I just realized that I start almost every poem with “And…” as if the words that follow are simply the next breath.
Because these days I write poetry like breathing.
It began again one day about two months ago with a sudden spark of inspiration from an obscure corner of the web where one brave soul had posted beautiful, honest words.
It drove me to pick up my peach felt tip and for the first time in forever, I scrawled halting lines in the yellow notebook. Suddenly I can’t stop.
Suddenly everything and everyone is a poem and I tuck it all away in pages both physical and digital.
I chuckled to myself the other day about how my brain works – how I can bookmark certain thoughts or moments that I know will become poetry – return to them like dog-eared pages in my mind the next time I have a moment.
And every spare moment is a moment to write…to dream, to think, to process – in meetings, in coffee shops, tucked behind friends on motorbikes.
Some days I can’t see straight until I scatter thoughts across paper to clear the fog of them all.
Some days I can’t make sense of my heart until feelings are emptied and dealt with in lines and rhythm.
Rhythm has always been healing for me. It’s why I write, really – to breathe easy and deep.
I have discovered the stability of a soul that lives in rhythm. And even in the craziness, the absence of schedule and routine, this soul finds her rhythm.
This rhythm of inhaling and exhaling beauty and heartache in each one’s time.
And in this way you can find delight even in the tired days.
“Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered…” Luke 12:7 ESV
to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength
to depend on, be grounded in
to place hope, trust, or confidence in
an object that is used to support something
I’m coming to realize that simplicity is cultivated from a heart at rest. Trying to minimalize one’s surroundings feels unnatural and unnerving when the heart is in discord. Yet ridding our lives of the unnecessary and making room to breathe is incredibly freeing.
In deliberately resting and making space to abide and contemplate, I allow myself to recenter and therefore am able to move forward from a place of strength.
In early mornings, my lifeblood is found.
A life of true simplicity will flow out a heart that is deeply content, trusting, and grateful.
You’ve probably heard it said: You have enough. You are enough. You know enough.
But I’m suggesting this:
You have enough because God is enough and that is all you need to know.
Situations where we feel inadequate are what teach us to “let go and let God.”
The Father invites us into waters beyond our reach so that we may learn the depth of His grace. Embracing rest allows us to stop treading water and simply trust being buoyed by His empowerment.
Whenever I think of rest, Isaiah 30:15 is the first verse that comes to mind.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’”
I did a little research on the Hebrew word that translates to rest in this verse. It is only used a handful of times in the Old Testament but two of the passages in particular containing this word stood out to me.
“He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” Job 36:16
That imagery is so stunning. I keep reading and rereading it.
Space. Freedom. Comfort. Good food. Abundance.
What a beautiful invitation to rest.
“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6
This passage is basically the essence of living simply and within your means, because it gives a perfect example of incorporating the profound concept of rest into our lives – learning to be content with less so we can stop striving after the things we don’t need.
When I have less to take care of, I spend less time maintaining it all and am able to pursue the things that really matter to me. When I spend less time on unnecessary obligations, I have more time to give to the people I love.
“Most of what we do and say is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” –Marcus Aurelius
I’ve been asking that question a lot lately. When it comes down to it, what really matters?
Who doesn’t want to rid their days of unnecessary clutter and have more space to be and know and learn?
I certainly do.
Ultimately it comes down to defining what is most important to you. What are your values? Your dreams? What would you strive to do if you could not fail? If time and money were not factors, what would you do?
How to begin cultivating a life of Simplicity:
- Learn what rest means for you and make it a habit – early morning solitude, reading, prayer, yoga, a quietly enjoyed meal, unobtrusive music, anything that leaves you refreshed and calm. Think of it as investing in yourself so you have more to give to the people around you.
- Define what truly matters to you – your most important values, your specific goals, your dreams, ect. Narrow it down to no more than the essential 4-5. This will become your manifesto.
- Let go of everything else – this is a process, and one that I am still very much in the middle of. Don’t expect to wake up with a simple life tomorrow morning. It takes time and work and willingness to make hard choices but nothing worth doing ever comes easy. Remember that.
I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on the idea of habitual rest and how it relates to living simply. Leave a comment below and we can chat. 🙂
I have long craved a simple life. The kind I had as a kid – when mornings were spent lost in the far-away lands of books and afternoons in the backyard sailing the high seas on my swing set. Where did the time go?
When did I get lost somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow?
Days are so short now. Yet at the same time they seem to go by the way a worm drags its belly slow across wet pavement. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning and there have been days I’ve wished I just would cause taking breaths is hard.
I’m tired. Tired of fighting the current yet still ending up where it’s taking me. I’m ready to be free. To be dry and breathing deep, laughing instead of gasping for air. I need space. My lungs, my soul needs space – space to be.
How contrary that is to the push of modern society. Not to be, but to be more. “You can’t stop now there is still so much to be done; how dare you slow down long enough to pick the dandelions, to soak in sun rays like oxygen, to live quietly enough to be happy, no. Your to do list is far to long for that.”
It’s been over a year now that I’ve been searching for the secret to a simple life – how to be content and happy yet still have dreams burn in me like hot air balloons.
I have no desire to settle for less but to settle deep into the abundance that I already have. To know when to say enough. To leave behind the demand for excess, and so be light enough to fly.
That, my friend, is living.
I have big eyes and small hands and dreams to taste the world.
I go to bed eager and wake up tired but oh so ready.
I’m tired of using tired as an excuse because there are things that make me come alive and my dreams aren’t going to grow themselves.
There are a thousand tiny causes worth giving our all to – like laughter and sunshine and the people we love.
I go to bed too late but wake up with the sun five days in a row and I know it’s time.
There are things I need to know I can change. My heart refuses to stay dormant.
I begin setting my alarm earlier for those few captured moments of quiet soul.
I start learning yoga because my body is a gift and a vessel for my spirit and I learn to breathe deeply. To stretch and strengthen what is uncomfortable so I can stand steady to the strains of living. There is something deeply calming about holding oneself steady upside down, toes pointed to the sky. As if to say, Gravity, you keep pulling me back to you but I’ll decide what standing tall looks like.
I visit the local farmers market fifteen minutes from my house and fall in love with mounds of love-grown fruit and vegetables and smiles. Coffee, toasted nuts, homemade goodies, friendly conversation, on-the-spot juicing, and people. Real, gentle, present people. I think I might love this city.
I make fruit my staple and bid farewell to dairy and animal cruelty and fatigue. Hello energy and new-found clarity of thought.
It took a day in July of reading in sunbeams on the deck with a glass of Grandma’s lemongrass tea for me to see that maybe sometimes we are happy but don’t slow down enough to realize it.
I have forgotten that this one life is not a race and if you run too fast you’ll burnout. We’ve lost the sense of slowing, of stopping long enough to truly see each other. When did productivity replace relationship?
Can we abolish to-go cups and linger over coffee? Can we put down the smartphones and listen and say, Tell me your story? Your heart has been hushed for too long.
Familiarity has robbed us of childlike wonder. We forget that there are sunrises every morning and shooting stars at night and a million tiny tastes of glory in between.
I crave those slow moments. Oh how many I have missed.
It’s time to claim them back.