About making conscious (yet intuitive) choices, going with the natural flow of life and sometimes saying ‘no’.
People have often asked me; how do you do it?!
What they actually mean is; how do you manage to combine raising three children on your own (that are actually turning out te be pretty nice and independent human beings), work, do the things you love to do, travel and build a company whilst at the same time staying sane and not being physically and emotionally exhausted.
About 12 years ago my life turned a drastic different direction because my then partner and father of my children became seriously mentally ill. When things climaxed out of control and the lives of my children and me weren’t safe anymore, I finally chose the path of single parenting. Having experienced hardship and not having the luxury of a supportive other parent - made me great at failing hard and learning very fast! Although it was a painful experience - and it still is - I am grateful for this learning opportunity.
What also helped a lot was having truly experienced that life as we know it, can be over just like that.
I chose not to partake in the ratrace of ambition and making a career for the sake of achieving a certain status and the money that goes with it in order to ‘some day, when I have the time, enjoy life’. I chose to, even though I have the responsibility of three young kids, live with intuition and courage. I take risks, I develop and feed myself by traveling, reading, learning (for instance about yoga and meditation), I am creative with no other purpose than to be creative, but I also learn about myself by investigating old patterns and habits, I take good care of myself and I regularly take time off and time-outs.
Over the last few days I found out, to my big surprise, that a few of my friends see me as one of their examples in how to lead a fulfilling life. They also asked me to share more about how and why I do the things I do. Hence these 5 little findings, for what it’s worth.
1. Be willing to let go of certain securities in life. Is it truly worth it to hold on to things (ie a jobs, relationships) that make you unhappy, stressed and/or tired? Investigate why you cling to certain securities. Is it low self esteem, the need to be recognized, status, money, control? Becoming comfortable in a certain ‘status quo’ - especially if it is a toxic one, is one of main reasons for a stagnating personal growth and development.
Being left with a debt of ten thousands of euros after my divorce, being stripped of all of our possessions (and what at that time was also my self-worth), having to move to social housing, losing jobs, quitting them, starting from scratch. It makes you flexible, creative and more appreciative of the so-called little things in life, like being healthy, having a clear mind and spending precious time with my family and friends.
2. Live more intuitively - and less by ‘what is expected from you by society’, which actually ties into the above. Because tuning in more to your intuition will automatically mean making (sometimes) unpopular and uncomfortable life choices. The good thing is that intuition is your natural state. Therefore you don’t have to ‘work’ for it. You just have to listen to the true guide within yourself.
My parenting is mostly based on what I intuitively think to be right. I have long ago given up on parenting books and trust that I am doing what I am capable of doing. I am not perfect and neither are my children. This is all I know and that is good enough for me.
3. Make time for stillness, nothingness and maybe even boredom. We don’t have to achieve and improve e-v-e-r-y single moment we breathe on this planet. I know, we’re imprinted with a false sense of guilt if we don’t. But the alternative is being a victim afterwards. What do you prefer?
This is such an important one for me. Being quiet and still is a ritual I have long ago gifted myself. I plan it throughout my day and week. In the stillness lie many moments of truth. Meditation is a training in attention. It helps gain knowledge of our automatic responses to situations and it has helped me gain a better understanding of myself.
4. Say ‘no’ more often. No to socializing, no to cooking a healthy meal every evening, no to cleaning the house. Sometimes you have to sacrifice something you think you NEED to DO for something you know your soul needs. Don’t worry, the dirty dishes and your true friends will still be there tomorrow.
5. Allow for the waves of life to unfold in front of you and accept whatever is happening in your life. Move with the waves, instead of against them. Allow for sadness, loneliness and any other feelings. They are part of our being.