A Year of Living Intentionally
This morning I realised that it’s coming up on a year since I started this blog.
A year ago I was revisiting my values and beliefs as a means to address a period of feeling very overwhelmed. As part of that process I asked myself what I really wanted out of life and one of the things on the list was “I want to be a writer.” Despite feeling pretty overwhelmed at the time I knew that this was something I needed to do so I built it in to my life and here we are, a year later, going strong.
It’s interesting that right now, twelve months on and I have again been feeling very overwhelmed. There are work responsibilities piling up, stressful occasions looming and on top of this, it’s been eleven months since I’ve had a decent break from work without any family obligations. Considering that I felt the same this time last year I have to conclude that this has a lot to do with the particular time of year more than anything else.
The upside of realising this is I can now put a plan in place to manage the next couple of months knowing that this is a time of year where things can get on top of me. My strategy is to give myself a break and reduce my activities and focus down to the bare minimum.
Despite my current feeling of being in over my head, I’ve spent the last year successfully living an intentional life. To be truthful I’ve been more intentional in some areas than others, but in general I have spent the year focusing on living a more meaningful life and can say with satisfaction that I have made definite progress.
Take this blog for instance. Last year I decided that I would become a writer and I would pursue writing in the form of a blog. It’s immensely satisfying to realise that later this month I will have been a regularly posting writer for a year. Even more satisfying is that I’m really glad I did it. It’s been a rewarding experience and I am extremely humbled by the fact that there are people who have found my writing useful and even gone so far as to follow this blog. I’ve always been an avid reader and harbored a quiet desire to write fiction but had just accepted that my choice to pursue a career in manufacturing engineering would make this impossible. Finding an outlet by writing about what I have learnt about lean and minimalism has allowed me to pursue my dream in a meaningful way. It’s a good thing too as I realised a long time ago that I just don’t have the creative streak that would make it possible to write fiction. So now I write about my love of process and self improvement in a few thousand words at a time.
Then there’s our off-the-grid lifestyle. My husband and I have wanted to pursue a simpler, less complicated lifestyle for a long time and we have found a way to do this this year in the form of a small piece of land in an out of the way part of the lower south island of New Zealand. It’s more than basic, it’s time consuming to do everything, but there’s nothing like watching the kids spend more time outside than in and being surrounded by curious native birds. The time we spend away from our normal bustling lifestyle grounds us and reminds us of how we would prefer to live and what we’re ultimately working towards.
It’s been slow progress on the health front this year as you will know if you are a regular reader, despite it being a main focus area for me. Slow progress doesn’t mean no progress though and every week that passes results in less pain and better fitness. As I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes you just have to accept that when you’re herding cats, the cats are going to go off course. You just have to bring them back over and over again. Right now, all the cats are going in the right direction so I’ll take advantage of that while I can, knowing that it’s just a matter of time until the next cat related escape.
One thing I have started doing, following in the footsteps of many of my minimalist and intentional living role models is getting up earlier in the morning. I use the extra time to stretch without having to rush. Daunting at first, I now find that having this time in the morning before anyone else gets up is more restful than spending that last extra half an hour in bed. An additional benefit is that its forcing me to make sure I’m into bed earlier each night, resulting in what seems to be better quality of sleep. This time of year is a great time to get up earlier too. The birds are already chirping and there’s something soothing about watching the dawn arrive while stretching out all of the parts of my body that need it, which is all of them.
I think the real lesson I’ve learned this year is that despite the obstacles, the chaos and the general randomness of life, attempting to live intentionally creates a solid, reassuring theme through it all. This year I have lived my values and beliefs more than any other year so far and it has been deeply rewarding. I am also secure in knowing that right now, I have no need to change the direction I am travelling in, which feels great. Ahead of me, there’s more chaos, unexpected setbacks and who knows what else. I know however, that through it all, I will keep walking the path ahead of me, even if I have to take a few detours on the way.