Unshackled: Thoughts from an Untethered Mind

posted in: Boise, Thoughts, Van Life | 7

Clarity

My mind is lulled by the fluttering leaves, gentle breeze, and warmth of the afternoon sun. Eyes closed, I try to clear my head of all thoughts. It takes a moment to decompress; to allow the brain to limit itself to only the most essential of functions. One, two, three, four, five I count. My chest rises as I breathe in, slowly filling my lungs. Exhale 1…2…3…4…5.

After a few cycles, I have found the rhythm and enjoy a break from the noise. This is when the magic happens. It’s taking your senses to an amusement park and letting them scurry about like inquisitive children.

As I lay on the damp ground drifting to this special place, the wind shifts, bringing the sensation of a thousand tiny ants dancing across my skin. The smell of the earth rises up and I get a taste of sweet grass as it settles in the back of my palate. Vibrations travel through my ear as busy pollinators pass by, focused and on task while a bead of sweat builds on my arched brow patiently waiting for gravity to take hold and send it plummeting downward. I feel nothing and everything simultaneously. I am connected.

It is there, in the subtle fog that is the emptiness of my mind, I see clearly.

The following is a journal of ideas that I’ve been exploring. It really is an over simplification of some fairly substantial topics—Much too heavy to discuss in a single post. I hope you enjoy it, but if you don’t, I don’t care because as you will read later, it doesn’t really matter. Intrigued? Keep reading! Also, I encourage you to log your thoughts because it would be fun to have some further discussions about these concepts. It is always nice to gain perspective as what you read here is simply my own perceptions in the reality I create for myself.

Power

Choice is the greatest power in the universe; And it is all yours.

-John Patrick Hickey

Powerful words, right?

I have always loved quotes. It seems all of the answers to life are hidden within a mere sentence or two. That is impressive.

As many of you know, I not only quit my job, but I quit my career as an Occupational Therapist. While this may not be a permanent break, it is a much needed one. Burnout is real. I don’t know if I will ever go back to being an OT. It is way too soon to answer that question.

I want to clarify one thing for the record.

I do not hate OT.
Proof I do occasionally smile while away from patients.

On the contrary, this profession has shaped me in ways I never dreamed imaginable. It’s allowed me to travel, explore, and adventure all while working along the way. I’ve met thousands of people all with various stories, ideas, and perspectives. I’ve learned more about who I am, what I want, and where I want to be in this world. In fact, Eric and I would have never ended up in Idaho if it weren’t for OT, so in many ways, I will forever be indebted to the profession for the opportunities that I’ve had.

Being involved in the healthcare field has played a pivotal role in my mind shift. Day in and day out you see the reality of life. It’s similar to computers. We, the general population see a pretty, easy to use interface. The geeks (said with love) on the back end doing all the work see something completely different. Unless you’ve had a lot of suffering in your family and have had these intimate glimpses into what can and will eventually happen to us, you have NO idea. All I know is that it changed me.

I have always valued life, but I now have a greater appreciation for time. Our very existence, while it may seem like an eternity to us, is nothing more than a blip to the universe. I refuse to let my time get sucked away by hateful, bitter patients whose regrets fiercely gnaw like rabid wolves at their tortured souls. Instead, I chose to learn from them and move on.

Time

Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.

-Miles Davis

While I get Miles Davis was speaking in musical terms, I love this quote. That’s the beauty of language, it takes on any meaning you want it to. Regarding time, I understand I am unable to literally buy time but I can make life choices that afford me to maximize the time I that I do have. Like the famous musician said in so many words, time is everything.

A few years ago, I introduced you to the concept of the “Hedonic Treadmill”. Basically it is that loop we often find ourselves in where we go to work to earn money that buys us things that make us happy in the moment (often things that are above and beyond our basic needs). Then we have to keep returning to work to afford the lifestyle we create for ourselves and all the “things” that go with it.

Several people have asked me, “How are you able to afford to take time off?” I’ve also heard, “Wow, you’re so lucky”. I’m not a genius. I’m not special. I certainly am not rich. And I don’t think “luck” has anything to do with it. I simply whittled down my life to the basics in order to create the freedom I wanted. That may seem an extreme way to live, but it works for me (and thankfully Eric too!).

My routine was rotting me from the inside out, eating away at my joy, imagination, and overall happiness. I’m just glad that by making a conscious effort to live a simple life, I was able to maintain that flicker of fire that would ignite the spark that eventually set me free.

A person may as well live the life they want to live because in the end, nothing really matters.

Insignificant

Our lifetime is nothing more than a blip in the universe. A single line in a grand masterpiece.

Insignificant is defined as being too small or unimportant to be worth consideration.

I mentioned earlier the importance I place on living my best life because in the end, nothing really matters. Hear me out, because I think this can be a hard pill to swallow. No matter what our impact is on this world—curing cancer, slowing global warming, or making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for blowing the longest timed underwater fart-bubble in history; eventually, we will all be forgotten (some maybe quicker than others).

Now before you get all riled up, keep in mind that this concept initially upset me but made me think, then changed my views, and finally SET ME FREE!

No, I’m not a Nihilist. It doesn’t mean that what we do is meaningless, lacks impact, or can’t carry the weight of some significance to someone or something in this world. Why would I even share this blog with you? It simply means that perhaps we shouldn’t walk the tightrope on every decision we make (be it large or small) in this life because in the end, it does not matter.

What am I saying then?

To sing a wrong note is insignificant, but to sing without passion is unforgivable.

-Ludwig Van Beethoven

And one of my favorite singers, Michael Rosenberg states it perfectly in one of my favorite songs. I hope you’ll take a listen below!

Ultimately, I’m saying don’t hold back. Make your life what you want it to be. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t fret the big stuff. It is what it is. If you don’t like it, change it. Cherish the people and experiences that are most important to you, leave the rest. Don’t linger on the path of negativity—it’s made of quicksand.

So if you want financial freedom, do what it takes to get it! If you want to dance in a motionless crowd—don’t shy away from the fear of standing out, do it!. If you want to collect things that hold value to you, be in debt up to your eyeballs, and work until your 85—I may think you’re crazy (but that doesn’t matter)—do it! Do it and everything else in between. Make your life your own. Make it your own personal masterpiece.

Reflections

I leave you with one last thought from my weary brain as I frantically try to organize the thoughts gushing from my busy mind.

Live with a sense of calm urgency because with each second, every breath, time is running out.

-Me

Thank you so much for reading. I would love to hear any thoughts or ideas that may have been sparked from this blog post! Good or bad. One of the reasons I share my writing with you all is to open up a dialogue and interaction! Believe it or not, I absolutely do NOT share this for a simple “like” or “love” on Facebook! While I appreciate those too, I’d much rather have a conversation. Let’s open up the dialogue!

Here are a few ideas to spark some conversation. Or better yet, come up with your own! 🙂

Share a decision or event that seemed SO important at the time which days, months, or years later became less important that it was at the time.

Would you choose to do something differently with your life if money was not in the equation? What stopped you from pursuing that dream? (or if you love what you do, share how you accomplished your dream to be what you wanted to be).

What are your thoughts on any of the topics mentioned in this post? Agree? Disagree? Have your own contribution to add?

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June’s blog will be out in a week or so with lots of photos and van progress!

Until next time friends!

7 Responses

  1. Grovene Henderson

    I’m glad to hear your perspective on how you feel about OT. I was very sad thinking you hated it. Healthcare has changed so much in 42 years. Not for the good! I keep hoping that at some point the pendulum will swing back some towards how it was when I started. I still love what I do and when an amputee gets their prosthesis and gets back up on 2 feet, I remember why I do this. Changing and improving the quality of someone’s life.

    • admin

      I think I would have LOVED OT a lot more 42 years ago! In all fairness, I have very fond memories of my patients from Rusk. I loved working on the Stroke Team when there were overflow patients.I’m happy that despite all the changes, you still love what you do. That’s awesome! The patients are luck you have you <3 Thanks for posting!

  2. Becca Seargeant

    Jenni… I really needed to read this blog. I have been soul searching lately and I feel the pressures and the heaviness of the day to day grind. I often ask myself “this can’t be how we are supposed to live our lives”. Wake up, work, pay bills, occasionally travel, buy things that we think make us happy…wash..rinse.. repeat. I have a sinking feeling inside me and I need to find my way out. My creativity is sucked dry by my daily routine. Your words are like a kerosene lantern in this black hole I am spinning around in. I thank you for showing me your commitment to living an actual life. I will continue to work toward that light and hopefully some day I will be the one carrying that lantern. 💕

    • admin

      Becca- You are a strong, creative, amazing woman. The daily grind is rough! I know you can find your way out of the black hole. The moment we open our eyes to the idea that our life can be whatever we want it to be, it’s so much easier to make conscious decisions that will help us to achieve that lifestyle. It has taken me YEARS but it is so worth the wait! Keep climbing, the light is there and the lantern will be ready for you any time you’re ready to take hold 😉 Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts <3

    • andrea murray

      i like this new layout — more your thoughts and ideas and less what you’re doing and seeing (although i love reading that too).

      -thank you for encouraging conversation and more web logging of thoughts 🙂
      -appreciation for time — and not things— is to be admired.
      -i am tempted to look up who possibly owns the world record for underwater fart bubble.
      -absolutely agree that financial freedom looks different to some people. i hope to stop working before i am 85!!! get out there and live — and i think people would be surprised at how little they actually need to live. like do i really need a caddy if nail polish? probably not 🙂

      if money was not an issue, i would give my mind and body to volunteering. i could build a fence. i could read to children. i could do many things with the skills the universe had given me and i choose daily to give it to my job 😫 definitely something to think about.

      as always thank you for this read. i have a blog and do not maintain and i feel inspired to get going again.

      • admin

        Haha…as always you make me smile. I can totally hear your voice in your writing. You should DEFINITELY start up your blog again, I would absolutely love to read it. I’m not sure if there is a record for the longest underwater fart bubble, but if there is that would be awesome! If there isn’t, I could possibly enter a submission 😉 hahaha You may or may not need a caddy of nail polish but if you enjoy it…that’s what matters. It’s not about being a minimalist, it’s about being happy in your life 🙂 Freedom just happens to be way more important to me that nail polish but then again, just about everything is more important to me than paining my nails 😉 lol It totally looks cute on you though!! Thanks for posting! Love it!

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