of “becoming” was still there, it was lying dormant. We adopted two beautiful children, went overseas for a few years as missionaries, and went on to birth two more children. While I knew how blessed I was to have four beautiful children, I found myself becoming dissatisfied with my life. Every time I popped out another baby, my dream of a successful career slid a little farther from my reach. I know being a mother is the noblest calling, but I was struggling to find my purpose beyond mothering.
Then I found this article, and it changed my perspective on life. I learned that I could be content with the life I had. I didn’t need that successful career to be happy. I could choose to be happy right here, right now. I would highly recommend taking the time to read it, and I hope you find it as inspiring as I did.
This article led me on a journey to a new lifestyle. Through my research, I have come to learn about slow/simple/intentional living. While they are each unique in their approaches, they share an overarching theme: creating and living a life that is driven by your values and saying no to the things that are not. You begin by sitting down and taking stock of your life. What is overwhelming you? Where do you feel stressed and pulled? What are your biggest time wasters? Then write down your values. What are the most important things in your life? What do you want to accomplish? One book I read (see below) had you write your obituary – it seems a little morbid but makes a good point. What do you want to be known for in life? You then take your most important values and reorganize your life to fit that. You start excusing yourself from priorities that don’t bring you joy and you make room for the things that do. For me personally, I wanted to be more intentional with my life and prioritize the things that mattered. Eliminate busyness and be more in the moment. Spend less time on technology (still working on that one) and more time being present with my kids. Eliminate the excess in my life because the extra was stressing me out. Become a more sustainable shopper and learn to live on less.
I’m certainly no expert, and I have a long way to go. My plan was to spend every month this year focusing on a different value I wanted to learn more about and instill in my life. I worked on managing stress & self-care (two of my values), but then quarantine hit me hard and I lost my momentum. In fact, I’ve backslidden a little bit and returned to self-pity and apathy. I’m so thankful my mom asked me to write this post, because it has reminded me of my vision and goals, and encouraged me to get back on track. If you are feeling the quarantine blues, too, I understand and feel your pain. But let’s use this time at home to encourage us to get back on track – to re-examine our core values and live the life we have always wanted. Let’s step back from the busyness and learn how to be content with less. Let’s prioritize our families and relationships and try to lessen our dependence on technology. We only have one life to live, let’s make it a good one!
P.S. If you are looking for some resources to get started, one book that I absolutely loved is called Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary. Her honesty about her journey is so refreshing, and it is an easy read that is very relatable.
Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you. — Isaiah 26:12 (NLT)