Reaching for Simplicity

I’m some 3 days back home at the moment.  I write that as though I was away for ages, but truthfully, Mexico did a bit of a number on my head.  More than I appreciated when I got on the plane to return to Ottawa on Sunday afternoon.

As I detailed in my post from last week, the time in Mexico was incredibly healing.  I think the big take-away from the 10 days I spent there was just how transformative and powerful BE-ing in the moment can be.

I will admit that the day before flying out to Mexico, some 2 weeks ago, I felt a bit of trepidation which was, in large part a result of the lack of A Plan.   I knew I was going to Mexico.  I knew I would be spending time with Ian.  Other than that, though, there were no plans for how the 10 days would roll out.  That lack of planning turned out to be the best thing for me.

The days unfolded easily and without effort.  There was no pre-plan-planning either.  Nothing of any serious undertaking.  I think maybe the most structured plan we did create was to wake up extra early one morning to catch the sunrise on the beach.  Compared to some of my other past planning attempts which involved tremendous detail, setting an alarm for 6.30 and walking to the beach to watch something beautiful is now up there as one of the better plans I have been a part of.

In spite of my determination to return to Canada with the same feeling I developed in Mexico, and to attempt to live that feeling each day to the best of my ability, I already find myself swirling around in a vortex of shoulds.  These are all completely self-imposed.    The shoulds are also, not all unpleasant or strict.  But they are all shoulds.  That’s the point.

The Canal is open-I should go for a skate

It’s January-I should start looking for work

Health and Fitness are ever on my list of things to work on-I should manage my diet better

I should sit down and watch a movie

I should read the new book I ordered

I should stretch more.  Or just start stretching

I should do yoga

I should relax more

I reached out to Ian, admittedly a little exasperated and very confused as to why I was experiencing this pressure, not even a week out of Mexico.

I’m sure there could be a wide range of opinions on this: my Type A personality; my need for perfection; getting away to a warm place in the middle of winter is idyllic but maybe not reality (as the captain of the plane told all of us on Sunday afternoon) so perhaps letting go in +40 degree weather with a warm ocean breeze is far easier than in the middle of a Canadian winter.

I think though, as Ian and I discussed that it has more to do with the mindset, pace and programming we have here in our current society.

I have read countless articles about how sleep-deprived we all are, and how our incessant need to be plugged in at all times is making us miserable and stressed.  Ian has devoted a lot of time and energy into a training that specifically touches on burnout.  Because there is such a need for it.

I find it interesting that Mexico, a much poorer country than Canada seems to be full of perfectly content (maybe even happy) hardworking individuals.  The internet is not great.  The plumbing is a bit slow.  Cats can sometimes keep you up at night while they squabble in the nearby alley.


The food is amazing.  The locals smile.  “Mañana” as Ian shared with me not only literally translates to “tomorrow” but is also a bit of a mind-set in Mexico.  There is no sense of urgency.

A few weeks back, I saw a post from a friend on Facebook, which detailed his plans and intentions for the New Year.  There was no big goal, or major changes to be made.  The post was perfect in its simplicity and lack of complications: Keep waking up, show up to work, come home, eat, sleep well and relax on the weekends.  Repeat.

I loved it.

My next door neighbour, (albeit with some help from marijuana) seems to have a similar outlook, in that, as Ian put it, he has disconnected himself from our society’s pressures.  He plays his guitar in the evenings and during the warmer months, he is often outside with his morning coffee looking up at the trees.

This time last year, I began what would end up being a continuous process of decluttering.  About once a month, I go through a bit of a frenzy of tossing/donating things I realize I haven’t used in ages.  This, interestingly enough, wasn’t planned, and each time I go into a decluttering session it is spur of the moment and spontaneous.

The clutter I have held so closely for years, I am realizing, has simply filled much of my life with stuff.  It has kept my life from being simple and uncomplicated.  I have worried about packing it all up with each move I have made.  I have been concerned with how I will fill my living space with it.  I get anxious when there is not enough space for all of it.

I went through another decluttering session yesterday, again spontaneous and unplanned.  I admittedly thought late last year that I had got rid of everything that not longer served me.  After coming back from Mexico where the pace seemed so simple and basic and uncomplicated, I felt the need to strive for that.  I suppose it wasn’t just about bringing back the relaxed and present state of being I experienced there.  It was also about trying to extend the feeling of basics and simplicity.

I’m still very much trying to figure out how to continue to incorporate those elements into my life.  I think to a certain extent, there is some programming and de-programming that needs to happen, especially in terms of disconnecting or detaching myself from societal pressures.

I did a little bit of job hunting this morning.  I mentioned to Ian that I saw tons of job postings that I would have grabbed at a year ago.  I skimmed past all of them not feeling compelled to apply.  There was definitely a sense that I should, but I managed to refrain.  The one job that captured my attention and actually sounded really appealing was for a housekeeping position, part time at a nearby hotel.  So I applied.

While still in Mexico, I was mentioning to Ian that I have noticed the trend of picking a word for the New Year or an intention rather than setting a goal.  I had toyed with the idea of “Healing” last week, but I think I’m connecting much more to “Simplicity”.

I so want for simplicity.  Basic.  Uncomplicated.

I know I can have that, anywhere I choose to live.  It might require me pushing back or swimming upstream against what we’re supposed to do, but if it will bring me the tranquility and peace I felt in Mexico, than it is definitely a worthwhile endeavour.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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