Enjoying a Quiet Life

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As I sipped my morning coffee and watched the rain fall, an article from Elephant Journal appeared in my news feed:

It’s Okay to Want to Live a Slow & Quiet Life.

How often do you question if the life you are currently living is the life that feels most authentic to you?

One of the biggest questions I’ve mulled over the last eight months is, “What kind of life do I really want?”

As I pick through the versions of the lives I’ve lived over the last 15 years, what I keep coming back to is a life founded on simplicity. The life that resonates the most with me was a time I lived on a 50-acre vineyard and farm. My days felt like molasses—a slow, steady, and sweet flow.

It was a life of less in many ways but full of so much more richness because I was away from the busyness of life that is easy to get caught up in. I had time to experience the slow beauty of what was around me, the warm, summer breeze weaving between the apple trees, the distance cries from my flock of sheep, and green grass as it tickled my feet when I walked in it.

Amanda Whitworth

As I read the author’s own experiences and journey to enjoying a life of simplicity, I resonated with each word.  Being present is a beautiful thing, and could never be beat by bright lights or fast-paced glamour.

The reaction I get when people hear I moved back to Michigan from big cities is usually “wow, what a change” or “you must be bored!”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

To be honest, even in a big city I spent a lot of time to myself and in quiet reflection.  I spent days in the park writing and walked thousands of miles, just snapping photos and listening to music.  My life didn’t have any of the luxuries I was taught would make me feel “complete.”

I embraced what was right in front of me.

Although I used to spend my time going out, dating, and finding chaos, I couldn’t imagine living my life that way anymore.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than going home to a quiet apartment, reading a good book, or finding solace in nature.

Simplicity has become a big part of my life, and taking on the “less is more” mentality has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.

It doesn’t take much to be happy when you’re happy within.  That’s the best gift of all.

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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All that is gold does not glitter;
all that is long does not last;
All that is old does not wither;
not all that is over is past.
Not all that have fallen are vanquished;
a king may yet be without crown,
A blade that was broken be brandished;
and towers that were strong may fall down.

-Christopher Tolkien

Some people stay in one place their entire lives.

Whether it’s a city or a job, they’re content.  They vividly envision their future, feel satisfied with what’s in front of them, and are happy with where they’re at.  They don’t question their current reality.  These people are often stable, secure, and good citizens of the world.

I was never one of those people.

As a young girl, I created characters and wrote stories to escape my reality.  I dreamed of writing, living in California or New York, and creating a new identity for myself.  I wasn’t sure who I was, but I was certain I would find it outside of myself.

Over the years, I began feeling more comfortable with the authentic person I was; the dreamer, the creator, the adventurer.  However, not everyone understood or accepted that.  The “square peg in a round hole” feeling I had left me confused and empty- I was attempting to fit into a society that didn’t seem to be built for me.  I had a difficult time staying at office jobs, doing what other people told me to do, and having my creativity questioned.

Then, I learned an important lesson: that my individuality is what makes me who I am.

At almost 35 years old, I’ve done everything I used to think I wanted- and I don’t regret any of it.  I have lived in more states and glistening big cities than I can count on one hand, but I don’t have to pretend I am someone I’m not anymore.

Creators are meant to create- and my experiences will become stories I share with others.

Not all who wander are lost, whether it’s thousands of miles away or up the Peninsula on a Sunday afternoon.

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A Girl Finding Her Identity

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When I was young- probably 9 or so- my cousin called me selfish.  Yet to explore any sort of self discovery or identity, I was shocked.

This stuck with me for years, and later I began to show many behaviors that were selfish.  I continually told myself I was misunderstood, different, and unloved.  I began to doubt myself and who I was as a person.

Where did I fit in this world?

I faked sick on family holidays and refused to believe I belonged.  I detached from the people who loved me the most, unaware how important family and my roots were.  I was antisocial, confused, and misunderstood.  How could anyone understand me if I couldn’t even understand myself?

On a 9th grade trip to the Birch Run outlets with my mom, I remember picking out a sleek dark purple jacket at Ralph Lauren.  I felt like a star.

Upon returning to Traverse City, I pranced around downtown, running errands with my mom wearing my black Express pants, envisioning myself in a place like Chicago or even New York City.  I dreamed of being somewhere different- somewhere no one knew my name.

Somewhere along the way I started to identify as the “black sheep.”

I didn’t know who I was at age 15, but I was certain I didn’t belong in Michigan.

As I went on to college, making new friends and seeking the approval of fraternity boys (some of which I’m still friends with today), I was lost in a sea of vodka and $1 beer. I did whatever I could to find love, but most of all, acceptance.

My drinking began to get out of control, and so did my self respect.  After college, I moved in with an older boyfriend who I later got engaged to.  I thought this relationship would save me from the all-nighters and my bad behavior- which it did, for about a year.  Then, I gave back my Princess cut diamond and took off to San Francisco.

I did the cities- 7 in all.  I worked in fashion.  I considered law school.  I did the startup thing.  I had no idea what I wanted, so I kept running from myself- only to find myself right back where I came from 12 years later.

As an adult, I’m aware I’m still a little selfish- and now, it’s okay.  This kind of selfishness is self-care, which at the core isn’t selfish at all.

The difference today is that I know how to set boundaries, but also to welcome the love that surrounds me.  My identity was never lost- I needed to mistakes, try things out, and move around to truly learn who I am as a person- and that being myself was all I ever needed all along.

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