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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I’m Not Ignoring You, I’m Just Living In The Moment

Each minute of every day, we have communication right there in our pocket (or in my case, a Henri Bendel handbag).

From texts to calls, our phones never cease to ring, beep, or buzz.  We receive social media alerts, Tweets, and comments.  Since it’s so easy to get a hold of one another, people sometimes forget that we all have our own lives, obligations, and self care to attend to.  It’s not necessary to respond to everything we receive right away.

In this day and age, it’s crucial to take the time to go “off the grid” to focus on what’s right there in front of you.  Whether it’s spending face time with friends and family, reading a book, or enjoying time in nature, it’s so important to put down the phone and be in the moment.  Embracing what is right in front of you is what life is all about.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why it took you a few hours to respond, nor do you need to feel obligated to check your Facebook feed every hour.  It’s important to remember that life is happening around us every minute, and although the virtual world can be fun (and important for staying in touch with our loved ones), being mindful and in the moment is the greatest gift of all.

So, put down your iPhone and do something that takes you back to your childlike joy.

Your mental health will thank you.

Social Anxiety and Doing You

Since November’s so nice, I’m writing twice.

Before moving back to Michigan I was afraid I would feel alone; lost in a place I used to call home.  That’s the furthest from my current reality.  Since being back, I’ve filled my days with writing, a lot of time with Mom, coffee and lunches, plus a lot of great conversations with old friends.

It’s important to balance “me time” with my social calendar.

From people pleasing to the pressure of explaining why I moved home, I’ve been feeling a little emotionally drained.

I had a lot of social anxiety growing up, so I kept to myself.  With one or two good friends (who I still talk to often), I had a very mellow teenage life.

Something happened along the way, whether it was college or coming back for summers, when I felt the need to be out and about all the time.  I worked in the restaurant industry from age 17-21, which is hyper social.  As a sober person and overall introvert, that social anxiety has returned, but in an entirely different way.

Instead of that awkward teenager, I’m now a woman who knows exactly who she is- and that’s the difference.

The social anxiety is still there- though I may not be awkward and uncomfortable around most people these days, I still get anxious when I feel pressure to “get involved.”  There are many events coming up, from author meetups to a book award festival, and those are things I’ll put my game face on for.

I know my goals, and I know the kind of people who align with my overall lifestyle.

Maybe I’ll become more of a social butterfly, or maybe I’ll always be be that girl who stays at home, writing in her leggings, chatting with old friends on the phone.  Time will tell.

I don’t have to attend everything I’m invited to, and I need to remember I am not obligated to respond to every message or email I receive.

So for today, I’m doing me.