I have lived a full and abundant life in terms of experiences. I did not opt for what was expected of me – job as a secretary arranged by my Air Force officer father with suitable introductions to acceptable men who would then offer me a life in the suburbs with kids, mortgage and middle-class dreams. Nope. I hit the road.
I put myself through university working in a donut shop on the daybreak shift; being a receptionist at the student union; cleaning tables at a sorority house, and being a simulated patient at the osteopathic medical school. I got through the last year on two scholarships and packaged noodles.
The day after I turned 18, I walked off an Air Force base, unsure of what I was doing and drove to my first summer job five hours north on Lake Erie to earn enough to start tertiary studies. I had my mother to thank for the belief that it was possible to just walk away.
My mother left when I was 15 leaving me to take care of three younger siblings and a wayward father. She packed a rental car with everything she owned, mostly her artworks, and told us she had had enough of being an officer’s wife and our mother. She was not sure where she was going so it was a bit hard to comprehend her request that we come with her. She clearly had not planned for us to go with her in a small sedan packed with everything she valued, except us.
It was hard to watch my mother reach her breaking point and yet at the same time I realised how proud I felt of her having the courage to say no more to a neglectful marriage and emotional abuse. She showed me women can make their own road, no matter how winding it may be.
I started travelling at the age of one from Illinois to places like Morocco, Hawaii, Alabama, Ohio and Florida. The ‘road’ kept stretching in front of me taking me from the United States to Chile, New Zealand and Western Australia. I had no idea when I started my path that I would live through such a vast range of incredible experiences.
And yet for all the travelling and all the adventures, I am here at this stage of my life realising amidst the complicated encounters and challenges, the only thing that matters is simplicity.
A lot of my life now is unravelling the previous chapters. I have done the corporate thing, the not-for-profit mission, and everything in between.
I have been a consumerist and now I am trying hard to be a minimalist. I sold thousands of dollars worth of online stuff on online sites for reselling all that online stuff! They were mass produced things that I thought identified me as unique. Items from glossy catalogues so easily accessible on my phone, iPad, desktop and laptop that arrived in package after package bringing a bit of sad excitement into my overstressed life. Yep, I own it. I was one of those.
In my mind I kept having these little ‘moments’ and then some bigger moments called meltdowns in which who I was and what I was pursuing simply did not align to who I truly am. The inside started screaming at the outside.
When the outside was too busy to listen, the inside took to destabilising the foundations. I was diagnosed with arthritis, an autoimmune disease that is my body’s way of saying you are too stressed, your priorities are wrong, you are wasting money, and you are losing sight of what is important.
I decided for my birthday to book a cabin in Western Australia’s Great Southern region. It was going to be cold and I was going to be alone but I did not care. When I saw the Facebook feed for this remote place, I knew I had to go.
Strangely, life intervened and I ended up travelling with a new man who was brave enough to agree to sharing a cabin for three nights. If you want to get to know someone, take them into nature. If you both do not share the same perspective, you will never survive in a relationship. Gratefully, thankfully, we both looked at clouds and sand dunes the same way – through a lens – regaling in the simplicity of being together doing what we love. We found simplicity in just walking and discovering. We were replete, in need of nothing but the views, the touch of the winds, and the warmth of each other’s hand.
Being in nature is my simplicity, where I find me and the occasions when an inner happiness engulfs me. But yours may be different.
The question then is what is your simplicity. This is different from your simple pleasure – a coconut gelato licked in the warm sun or a beer sipped at an alfresco pop up bar along a river. It is the part of your life that gives you a feeling of being deeply calm.
As we travel together, I will share with you more about how I found my inner peace, healed my arthritis and finally started pulling the apart the fabric of my life without fearing that it would all just unravel into nothing.
I would like to share with you my learnings, my photography, my designs, my thoughts on meditation, my journey into counselling, and the road that still lies ahead.
And I would like you to share with me. As you can guess, I am not 20-something but age is not a limitation. Neither is gender, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or any other box we tick. Let’s share to learn, to heal, to enlighten, to breathe easier, sleep better, and be simply uniquely you and me.
I have learned that in life there are roads that have no signs, traffic signals, median strips, and white lines. They are unmarked, rutted, curving, winding, and hilly. If you have the courage to take not just the ‘road less travelled’ but the road that you pave for yourself, you will find your wisdom, your truth.
Thank you for joining me on the simplicity journey. Namaste, Lizzy.