For years, I’ve been fascinated by minimalism, being a digital nomad, and living life in ways that seemed simpler than ones most people construct for themselves. Even the one I’d constructed for myself.
To me, the people that lived with less physical possessions seemed to have a greater capacity to develop themselves mentally and spiritually. I envied their deep focus, their ability to move fluidly through life’s changes, and their ability to work on what was important to them.
For nearly 10 years, I secretly wanted to become one of them. Yes, I had traveled, I had wandered, but I never fully embraced the concept of minimalism or nomadism because deep down –– I was AFRAID.
Afraid of what you ask?
- I was afraid of what I might discover if I really analyzed my life.
- I was afraid of what I might have to accept about myself when there were no distractions.
- I was afraid of what bitter truths about lies I’d been telling myself that I’d have to own.
When COVID hit, it was my wake up call.
During the onset of the pandemic, I was living in Sacramento, restoring a house I’d purchased just a year prior. The house I owned, the company I’d built, the life I was living was a story that many of us are told we’re supposed to strive for.
But you know what? I was miserable. I hated the burden of running a company, managing my house, and dealing with the small fires that came up every week in the life that I’d built myself into.
When the world came to a halt, I found myself asking:
What are you doing here? Why are you forcing yourself to live like this?
You’re lonely, angry, anxious, and frankly – a mess.
I couldn’t give myself an honest answer except for the fact that I was building a life that I was supposed to love having according to the mainstream media narrative. Ouch.
Once again, I realized that once, I’d been sucked into a story of “what should” versus one that was right for me.
While, it’s never really about the place, as I could be happy anywhere, I asked myself:
What place have you lived that you felt that happiest? What did you do there?
My answer was simple, it was the time I’d spent living in Washington. I had started to come alive being a girl of the PNW. It was living in Washington that I had started to learn to have a life and live, and to not be defined by my work.
So I sold the house, packed what I thought I needed, and drove 21 hours straight back to the place I wanted to call home. The next thing I started to do was ask myself what I loved talking about and learning. And that was food and farming.
If you know anything about my food journey, or follow my love of farming and agriculture, you’ll know that food is part of my DNA. Coming back to the PNW, I decided to start honing in on what I loved about farming most and start to build a life around it.
But I never wrote about 90% of that journey publicly.
Why? Because I wasn’t seeking to become an influencer, I wanted to truly understand agriculture, food, and why I was drawn to the land so much. In the end, I did start to share what I learned, because the truths I found were not the ones being written in mainstream media.
In fact, most of what I found being told was biased, harmful, and misinformed. A love of science and evidence-based research was put aside. And when I tried to start to write about it, and talk about it, it didn’t get the traction I wanted. I felt defeated. But moreover, I learned that people only change if they want to.
So I stopped, and once again, asked myself:
- What makes you happy?
- What can get you out of bed no matter what?
- What do you find fulfilling?
- How do you want to live?
The answers were easy:
- What made me happy were my horses.
- What got me out of bed were my horses.
- Meditation, writing, and self-inspection filled my spirit.
- Being able to take the slow road, fully look inward, and make decisions without fear, made my heart happy.
- What fulfilled me was using my horses to help people ground, be present in the moment, and quiet their minds.
- How I wanted to live was unburdened by physical possessions.
- How I wanted to live was in a fluid state that I could change or pivot as things came my way.
So what did I do in order to embrace my happiness? I gave away most of what I owned and finally deleted a lifetime of work and channeled it into something that makes me proud.
The shedding process was physical, but also mental and spiritual
Physical possessions and stuff that had no use was easy to let go of. But once it got to things I loved, had attachment to, and/or thought I might need one day, it got hard. In fact, it took three months to let it go. And of course, I faltered and bought things back.
During the process of purging (and it was not as tidy or joy sparking as Marie Kondo makes it), I realized that with each physical thing I gave up, I was shedding layers psychologically and spiritually.
I started to process what was going through my head. The negative stories and the mind trash, I’d been telling myself for years.
- When I let go of the vintage leather couch, I stopped telling myself I was unworthy of love.
- When I let go of the two instant pots, immersion blender, and the Vitamix, I stopped telling myself I wasn’t good enough to accomplish something.
- When I deleted my website, I stopped telling myself that I was defined by a title and skillset. And I shed a version of myself that no longer existed.
The shedding of every physical thing (and digital) helped me see deeper into my soul and psyche.
And while it was scary as hell, in the end, I finally embraced creating a life that fit me. And no, it’s not a definable life, but I don’t want a definable life. I want a fluid life. I want a life I can say I love.
So here it is, one day I may be a teacher on my ranch. Another day, I may step back and be a coach and mentor. Another day, I may go dark because I need time for transformational soul work. No matter who or what I am that day or season, it'll always tie back to the things that I live for -- healthy inner wellbeing, horses, and spiritual fulfillment.
So there it is, my story of how I gave up almost all I owned and where it landed me.
Happy. Present. Mindful. Self-Aware. And Full of Inner Peace.
That is a well-lived life in my opinion.