Enjoying a Quiet Life

77358496_10108136978846178_1159279447774330880_n

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.

76760025_10108136978831208_4666397364838203392_n

Being Mindful of Your Social Media Consumption

I recently went through a major social media purge.

As I strolled through Copley Square checking my morning feed, I noticed how many irrelevant posts popped up on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Invitations to events across the country. Photo comments from people I hadn’t met. Accounts I followed that haven’t been used for years. From fashion brands to people I briefly knew in college, I wondered, “do I need to be seeing this?”

We underestimate how much the internet and media can flood our brains.

In my daily mindfulness practice, it’s also important for me to be mindful of what I consume online, too.

In one of my previous lives I was a fashion blogger, where I connected with brands, big and small, from all over the world. In one of my earlier pieces, “How a Fashion Blogger Became Minimalist,” I wrote about my shift in priorities, stressing the importance of quality over quantity, finding a signature style, but most importantly- finding happiness within.

Although I will never give up my love for style, it no longer makes me feel whole. I stopped looking at what everyone else “had,” and began finding happiness in my own world; not the world that someone portrays through a lens. This also goes for any social media use.

Whether it’s fashion, a lavish vacation, or a family photo, it’s been important for me to remember that looks can be deceiving. While I hope everyone feels content in their own skin, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing, get out there, enjoy the simple pleasures, and create your own mindful life that you love.

Starting the Conversation: Asking for Help

It’s been both an emotional and enlightening month. As I reflect on June- how it began and how it is ending- I truly feel I’ve come full circle and am finally understanding what I can do to fulfill both my purpose and passions.

I can’t do it alone, though.

My friend Nicoline is in town this weekend from NYC- the same friend I went to visit two weeks ago. I’m thrilled to have her here for both her company and her insight on life. She feels like a kindred spirit or sister to me- so having her around is comforting.

Tomorrow marks one year since Joe passed away- someone who was special in both of our lives. She was with him until the very end, which is something I don’t think I would have had the strength or patience for.

I hadn’t heard of a person dying of alcohol complications at 35 before, despite being involved in the recovery community since 2011. It was always an overdose, suicide, or another disease that killed friends or family of mine- not liver disease at a young age.

Despite the complications, he continued drinking. Right until the end. It makes me wonder, what went through his mind to give up all hope? Why didn’t he see the light?

Even when given the opportunity to be put on the organ donor list, he lost it due to his continued drinking. I had spoken to him near the end of his life, and Nicoline shared with me that my insight was helpful and comforting to him. For that, I am glad. However, it makes me sad that there was never a point in his life where he thought quitting was a possibility, or that treatment was an option.

This is why I am starting a conversation.

After the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, people around the world asked, “why? They had everything.” I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this- must of all, frustration for the lack of understanding of how complicated mental health is.

Having everything” means nothing when you don’t have inner peace.

When I met Joe, he had “everything,” too. A director job at a mobile tech startup in New York City. A great one bedroom apartment in Chelsea with exposed brick and updated appliances. Stories of work trips to Switzerland and many friends from all around the world, who he referred to as his “Ship Fam.”

However, he always had the “fun guy” image. I don’t think he ever built an identity for himself. That’s what Nicoline and I talked about last night- how he never was willing to let go of the party guy persona. He didn’t know any other way.

Building a foundation of confidence, self worth, and purpose is key to anyone’s recovery, whether they’re a drug addict or suffering with depression. There’s no difference what the drug or vice is; it all comes down to the person’s foundation.

When I decided to get help, I knew I needed to start my own foundation without crutches, family, or friends to hold me up. I knew I needed to live minimally, modestly, and mindfully in order to finally see the world clearly.

So, I came to Boston to build my own foundation.

It’s been quite a journey to say the least. I am forever grateful I started my blog when I did- just two weeks out of treatment. I was fortunate to meet some amazing people who helped show me the way, which ultimately lead me to a deeper spiritual foundation.

I hope that I have been able to help a few people by sharing my stories, and now, finally beginning to explain what happened to me before I came to Boston.

I didn’t have any hope. I thought my dreams were dead, I didn’t have anything to show for myself, and all I could do to cope was to date and drink.

Thankfully, my friends and family intervened- because they knew my potential and worth even when I did not.

~

My hope is to continue this conversation and inspire others to build their own foundation. It’s not easy to start from square one, or to let go of the negative things in your life that hold you back from success, but I promise- it is worth it.