To Be Settled, But Not Settle: The Difference
Monday February 13, 2023

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Some people are settling down, some people are settling, and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.”—Carrie Bradshaw in season 5, episode 8 of SATC

The definitions of ‘settling’ are as vast as the many different ways people choose to settle: to conclude, to bring to a close, to reach an agreement, to secure, to establish, to make quiet, to place, to make permanent. Depending upon the context, settling can have negative connotations such as when it means to colonize or as grand and hope-filled in connotation when arranged in a desired position or state of being, and the list goes on.

For the purposes of today’s post, the concept of settling is in relationship to how we live and move through our daily lives, how we construct our days, how we feel as each day unfolds and the quality of our contentment as pertaining to our life journey decisions, skill development and courage to honor what we discover to be true.

As I settled down on the garden porch for the first time in the new year, I surrounded myself with comforts to bring calm, pause time (or hold me in the Present), soothe and enable my mind to clear and be open to the ideas that wish to say hello. An integral part of comfort in such a ‘settling in’ scenario is the presence of my dogs and their enjoyment of the space as well, a hot cuppa, soothing music on my wireless Roberts radio as it quietly plays Baroque music and a wallop of sunshine. In such a scenario, hours can pass without my noticing.

To settle in such a way that is chosen consciously is distinctly different than if we resign ourselves to that which we know does not fulfill us, but rather consistently drains and limits, or even worse, harangues or degrades us. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments, a day, or a temporary situation that is short-lived (and we know it will be short-lived prior to this situation beginning) that we may have to experience in order to invest in what we value, but the ‘settling’ I refer to in the latter example is to forsake ourselves and our dreams to settle and accept the false idea that ‘this is just the way it will be and I cannot change it’. Such a limiting way of thinking and thus living is to remove our unique gifts from the world that genuinely will benefit and be grateful for our offering should we have the courage to make changes that will be temporarily uncomfortable or require more patience than we errantly think we have.

I came across the following quote from author Alexandra Elle recently and want to share it with you as it speaks to a helpful truth to understand with regards to the fine line that differentiates being settled and settling.

“Trusting the timing: When I started trusting the timing of my life, I started to realize and truly own that the things that are for me are not going to miss me—and that I can be patient, that I can be easeful, and that I don’t have to force anything or anyone to meet me where I am. 

What is for me is going to flow. 
What is for me is going to come in abundance. 
So as I wait, I work. 

Wait for it while you work for it. Nothing that is for you is going to miss you.”

—Alexandra Elle, author of How We Heal

‘To be settled’ doesn’t mean that all is perfect in our life (let me ease your mind and share – it never will be, but it can be perfect on our terms (rather than attaining perfection) for what brings us inner calm), but what it does mean is that we have found a place of grounded contentment, our life is on the ‘right track’ as we each define it and while we may not have everything sorted or have not reached certain objectives yet, we now have the tools, and the skills to navigate well forward as we have established a mode of travel that is deeply enjoyable. And this is where ‘trusting the timing’ that Alexandra Elle write about above is key to understanding.

~To explore what those tools and skills are and how to welcome them into your life, be sure to explore my 2nd book – Living The Simply Luxurious Life where I share two detailed chapters on Stocking Your Toolbox.~ | The Simply Luxurious Life

With our intentions clear, confusion and ambiguity are replaced with clarity. We are energized by our daily routines, weekly rituals, morning and evening rituals, knowing and with quiet confidence, establishing our boundaries and because we are fully present in our days – in each conversation, interaction, situation – we don’t project but observe what we experience knowing how to make the best decision for the journey we are on, seizing opportunities or graciously declining invitations that would derail our desired direction.

And as for the quote chosen and included at the top of today’s post, without a question, ‘not settling for anything less than butterflies’ is the recommended choice for a life of contentment, but what we sometimes misunderstand is that butterflies are dynamic, symbolizing that our lives are dynamic as well. So long as we are embracing the concepts shared above, there need not be a pursuit of butterflies, but rather a savoring of the life that brings butterfly moments into our lives. And what we discover is the ‘butterfly life’ as I equated it in my most recent book – The Road to Le Papillon – a life that brings you contentment, and while such a life is not one set in cement, it will dance and move and delight and surprise you, but you must be grounded in what you know to be true about yourself and have the courage to keep your eyes and heart open all the while savoring the everyday life you have built and enjoy living.

Screenshot 2023-02-12 at 1.29.33 PM

To share some examples of being settled in a ‘butterfly’ life: Raising a pup takes time, as no doubt all any TSLL reader who has a furry family member knows, so just yesterday, as I chose to sit on the porch and will be doing so more regularly, part of my doing so is to be outside with Nelle as she has recently found her ‘bark’ and barks at neighbors who are peacefully taking walks with their dogs. Of course, this is not what I want, so, I am now outside as much as possible, welcoming and hoping for as many walkers-by as possible, and with Nelle nearby, praising her with a treat each time she notices them and doesn’t bark. It will take time and consistent effort, but I know it will pay off and result in many years of her enjoying the outdoors in the yard and the neighbors enjoying taking their walks and not avoiding the sidewalk in front of our house. The butterfly life in this instance is desiring a life with my dogs that is peaceful and serene, yet full of their companionship, and while I know it is possible – the non-bark life – I also know I have to give Nelle (in this instance) my attention and not just give-up because she doesn’t innately not bark. Instead I turn this temporary time into a positive and enjoyable experience for us both.

And one more example. As many of you know, it was just over 18 months ago that I retired from teaching and stepped both feet into writing here on TSLL after 12 years of doing both simultaneously (20 years of teaching in total). Any transition to what we know is best takes time, and during that time of transition there are moments of unease, stress caused by navigating unknowns and making necessary changes that ultimately ensure a better everyday life in the long-term; however, in the interim the decisions that need to be made for us to arrive on the desired side we are heading toward, we may have to invest – time and/or resources, we may have to acknowledge skills we need to improve or acquire and we may also have to admit we have carried with us some bad habits that just have to be relinquished. It’s a journey, but a worthwhile journey, and to be settled in this butterfly life, even though I know it was the best decision, it has taken time and there have been confusing and temporarily unsettling moments, but not once have I doubted, even for a slight second, that what I chose to do was best for what aligned with my true self.

In a recent conversation I was having with someone who knows the journey I have been on, due to some pieces of the new journey not yet being complete, temporary stress was lingering; however, I also became aware that this is part of the journey I have chosen – I did not settle but rather am still settling in, and in realizing and acknowledging this truth, it becomes easier to stay the course, ‘trust the timing’ and just remember to keep doing my best, vowing to forever be a student because gradually I have begun to see that many of the choices and investments made are just now beginning to show their efficacy. It takes time, but so long as you are facing the direction that brings you to life and taps into what you can uniquely give, you are traveling forward to where you wish to arrive.

So I guess to be settled in the ‘butterfly life’ is both a savoring of the journey, the chosen journey, and an exhilaration to be reveled in when we arrive at the destination and what a powerfully exhilarating pairing and approach to living life, non?

May you enjoy settling into a life you love living and rest your mind knowing the transition period is temporary and you are not settling but rather living courageously a life that brings you to life.


12 thoughts on “To Be Settled, But Not Settle: The Difference

  1. Thank you Shannon for your monday inspiration, sometimes I’m so busy complaining about the bumps on the road getting me to my goal that I forget to savor the journey, something so simple and yet so powerful…
    have a wonderful week!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Bianca. Hang in there and yes, the beautiful aha is that when we do remember to savor the journey, the quality of everything else we experience rises as well. Wishing you as well a wonderful week. ??

  2. Good morning Shannon, so true (and a reminder that I need today). On another topic, can I say thank you for the recipe section of the blog, both the recipes themselves and their layout. This is the year I get back into cooking and baking. Since my husband died I have neglected this pleasure, not wanting to bake for one, ridiculous I know, I can share with my lovely neighbours.

    1. Sue, thank you for the compliment, and as someone who cooks for one regularly, may you find the joy and soothing calm I have (and save money while doing so!) each time I step into the kitchen. Judith Jones (editor of Julia Child) wrote a great approachable (not too large) cookbook – The Pleasures of Cooking for One. She wrote it after he4 husband (who also enjoyed cooking) passed away. You might want to check it out.

  3. This was a beautiful and timely post Shannon. Whether my life in general, my decision to have an apartment in Paris, start my crazy magazine idea, deal with endings….the butterfly’s path is a great reminder that rarely is anything as I expect it to be, regardless of the amount of planning I do. Maybe I should forget the planning?? ?

    1. Sharri,

      Ah yes, sometimes excessive planning causes consternation and creates expectation where open-minded acceptance would be best suited. While I haven’t given up planning entirely as part of the benefit of planning is helping us to let go and not worry we have forgotten key things, I certainly do much less than I used to and that has suited me well. Enjoy your butterfly path! What courageous choices you have made to bring fulfillment and delight into your life and the everyday. ☺️??❤️

  4. A great post Shannon Nelle asserting herself in her neighbourhood made me smile. ?Settled or settling are words which give one a feeling of ease or contentment.. Yes there will be days when things are not going to plan but as you say if you’re in a ‘settled ‘state then you’ll be able to work through unwanted situations. It requires work to get to that state. It’s important that you pointed out that” life can never be perfect but perfect on our own terms”. Striving for perfection is an on going battle which will never be won . Someone close to me strived for perfection all her life but was never content!I’d rather be perfectly imperfect (Oliver Burkeman).
    I digress a little .Not sure if you know the piece of furniture called a ‘settle. It’s a wooden bench usually with arms , storage underneath and a high back long enough to accommodate three or four people. The high back was a protection from draughts in medieval buildings and usually placed near the fireplace in the common sitting room. My mother in law had a settle and I remember that feeling of contentment when seated on it by the fireplace. It was my favourite seat. Bonne semaine.Kameela?

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