Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Living Authentically

 A fellow blogger over on Goodie Goodie Gumdrop posed a question in a recent article that challenged me: Tell me how you are living authentically?

Jessica defines living authentically as striving toward a life that makes you happy without fear or naysayers dictating what you choose to do.

Am I living authentically? Yes. In the sense that I am trying my hardest to make life good for myself and my family, while at the same time acknowledging the long view. Is my life 100% perfect and exactly how I want to live? Nope. There are things I want to do now but can't because of my commitment to my family. I've absolutely put a lot of my own aspirations on hold for my family. I have dreams of where I'll be in ten years, and it's not here. Not on this boat at a dock with my husband working and me being the housewife and having my days arranged around playdates and naps. It's great right now because that's where we are in life. I've said it before, right now works, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. It's not perfect and it's not my ideal, but it's authentic. Yes. I am being true to myself and my dreams.

As a family, our authentic life is defined by: a certain amount of self-determination, a certain amount of compromise, and concrete limits (Hans's training and our finances). How do I find the sweet spot of living authentically (read: happily, fulfilled, challenged) within the constraints of regular life? How do I make my current life satisfying and happy when I know it's not my ultimate dream?

Embrace the now
Embracing the now is probably the most crucial component of living authentically. It's impossible to be happy today if I'm only thinking about my ideal life. Embracing the now means doing things that make me happy and also challenge me. Sailing is huge. We have a little sailboat and my happiest moments are spent out on the water. You can call it a hobby or a past time, but, regardless, in order to embrace the now it's important to find an activity where you can just relax and be happy. Running, sewing, playing a team sport, cooking - there are lots of options. I gravitate to being active and outdoors.

Challenge yourself
I struggle with finding challenge in my daily life. Don't get me wrong, I am not a supermom. But, at this point, dealing with tantrums, cleaning up the constant mess, providing space and activities for my kids to be engaged - this is all pretty routine and, while dealing with a tantrum is most definitely challenging in the moment, I'm talking about finding personal challenge for myself that engages a different part of my brain than making pb&j and drawing with sidewalk chalk.

These monkeys keep me on my toes!

After years of dipping in and out of yoga practice, I'm fully one of those yoga people now. Like a friend said: I drank the yoga Kool-Aid. I aim to do at least three videos a week and, in turn, those videos make me feel strong, a tiny bit more flexible, and my bad shoulder is FINALLY starting to feel better.

I would like to start volunteering and I've found an organization that would be a perfect fit for both my schedule and my interests, but it seems like my initial challenge is simply finding a time to meet with the volunteer coordinator. Between her schedule, mine, and my kids being sick, the initial meeting has yet to happen.

I talk about community a lot. It is extremely important to me. (Case in point: two neighbors came rushing over to help yesterday evening when I was home alone and Freja vomited all over the main cabin. LOVE my marina neighbors.)

One of my job titles is stay-at-home-mom, and, like all other professionals, I need colleagues. I have a number of mom friends, near and far, that I rely on for play dates, internet humor, and nap time phone calls of support. I recently started going to a weekly mom's group (childcare provided!), and the support and community offered there is strong.

Eyes on the prize
While I am currently living authentically by focusing on the here and now, I can do so because we have concrete goals for the future. We have a rough time line, we have a plan, we have a clear vision. We know what we want to do and we feel confident that we will get there. It is vital to have a game plan, otherwise we'd swing from branch to branch, looking for the perfect place to land, but taking ten years to get there, as opposed to five if we had a good plan. I keep the plan in my back pocket, so if I'm feeling stuck or having a bad day, I know that it's all part of the bigger picture.

Cutting myself a break
Striving to live authentically can be exhausting. I certainly don't spend every day thinking about how I can make it the best day ever, nor do I want to fall into the trap of just letting the days go by unnoticed and unremarkable. But some days I just chill out. I let the girls watch TV. I read a book on the back deck at nap time. I nap at nap time. I drive the girls to school instead of bike. We order pizza for dinner.

Living authentically means being happy today and dreaming for tomorrow. I try to strike a good balance between the two; I recognize my weakness and try to actively work toward personal challenge; I try to sit back and enjoy the here and now.

1 comment:

  1. My name is Crissa Boyink - my husband Mike and I run the DitchingSuburbia website:

    We wanted to reach out and let you know that we've listed you on a blogroll in our resources section:

    I especially enjoyed this post on living authentically. We've been RVing the US for 5+ years now with our family and I find myself slipping in and out of making the most of my days. Thanks for the reminder.

    We'll continue reading your blog and hope to be sending more traffic your way.