Thursday, July 02, 2009

How do you live a life of freedom and simplicity?

Collage by Lani from morning pages and photo from friends on
I had a delightful conversation over on facebook. (I sometimes go over there, if a sibling or friend has left a message, and sometimes I get caught up in a silly game, but mostly I stare at this prompt: "What's on your mind?" So on impulse I typed out "I used to have a life filled with drama. Now I study happiness." I was thinking that might be a really nice, short autobiography. Two sentences. Anyway my friend Nicole Brandstrup left a message.
"How did you make the change? What benefits have you noticed? What was key to let go of? Did you need to change the way you make a living, if so, how? i have always been interested in your journey...."

So I answered:
It's a process. I suspect working in mental health helped create a lot of drama. Going from a precariously funded large mental health agency in Manhattan to private practice in Canada and workshops where ever they are needed, was a big shift away from drama. At some point I was googling endorphin release and creativity and stumbled upon the field of positive psychology. That was a real eye opener. People were actually studying our positive emotions and what we can do to encourage them. Makes very good sense. As for changing the way I make a living, yes, that had to change. Becoming my own boss, although not as secure, freed me up from lots and lots of drama.
I've talked with many artists who have taken this plunge into the unknown, and started living by their art and wits, and NONE of them regretted the move at all.
That would make some fun research. Talk to people who have made a choice towards simplicity and freedom, and ask them if they have any regrets!

Nicole answered back:
very very helpful. i think i am in the transitional space between agency work and being self-employed. i usually hold tight to pragmatism and yet, i am finding that something is not fitting. i am for sure in the "what is next phase" where do i go from here? how do i get there? your snippet is helpful. and I like the idea of interviewing others. thanks for the boost.

So I've thought about this a little more, and I wandered over to Kindness Girl's blog (Patience Salgado), oh my, what a fantastic inspiration! The perfect way to continue this conversation. I'd scrolled down to George, the farm and living your values... where I read about a baker of flatbread who lives his values in Vermont. Wonderful to read. I immediately wanted to pack my bag for a road trip. Here's some of what she wrote:
I ate his flatbread, I slept in his inn (in a room named Kindness), I talked to his staff and friends, and I soaked in all of his values…and I was blessed and renewed. It reminded me that I too can hold to what is most important to me. There is no rush and each time I follow what I know to be true, I can create something beautiful. I wake each morning with a new day inviting me to create, to listen to myself and the world, to speak and be heard, to act in grace, kindness and love.
I came home and thought of all the places and tiny ways we fall away from living the life and way we want. And I asked, What Would George Do? He would probably write a little note telling himself and the world what is most important to him. So I’m writing mine now…signed by P. You can write one too. Let’s trade tomorrow, shall we?

OK, so here's mine:
I once had a life filled with drama. Now I study happiness. It feels free and simple.

Collage by Lani from morning pages and photo from friends on


Anonymous said...

what a wonderful conversation!

and holy mackerel! didn't you just get that image only like... 45 minutes ago!? you are the fastest creative lady i know! (that is one of my favorites too!)

hope your day is creatively delightful -- seems as if it is indeed!


Lani Gerity said...

Hmmm, yes, I can work fast if the material is marvelous!

gretchen said...

really enjoyed reading this---!
here's to less drama and more happiness..... it really is possible- :)

Lani Gerity said...

Oh yes! Glad you enjoyed it.

Susan Boyes, MA, ATR-BC, LPC said...

how nice the way you articulate your process. delightful transition is possible. thanks for the clarity, ms. gerity!

Erika C. said...

To all you wonderful creative souls,

I need some guidance around this issue.

I am here on Lake Ontario visiting my dad with my two sisters, one of my sisters and I have kids. Right now she is watching my kids as they swim in the freezing, wind-swept lake as I have a moment to write and check my e-mail etc at a local coffee shop.

The other sister who does not have kids is an artist-not practicing now. I would love to have a better relationship with her, like we used to have. She sees my interest in creativity and personal growth, all of this work as "frivolous" not "real", not "practical."

My suspicion is that part of it is her not being able or choosing not to practice her own creativity now, she says for financial reasons. She judges me for not being practical enough.

I wanted to make an art piece for my dad, to appreciate who he is. We just learned he may be suffering from early on-set dementia or Alzheimer's. My sister said well, that isn't "practical" at all. She couldn't be further from wanting to do such a thing, contribute to my art for him.

I want to completely respect her view but at the same time, I think there is so much that is lost of a better relationship that I could have with her.

So much we could teach each other. It is starting to happen. Maybe all I need is to just write this to those who understand what I am talking about.

Thanks for reading this and for being who you are and for all your inspiring ideas.


Lani Gerity said...

Oh dear, real life can be so heart breaking. However, I can say from experience we suffer a lot less when we stop pushing against what is (like trying to change our sisters). I find Byron Katie really helpful with what you are describing here. If you want to read some of her writing you can google her and if you want to watch her in action you can type her name in the search box on youtube. And as for your father, what a wonderful idea, creating art for him. There's something you might want to look at on my June 23 blog entry, with a live link to a posting on "Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails". Go to that link but read the entries before that one to get more of an idea of what is possible. And of course Judy Wilkenfeld's blogs are all about recording history in an artful manner so make sure you look at her blogs as well ("Red Velvet" and "Visual Anthologies")!

Debrina said...

Hello Lani - I haven't forgotten you! I've started scanning that puppet booklet you wanted, but it's 43 pages long (probably more than just a booklet, then, lol!). We've been over at friends for the night, but I'm home I'll try and get the thing off to you 2moro in PDF.

La Dolce Vita said...

I have notice that where my attention goes.... that thing
I choose happiness!

Anonymous said...

fast indeed!! i'm quite impressed!

Erika C. said...


Thanks so much. I will go look at all of this. Your advice is so timely. I actually have done quite a lot of work on the four questions and my intention now that I am how had been to do some inquiry on this issue with my sister. So thanks for the reminder. Even though I know that pushing against what is can be so counterproductive, I still find myself doing it more than I would like to admit.

I can't wait to look at all your links here and in your next entry.

You are an inspiration. I think the idea of a memory journal would be great. While I was in upstate NY visiting my dad, one of his sisters showed me some old family photos, a lot of my grandmother and also told me that another relative has been organizing our family tree on a website called Genie. I think this will all be a great resource too.


Lani Gerity said...

Wonderful! You will have a lot to work with!

Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC said...

Lani you are awsome