A Deeply Happy Authentic Life

Do you live your authentic life in the spaces between your work life?

I did, for many years. In all honesty, I lived like this until the pain and discomfort of living other than my authentic life became greater than the effort it took to make the leap that would change my life.

Have you been asking yourself…

Is this all there is to life? Or

What am I going to do with the next 50 years of my life?

Cleverly Disguised As a Responsible Adult

Yep, that was me. For years I did all the right things; I got married, had all the right children, dutifully subjected myself to a grinding work week schedule, and chased the American Dream with my butterfly net.

In short – I lived Thoreau’s "life of quiet desperation." Now, for some, this lifestyle is perfectly in-line with your desires and fine, so long as you're happy living it. Also, I'm not saying it was all a wash. There were definitely good times, high points and triumphs celebrated. And today I’m so grateful for my two beautiful, awesome daughters!

But for me, those good times were far outnumbered by the long hours of toiling at a desk sitting in front of a computer. The work week schedule of 40-50 hours at a grinding job, plus commute time and running errands leaving precious little time and energy left for family, friends, recreation.

It hadn’t always been that way. In my twenties and early thirties, I’d been a teacher. I worked a 30 hour work week during the school year and had summers off. I usually worked part of the summer teaching fun summer school classes. Though my wages left a great deal to be desired, I was closer to living my authentic life - I loved my work, had free time to take classes to continue my education, volunteer as a nature guide for the Terwilliger Nature Education Center, and of course, spend time with my daughter and be a fun mom.

Somewhere along the way though, I took the left fork in the road when perhaps the right fork would have been a better choice. Who knows? I did what I did for reasons that seemed compelling at the time. Where did this take me? I became an accountant.

Yes I did. And spent the next 15+ years, well let’s just say, living a very different life, my soul quietly clinging to the edges.

Where did I get the idea that the work I did and for which I was paid in some way was separate from the rest of my life? That it was just what I did to pay the mortgage and my real life, i.e. authentic life was to be lived in the spaces between?  

In my authentic life, squeezed into the small spaces between working life, I was a mother, minister, artist, and healer. These were all aspects of who I am but not what I did as paid work. This perspective is actually quite insane.

A Slow Wave

Something happened during this time that I’d like to say was a wake up call that immediately changed the course of my life. It did change my life. Though it was more of a slow wave that built momentum over time.

The event? My sister succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 49. She was 10 years older than me and she too had married all the right man, had all the right children, and on the surface, lived all the right life.

I grieved long and hard for the loss of my sister. We all did. She was a beautiful, vivacious, deeply caring and much-loved woman. I miss her to this day. Even as I eventually learned to pick up the pieces and move forward with my life.

For some, this sort of thing happening can be an immediate wake up call for needed change. It took me awhile. It took me until I was approaching my own 49th birthday and had the dawning realization that I was figuratively "holding my breath" to see if I’d outlive my sister.

The Wave Crashes on The Shore

Yeah, kinda scary isn’t it? And THAT’S where the slow, rolling wave crashed upon the shore for me – with all the force of a tsunami. One of my favorite quotes by Mary Oliver asks…

Tell me, what will you do with your…wild, precious life?

This question began as a whisper in my heart. When I tried to ignore it, it’d grow a little louder and a little louder still. Until, there became no possible way I could ignore its implications.

I began to face my questions full-on, with eyes wide open, for the first time in my life. Those questions mentioned previously that had been knocking around my life for some time like – Is this all there is?

And others as well, such as - Is this really how I want to spend my days – living my authentic life in the spaces between my dreadful work life? REALLY?

Why do I want to do this? What’s the payoff? (there’s always a payoff or benefit, even to a perceived negative) Is it worth the price I’m paying?

Every time I wanted to turn away from the questions, roll over and go back to "sleep" – I’d give myself permission to do so after I answered each question. But with the answers of course, came the knowledge that I could never go back to the former way I’d lived my life. I could only take another step forward, and then another.

With each step came more clarity. With each step excitement built. My life could be different. With each step, my life changed because I changed.

I didn’t change who "I AM." How I changed is that I became more me than I’d been for years. What do I mean by this?

Living an Authentic Life

I relearned how to live my life aligned with what truly matters most to me. I cleared away the clutter and the noise and arrived at a place where I realized my core personal values – those aspects of my life and beingness that hold the deepest meaning for me.

I cannot emphasize enough how life-changing this is; it simplifies one’s life, choices, feelings and actions. To have clarity, to know unequivocally what it is that you want, to realize what is most meaningful to you in life is empowering.

When you’re empowered by clarity, you align your decisions and actions with your personal values. If an action or imagined outcome doesn’t align with your personal values – you choose what does and discard the rest.

Deep Happiness

So what are core personal values? They’re unique to each of us. However, a clue was given by Joseph Campbell, renowned mythology scholar, when he said:

The way to find out about your happiness, is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.

Ask yourself this – When are you deeply happy? What does this look like? Where are you? What are you doing? How are you being?

When these questions inevitably arrive at the subject of our work in this world – Rick Jarow, author of Creating the Work You Love, tells us the essential question becomes not "What do I want to do"? Rather it’s "How do I want to be in the world"?

This becomes a subtle, yet graceful shift of perception. And with this shift, for me, more questions began surfacing from the deep well of my soul –

Questions like: How much do I love myself? Enough to allow myself to experience deep happiness?

This round of questions will be the subject of an article for another day. Suffice it to say, my answer today is Yes! Absolutely!. - although it’s not necessarily as easy to arrive at a yes as one might think.

And my authentic life is no longer lived in the spaces between...

Authentic LifeWork

Because our lives and well being are experienced holistically - health, work, relationships and play are effectively inseparable. If any one aspect of our lives is out of alignment, it’ll affect all others.

This includes how we create our income. Doing work we love – or creating the work we love to do – as a source of income deeply affects the quality of every other aspect of our lives. And this is where living authentically and in alignment with our core values really starts to get fun!

Our life's work - the most important work of our lives - is an expression of our authentic life and who we truly are. The Integral LEAP section of this website includes articles that will help you define your dreams and begin living them by -

  • Supporting your quest for Authentic Life
  • Giving you resources to help you find or create your lifework
  • Helping you prosper and develop abundance consciousness

Wishing You Deeply Happy Days!

Valory Ana Rose

"...cooperation and community are actually the underlying principles of evolution." - Dr. Bruce Lipton

The Integral LEAP > A Deeply Happy Authentic Life >Live Your Authentic Life Now!

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