Gather the crumbs of happiness and they will make you a loaf of contentment. ~Author Unknown
It’s Labor Day weekend and we’re home, choosing not to travel or be on the road. The neighborhood is blissfully quiet as several neighbors have taken advantage of the three-day weekend to get away and enjoy the last few days of summer. My older son has been busy working on his Eagle Scout Project, and my younger son has been lounging around, enjoying the last few days of sleeping in until noon before school starts on Wednesday.
The weather has been hot, and we’d been sleeping with the windows open, letting the cool morning air bring down the temperature indoors. The sound of two Great Horned Owls barking and shrieking woke me up at 4:30 AM; I laid in bed listening until they settled down with a softer “whoo, whoo” and then got out of bed to make my first cup of coffee.
The house was quiet as my husband and the boys slept upstairs; I love the peace and quiet of the morning; the last several days have been emotionally exhausting and draining as I continue to work on writing my book.
I settled on the sofa with my coffee and opened my e-reader to Clutterfree Kids by Joshua Becker. I skimmed to one of the paragraphs I had highlighted in my Nook:
“While most people are chasing after success, glamour, and fame, minimalism calls out to us with a small, quieter, calmer voice. It invites us to slow down, consume, less, but enjoy more. And when we meet someone living a simplified life, we often recognize we have been chasing the wrong things all along.”
I’d read this paragraph a dozen times, the words resonating each time I read them.
On Friday, I had coffee with a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. Other than seeing each other via our Facebook posts, we hadn’t seen or talked to each other since we each left our jobs in the corporate world four years ago, me to take care of my health and family, she to pursue an entirely different path of health and fitness.
Over coffee, we caught up on our lives, the ups, and downs of work, family, and the challenge we each faced, taking care of our 81-year-old fathers. Her smile was just as bright and happy as it was the last time, I saw her at Starbucks, but her energy is what was different: magnetic, amplified and awe-inspiring.
Despite working for competing companies, the two of us had become friends. Our drive for success, our ability to close deals, and our desire to be the best in our respective roles never got in the way of our friendship: we were always kind, cordial, and diplomatic in our business dealings.
“Do you miss working in Information Management?” I asked.
“Hell no!” she replied.
I laughed. I didn’t either.
We talked about the happiness we had found working without the pressure and without the stress of the industry. We talked about how the industry had changed and how nice it was to be doing things where we could be in better control of our lives; that there were no regrets leaving the corporate world in order to find ourselves, and live a life that allowed us to slow down and enjoy each day. Here was another individual who had chosen to live a more simplified life, a life of joy, friendship, and family.
She asked about my writing and my health; I told her I loved the writing and it is fun, but that it was also very emotional; it was through my writing that I realized I had been chasing the wrong things for so many years.
“Karen, I’ve always looked up to you. You are beautiful, motivational, and encouraging. I always admired your work ethic and professionalism. You always had your shit together” she told me.
I paused; tears welled up in my eyes. It’s funny, it seems like so long ago, that person who was me, but wasn’t me; a person who was just going through the motions in order to make a lot of money to buy things and have the latest and greatest, and the reality of knowing that I had been chasing success and trying to uphold an image that did not reflect who I really was.
“Thank you, but just so you know, I never had my shit together,” I said.
“But I am much happier,” I said, “And, I see you are too.”
Our conversation turned back to caring for our Dads, health challenges, and Lyme. We shared the highs and lows since quitting our jobs. We laughed, we shed a few tears, and when we were done with coffee, we gathered the crumbs and congratulated each other on creating scrumptious new lives for ourselves.