Finding Simplicity and Slowness Amid Change

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The past few months have brought a great deal of change into my life. Where do I even start?

Townhouse renovations. Job hunting. Getting a job offer. Starting an awesome new job at a local library, which I am loving so far.

Dealing with a mystery illness for which doctors have yet to determine a cause, despite numerous appointments and tests. Battling joint pain, headaches, and sheer exhaustion.

Revising my novel Spellfire’s Kiss. I feel like this story is so close, and I’m getting ready to send it a fellow author who’s going to do some editing for me. The goal is to send the polished manuscript to her by October 1. The next goal is to start submitting it early next year, depending on the extent of changes based on her suggestions.

Where do simplicity and slowness fit into this? In the past few weeks, I’ve found a great deal of satisfaction in my new work environment, and continued making slow but steady progress on my writing, even with the frequent downtime and rest breaks required by whatever illness has got its hooks in me. Physically, I often feel worn down, and I’ve burned out before, so I’m trying to make time for myself.

So, how have I been keeping things simple and slow?

One: I try to wake up early enough before work (even though I am not a morning person) that I give myself time to sit with a cup of tea or coffee and just relax before I plunge into my day.

Two: Naps are my friend. If I come home from work and I need to rest, I give myself that time. Health is number one.

Three: I’m allowing myself time to adjust to this new schedule. Slowing down and cutting myself slack in other areas, thus allowing me to focus on my health and on adapting to my new life of library work and writing. And making time for all of those other things: playtime and snuggles with my animals. Quality time with my hubby. Spending time with friends. Reading and writing. Other things, such as trying new recipes and long walks in the woods, have fallen away since I’ve been sick, but I am hopeful that I can slowly add those things back into my routine soon.

I am trying to lead a slow, simple, purposeful life in the midst of a busy world. I believe things come into our lives when we’re ready for them. We have to work for them, of course, but we also can’t force things.

In my quest for simplicity, I’d like to add a few minutes of meditation into my daily routine. In search of simplicity, I am letting go of a quest for perfection. The house might be a little messy. Not every room is perfectly decluttered. Not every meal is homecooked from scratch.

Ultimately, I am learning that true simplicity lies not in living some picturesque life in which I rise early, bake bread, cook every meal from local ingredients, and live in a Pinterest-ready minimalist home. True simplicity is sipping tea and reading a good book. Keeping my possessions at a level that’s adequate without becoming overwhelming, and working, a little each day, toward my goals. Spinning and sharing stories that bring people joy and inspiration. Working toward a small, simple house filled with love, creativity, and whimsy. Maintaining my health. Staying close to my values and purpose.

I ask myself on a regular basis if something is in line with those values and that purpose. Writing books? Definitely. Working at a library? Solid yes. Saving up for a little cottage with a yard? Absolutely. Decluttering bit by bit? Yes.

But sometimes I fail. Eating take-out when I should be making a simple meal at home. Letting things slide until they become an overwhelming mess. Forgetting to let myself rest. Not doing yoga as regularly as I should.

When that happens, I’ve learned not to beat myself up. I simply regroup and make small course corrections. That’s the key. Tiny changes. Ten minutes of yoga or stretching. A little bit of money added to a savings account. Rising thirty minutes earlier to sip tea and be alone with my thoughts. Adding a new, healthy, easy recipe to my repertoire.

I have entered a season of change. But aren’t most seasons? Aren’t the seasons themselves a reminder of life’s constant state of change?

The key, I’m finding, is to find our true north. Call it purpose, principles, values, mission. The key is self-knowledge, and readjusting a little each day so we keep it always in our sights.

What about you? Have you had periods of intense change in your life? How did you stay grounded and focused on your values?

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8 thoughts on “Finding Simplicity and Slowness Amid Change

  1. Fred the Needle says:

    What a great job you are doing too! It’s not easy starting a new job, even if it is one that you enjoy.
    I am sorry to read about your health problems, but being more in tune with your body, as you are doing is the best way to help.

    The difficulty, I find, when I start on a new path is that I make it an all or nothing, good versus bad. Like you, I aspire to live slow, cook from scratch and the 100 other things that prod me into more authentic living, but self compassion has been the key to balancing it all out. It steps you away from good versus bad, or all or nothing thinking, instead it focusses on the positive path to where you wish to be. I might have a take away or convenience food, but overall I am eating more from scratch… that sort of reframing helps to keep me on the path rather than pass or fail. If that makes sense.

  2. shanjeniah says:

    Since Jim’s death on January 12 (actually, since his diagnosis last November 13), life has been constant change for me, and for us (our family unit of three).

    In addition to the inumerable small and large changes that go with a spouse’s death, I am the sole surviving parent of two teens, ages 14 and (just, 2 weeks ago) 17. Teens are change agents in and of themselves. Not since they were toddlers have my children grown and changed so swiftly, and that has filled up many days and weeks as I navigate the ever changing waters of being their partner in this seeming rush to adulthood.

    I tend to try to do about 4 times what I could manage on a day where life flowed perfectly. I tend not to think of all the ways in which grief is exhausting (because, overall, I haven’t been shattered or battered by Jim’s death). I don’t give myself the full credit for all the changes made, especially during extremely busy times such as this summer. Our home is beyond messy (I don’t think two solid days of all of us cleaning non-stop would be enough, right now), and there are repairs we need to have made, but which couldn’t be arranged when we weren’t going to be here.

    Most of my writing-related things have taken a back seat these last few weeks.

    Now that we’ve reached the final day of this extremely busy time, I’m feeling the drive to dive into all the things neglected during the surge – but I also know I don’t have the energy to sustain that activity level.

    So, like you, I’m going to go for baby steps. Tiny choices. A minute here, two there. That way, I can build up to a more reasonable level of tidiness, more focus on writing-things, and getting the needed home repairs scheduled, overseen, and paid for.

    That’s what the next round will be for me – settling, grounding, and preparing.

    Congratulations on the new job, and I hope you have relief and answers for your ailment soon!

  3. Jennette Marie Powell says:

    I’ve missed your posts on ROW80, and am sorry to see it’s because you aren’t feeling well. I can unfortunately relate to the headaches and fatigue, and those things alone can make even the simplest things overwhelming. Baby steps are definitely what get me through when it’s bad, as is giving myself a little slack. This is a period of change for me too, as we begin construction on our new house and prepare to move to another state, when neither me nor my husband has ever lived outside of southwest Ohio!

    Anyway, glad to see you back to blogging!I hope you figure out the cause of your health issues, and can feel better soon!

  4. www.ginabriganti.com says:

    Reiki love to you, Denise. You are always in my heart.

    Your approach is good and grounded, just like you. I love that you’re working in a library! Surrounding yourself with books is good medicine.

    It has been said that the only constant in the universe is change. As a Scorpio, I tend do believe that!

    How I stay grounded is through daily meditation – the more challenging the change is, the more I meditate. What isn’t important has a way off disappearing, leaving the core of what matters clear to me, and my ability to address it, intact.

  5. writerRSJ says:

    Congrats on the new job!

    I loved this post as you illustrated just how hard stillness can be in this world. It is definitely something I struggle with personally too. My struggles are harder when I use other’s view of a good, simple life. Your take on a true North is on point and something I’m going to study in my own life. Thank you!

    Again, a great post! Keep on your path and keep making those tiny (but so vitally powerful) changes!

  6. Beth Camp says:

    I read your post during a busy time a few days ago and found the focus and sense of restfulness so powerful. Thank you. May those doctors find out what’s been causing those headaches and put you on a healing path.

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