This week I was asked by an individual “What is it you do for a living Pauline?”
My reply was “I work at a semi private golf course in Muskoka from May to October in the Pro Shop and in the winter, I take time for me.”
“Wow! It’s great that you can do that. Your husband must have a pretty good job”
Me: “Not really, he works 4 days a week at a grocery store in our small town. We just choose to live a simple life. We have what we need, the rest are just wants.”
Amazing the look, I received. Almost as though there was something wrong with me.
However, this conversation did inspire me to write a blog about how & why I chose to live a simple life. I hope you enjoy and are inspired to find your own way of living that lets you be your authentic self.
It’s Simply Enough
The world we live in is such a loud, busy, noisy place. Others always telling us we need to grasp for more, that bigger is better. Seems the world around us thinks we need to have this big impact for our lives to be of value or count. We ourselves seem to think that all too often as well. I was there, thinking “What if I never amount to anything when I grow up other than a mom and wife”. After all wasn’t it expected of me to become something, to make something of my life?
I leaped into the chaos of always wanting more, a higher title, a larger salary, a bigger house, a fancy car, for years I played the part and was very successful, but something was missing. This always wanting more, sacrificing my health, happiness and family time for what? So, at the end of the day I can say “I’m #1 or I’m in the Top 10” or “I make a 6-figure salary” “my house is the biggest on the block” Striving for this type of life left me worn out, drained of happiness and had me asking myself. “Am I simply not enough if I don’t have these things?” “Who am I? ”
It took me some time, tears, anxiety & depression not to mention a divorce along the way to find out that I am not cut out for the chaos of this society and cannot even begin to keep up. I know so many people with boundless energy and stamina that can live this lifestyle, balance it and enjoy it, but knew that what I needed was tons of solitude, calm and periods of unscheduled time for me to be the healthiest version of me I could be. The person who doesn’t care about expensive fancy things. Whose home is humble but is happy. Who would rather risk being judge so that I could just be my authentic self, be there for the people in my life that matter most. I want to do what I want to do not what society thinks I should do.
I don’t want to write a book or earn a 6-figure salary. I want to write because I have something to share from my experiences from my heart. I can only hope to inspire others I care about and encourage them to love and care for themselves. Because bigger isn’t always better and that they as individuals matter. That they are valuable for who they are, not the title they hold or the amount of money they earn.
I have embraced my limitations and have made peace with who I am and what I need and I honor your right to do the same.
Is it wrong to just want a small, slow, simple life?
I don’t think so. I am most happy where simple lives.
“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil
With the hustle and bustle that the holidays bring, often we forget to just take a minute and slow down. Time to remember those less fortunate. We forget about the important stuff. With that in mind, I wanted to share my random act of kindness with you in hopes it will inspire you to do a random act of kindness for someone. Let’s call it the Holiday Kindness Challenge and I challenge you to be a part of it.
No matter how old you are, where you live, or what you do, we all can make kindness a priority. Try to see the positive in a difficult situation, to encourage others, to listen to your friends and family, to treat others with respect and to volunteer your time, energy, and resources to help make this world a better place.
It should be fun, easy and will bring the best in the holiday spirit. Let me share with you my random act of kindness.
A neighbor of mine had posted on her Facebook page an article about a trend happening around the country that was catching on like wildfire! I jumped on the bandwagon.
The radio had been issuing a snow warning alert for the Barrie area with the temperature at -4, factor in the wind chill -14. I’m about an hour to the city of Barrie but make many trips there. Last week while at a dentist appointment I couldn’t help but notice how many homeless people were hanging around in the park across the street. When I heard about this new trend I knew exactly what I had to do. So, I acted on it.
I filled a bag with scarves & mitts and headed back to that very park. Attached to each item was a tag that read “I’m not lost! Please take me with you if you are cold. Stay warm. God bless!”
Bundled up in my winter wear I went to the park and tied scarves around trees and put mitts on the benches. There was no one around at the time so I headed back to my car and waited and watched to see if anyone would notice. Soon after, a man with a bike and backpack walked up to one of the post and took a scarf -I was so excited. I ran up to see if I could take his picture and he said yes and thanked me- it worked! Tonight, someone will be a little warmer because of me. As I watched him wrap the scarf around his neck and smile my heart was like “this is what it’s all about!”
I had some things to do in Barrie but made a point to go by the park on my way home…the feeling I had when I saw that all the items were gone. Priceless! So grateful that I am able to share..it might not be much, but it doesn’t have to be.
I challenge you to a random act of kindness. If we all do our part what a better world this would be.
Two weeks ago, I made the decision that I was going to become the healthiest version of me that I could become. A long overdue visit with my family physician was just the wake up call I needed.
For the most part I eat a pretty healthy diet and have a moderate exercise routine. So, when the Dr. told me that my blood pressure was dangerously high, like stroke high I was a little taken back. Medication was prescribed and yet another new journey begins for me. Journey #2
Let’s start with Journey #1.
October 2013, I left a job that sucked the life out of me, the negativity around me was too much and left me dealing with Anxiety & Depression, I made myself a promise to never let anyone or anything ever take away my love of life again. My focus was to increase the positivity in my life. I knew I had to take responsibility and make it happen, because no one else could do it for me.
I just wanted to be more positive! I was so frustrated with the negativity that my thoughts seemingly force upon me. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I was ready.
I found myself seeing a therapist, reading books, googling positive quotes that inspired, encouraged, and motivated me. It didn’t matter to me that I already knew what the book was all about, or that I’ve seen the same quote 2 or 3 times before or that people might think she’s crazy seeing a shrink. What mattered was that I continually feed my mind with positive and inspirational material. The more time I spent in the land of the positive, the better I was becoming. So, what happened was gradually I found myself here today, one of those happy, positive people that can handle any adversity. I still work on this Journey daily and continue to practice random acts of kindness. I just love making people smile!
This takes me to Journey #2
The same process I followed in Journey #1 for personal development is exactly the process I will follow to supercharge my life with a gym membership to meet my health and wellness goals.
I’ve Joined a gym!!
No doubt that intimidation is an unavoidable part of life. I know there will always be that someone who I feel is better than me in some way, but that doesn’t mean I should run from those feelings. I need to trample them under my feet. It’s unfortunate, and I know I am not alone on this one, people feel intimidated at the thought of joining a gym. I get it now, walking into room with mysterious machines is tough and what’s worse is that everyone there seem to be in great shape and know exactly what they’re doing. The hardest part about going to the gym for the first time was getting myself there.
I set up an orientation with a trainer who showed me around and taught me how to use the machines. I asked a lot of questions and felt a little silly but once all my questions were answered and I knew how the machines worked, I felt much more comfortable about showing up for my work outs on my own. I might have initially felt awkward following the trainer around the gym, but to me an hour of discomfort seemed much better than days of confusion at the gym.
It’s hard in the beginning, (only 2 weeks into it) because I’m trying to change something that my body isn’t used to. I’m o.k with that. I have decided the best look I can have when going to the gym for the first little while and trying to overcome the anxiety is one of confidence, because if I look like I know what I’m doing, I’m golden. Fake it, till you make it-lol
So, I will throw my ear plugs in and zone into motivational music that will silence the other gym goers and give me the push I need to keep going. My goals will give me focus and purpose.
Each day as I walk into the gym, I will tell myself that I am there to give it my very best and it doesn’t matter how everyone else looks. My first two weeks is not comparable to someone else’s 52 weeks. I’ve got this!
Gradually as with Journey #1 The happiest version of me I will also become the healthiest version of me Journey #2.
Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment.
I find that People always share the shining side of things, especially in our world of Social Media. Yes, I am guilty. It’s easier to share the highlights of your life than to talk about the negative, but I think it’s also important to show we’re all human, we all have failures, we have things that are more difficult to cope with.
Admitting vulnerability has the ability to connect people. I hope that with this blog I connect with you & give you inspiration.
Everyone has struggles in life – it just happens that anxiety and depression are mine.
Anxiety. At some point in life you will face it. A public speech, job interviews or the first day at your new job, you’ll get nervous, do whatever it is that is making you nervous and then go back to your usual self. This makes me incredibly envious.
The stigma around having a mental health issue causes a lot of people to hide it. That’s why a lot of the time when you find out someone has anxiety or depression it comes as a surprise.
I am not an expert on anything. Most days I struggle with being the expert on me, but that is the only thing I come close to being an expert on.
People are puzzled by me — I come across as outgoing but introverted, very social but rarely wanting to go out and socialize. My alone time my safe place.
Despite many physical symptoms of anxiety, I’m a master at hiding it.
While I may not be able to prevent stress or anxiety from showing up at inopportune times, my remedy and a great place to start is by taking a deep breath and remembering I don’t have to have it all together all the time. Or even some of the time. The best thing I can do is live honestly with myself. I’ve also been through a couple of episodes of depression. Luckily, I have had the strength and guidance of professionals to get through them along with amazing support of family & friends.
I think a couple of my favorite pieces of advice for when feeling down is “it’s OK not to be OK” and “Sometimes we fall down because there is something down there we’re supposed to find”
I know this might sound strange, but I am grateful for my Anxiety and Depression even though I would not wish them on my worst enemy, but they have had a huge impact in shaping who I am, and in developing some of my biggest strengths. I’m proud of my kindness and empathy. Being familiar with struggle makes a person appreciate the goodness in life so much more. Life is good, and life is short, and for that reason I will make my journey count.
Anxiety and depression do not define me, but I am truly very grateful for the life lessons I have learned in working to overcome and manage them, and of the person I am.
I have become more proactive to stay healthy, especially when my mental health is at stake and have come to the conclusion that I will never let my most personal decisions be influenced by the opinions of others. I have to believe the right decision lies deep in my heart. I believe in the knowledge I have and trust myself enough to embrace the unknown.
The prescribed medication I take for anxiety attacks does not define me. I am OK with my decision to take medication when needed to help me with my anxiety. A decision that came from acceptance, not shame. A decision that allowed me to start down a new path on my journey.
My one piece of advice to anyone dealing with anxiety is to never let anxiety fool you into thinking you’re not strong enough for something.
Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way. This is based on my own individual experience.
No one knows you better than you know yourself. Always stay true to you 🙂 Always remember…Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness!
Someone I care deeply about is dying. My best friend has exhausted all curative treatments after a year long journey. Surgery, Chemo & Radiation have stopped & the cancer continues to take over her body.
From the day she found out she had 7 months, then 3 months and now they say anytime, I keep asking myself “what I can do?” I just felt so helpless throughout her journey. This girl has been so strong, positive and dealt with whatever was thrown at her with courage. I just tried to be there, to listen, to talk to laugh & to inspire hope & faith. Always keeping in touch. It’s all I knew how to do for her at this point. Support her through this difficult time.
I knew her Dr. Appointment was coming up and told her to let me know how she made out. Well she called the next day to tell me the news. “It’s not good Pauline, the Dr. said it could be any day” and then the next thing she said, was “I have a beautiful Angel I want you to have, it says Faith on it” Unreal! Throughout her Journey I have always encouraged her to have Hope & Faith. I even got a kitten and named it Faith in her honor, something I could take comfort in.
Today was the first time I have seen her since our phone conversation a week ago, I stopped to pick her up and was feeling a little uncomfortable I didn’t know what to say to her, I held the tears back, she came to the door with a smile on her face and the Angel Faith held high for me to see. She was so excited to see me and give me the angel. It wasn’t about her dying it was about me. Making sure I had something to remember her. This is when it hit me “oh my god, she’s going to be gone soon” but then just in that moment I got it. I answered my own question “what can I do?” I can be there for her, take it one day at a time and continue on with the listening, the laughing and whatever else she wishes for. It’s all she wanted. I cannot begin to imagine the thoughts that run through her head. I look into her eyes as we talk and it’s hard not to think of what’s to come. For now, though, I will accept the reality of my friend’s condition, if only with my head. I know I will later come to accept it with my heart.
My best friend is on her way to heaven’s gate and as she told me today” Heaven can wait, I ain’t ready yet” That’s my friend and I love her spirit.
So here’s to a few more stories being told, a few more laughs and a celebration of her 49th birthday next month.
Loving the outdoors this time of year.
Took some time out in my day to take in this beautiful scenery near the railroad tracks, some time to think, breathe. Everything is silent. I find myself deep in thought when suddenly I hear a noise in the distance. The sound of the train coming down the tracks brings me back to reality. The faraway place I was becomes no longer important and the moment that matters is now. Sometimes being mindful slips away from me. It’s like ever thing else, we must take the responsibility into our own hands to stay in the present.
The sound of the horn, the buzzing noise of the train on the rails, finds me getting excited! I wanted a picture. I’m pumped to have the opportunity to get this great fall shot-at that moment nothing else mattered to me except for the beauty of the moment I was capturing. Everything else forgotten.
Staying in the present takes time to develop. It is hard work and there are times when I feel like I want to throw in the towel. I know I will face challenges, obstacles, and problems, but I also know that if I am determined, I will get through them.
I do realize that life is not perfect, nothing is perfect or normal and there will always be obstacles. I also realize that these obstacles are nothing but teachers on my journey. Since I started on my mindfulness journey, keeping myself aware of my thoughts and staying in the now, my life has improved. I have reduced stress and I am a lot calmer, more at peace, and happier. I am able to see things in a whole new way and get great burst of insight at times that change my days from blah to WOW!
Look into the future and you see worry, look into the past and you see regret, look into the present and you shall find the purpose of life.