reflective

Kathrine’s flexible freedom discovery

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

  • Name: Kathrine Vigdel
  • Location: Oslo, Norway
  • Occupation: Publishing editor
  • Blog/site: Skapt

Tell us one way you are simplifying your life.

Clearing my afternoon and evening schedule. I aim to have at least three free nights on work weeks, and at least Saturday or Sunday absolutely free from morning to evening. Not that I won’t be spending those evenings and weekends doing lots of stuff, but freeing them up allows me to adjust according to my current energy level, it allows me to be flexible and it allows for those spontaneous happenings, say, meeting a friend who suddenly pops into town.

Or, if I am feeling tired and worn out, it allows me time for soul food: going for a walk, reading books, drawing, knitting, pottering around the house.

What’s the background story —what compelled you to make this change?

Up until recently, I was one of those people who multitasked her way through life—the typical 20-something who fed on the illusion that you can be and do everything, and that tiredness is a sign of a full life. I was majorly involved in church ministry and spent the majority of my free time in meetings, organized gatherings and events that felt more like chores on my list. I said yes when I should’ve said no—not to things I didn’t want to do, but to things I really wanted to do. I had a hard time prioritzing how I wanted to spend my life, and ended up doing it all.

kathrine

I wore my weariness like a badge. When people said I was smart, efficient, talented, trustworthy, nice, enduring and “there’s not a thing that girl can’t do,” I read their remarks as landmarks that pointed me in the direction my life should go. I hadn’t listened to my body or my inner voice my entire life, and I wasn’t about to start now.

Until a year ago, when I hit rock bottom. Such a cliché. I fell into a black hole of emptiness. That well-known feeling I’d carried on my back for so long I didn’t even know was there? Tiredness. An old tiredness. I’d made it part of my identity to always max out on my capacity, leaving no room to relax. I’d swallowed the lie that life is—and must be—stressful, hook, line and sinker.

I’ve spent the past year recovering, doing a serious soul-searching going back years. I quit the job that drained me, and found a new and more fulfilling one. I said no to absolutely everything I’d been involved in before, and cleared my schedule completely. Now, at 29 going on 30, I am determined to make my last year in the 20s a starting ground for an entirely new way of living.

What were the obstacles?

There were two main obstacles:

1. People rely on me. What will they think? And
2. Where do I have my identity, really?

As I came to realise, both of these obstacles existed within the dry wasteland of my mind—the part where no flowers of contentedness or peace could blossom, because I never had time to water them. I spent a lot of time examining my motives both for living the life I did, and for wanting the life I didn’t yet have. It was more than just being tired and needing a break; I wasn’t being me.

dog

I had to risk hurting other peoples feelings, disappointing others—most of all myself—and be honest with myself regarding where I placed my value. Am I human being or human doing? Being brave enough to actually change the pace of my life was the biggest obstacle. But I did it.

How has this simplified your life? Or, how does it help you to live simply?

I live life more according to my actual energy level, I listen to my body more, and I’ve learned to be present in the moment. Before I hit rock bottom, I had a lot of stress-related health issues: daily headaches, muscle aches, I slept poorly, lack of appetite, I gained a little weight, I had stomach pains, there were lots of things I couldn’t eat (there still are), I got sick with the flu and stayed sick for weeks at a time.

Spending months just listening to my body and searching my soul (and adjusting accordingly) made the health problems more or less disappear. Because I’ve cleared my spare time, I find time to do the things I love: make art, read books, explore nature, catching up with long-lost friends, savour moments, breathe, learn a new craft.

I still have a full work day, but with an emptier afternoon and evening schedule, my life is in balance. It might be elementary for some, but it wasn’t for me.

kathrine

What inspires you?

Nature is a huge source of inspiration. People who grow their own vegetables and drink afternoon tea. Any kind of botanical garden, preferably with a cute gift shop to wander in. Books where you savour the sentences as much as the actual story. All kinds of artists (as long as they’re not depressed and cut off each others ears), book shops, Shauna Niequist, Ann Voskamp, Anne Lamott, Donald Miller. Knitting while listening to audiobooks by above authors. My dog’s ability to be extremely happy, anytime.

Share a favorite quote, guiding motto, or perhaps your life’s purpose statement.

“Life is so urgent and necessitates living slow. It’s only the amateurs—and that I’ve been, and it’s been ugly—who thinks slow and urgent are contradictory.”- Ann Voskamp

Her book One Thousand Gifts was a real game-changer for me. I will always have ten thousand little things I want to accomplish, dreams to make a reality, things to learn, people to meet and places to go, but I am slowly learning to do all those things in a completely different pace than before.

"Life is so urgent and necessitates living slow. It’s only the amateurs—and that I’ve been, and it’s been ugly—who thinks slow and urgent are contradictory.”- Ann Voskamp

How do you celebrate everyday successes, no matter how small or large?

I punch my fist in the air, going “yesssss.” Or, whenever I’m stuck, I name ten good things that have happened or exist that day. It reminds me that me being here on earth, being me, is success in itself.

Want to share your story about simplifying life? Head here.

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Comments

  1. I have felt exactly like this for a few months now. I have no idea if I could rip the bandaid off completely but today I did say not to a volunteer job so I could to my real job at a less frenzied pace. Oh the peace I felt at the end of the afternoon was astounding.

    Thank you for sharing your heart! It means the world to so many people.

    apm

  2. Tsh,
    This is my favorite series that you have done. :) I love reading stories of other’s lives. Thank-you very much for putting this together. What an encouragement!

    Kathrine,
    Thank-you for opening your heart. Best of luck as you embark on your 29th year and a new way of living!

  3. Tsh, LOVE this series!!

    Kathrine, thank YOU for sharing your story and inviting us into your life!! I can totally, totally relate to how you felt! All the best as you move into your simpler, slower and yet more filling 30s :)

  4. I loved this, I can’t wait to read so, so many more. It is not that elementary, Kathrine. You are in good company here. I only learned this a year or so ago, as well. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Sarah M

  5. I enjoyed hearing your story. It’s so important to find that natural balance between the living and doing and sometimes there IS living in the doing. But, we have to know our limitations and take car of ourselves.

  6. Kathrine, I LOVED receiving this story of yours. Where you said, “I wore my weariness like a badge. When people said I was smart, efficient, talented, trustworthy, nice, enduring and ‘there’s not a thing that girl can’t do,’ I read their remarks as landmarks that pointed me in the direction my life should go,” I could SO relate.

    Why do we think being tired is a GOOD thing? Such a modern-day concept, the idea that we’re not making good use of our time unless we’re worn out and busy beyond capability.

    • That was my favorite part too – not only for the message she relays, but also because it was beautifully written!

    • Thanks Tsh! (and everyone else!!) I am so grateful and honored that people relate to my story – it truly strengthens my own decision and the choices I’ve made. I wish I could encourage each and every one personally in their own journeys, but consider this a collective cheering on (or a virtual group hug, if you like) :)

  7. avatar
    Tammy Churchill says:

    Kathrine, I am so thankful that you have made this huge realization and adjustment at so young an age! I made almost the exact same journey, with almost the exact same mile-markers, but I was 51. I am so thankful for the changes I’ve made and the resources that helped me, and are helping me, along the way (Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts!; currently reading Tsh’s new book, many others) and am blessed when I see another choose the same redirection. I know you’ll be blessed along your new path.

    • Thanks, Tammy! I firmly believe age is just a number when it comes to turning one’s life around, as you’ve so beautifully proven. I bet you’re an inspiration to many people :) And isn’t Ann Voskamp’s book great! I’ve currently also had the audio version of Tsh’s last book as walking companion :)

  8. Thank you, Kathrine, for sharing your story! Love this, and I can relate in so many ways…

  9. avatar
    Deborah P says:

    Katherine, thank you for being so open. This is something I have dealt with my entire life – saying “yes” to things that I want to do until I’m completely overwhelmed. I constantly have to re-assess what I’m capable of in addition to work and helping out my elderly parents and have to deal with the guilt I put on myself because I’m not giving more.

    When you said “I had to risk hurting other peoples feelings, disappointing others—most of all myself—and be honest with myself regarding where I placed my value. Am I human being or human doing? Being brave enough to actually change the pace of my life was the biggest obstacle. But I did it.” – this really resonated with me because I dwell too much on whether I’m disappointing someone or hurting their feelings. Thank you for reminding me that I have to be true to me and what I value and what I can reasonably accomplish. That I don’t have to do everything. Thank you.

    • A wise friend once gave me a very good advise: “You want to know the truth? Those people whose feelings you fear hurting – they are way too preoccupied with their own lives and their own worries to spend much energy on what you do or don’t do. Honestly, to them you are not THAT important.” Sometimes it’s hard to predict how other people will react to our choices and changes, but this piece of advise was really helpful to me. I’m just not that important. :) Good luck on your own journey, Deborah, I’m cheering you on!

  10. I’m going to just love these personal stories, Tsh! Thanks to Kathrine for being open enough to share her story. It helps to hear that others are also trying to say no more–to know I’m not alone and it’s okay to say no in order to say yes. :)

  11. I totally related to this post. I feel like you are talking about me. I feel like my over-commitment ebbs and flows. I will have a period of time where I have my fingers in every pie, I start to feel overwhelmed and I back off of all of my commitments. Then slowly they creep back in. My hope is, with time I will find that balance instead of swinging to the extremes. Thank you for the post.

  12. This story sounds just like me in my 20′s!!! We have learned to live pretty simply and enjoy the balance it creates in our lives! Thank you so much for sharing your story!!! :)

  13. Reading your words brought great peace to my heart. It really is okay for me to be “me”!
    Many thanks.

  14. avatar
    Catherine says:

    Katherine, thank you for sharing your story and, Tsh, for including it. I could have written this. Right now I am feeling the emptiness, the tiredness, the confusion of not knowing exactly where my priorities lie and how to live true to them. Kudos to you for reaching this point at an early age!

    • Emptiness, tiredness and confusion used to be my middle names. I may not have shed those extra names altogether just yet, but I KNOW that they do not define me any more. I believe the same for you! And that feeling when you finally exit the land of confusion and into a form that fits? SO refreshing. :) Cheering you on!

  15. avatar
    Tamrah T. says:

    She nailed it! Explained away my life and where I’d like to grow. Being who I was made to be and living in the moment. I’m in my 40s to slowly realize the wisdom of living more intentional can start at any age. And, I’m happy she found it earlier than I to enjoy those blessings. Have a Lord rejoicing day everyone!

  16. I love this. This inspires me so much!

  17. Oh, there’s so much I can relate to in this. I think I’ve lived certain ways in my 20′s, and going on 30 this year (combined with other crazy life things) has been causing me to really wrestle with how I want to live, for the long haul. One of the things you said really resonated with me: “Because I’ve cleared my spare time, I find time to do the things I love.”
    Last year there was so much noise and pain and being in the tension of the in-between in my life that I just felt overwhelmed. Toward the end of the year, I took a break from social media, and the thing that kept echoing in my head was “making space.” I needed to *make* space for the things I loved. I knew that I enjoyed reading, writing, nature, hiking, and spending quality time with my husband (and rest. I needed to make space for rest). But my life was filled with obligations and time-wasters, and not really the things I loved and was passionate about.
    I’m still in process on this. But that phrase has kept reminding me over the last few months, and I feel so much more at peace.
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It was definitely a blessing to me. Another book I think you might enjoy (if you haven’t already read it) is “A Million Little Ways” by Emily P. Freeman. I’m finishing it up (hopefully tonight!) and it has just been so refreshing and freeing.

  18. I love this piece. I fight with – yes and no – all the time. In fact it is a hot button in my psyche right now! I see the merit in being open for wherever “yes” takes you, but unfortunately that can be abused. On the other hand, sometimes it is more worthy to say “no” and put yourself above others…which isn’t something that is in my normal wheelhouse.

  19. avatar
    Torbjorn Gjertsen says:

    Thanks for sharing Kathrine!
    Take good care of yourself, I know you will. Thanks for letting us see ourselves and our own struggles through Your story!!

  20. My story is so similar that my husband and I found it a little surreal to read this blog post! So encouraging to hear of someone else figuring out life and boundaries too. All my “busy-rushing” ended in 18 months of sickness as a newly wed… not the best start… but God has used that time in an amazing way both personally and in our marriage – we’re still learning and seeing the impact of it now and will for many years I’m sure. These are Life lessons! Thanks for sharing :)
    (I shared a link to this blog post on my blog too)

  21. I could not resist commenting. Very well written!

  22. Kathrine’s flexible freedom discovery | The Art of Simple

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