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Searching for my natural rhythm

What would your life look like if you didn’t live by any rules?

What would it be like if you moved fluidly from moment to moment instead of planning and scheduling your whole life out in advance?

Does the possibility sound tantalizing or does it sound a little weird, a little wild… perhaps even a little bit dangerous?

The thought of living life without rules always seemed a little dangerous to me.

Without my rules what would I do and who would I be? I didn’t have answers to those questions.

At the same time, I would read about people out there in the world — breaking the rules, doing their own thing, doing it differently. And I would wonder, why can’t I be brave and bold like that?

The answer, of course, was fear.

You see, our brains use certainty to make us feel safe — we mistakenly think that when we finally achieve the moment of absolute certainty that we will have finally achieved our deepest desire.

But it isn’t true.

The more afraid we are, the harder it is to be brave because courage always involves an element of feeling unsafe — and for those of us who are highly sensitive (i.e. me!), doing the brave, bold things that make us feel unsafe can seem impossibly scary and hard.

This doesn’t mean we can’t be brave, those of us who are sensitive, and easily startled, and quiet. It just means that we move through the world differently — and that our courage looks different too: quieter, more inward looking, more slow, more steady, less bold.

Life will never be certain. We’ll always be winging it, and always when we feel certainty beginning to creep in, the tides will turn and something will fall apart.

It’s a simple fact of physics that all systems tend toward chaos and I am convinced that this is no less true of a human life.

The only way to create certainty is to work relentlessly against the tide of the unknown, a levee perpetually threatened by rising waters.

To live like that seems to be exhausting and ultimately unsustainable.

When we pin our hopes of happiness on safety and certainty — we set ourselves up for disappointment.

And yet, I do not think that this means we should despair.

Which is why I’ve begun an experiment in what I have decided to call “lawless living”.

By which I do not mean to suggest we should live illegaly, but rather that in choosing to live “lawlessly” I have chosen to remove the structured rules that used to shape my life.

When I’ve written about this before I’ve called it “cancellation” — the cancellation of all the things I put on my own to-do list.

But with lawlessness I’m taking it deeper — beyond the level of things and tasks and to-dos — all the way down to the level of identity.

Because here’s the ultimate truth: there aren’t any rules to live by.

There are only the rules you create for yourself: the behaviors and patterns you cling to because you think that they make you a “good person” or keep you safe or make you of service to others, or [insert your reason here].

And often it is those exact same rules that keep us feeling stuck and miserable and uncertain of what we really need to do.

Because the opposite of a “good person”? It isn’t a bad one. The opposite of always trying to be good is showing up as someone who is more authentically you.

It’s about finding your natural rhythm — the ebb and flow of tasks and to-dos and emotions and choices that you naturally return to when you free yourself of rules and return yourself to you.

It’s about living a life that’s less “good” and more you  — because that is kind of the secret to everything:

More happiness
More rest
More laughter
More courage
More compassion
More love

It’s all already there — locked up inside of you.

Much love,
Jessica

P.S. If you’d like to read more about finding your natural rhythm, check out this post from Martha Beck which landed in my email inbox recently

P.P.S If you think living lawlessly sounds brilliant but scary and you’d love some support in exploring what lawless living might look like for you, I invite you to work with me as one of my private coaching clients!

I got overwhelmed by the holidays. (Again.)

I’m having a hard time believing that Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas looms on the horizon. Which means I am forced to face the fact that we have indeed entered the holiday season — and, of course, the fact that I am almost always overwhelmed by the holidays.

I secretly kind of loathe the holidays.

Not the good parts — time off from work, time spent with friends and family — those parts I like very much.

The part I hate is the bustle. The frenzy. The way people rush around all December like someone is going to light them on fire if they don’t buy Aunt Gertrude a present.

And I hate the fact that every store between now and January will be piping cheer over the top of this frantic, anxiety-ridden atmosphere — as though tinny carols have the power to cure us of our collective meltdown.

The dissonance of the season grates at me and the overwhelm created by the general bustle, rush, and sparkle of the holiday season means I lumber through December like a dazed antelope in search of a rock large enough to hide under.

This may or may not be because I am a highly sensitive person (or HSP; you read more about it at Elaine Aron’s website, hsperson.com).

Ok, fine, I’m sure it is because I am an HSP.

But it seems like a bad sign that this year I didn’t even make it through Thanksgiving.

I had intended to make it through. I thought going into it that I was in a pretty good place — mostly rested up from my previous travel, well-balanced, grounded, and connected.

But I still found myself overwhelmed by the holidays.

Because Thanksgiving was a lot.

A lot of hours on an airplane. A lot of people for hours and days on end. A lot of driving. A lot of bustle. A lot of laughter and conversation. A lot of loud voices and loud places.

None of which is to say that I don’t love my friends and family in California or that I don’t love going home to visit. Because I absolutely do.

But I’m just not a person who thrives on “a lot” of anything. The only things I really like “a lot” of are things like solitude, silence, good books, and cups of tea.

I’m a person who thrives on “just a little”.

And the holidays are often all about “a lot” — leaving a little person like me feeling a lot overwhelmed in their wake.

Which is why for the next wave of the holiday season, I’m going to try and do it better.

I’m going to try and remember that it’s ok that I like just a little when other people like a lot and that it’s ok that I need a lot of time for myself (which can be hard to stomach when there are loved ones downstairs, but is nonetheless true).

And I’d like to invite you to do the same.

I’d like to invite you think about the hustle and the bustle and what the holidays mean to you — and feel free to make that happen if you discover that your vision doesn’t line up with everyone else’s.

If you are an HSP too, then you might want to check out Elaine Aron’s suggestion for the holidays here .

Because my vision of a perfect holiday involves not-going and not-doing and not-bustling.

It involves my warmest PJ’s and my fuzziest pair of socks and a cozy fireplace if I can manage it.

A perfect holiday is warm tea and a good book and my favorite blanket and probably not bothering to put up the tree.

Your perfect holiday may look entirely different.

That’s fine and perfect, too. Maybe your perfect holiday looks just like Hallmark wants it too (in which case — lucky you?).

But I’m guessing that for most of us it looks rather like something else and that the collective urgency and anxiety that permeates the season has more to do with that disconnect than anything else.

Well, that and Aunt Gertrude, of course.

So if you, like me, kind of loathe the holidays and are already feeling overwhelmed. I want to invite you to do it differently this year — by having the holidays your way instead of anyone else’s.

What does your perfect holiday look like? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂