True contentedness is unremarkable to the outside world, or passerby.
Typing away in my cozy chair in the living room in my line of sight Norman eats his breakfast and Oscar acknowledging he will not be able to sneak a bite, takes a long cool drink of water. The croissant for my Sunday morning ritual is proofing in the oven and Sunday Baroque’s weekly program fills my home.
Even having lost an hour of the day, I have decided to wake up with the sunset and use the dawn-filled hour to work early before we are able to go for our morning stroll in the woods. All is well, and so much surrounds me for which to be grateful.
I began the morning reading Maria Shriver’s weekly email newsletter, and in particular this morning’s letter resonated with me, and most likely would you as well as a reader of TSLL. I’ve included an excerpt below as she describes a moment in which she felt, albeit unexpectedly, truly and sincerely content.
“Over the last few years, I’ve settled into myself. I’ve focused more on my blessings and what I’m doing well rather than my shortcomings and what needs to be adjusted (something I highly recommend). As a result, everything in my mind has calmed down, and therefore my body has calmed down, too. Today, my life finally feels centered, grounded, and solid. I feel like I’ve found my space and my place.
It was one of those profoundly simple, yet headshaking, moments of self-realization that no one ever really talks about. Sure, there are still things in life that give me anxiety (the coronavirus, the election, and Mother Nature as our neighbors in Nashville know all too well). But, through it all, I’ve been able to find my inner fortitude and soothe myself, something I’ve struggled with my entire life.
The truth is I never expected that the peace, joy or success that I chased my whole life would come to me when I was sitting alone, drinking coffee on my porch. I thought I was supposed to find that while giving speeches, accepting awards, and galvanizing change. That’s what our culture teaches us. It’s what infused into our beings at a very young age.“
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that on this International Women’s Day, I’m a woman on my own path. I’m living my one wild, precious, joyful and meaningful life. In the end, my friends, that’s what galvanizes true change. Watching, witnessing and being in community with people who are following their authentic paths is what changes the world one breath at a time. I thought of that every time I washed my hands this week and it made me smile.
So, follow your heart personally, professionally, and politically. Because, when you do, you will discover the feeling I felt the other morning. You will find yourself saying to no one in particular, “Wow, I’m good just the way I am.” —Maria Shriver in her 3/8/2020 letter from the editor of The Sunday Paper newsletter
I realize the excerpt above was long, but hopefully, as it did me, it reassured as to what living well truly is. It’s simple and intentional. It’s internal and individual. It is purpose driven and intangible. It is also experiential and tactile. It requires of us to be present to be engaged with our world acknowledging much needs us to let go, but so too must we stay involved and aware. It is the daily practice of elevating our daily life by how we walk and open our eyes and minds to all that is around us and that is possible.
Each year when my birthday rolls around, here on the blog, I share a reflection of some sort of life lessons, aha moments and discoveries about the world found along my journey. To share, as well, admittedly, as a way to preserve my own growth, my hope is to prompt introspection amongst readers as sometimes, maybe even often, we do not realize all ways in which we have grown as it can sometimes be hard to see when we are the ones walking through the world each day.
I have yet to share my life lessons for my 41st birthday which fell during the final week of February, so I wanted to take today’s episode/post to reflect.
1.Dreams, hopes, wishes can indeed materialize so long as we never let them go, we keep making small, yet steady progress, and keep refusing to not believe it can happen.
2. Clear, respectful, honest communication is to be treasured and a necessary ingredient for healthy relationship of all types.
4. Giving yourself closure on the past is healthy and necessary for being able to fully move forward. Your closure need not make sense to anyone else but yourself, but give yourself this gift of freedom.
5. Some friends, family and/or colleagues may not be able to travel with you into your next life chapter as you choose to grow and evolve or your life simply asks of you to travel a different way or in a different way. Letting go need not be dramatic or radical or even known, but rather a natural going about life’s path perhaps to meet again at some other time or maybe not. And that is okay and healthy as it shows awareness of the social support that you need to be well.
6. Give yourself permission to be excited about your life journey, your everyday moments and just be giddy. Let your endorphins soar naturally and see your daily life experience improve as well.
7. Say yes to opportunities that cross your path but out of schedule with when you had hoped they might arrive. My trip to Paris and Normandy was not expected nor planned. In fact, I had told myself I would take at least a year off before returning to Paris since my trip in 2018; however, when an invitation arrived to return in 2019, I had to say yes, and all that I learned, experienced, savored and learned some more was more than evidence that I made the right decision.
8. Less truly can bring more into your life. The unexpected discovery of my now home and sanctuary which is half the size of the home I owned previously is precisely what I instinctively knew I needed to live well. Less to decorate, but what I choose can be investments that will last. Less to clean, so I have more time to explore and create on the weekends, a perfectly medium size yard and petite garden, but exactly what I enjoy to have Mother Nature at my fingertips without a requirement of more time than I can give.
9. Mother Nature, moving my feet in Mother Nature, is my creative muse and her gifts are priceless. While I walk nearly everyday outside on the trails in Bend or near the river that runs through Bend, even walking in San Francisco when I needed to get outside, I did so and saw the famed parrots of the Telescope Hill, and oh what a delight. Inspiration is everywhere when we step out into the fresh air.
10. My dogs have been for the past 15 years and are my companions in this journey of my life as they let me be “Shannon”, provide company as well as freedom, yet keep me grounded as well. Savoring every moment with my two elder gentlemen.
11. Cooking, creating in the kitchen, is to play and forever be learning and savoring everyday moments.
12. Love really does live on inside you even after someone dearly loved passes away.
13. Host that dinner party you’ve been wanting to have. You may just bring beautiful moments and new connections to your guests that they will appreciate more than you will ever know. (read: 10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from my Last Dinner Party, and be sure to check out my first book for details and a menus for hosting a successful gathering.)
14. Traveling with my mom created memories of getting to know each other as where we are now in our lives and wonderful shared experiences that I will never forget. Check out our trip to San Francisco. We also had the opportunity to go to Oregon’s Garden which exceeded my expectations and opened my eyes even further to my mom’s love and knowledge of “green-thumb” life.
15. Continue to follow your heart, its inklings, its tugs, its curiosities, and you will never be led astray. Even when it doesn’t make sense to you, even when you do not have a model to forge the path before you traverse it, your insurance is that it is your heart leading the way. I am reminded of Julia Child’s quote which she expressed on the penultimate and onto the final page of her memoir My Life in France.
“In Paris in the 1950s, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French food is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. Good results require that one take time and care. If one doesn’t use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture . . . But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience.” —Julia Child
While Julia is directly speaking of her experience in the culinary world of Paris, she indirectly and perhaps most significantly speaks to how to live life well. Invest, have patience, do your homework, and trust the co-mingling of those who know more than you about topics which you love as well as your own passions and curiosities. Beautiful art, the art of life, your life, can materialize in its own time and in its own unique way.
May this birthday year offer insightful and inspired life lessons that elevate the quality of your everyday life even more and bring you all the more contentment, true contentment that you desire.
~A Year in Flowers: Designing Gorgeous Arrangements for Every Season by Erin Benzakein