A guest post from Kelsey Van Kirk of Simply, Life On Purpose
Gripping the edges of the farmhouse dining table my husband had built me a few years back, my eyes were scrunched tightly shut and my mind raced a mile a minute.
“So this is what it feels like to go crazy,” I thought, as I desperately tried to grab hold of anything that would keep me tethered to the here and now.
Gasping sobs ripped right through me, and all I could do was be there, in that moment, surrendered to the unbidden and intrusive emotional tidal wave that I’d been suppressing for a very long time.
“Why now? I can’t fall apart like this right now.”
As I was experiencing this untimely unraveling of all the stress, overwhelm and exhaustion that had been building up inside of me for months, my precious daughters sat quietly in the other room watching their 3rd episode of the Magic School Bus for the day.
“How did I let this happen? How did things get so bad? Where had I gone wrong?”
I’d always been the girl who had it together. I could be counted on to get things done when others couldn’t, picking up the slack when others dropped the ball.
For years I’d been successfully juggling laundry and dishes, bath time and tummy time, grocery shopping and nursing sessions, birthday parties and date nights.
I knew how to get the most out of my time and energy, planning, preparing and running our life and home as effectively and efficiently as possible.
After I had my fourth baby, I vividly remember laughing and responding to people who questioned how I kept up with it all by saying, “Well I don’t have much choice, do I?!”
Somewhere, at some point in my life I’d come to believe that my worth as a daughter, a friend, a wife, a mother, and a business owner was directly tied to my performance….and that anything less than keeping up with it all was unacceptable.
“Well, I don’t have much choice, do I?!”
After a lifetime of martyring myself on behalf of everyone else’s needs, desires and expectations of me, I finally broke.
Rocking back and forth, a blubbering mess of tears, chaos and disillusionment, I knew things couldn’t go on like they had for another minute.
I was overloaded, overwhelmed, exhausted and depleted after trying to live on the fumes of constant demands and endless responsibilities.
This wasn’t the life I wanted. This wasn’t the person I wanted to be. I was running myself into the ground, as everything and everyone around me suffered because of it.
And I’d had enough.
Something inside me changed that day, despite having pushed through so many others like it before.
There’d been days that made me feel like a worthless failure as a wife and mother, and days that made me feel so hopeless that I thought about what it would be like to drive my car into a tree.
But on this day, I realized that there was no way this was the kind of life God intended for me to be living...and the only reason it was the life I was living was because I’d been choosing to live that way.
All along, I did have a choice….and I’d been choosing poorly.
After years of trying to tread water all on my own, I knew I would need some help figuring out how to simplify my very full, very complicated, very stressful life.
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The day after what I chalk up to having been a bona fide nervous breakdown, I called my chiropractors (who also happen to be functional medicine doctors). I told them I needed help getting my body and mind healthy...that I needed them to tell me exactly what to do, breaking it down as simply as possible, and then I would do it.
I also made some phone calls to clients letting them know I needed to step back a bit, and make some changes to the way I’d been working up until that point.
My husband and I had some tough conversations about how I’d been feeling and the parts of daily life that felt overwhelming. Then, we came up with a game plan to simplify our life and create space for me to heal so we could move forward as a family.
For too long I’d lived without proper boundaries in nearly every area of my life....and the first step in choosing to walk down a different path, was learning how to honestly communicate with both myself and others.
When I look back at the way I was living life before….making decisions and saying yes haphazardly, never questioning why I was making the decisions I was or giving a second thought to the cost of my decisions, it’s easy to see how I wound up where I did.
What I’ve learned through this whole crazy journey is that the way we choose to live our lives is entirely up to us….we always have a choice.
And I believe that choosing to embrace purposeful simplicity, letting go of anything that is holding us back or keeping us stuck, is the best choice we could possibly make.
As I systematically rearranged my priorities and eliminated the non-essentials from my life, I found that I finally had the space I’d been craving for so long.
I had breathing room, margin, and exactly what I needed to truly flourish in every area of life. By choosing less, I’ve been able to make room for more of what matters the most.
Things like getting enough sleep at night, nourishing my body with real food, drinking plenty of water, moving my body daily, breathing in fresh air, soaking up vitamin D, basking and worshipping in the presence of my Heavenly Father, laughing and playing with my kids, dreaming with my husband, going on adventures to see the world, and making an impact in other people’s lives through the work I do each day.
These are the things that fuel my life now. I feel lighter, healthier, and free.
Life feels exactly the way I want it to, and while it’s not perfect, it’s real, and it’s full….filled only with the things that are essential, and good, and life-giving in this season.
It was Leo Tolstoy who said, “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth,” and I think I’d have to agree with him.
So here is my challenge to you if you ever find yourself overwhelmed, stressed out or stuck in a life that no longer feels like your own:
Have the courage to let go of anything that is taking away from what matters most in your life.
Give yourself the gift of time and space, whether that means calling someone to stay with the kids while you go sit on a park bench and watch the clouds pass by, or taking a few days off from work and having a staycation to refresh your mind, body and soul, reconnecting with the people and things that matter most to you.
Ask yourself the important questions and give yourself space to breathe, think and respond.
What do you want? What matters most to you? Why does it matter? What is essential and necessary in your life right now, and what could you let go of?
Life is too precious and too short to go one more day stuck in broken patterns of sacrificing the things that matter most.
When you make the brave choice to simplify, saying no and letting go of the non-essentials, peace and joy will overflow your heart and quench your thirsty soul unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.
I’m not promising it will be easy. In fact, it will likely be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your life.
But it will be worth it. Because you are worth it. All you have to do is decide to start, and there will never be a better day to start than today.
To help you get started on your journey with purposeful simplicity, click here to download my FREE Simplicity Starter Kit, a workbook and resource guide designed to help you simplify your life today so you can experience more peace, purpose and joy every day.
Kelsey Van Kirk is a blessed wife, mama to four beauties, writer, podcaster, and joy-seeker on a mission to help women embrace purposeful simplicity in everyday living. She is the Founder of Simply, Life on Purpose, Co-Host of The Purposeful Home Podcast, and a lover of good books, good wine, and salty sea breeze. You can connect with Kelsey more on Facebook, Instagram or in her online community, The Simply Life on Purpose Sisterhood.