Just over five years ago, I was living a pretty "typical" American life. Meaning, I had a job (or should I say jobs) that I didn't like, mounds of debt, I ate a diet that consisted of a lot of sugar, dairy, wheat & processed/convenience foods, I seemed to always be tired & sick and basically, I was just surviving my life everyday instead of living it.
I would wake up and go through the motions just to get through the day. But overall, the days seemed to be filled with more stress, anxiety and fatigue than they were with joy or peace.
The real breaking point came in 2013 when my mother (who was also my best friend) passed away and my health took a massive nose dive at the same time. It had been a long time coming... I had been dealing with "mystery" symptoms since 2011 (that I would later find out had actually been brought on by stress and trauma) and by the end of that year, my adrenals had had enough.
I ended up with advanced adrenal fatigue and was literally forced to slow down and take a look at my life.
And it was the greatest blessing I could have received.
Yes, the reality that I couldn't take a shower without needing to lay down and rest, turned out to be a GOOD thing.
Because it forced me to slow down and take a serious look at my life. If my body was so physically and emotionally overwhelmed that it was literally shutting down on me when I was only in my early 30's, then something was wrong.
Granted, I had been through quite a lot during those few years including an abusive relationship, the death of both parents, a toxic work environment and the deterioration of my health. But the reality was, I wasn't doing myself any favors with my diet, my lifestyle and my emotional habits either.
So, I decided it was time for a change. Or should I say... God decided to change my life for me!
Everything was coming together at the same time and it was no coincidence. The adrenal fatigue was forcing me to learn about the effects that your diet and the products that you use can have on your physical health. I was also learning about the connection between your emotions and illness. And basically, I was finding that I was a poster child for both.
I was eating foods that were literally inflammatory and toxic to my body. I was using products in my house and on/in my body that were laden with chemicals. And I had been "stuffing" a range of emotions over the years (pretty much since childhood) that included grief, guilt, shame, frustration, anger, resentment and feelings of unworthiness.
It's really a wonder that my body was able to put up with any stress at all!
But at that same time, I also discovered tiny houses and minimalist living. And I knew in my soul that it was for me. Not only because I had always been someone who didn't care much about possessions (I didn't even own an iPhone or an iPad and I still don't), but also because it tied into everything else I was learning.
I was learning to get rid of the toxic stuff... the excess stuff... the baggage. And that included physical baggage too.
So, I decided to downsize my life and set out to get rid of about 80% of my belongings to fit into a 160 square foot tiny house on wheels. And as I went through the process of clearing the physical clutter, I found that it was going hand-in-hand with the other lessons too. Because as I got rid of physical items I no longer needed to hold on to, I was able to work through and let go of the emotional baggage that was attached to them too.
I was able to let go of guilt and regret over things I had done or hadn't done, grief over lost loved ones or relationships and most importantly, the false "need" to hold on to physical objects.
As I let go of the clutter, I began to feel more freedom. I got stronger. I got empowered.
I was getting down to the bare bones of who I really am. Who God created me to be.
Without all the clutter piling up around me and the baggage piling up inside of me, I was free to let my true self shine. And guess what? I wanted to take better care of her.
As I cleared out the old junk, the bad food and the bad products, I wanted to replace it with GOOD stuff - healthy food, non-toxic products and healthy habits. I began to eat gluten and dairy free and cut back on sugar by about 90%. I got rid of all the toxin-laden products I had been using and switched to healthier versions. I started to meditate and pray every day. And I try to keep things simple. I don't get upset about little things anymore. I give things over to God and actually let Him handle them now.
I only keep the belongings around me now that I actually need and enjoy. And I put more importance on living my life instead of accumulating stuff. I would rather be outside taking a hike or going on a trip to visit friends than have the latest smartphone or tablet. In fact, I'd rather be looking UP than down anyway. ;)
So, yes, I'd have to say that my life now... stripped down and cleaned up from what it once was... rocks now SO much more than it ever did. In fact, I experience moments of sheer joy and peace on a more regular basis now than I can ever remember.
I don't look back and obsess over what I lost. I remain in the present and cherish what I HAVE.
A simplified life with meaning, joy, abundance and peace.
And I look forward to less surviving and more living.
Until next time... keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!
P.S. If you're ready to start your minimalist or tiny house lifestyle, come check out the Tiny House NC Street Festival THIS weekend (April 21-23, 2017) in Pink Hill, NC. Get your tickets here!