The Simplicity Of Releasing Control

To say that I'm a dreamer is as true a label as I can force myself into. Ask anyone who knows me deeply, and they'll tell you that I'm constantly filled with expectations, new ideas, start-ups, far fetched travel ideas, or thrown-together business plans. And while generally, this trait is a good thing — it certainly creates a vivid imagination, and a life that doesn't feel bound by "rules" — oftentimes my expectations get the best of me. 

I have a habit of cycling through my old issues of Darling magazine as the seasons change and as I was reading last year's Fall edition, I read a piece that spoke so accurately to where I'm at in my life right now that I couldn't help but share my reaction. Titled Waiting for the Spark, the piece spoke about the benefits of "traveling in darkness", instead of always needing to know our next step. 

Life right now, as it so often is, is very "up in the air" for my family. We recently put our house up for sale in a town where— though we've enjoyed living here— we knew would never be our "forever home". We spent the past two years fixing up our 1925 home in the hopes that it would sell quickly and would give us the funds to buy our dream home in the mountains (where both my husband and I feel truly at home). But it's been almost three weeks, and nothing. A few showings and calls here and there, but nothing. Things aren't happening quickly, and the dreamer inside me is starting to feel squelched.   

Life often feels like a struggle between having big dreams and being stuck in the everyday motions, but does it have to be that way? Learn why releasing control of the unknown can be a good thing.

We are stuck in the limbo of not knowing our next step, and as someone who loves to dream big but also relishes in having a plan, this is hard. It's difficult to accept that we might be here longer than we had planned, and it's equally hard accepting the fact that my dream may be further away than we hoped. 

But as I read through the article, one quote struck me.

The danger for dreamers who plan is that we often end up clinging too tightly to our expectations about how life ought to unfold, rushing our way toward dreamed-of destinations at the expense of simply savoring the journey. 

Talk about speaking exactly to where I'm at. And as I read on, I realized that my tight expectations I've been clutching to since we made our plans to move have been crippling me, causing my inner-life to be anything but simple. 

There is a certain beauty and freedom that comes when you relinquish control of your life and simply allow yourself to be led, opening doors when they're presented; not rushing or expecting too much. The simple moments become the moments— tucking my girls in at night, waiting anxiously for my husband to return home from work, sitting together at the end of the day talking about our dreams. Instead of living for the "next big thing" in life, I'm convicted to take the small moments as they come, embracing them for the back-bone of life that they truly are. 

Contentment is a choice, and one that anyone who has been reading my blog (in it's many forms over the years) knows to be a struggle for me. But I'm convinced that there is a way to mesh my "dreamer" personality with contentment in the moment. And I think simple living is the answer. 

In it's bones, simplicity says that what I have now is enough. It simultaneously frees you from the material to dream about the future, and make plans much bigger than simply getting more stuff. Practically, it says that the choices we make everyday matter and that choosing contentment with where we are now (waiting expectantly for "the light at the end of the tunnel") frees you from the stress of forcing life into the rigid molds we've constructed for ourselves.   

So while it's great to plan, dream, build and take action, sometimes the beauty of waiting for the mystery to unfold is where the real, life-building happens. And that is the mindset I'm seeking to cultivate in seasons when I'm walking in the unknown. 

Simply Celebrate: The Importance of Not Inviting Cynicism to Your Next Party

The last few months of my life have been filled with weddings, showers, birthdays, graduations and more. Seriously, there has been so much to celebrate recently that I’ve lost track of how many parties I’ve been to. And while, I am super thankful for the wonderful family and friends I have to celebrate life with, I’m also a bit concerned.

Here’s why. All this celebrating brought to the surface some parts of me that I’m not particularly proud of. Specifically, I’m a bit controlling and cynical. Meaning, I can get pretty bent out of shape when things aren’t done the way I think they should be done. The end result is that instead of celebrating with my family and friends, I’m secretly thinking about how the party would be better if I were consulted. And here is where it gets really sad: I end up missing out on millions of beautiful moments because I’m in my head rearranging the room or reshaping the guest list. 

Photo courtesy of Mikki Wick

Photo courtesy of Mikki Wick

About a month ago I was talking to a friend about being controlling and cynical.  I didn’t exactly describe myself this way.  I was just venting about how an upcoming celebration “needed” my expert opinion.  In reality, it didn’t.  I was being controlling and cynical. Thankfully my friend saw what I was struggling with and said: “Can’t you just enjoy the party as it is?” 

My friend’s question shifted something in my soul.   “Why not?” I thought,  “What is there to lose by simply enjoying myself?”

After all, my cynicism wasn’t adding anything to these celebrations.  Instead it was stealing joy from me and me from others.

Since my friend asked this question, I’ve been practicing enjoying parties.  Meaning, instead of trying to control or critique, I’ve helped when needed and when I’m not I’ve decided to just have fun.  This practice has alleviated a lot of stress.  Letting go of my cynicism has freed me up to encourage others and deepen relationships.  Simply put, I’m actually making memories instead making judgments. 

During this process I’ve discovered that most parties are not about me.  A few will be and I can plan those but the rest I can let be what they are – parties - bright spots in a somewhat dark world.  

Simple Mindset, Simple Life

Simplicity is bliss. Days filled with jargon and unintentional pursuits lead nowhere. We often search for ways to simplify our lives, but the real key is to simplify your mindset first and the rest will more easily follow. 

If we desire a life less complicated, we must start with our mindset. If it's not in line with our desire to live a simplified life, it's going to be rather difficult to turn aspirations into reality. Here are some ways you can simplify your mindset today:

simple-mindset-simple-life.jpeg

1. Be present:

That's right. All the hype about mindfulness and being present with the here and now, it's true. There really is no time like the present. It's easy to read an article like this one and say to yourself, "I'll start first thing tomorrow morning!" How about you start right now? Even if it's a small step, being intentionally present in the here and now will allow you to free up mind space in the future.

2. You are not your belongings:

Reassess your attachment to your possessions. Do you keep certain things you may not need? Do you buy things you have no use for? Are you assigning emotions to inanimate objects that may help you deal with sentiments or memories? Things are just that: things. They are nothing but that. 

3. What is important to you? 

Make a list of what's most important to you in your life. Prioritize what you value to be most important. Then narrow your list to 5-7 things. Sure, that may seem like a short list, but that's okay. Is it your health, your family, security, friendship, etc. When you write down your list and make it a priority, you solidify your connection with what you value. Reaffirming this will help guide your action toward a simpler life. 

4. Enough is a feast (ancient proverb)

Consume, purchase, consume, purchase, and repeat. We are constantly exposed to advertisements that tell us we need new clothing, better furniture, more food and so on. Do you know what "enough" means to you? Take a moment to figure it out. The next time you're exposed to an influence that insists you need more, take a step back and really question if you need to engage in the cycle of consumption. 

Starting with these tips and building upon that foundation will help you cultivate a mindset that allows you to make your vision of a simpler and uncomplicated life a reality.