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Since the first day after I left my job, I have truly felt like I am beginning a new life. Reflecting on my metamorphosis, I’ve realized so much change is happening all at once: I quit my 8-to-5, I’ve moved out-of-state, my lifestyle has transitioned from a static home to a more nomadic existence, I’m going from a decent paycheck to sweat equity, long hours indoors give way to time spent in Nature, and, most importantly, I am finally beginning to pursue my passion rather than biding my time. There are so many amazing changes!
Before I left Richmond, I reread most of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I am by no means as breakneck as the protagonist in that book, but many of the idealistic sentiments expressed in the book make my soul sing…
By then Chris was long gone. Five weeks earlier he’d loaded all his belongings into his little car, and headed west without an itinerary. The trip was to be an odyssey in the fullest sense of the word, an epic journey that would change everything. He had spent the previous four years, as he saw it, preparing to fulfill an absurd and onerous duty: to graduate from college. At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence.
Driving west out of Atlanta, he intended to invent an utterly new life for himself, one in which he would be free to wallow in unfiltered experience. To symbolize the complete severance from his previous life, he even adopted a new name. No longer would answer to Chris McCandless; he was now Alexander Supertramp, master of his own destiny. -Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
Naming my life’s theme for this year “Getting Dirty” emphasizes my need to “wallow in unfiltered experience” and reunite with “the raw throb of existence.” Eschewing material excess has helped me to begin to reinvent myself, to show physically what is important, and I can’t wait to see how I change as I progress on my journey.
These types of sweeping change happen periodically in my life, whether it be unconsciously self-driven or opportunistic collisions of cosmic events. It is as if I find a cozy place to learn and watch and grow, and then, all of a sudden, I must act on what I have absorbed; I can no longer sit still and live as I did before. “There are times in life to be thoughtful and cautious. Then there are times when the only way to learn is to jump in and ‘go for it,’ take the mistakes as the lesson, call for help when you need it, look in books when you can,” as Shannon Hayes describes this urge.
These bouts of change must have something to do with my need to live in alignment with my values. Maybe I am one of “the ones who [doesn’t] have the option of camouflaging [my] individuality: [I’m] just uncontrollably [myself].” (Sasha Cagen, Quirkyalone) In my opinion, while needed for a fulfilling life, living in radical alignment with my beliefs and passions is most definitely the harder path.
The process of maturing out of this conformity and into a state of ‘cultural consciousness’ commonly leads to a disconnection between some members of the family and community. This schism happens as individuals struggle to choose between normative behaviors and expectations, and finding a way to be ‘true to themselves.’ And it can be painful. Those who choose to align themselves with their values typically experience a sense of isolation from anyone else whose outlook is defined by conventional cultural codes. –Shannon Hayes, Radical Homemakers
Why is it so hard to break free of a life that’s good enough to pursue the life we truly long for? We like to think these things are complicated, but the root cause is pretty simple: change is hard, so we tend to put it off until it becomes urgent. When the time comes to change, it becomes an overpowering presence; something that must be resolved one way or another. –Chris Guillebeau
The time of learning is seldom free from pain and questioning. But from these experiences and what they can teach us, we are ready to learn. We all enjoy the easy times when the sailing is smooth, when all is well, when we are feeling no pain. And these periods serve a purpose. They shore us up for the lessons which carry us to a stronger recovery, to a stronger sense of ourselves. -Karen Casey, Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women
Riding the waves of change is always a precarious challenge. I find the most calming, helpful coping mechanism is to have a clear goal in mind. To avoid settling and taking the safe way during the scary times, I envision where I am going and where I want to be to keep myself moving in the right direction, wherever it may take me. Here is to the perpetually renewing chance for fresh beginnings!