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.
Back in January of 2019, I started hearing a quiet voice in the back of my head, “simplify Amanda,” but this idea was counterintuitive to everything buzzing around me. Aren’t we supposed to want it all? Aren’t we supposed to “hustle” and “work hard to play harder?”
After a series of meltdowns brought me to make an appointment with a psychiatrist, I knew that I had to make some changes because the alternative wasn’t something I could afford. My health had come to mean something so different to me after I went through cancer two years prior.
Everything inside of me knew I was living an inauthentic life. One that was out of alignment with who I truly was.
So, against what felt like the responsible thing to do, I had a long conversation with my employer and cut back my hours, as the role was causing me a lot of unnecessary stress that I just didn’t have the bandwidth or mental clarity to handle. We also realized that the role I was in wasn’t one that allowed me to flourish. As he put it, “You’re an artist, Amanda, not a Project Manager.” So, in the interim, as I was “figuring out what’s next” I created a list of tasks that I would be able to focus on as I worked on healing my body and mind and explored some of my own dreams.
My ego-mind told me a lot of stories to feed my constant worry, but my heart and my soul felt a new sense of empowerment as I leveled up my self-worth and leaned into who I really was.
I know this isn’t always possible in every work situation. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to work from home for employers who value well-being; however, at some point, every one of us has to prioritize our mental and physical health. I tend to believe that if there is a will, there is a way, and sometimes you have to ask for what you truly want and deserve.
I removed email and Facebook from my phone. Yup, you read that right. I no longer get emails or Facebook on my phone, and I periodically delete Instagram.
At some point along the road of technological advancements, we decided that being available 24-7 was okay and healthy. I’m here to tell you it absolutely is not. You are allowed to have boundaries. You do not have to be connected all the time. I stand by this through and through, and I’ve felt healthier, happier, and more in alignment ever since.
I’ve also decluttered my closets and house about 10 times, getting rid of any and everything that doesn’t feel like me and my most authentic being. If I wear the same 10 articles of clothing every week, well, so be it. Nobody really cares anyway.
I had to get really present with my goals as a small business owner, as a creative, and an artist. It’s easy to be led to believe that we should want a life full of achievements, including stuff, but what kept coming back to me over and over was this idea of a simple life with just enough to keep me feeling like myself.
So, what if all I want is a simple life? What does that really mean anyway?
I had to let go of the story I created that I had to be some big-time #bosslady or build my empire. What I realized was I don’t actually want to run an empire. I want a life doing work that feeds my soul while paying all my bills and saving for a rainy day.
I want a life that allows me to create my art and write really well.
Something that supports me in paying off my debts.
A life that allows me to live in a way that feels like me, and provide me with the means to help others too.
But mostly, what I truly want is to walk barefoot in the grass with the ones I love, free from the constant pressure to be anything other than me. This involved simplifying my current life significantly.
The greatest change in my life, however, has been my recent decision to leave the Southern California beach town where I’ve lived for the past four and a half years and move to Northern California to live in a yurt on a goat farm.
During that time, I kept hearing the quiet whispers from my soul—it had been leading me the whole time. I feel most like myself on a farm and on land surrounded by tall trees and changing seasons, and I can’t afford to not live in a way that feels most like me any longer.
You see, I don’t think many of us were actually made for the hustle, “work hard to play harder” way of life as is evident with the rise of mental and physical illness in the more recent years. Despite being overly connected to a plethora of resources that are supposed to help us stay healthy, stay skinny, stay sane, and stay happy—all with the click of one of the five thousand apps on our phones—I think we’ve overcomplicated our lives and grown incredibly disconnected.
Simplifying my own life over the last eight months has made me more present to the fact that so many others are feeling called back to this way as well.
So, I’m here to give you permission. It’s okay to not want to build an empire. It’s okay to not want all the things we are told to want in order to be happy. And it’s definitely okay to be content just wanting a simple and slow way of life.
AUTHOR: AMANDA WHITWORTH