The truth is, no one can define happiness for you, nor your path to get there. It’s up to you to look and listen inside to find your own way which requires you just “to be.”
Matthew Kelly’s quote, “Live a life that intrigues, fascinates, challenges, and moves people to rethink their own,” got me thinking about how hard it is to live a life true to ourselves. Everyone has an opinion of what we should do, how we should do it, and sometimes even who we should be. For most of my life, I caved to the pressure of living, working, and vacationing, and doing life like everyone else, and I always struggled. It wasn’t until I did the hard work of figuring out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do no matter what anyone else said, that I really felt free.
These last four months I quit my high paying job to follow God’s plan for my life. A plan that looks completely opposite of the life I lived before. Instead of selling, I am serving. Instead of running, I am moving at a sustainable pace. I spend more nights at home. I say no…a lot. I see a whole world that I had been missing out on. I even vacation differently.
I’ve never really cared much about travel. Maybe because I didn’t grow up traveling much, or because I’d rather spend time in a familiar place with people I love than visit foreign city or country. However, I do like to escape the Iowa winter from time-to-time and every year my husband’s parents let us do just that. They winter in a retirement community in Arizona, and it’s always a trip I look forward to…because we get to do NOTHING.
There are trails to hike, stores to shop, restaurants to eat in, and a bazillion other things to do, but my mind, body, and soul crave rest. Lots of space to breathe, reflect, process, and wander. For this first time this year, we literally made no plans. My husband even joked, “Remember when we first started coming down here you had to have something planned every single day or you’d go crazy?!”
Yes, yes I do. My soul was restless. I was thinking of all the things I was missing out on, all the while I was missing out on being present with him and his family. Little did I know that no amount of “doing” would calm that restless feeling. That was work I had to do on the inside, healing I needed to do myself.
This trip I read 4 books, enjoyed a workout every day, wrote a lot, connected with God and my inner voice at a whole new level. We cooked dinners together, sat on the patio on the sun and shared stories and perspectives. We connected as a family on a deeper level too. I also had freedom in my schedule to go visit Erika on a whim, which was a sweet surprise and such a blessing.
I noticed a few people posting about this woman who was “the best of the best” in Arizona for treatment of Stage 4 cancer from Cedar Rapids. I felt called to watch her video and I message her to see if she’d like visitors. Best green smoothie and most uplifting conversation I’ve had in a long time. She reignited my spirit and our conversation assured me I am on the right path. Thank you Erika! (Check out her story and all her tips on healing, nutrition, and cancer prevention here.)
My husband and I agreed that we’ve never felt so peaceful and happy as we did on this trip. So the truth is, you have to find your definition of happy. You have to live your life the way you need to live it. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. You don’t have to do anything at all. Listen and do what brings you love, joy, and peace. Always remember…the best retreat is in here, not out there.
“People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You are very much in the habit of yearning for those same things. But this is entirely the trait of a base person, when you can, at any moment, find such a retreat in yourself. For nowhere can you find a more peaceful and less busy retreat than in your own soul—especially if on close inspection it is filled with ease, which I say is nothing more than being well-ordered. Treat yourself often to this retreat and be renewed.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS