Authenticity: The Right Blend of Imagination and Action

_Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined._

Thoreau goes on to say, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

I’ve talked a lot about simple living on this blog. I’ve talked about my decluttering efforts, my desire to live with less, and also the practices of slowness and stillness and being present.

But I still don’t think I’ve dug deep into the “why” of my simple living journey.

When I began, I was—and, to some extent, still am—simply overwhelmed with stuff. I’d just moved, and I couldn’t believe how much stuff my husband and I had accumulated during our eight years in our apartment. All of that stuff felt like it was weighing on me. And still, every time we take a few things to Goodwill or drop off a box of books at the library, I feel lighter, as though a weight has been lifted.

We have a long way to go. This is very much a journey, a process.

But today, I want to talk about another why. Why do I want to live more simply? I could talk about the extravagances of consumerism or the burden of stuff, but I want to talk about something less philosophical.

I want to talk about the fact that I’m simplifying my life so I can focus more on the things I really want out of it. And that, the unique way each of us lives our lives—how we spend our time, what we think about and how we think about it—is authenticity.

If we’re present, we’re authentic. One cannot exist without the other. If we’re leading a truly simple life, we’re authentic. We can’t help but be, because we’ve (mostly, usually) let go of the trappings of a life that isn’t the one we want to be living—the time-sucks, the aspirational ownership (you know, the stuff we own because we think we should, not because we use or love it). The way I kept my art easel long after I’d realized I wasn’t going to pursue painting (and, also, I’m fairly awful at it). The books we keep because, hey, they remind us of the person we were/want to be/want people to think we are. The French cookbook we’ve never cracked because we prefer making enchiladas over beef bourguignon (nothing against either, by the way). The exercise equipment from failed New Year’s resolutions. All the things we said yes to when our hearts were saying no.

When we simplify, we create both space and time in our lives. We free up time for true passions. We free up space—physical, mental, emotional—for joyful, purposeful, creative lives.

And this is the connection between simplicity and authenticity. Simplicity can guide us to a place where we are authentic, if we truly simplify, if we truly listen.

I realized that I had gotten so caught up in freeing up space and time that I had lost sight of a bigger why. So, this week, I sat down with my yellow legal pad and a pencil (I do my best brainstorming with these tools—always have and I don’t know why), and I tried to identify what I truly wanted out of my simple living journey. Here’s what I jotted down:

  • simple house in the country
  • publish three books/stories per year
  • travel/adventure/fun/romance

Simple living has given me space to think about and pursue these things. My husband and I have talked about going to stay at a lodge a couple hours from here once the weather warms up a little. It’s a place on a lake surrounded by beautiful hiking trails. We’ve talked about going camping and attending a couple faerie festivals this year. I want to get back into a regular writing routine this year, which seems to be coming more naturally now that my life isn’t cluttered up with other people’s “shoulds.” We’re trying to own less and save more, so if/when we do decide to move to the country, we can live in a smaller home. And I’m actively submitting my stories to publishers and other outlets.

I have a clear vision of the life I want, and my husband and I have talked about the common goals we share for our life together, creating a shared vision. Having finished his master’s, my husband is dedicating his spare time to game development, a passion of his. We’re creating side by side—my stories, his code. (Who knows? Maybe one day, a joint venture where the two meet?)

Thoreau’s quote is one of my all-time favorites. At one point, it was written on a white board on my fridge. I think of it often. Envision the life you want and then move toward it.

Imagination. And then, action. These are the ingredients in Thoreau’s famous quote, and they, together, make up authenticity. Moving toward the life we envision for ourselves.

Simplicity is just one tool we can use as we strive for an authentic, meaningful life.

So, what action steps did I take this week?

CREATIVE LIVING

Wrote 3,501 words in Spun Gold, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Revised the first chapter and part of the second chapter of Spellfire’s Kiss. Submitted a short story to an e-zine. I’d like to keep moving forward with writing 3,000 words per week in Spun Gold and revising two chapters per week in Spellfire’s Kiss. I’ve never worked on two projects at once like this before, but it’s an experiment.

SIMPLE LIVING

Not much progress on this. I’m largely waiting on hubby to recover from the flu so we can start taking boxes/furniture to Goodwill, and for spring to arrive so I can start more projects.

HEALTHY LIVING

Not as much exercise as I’d like, but I’ve cut way back on sugar. Still skipping meals, though, and want to improve in that department.

What about you? How do you embrace authenticity? How are you combining imagination and action in your day-to-day life?

denise signature

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Authenticity: The Right Blend of Imagination and Action

  1. Chris Kincaid says:

    I spent the entire day yesterday cleaning my house and putting away all the Christmas decorations which I feel obligated to put out each year. I think I should print out this post of yours and post it somewhere in my house, not only for me, but for Hubby too. Got in an argument the other day coz I asked him if he could possibly get rid of some of his clothes – I think he has more things in the closet than I do. Anyway, yup, I wish for a simpler life. And I suppose, as with anything, it starts with me.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Chris, I completely understand. My husband has trouble parting with things, and I know sometimes my decluttering efforts create some frustration for him. He just doesn’t share my passion for living with less–yet. But he’s coming around. Our goal of downsizing to a small house in the country seems to motivate him, though, so that’s something! I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      He is feeling much better, thanks! I’m finding that simplicity and creativity are linked for me, and the more clutter-free and tidy my home is, the more organized and minimized my stuff, the happier and more creative I seem to be. And yes, the Thoreau quote is a personal favorite. I think of it often. 🙂

  2. Erin Zarro says:

    One thing that I need to do is clean and reorganize my office. I have issues with clutter, and things have gotten a bit out of control. I know I will feel better once it’s done, but I haven’t had the energy to tackle it yet. 😦

    Awesome on the writing. 🙂

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Trust me, I’ve been there. My biggest struggle is with paper clutter. Other things I can part with, but for some reason paper always seems to accumulate. It’s a constant battle! I’m doing better, but I definitely have room for improvement. I’ve found that starting small sometimes helps me tackle a larger task like decluttering an office space, but sometimes you just need an undisturbed chunk of time to really dig in. It’s personal preference, I think.

      Thanks, Erin! 🙂

  3. ruichan says:

    An inspirational post and some food for thoughts… Having recently had 2 kids in a row, I feel my life is getting more complicated for now and I look forward to a time when it feels simpler again. Motherhood still feels very new so I guess it’ll take some time till it does feel simple.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Yes, I have friends who have young children, and I know there isn’t a lot of room for pausing, decluttering, etc. When children are small it’s very much a go-go-go period filled with both joy and exhaustion. I’m reminded of the Tarot card The Chariot, which reflects those times in life when things are just speeding along, and you’re just enjoying the ride. I’m sure it will take time to settle in to a routine with your little ones. In the meantime, just enjoy the journey, with all its ups and downs!

  4. Jennette Marie Powell says:

    I gained authenticity when I stopped caring what other people think. My husband has always been like this. Another great advantage of simplicity? It frees up your money, and ultimately, your time. Simple living in the country has a lot of appeal, doesn’t it? That’s what I’m moving toward, too. Good luck with your journey – and with your writing subs!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      I wouldn’t say I’ve entirely stopped caring what other people think of my life, but I am doing a lot better. I’m living more for what’s best for me and what brings joy into my life. I find it’s the simple things–spending time with my husband, fur babies, and friends. Gazing up at the stars on a clear, crisp night, or pausing to gaze at the mountains in the distance. A cup of tea and a good book or an episode of a beloved TV show (right now Father Brown is a recent discovery and instant favorite). And, of course, time to work on my stories! These little things–time with loved ones, time for reflection, the act of creating something meaningful–bring more joy and satisfaction than a life crammed into someone else’s definition of success. I’m glad to hear you’re moving toward a simpler life in the country. I look forward to reading more about your journey and the adventures that await! Thanks, Jennette. 🙂

  5. isobelmcelhinney says:

    This is so relatable for me right now – I read a book called ‘Simply Your Life: Downsize and Destress’ and your post is making those same bells ring in my head that the book did. It’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in what we think we should be doing – every tiny bit of media we interact with certainly keeps us in the loop of needing/wanting more. But taking that time out to analyse what you really want? It’s priceless and I think it is life-changing.

    I’m currently gearing up for another big edit of my belongings and this post really reminded me of why I get so much satisfaction out of lightening my material load! Thank you for sharing.

    Isobel x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.