August 21, 2015

Africa and simplicity.

Since the moment my feet touched ground in Tanzania, Africa in 2007 my soul shifted. It was a transformation that completely changed the trajectory of my life.

Things vs. experience. Healing vs. staying wounded. Open vs. closed. Smart vs. wise. Purposeful vs. not purposeful. 

A true gift from God, that experience was. 

As I was reading through my old journals and blogs during my time in Africa, I came across a post about simplicity. 

Before I copy and paste the is the juice that I took from this. I was in Africa 8 years ago. Somedays it seems like just yesterday I was hurling and shitting my brains out with Malaria! {insert poop emoji HERE!} 


I forgot that I was deeply seeking then, too. When people ask about why I decided to live in an orphanage in Africa...I usually tell them. "I was lost." 

It still rings very true, HOWEVER, I'll start calling it..."I was seeking". 

That really is...the truth. 

The irony? 
I'm seeking now. 

We tend to seek the most after a ROUGH storm. For me, getting shot 9 years ago was quite emotionally and and physically traumatic. It spun me into this "I feel lost" mode which eventually led me to Africa where I had some quiet, a lot of love, and little needy children who sang "you are my happiness"to me. Here's a video of it!

Gulp. Tearing up just watching that! 

Anyway, the nature and beauty of trauma in our lives is that it usually serves as a catalyst for great change...or simplifying. 

...or finding ourselves all over again. 

What if we pursued ourselves with such everyday life?

Why wait for the storm to come?

Let me tell you that we need to be on a LIFE LONG quest of seeking. We can live a more fulfilled life by pursuing ourselves, God, and others everyday. Don't wait for the relief team to rescue you after the hurricane...and certainly STOP being unprepared for storms!

One of the BIGGEST most BADASS lessons I've learned through my experiences is this: 


Read that again. 


Stop saying, "is this right or wrong". Replace it with "is this useful or not? Does this serve me?". 

The Art of Simplicity
"When most people think of simplicity, they think of clean closets and empty spaces, organized lives and cleared schedules. While simplicity does manifest in those forms, inner simplicity does not depend on outward circumstances. When you clear the clutter within, you'll eventually see a corresponding outer simplicity. But if you are full of chaos within, even a simple life will become littered with unfinished business and unnecessary drama. Choosing to cultivate inner simplicity helps you develop a mature way of life that has its own focus and order, even if your daily life is busy and complex.

One of the most difficult things to do is to release things, ideas, and relationships that no longer serve us. We often save every old thing. 'Just in case'. You'll open a kitchen drawer and it will be filled with clutter: old rubber bands, pieces of string, used aluminum foil, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. That kitchen drawer is a metaphor for life. Filled with things that you keep holding on to, pretty soon the drawer is so full you can't find anything at all. Even if you could remember what you have squirreled away in that drawer, you couldn't find it to use it. So you keep the drawer with more stuff you can't use and don't need anymore.

We do that with our lives, too. Old grudges, old resentments, old attitudes, and old ways of coping--we'll keep them around because we've gotten used to them and aren't sure we'd know what to do with out them. We'll stuff an old belief system that no longer works for us into a back drawer of our minds. Because it's still in there, it will affect our choices even when we are not conscience of it. For example, you might be meeting someone new who would be labeled in the old belief system as "unacceptable" and while you might now understand that every single person is beloved and beautiful, there will be a whisper of "unacceptable" even when you are trying your best to be open and friendly. Or you'll be looking in the mirror and suddenly realize it won't be the adult your seeing, but the unhappy junior high student who felt ugly and didn't fit in. You are still carrying that old image of yourself, even though it is useless baggage that you could live without.

Old judgements, old priorities, old belief systems, old ways of doing things are all clutter that needs to be taken out and examined. If it still works for you, keep it. But if it's no longer helpful or distracts you from what is most important, maybe it's time to let it go. Some ideas and things are like timeless classics. They wear well, they're made well, and they still look good and are useful after all these years later. Others are like clothing that is out of date and which no longer fits who you are now. It's time to let it all go and make room for something that is more aligned with who you are becoming.

It's time to choose voluntarily simplicity. Paradoxically, sometimes arranging things and clearing space in your outer life can help you in the process of creating inner simplicity. The very act of sorting material things can help you sort your thoughts and priorities. Begin by releasing the things that you can no longer care for and attend to. Start with material things-cleaning closets, attics, basements, storerooms, garages. Give away or sell what could be useful to others. Put back into circulation those things which you've been holding onto. Organize what you decide to keep so you know where everything is and what is available to you.

Then, take a look at your past an see what attitudes and beliefs no longer work for you. If you've been holding grudges against others, release them. If you've been hanging onto old regrets, let go and let God take care of the past. Long-standing judgments of others and of yourself not longer serve you. Wipe the slate clean and allow God to write a new story of hope and joy where the old one of hurt and anger used to be. Limited ideas and false beliefs keep you from exploring new ideas and widening your horizons. Let go of them, just as you let go of the old clothing you gave away. Let the healing energy of forgiveness release the limitations of resentment and destructive energy from your consciousness.

As you release the old, you'll make room for the good that God wants to bring into your life. You'll discover a new energy and zest, because you wont be using all your energy to carry around old baggage. Clearing the clutter allows the energy to flow more freely, and you'll bring more focus and clarity to the way you live your life."

Simplicity is.... releasing that which no longer serves me.

When thoughts or pain enters your mind...ask yourself...

"Is this serving me?".

It's THAT simple.

Apparently I learned that 8 years ago and never stuck to it. Lessons will repeat themselves until we learn them. I see the lesson...and I CHOOSE to let it marinate deep within my bones.

Happy Friday, my loves. 

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