Setting Mindful Intentions for a Slow and Simple Life

I'm kicking off the new year with a zombie-like cold, so I'm writing to you from my bed, buried in blankets, for honestly the 6th day in a row. My little hiatus from work has been so lovely and full of rest but I'm eager to get back to creating. Things are going to be different this time, though. I know everyone says that at the beginning of the year, but this time I really truly have to mean it. 

2018 was a really great year but also a really hard one. By the end of the year, I was pretty close to burnout (if not there already), physically and mentally. I mean, definitely not like a leave-your-career-abandon-your-faith kind of burnout but I've been pretty exhausted and was working from a place of  expectations and checking off lists instead of from a place of love and intention. You'd think I would have learned by now that living like that doesn't produce the outcome I want. 

I find myself constantly torn between one part of me that wants to work hard while keeping my head down and the other part of me that wants to (or maybe more so, feels like I have to) make all my dreams and ideas come to life as soon as possible, grow my audience, grow my business, make more money, reach more people...like I’m “supposed to do.” Maybe someday I will find that perfect balance but right now it seems like it’s a never ending roller coaster of depleting my energy and trying to replenish it before the next idea or inspiration hits.

I find myself coming back and reflecting on Jesus' pace during his time on earth. Thinking about how he focused more on just his twelve disciples than anyone else. As Emily P. Freeman states in her book Simply Tuesday, "Jesus continued his life on earth the same way he started it- small, personal, and specific." Somehow I keep coming back to that. Like I'm finally realizing that my heart that's been telling me it's okay to keep my dreams small and simple is right, and surprise surprise, the world that tells us bigger is better, is wrong. 

It's not that I don't want to grow in my work, I do. But I feel like there's this expectation, this level that your dreams have to measure up to. All these blog posts you see on Pinterest titled "how I made 10k from my blog last month" or "how to grow your instagram by 5000% percent in 1 week!" and "how I built a multi-million dollar business in 2 years and how you can too!"...my success has never looked like that and honestly I don’t really want it to. It's always been slow and most of the time tedious. And I think I'm finally accepting that it's okay that way. Maybe the world really doesn't need any more giant brands that are so big they can't keep up, but instead more small, specific, and intentional ones. 

Don't get me wrong, I’m not trying to downplay my success this year has brought. I launched a whole new business that has been able to support me alone, which I am so grateful for and will continue to work hard at. And I know many follow along because you hope to do the same with your talents and passions. I guess why I'm sharing this is because it's easy for the world to make you think like your dreams aren't big enough, like what you're doing isn't big enough. I think it's time to move away from that mindset and more towards small and simple, in life and in business too. I know many of my followers have expressed interest in hearing more about the business side of things in my life, and I hope that I can continue to share how I am practicing simple and slow living values in my business life too, while still allowing it to provide for me and make a living from it.

This past year, struggling with the world's ideas of success and growth brought perfectionism and imposer syndrome along for a visit. More like an extended stay if you ask me, and they sure have made themselves at home this year. I’ve been held hostage by hustle and it's left my soul a bit tired now that 2018 is coming to a close. But I'm hoping that the clean slate of a new year gives me space to create my own definition of slow living, slow business, and success, and I hope it gives you that too.

This year I’ve learned and am still learning that I don’t have to act right away when I have a good idea. Sometimes the best thing to do is wait in a world that screams at us to “get it done before the next person does it better.” Instead I can be slow, steady, and confident in my work because I’m choosing to always come from a place of authenticity and listening to my heart rather than the pressure of hustle. 

This year I've learned and am still learning that "good work grows best in the soil of good rest." (Alan Fadling, An Unhurried Life)

This year I've learned and am still learning that "there can be abundance without busy and happiness without hustle" (Beth Kirby, Local Milk)

This year I've learned and am still learning that praying instead of planning creates a lot more peace and a lot less worry. 

So, with that said, I have kept my intentions for the new year simple. Small shifts that will lead to big changes. These are intentions, rather than resolutions, things that require more than just the action of doing them- I have to mindfully practice them with intention in order for them to have the right affect.

Take care of myself

The whole “self care” thing is really trending and honestly the wagon is full and I just can’t seem to find room in the band (how Enneagram 4 of me). I think the trend is a little cheesy and that taking care of yourself is a lot more than face masks and a bubble bath (actually, it’s probably quite opposite, ahem chemicals). These past few months I’ve really neglected myself as I spent way too much time working and not enough time caring for my wellbeing. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight because I’ve been “too busy to eat” for the past 6 months, spending too much time in front of screens, and more. Not to mention the neglect of my mental and spiritual wellbeing. This year, I’m changing that. If I am not healthy and aligned in my personal life, my work won’t be healthy or aligned either. I will be taking time to prepare 3 meals a day, everyday. This is a nonnegotiable for me. I’ve never been the kind of person that eats out a lot, and cooking homemade meals from scratch is cheaper, healthier, and the definition of slow living to me. Part of the reason I always wanted to be self-employed and work from home is so I have the time to prepare homemade meals. Instead I’ve been “too busy” to eat and my health has been suffering because of that. I’ve chosen to give myself a minimum of 3 hours a day for cooking and eating, and I will listen to podcasts as I prepare the food, which I’m pretty excited about because I was always “too busy” to listen to podcasts too.

I will also be moving my body everyday. Whether this is through the form of an actual workout routine, a yoga flow, a hike, a bike ride, or simply stretching, I will make it a priority to break a sweat. Not to lose weight or change my appearance but to boost my mood, balance my hormones, and help with my mental wellbeing.

I am going to learn to rest, to step away from work, from the phone, from the computer.

I am going to practice mindful meditations daily. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting still and following a guided meditation, although I do enjoy that from time to time, but anything can be turned into a mindful mediation. Folding laundry, kneading bread, reading a book, being outside, prayer, etc.

And last but not least I will be going outside daily. Even if that just means sitting in my backyard for a few minutes in the middle of winter. There is no better healer and balancer than God’s Creation.

Be mindful of consumption

Not necessarily food consumption, although that is important, I want to focus more on what I am consuming spiritually and emotionally. What am I consuming throughout my day? The lives of others by constantly scrolling through instagram? Materialism by spending too much time on Pinterest? Mindless numbing by watching TV as an escape rather than entertainment? (Did you know that mild depression is a common feeling after watching television shows?) Or instead am I consuming peace, radiance, positivity, and life through the forms of constant communion with God, nature, reading, writing, reflecting, etc. Not at all saying I’m giving up my shows or deleting my Pinterest account, but I am going to be more mindful of what I consume, how much I’m consuming, and whether the effects are positive or negative to my spiritual wellbeing.

Find something I enjoy outside of work

Being a creative is hard because even when I’m doing what I enjoy it still feels like work…because it is. Taking photos, styling clothes, writing, decorating, that’s all apart of my job. But I need something that I enjoy doing that isn’t in any way involved with work. Even though I absolutely love what I do, we all need to step away sometimes. I really don’t know what this will be. Maybe I will join a club or find a new hobby that isn’t necessarily creating but for now it might just have to look like sewing new curtains for my bedroom windows and looking at paint samples at Home Depot more often.

Be mindful and intentional

I know these have sort of become buzzwords within the past year, but I do think they’re more than just a trend and instead a huge part of following Jesus. Being mindful and intentional throughout my days is still something I struggle with. When I’m held hostage by hustle, I’m unable to live my life from a place of intention and I’m absent from the present moment. I want to come from a place of gratitude and love in everything I do. The only way to do this is to slow down. Love is patient. I want to move slow enough to be in constant communion with the Lord. To have His light shine through me and reach others. To recognize that every encounter is divine. To be present. To be love.

Learn

Although I’m not pursuing a college education, I haven’t lost my desire to learn. I always want to read books and blogs or even take online courses, but I really haven’t had the time (or should I say, made the time.) This year I’m making it a priority. From business to graphic design to gardening and apothecary, I’m going to finally read all the books and blogs that I’ve never had the time to read before! Skillshare is actually going to be a huge part of this intention as well. They have over 22,000 online courses on just about any creative business topic that you can take and learn from. And it’s alooooot cheaper than college and I’ll bet ya you’ll learn a lot more too :) Normally you only get 1 free month but I’ve partnered with Skillshare to give you 2 free months! That way you can have time to see if you really like it (but I think you will!) All you have to do is click this link to sign up. I’m curious to hear what you think and what classes you choose to take! I’ll be sharing my favorite courses throughout the next few months.

Create a set rhythm

Recently I read that set and specific rhythms are very beneficial to Enneagram 4’s. And lately my life has totally nooooot been that at all, which most likely explains my frequent existential crises. At the beginning of each season I always write out what I’d like my rhythm to look like, but it’s hard to stick to normalcy when my work days all look so different depending on the tasks and projects I’m working on. This year I’m determined to get a set rhythm going. Less busy work, more productivity. Less frantic hustle, more mindful rest. I will be curating a daily and weekly rhythm for each season and I will definitely be sharing them throughout the year!

I hope this can inspire you to set some of your own thoughtful intentions for the new year if you haven’t already. Throughout the next few months I will be revamping my website and this brand as a whole, focusing on "less is more", creating meaningful content that will help you live a simpler and slower life. And of course I will keep you updated along the way. I am ever so grateful for your support in 2018, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Here's to a new year and new creativity!

With care,
Kaetlyn

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Kaetlyn Kennedy