"There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that
is less than one you are capable of living"
- Nelson Mandela
So here I am, 35 next month and my life is a million miles away from where I thought it would be. I am currently sitting on my childhood bed in my pants on a Thursday morning writing this blog. I am a nomad and a bit of a hippy. I am unmarried, unabashed and unattached. I don't own a car, or live in a house, and my most constant companion is a pink suitcase (it took me 3 years to upgrade from the backpack).
As we get older, many of us naturally feel the need to create some stability in our lives. Traditionally this means 'settling down', getting married, buying a house, having kids, committing to a career path, but what if these things aren't present, aren't imminent or indeed ... what if they are not wanted? Does this mean we are destined to feel UN-settled? In a society that defines what should happen at each stage of our lives, it's easy to feel the pressure ... especially as a women ... especially at 35 ;)
Let's take a quick look at the dictionary definition of 'settling down' shall we ...
to become calm, quiet, or orderly
to begin a stable, orderly, and often conventional way of life
to begin doing something in a diligent and orderly way
Nowhere in this definition does it mention houses, men or children ... hmmm, interesting. In fact when I think about my yoga journey over the past 5 years of travelling full time and definitely not 'settling down', I've actually been ... wait ... settling down?! Huh? I have become more calm, more at peace (although I'm still far from quiet as you guys know), my career is stable and my business affairs are well organised. And I'm definitely 'doing something in a diligent and orderly way' - my yoga! You see I’ve come to understand this as ‘settling in’. Accepting myself and being at peace with where I am right now rather, than chasing the life that society expects of us.
Don’t get me wrong, a big part of me yearns for the marriage, the nice house (read: villa for running retreats), and to put down roots so to speak, but I have begun to unpick this … what is it that I really want and what do these ‘things’ represent?
Enter the humble gratitude journal, a technique I learned on my second teacher training with the incredible Julie Martin and a practice that has stayed with me over the years. It is a practice of asking the universe for what you want …what you REALLY want.
Consider this; if you ask a bunch of people 'what do you want?" many of them will say they want to win the lottery, which in its purest form means owning lots of pieces of paper called ‘money’. Is it really physical ‘money’ that you desire or is it what that money represents? Perhaps freedom, stability, security, abundance etc are what you desire.
Now lets unpick that. Say you’ve ascertained that you want to attract freedom. Do you really need to win the lottery to experience that? What if you reassessed your relationships, travelled more, changed up your daily routine? What if you took a moment and realised that that fact you can even access the internet to read this blog in the comfort of your own home, with food in your belly, means you are more free than the majority of people across the globe. Does that make you feel grateful? Does that realisation make you feel free? Shifting our perspective and focusing on the things we can control of our lives is surely preferable to waiting for that 1 in 175 million (yes I Googled it) lottery win. You’re essentially waiting for an external ‘miracle’ beyond your control before you allow your dream life to begin.
Personally, I’m beginning to realise that the stability that I associate with a relationship or a place doesn't really require either of those things. What it requires is for me to fall in love with myself, to care for myself as I would a partner, a home or a child. To be grateful for my stable family, the practice of yoga which is more ‘home’ than anything else in this world, to appreciate how bloody fortunate I am to even have the luxury of time to question how ‘stable’ my life is.
So what about instead of settling down, we settled in? Just in the way we do on a cold winters night, wrapped in warm snuggly clothes, a soothing cup of tea and a comfy sofa, with the energy of nurturing and caring for ourselves… to make time to say ‘hey, I’m doing ok and I am enough’.
When we search for fulfilment from external sources we miss an invaluable opportunity to find the things we seek within ourselves. We already have everything we need … we are already whole. This life is not about ‘things’, this life is about love and as the old adage goes ‘love starts with yourself’
Hoping you see the beauty in yourself today,
With love always,