the beauty of simplicity

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It would be easy to blame my weight gain, declining health and general state of unhappiness on the stresses associated with a successful career in the fast-paced high-tech industry. When they pay you ridiculous sums of money it is reasonable, I think, for them to expect more than a 9 to 5 commitment in return.

So I gave everything I had to that career. Often at the expense of things that should have been far more important to me. Like my family. And my health. And my friends.

I accumulated a lot of stuff, including another home, in another country. Each new car was nicer than the last. And the trips, ever more decadent. Like a weekend getaway to Rome, Italy (from Toronto, Canada). [Who does that, other than a Kardashian?]

But I lost things too. My previously good health ended up requiring daily medication to control potentially deadly high blood pressure. My formerly great skin (thanks to good Eastern European genes) suddenly looked older than its years. My body, while never skinny, had expanded to a size I’d never experienced, and one which felt foreign to me. My fun-loving spirit and carefree laughter disappeared, replaced by anger. So much anger.

And I missed far too many special moments than I care to think back on. These lost moments in my children’s lives break my heart the most…

No one forced me to.

These were decisions I made.

And I am now ready to take ownership of those choices.

It’s funny, you know, that when I was in the midst of it all, I would spend crazy amounts on lotions and creams to try to mask the dark circles that seemed to have taken permanent residence under my eyes, or to address skin that had seemingly overnight turned sallow and looked, well, old.

Little did I know that simply sleeping for 7-8 hours per night, combined with drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day would give me results that a $150 jar of face cream never did.

And I don’t think I ever could have dreamed that spending 6.5 hours hiking up the second highest peak in Southern California would give me more joy (and relaxation and peace) than a luxurious week-long stay at a 5-star Caribbean resort.

Coming to terms with the fact that I am solely responsible for my own happiness has been a long…long process.

Big houses, fancy cars and nice stuff doesn’t make me happy. In fact, the more I find happiness and fulfillment inside of myself, the less of this stuff I want. What I want at this stage in my life is to simplify.

I want a lifestyle that gives me the freedom to have more experiences – and I’m okay that this means having less stuff. I’ll gladly trade stuff for experiences.

It is the simple things that mean the most to me right now.

  • Climbing a mountain
  • Learning to become a runner
  • Making real (and good!) food for myself and the people I love
  • Writing!
  • Talking…like really talking to the people I love
  • Getting rid of stuff. The more stuff I give away or sell, the lighter I feel. Literally and figuratively.
  • Spending quality time with the people I love.

I had both my babies with me this past weekend. The combination of my daughter’s 24th birthday on Sunday, plus a family wedding on Saturday, brought my son home from university for the weekend.

I used to shy away from taking a lot of pictures in the past, because – frankly – I didn’t like the way I looked. I realize now that how you feel on the inside reflects so clearly and honestly on the outside.

How I feel now is happy.

Apparently I look that way too.

My [24 year old] baby girl and I.

My first-born and the apple of my eye.

The boy who will forever be my baby.

The boy who will forever be my baby. He owns my heart.

I’ve decided to be happy because it’s good for my health.

It’s that simple.

Get moving!

xoxo nancy

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28 thoughts on “the beauty of simplicity

    • Aww, thank you Miss Sam. I’m working on it. Funny that I have to work at being happy, but it’s true. It’s so easy to slide back into those crazy Type-A habits and ways of thinking. It’s a process. I’m just glad I’m finally on the right track.

  1. What a brilliant post. So many important lessons packed into it. I, too, had to reassess my career a few years back and make some changes. Being stressed day in and day out is no way to live. Although I didn’t quit my job back then, I was able to restructure some things, and it made a world of difference.

    • I didn’t quit either, Carrie. A corporate restructuring saw my role eliminated – and I was packaged out. So, my hand was forced, so to speak.

      What seemed, at the time, like the worst thing to ever happen to me, has turned out to be an incredible gift and a world of learning and growth.

      • Sorry to hear it, but as you say, it turned out to be a gift. It’s really lovely to find who we used to be again, isn’t it? Or at least part of that person. And by the way, I meant to add, you look fantastic!!

      • It is absolutely beautiful and empowering to realize that we are in control of our own happiness. (A shame that it took having my hand forced to learn that!) And, as you say, so lovely to get reacquainted with who we were meant to be!

        Thank you so much for your kind words!

  2. Brilliant post – and so so true. GORGEOUS photos!!!! Seriously!!! Your children are absolutely beautiful and I can see where they get it from! You look great in that little black dress too by the way. What a lovely, happy post to read 🙂

    • The dichotomy between my down/depressed mood just a week ago and the happiness I’m feeling now… such a roller-coaster! It’s times like these that I truly feel for those who have the misfortune to live with me. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your kind words Rose. They mean so much to me.

    • I’m trying to emulate the writers that I follow here in blog-land. The ones I find the most compelling are the ones who open the kimono, get real, and aren’t afraid to be honest. Mine is still a work-in-progress, but I’m trying to get there.

      Thanks for your encouragement Jayme. It means more than I can explain.

  3. Amazing and beautiful words….just like the smile shining from the photo’s! It does take work to be happy, just like it takes work to be a good mom and to have a good marriage…..:)

    • So very true, Joan. Some things are worth working for though. The magic is determining which ones. 🙂

      Thank you, as always, for your encouragement and support. You are a gem, Miss Joan!

  4. Hi Nancy…BRILLIANT post! I hadn’t heard some of this background and can now appreciate some of your challenges….isn’t it amazing how all those perks from your former life seemed to be the answer to any of our dreams…until you live them and then realize the costs they take on your soul. Now I’m not the best minimalist on the planet by any means, and I still appreciate some of the perks of a nice lifestyle….but I am so much more aware that it is all a TRADE-OFF so be sure and stay awake and aware to the price we pay, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually for everything we do. Congratulations for waking up to a new incredible life! ~Kathy

    • “…that it is all a trade-off so be sure and stay awake and aware to the price we pay…” <– This is a brilliant piece of advice, Kathy. I will log this one into my memory bank – as you've so eloquently captured in a few words a concept that took me so long to figure out. Thank you!

  5. What you wrote here is so raw that I had to comment. I went the same route and ended up in the same joyous amazing place!

    How eloquent you are when you look back on your life. So profound . Forgive yourself though. You were born at a time (i am guessing) where, as women we were given amazingly attractive opportunities to make more money that we had imagined and to live an amazing life.

    Your kids look like they turned out happy and amazing, as did mine. So how did that happen? It was you despite all.

    Great post!

    • Thank you Kelly! And that’s why I was so drawn to your blog — I do see that we are on parallel journeys, it seems.

      Now, if only I could find a way to earn some income in this current state of bliss, life would be grand!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment here. It means more than you know.

      p.s. I hope your trip is fantastic!

  6. What a wonderful post Nancy! It is so nice to see you happy with your kids looking fabulous thanks to your hard work and determination to take ownership of your choices. Definitely words to live by and I really hope you decide to continue your year of sweat in a book format. I’ll be first in line at the register!

  7. I’ve read this post at least ten times since you posted it. Wow. If your blog were a book, I’d bookmark this and write in margins and highlight most of it.

    It’s beautiful. Just like you. And your little black dress and your insanely beautiful children.

    This is actually my second attempt at a response. I originally wrote a five paragraph (no lie!) response to this but by some glitch of my browser (which I knew about and forgot about – dammit!) I lost it.

    I reckon it’s the universe’s way of nudging me toward brevity.

    So I’ll end this with words I’ve used before but a heart that feels it the more I read your work: You rock my soul. You bring light and love into my life through your honest words. I’m forever grateful to have you as a virtual travel companion.

    Cheers to you, Bright, Beautiful Woman of Strength, Sweat and Shoes,
    G

    • You, my Texan-kindred-spirit with matching shoes, never fail to bring tears to my eyes with your thoughtful comments and loving, supportive words. I honestly have you, Rose and a handful of others to thank for the more honest and revealing posts I write. Your writing courage inspires me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Trying to simplify my life. I find that the more complicated I make it (or allow it to become), the more stress and unhappiness — and that is reflected physically. The simpler a life I lead, the happier I am — and that is reflected physically, too.

      Thank you for your kind words, Rob.

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