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You were born with a story inside you.
You were born with a story no one else can tell, because it’s your life story, and it’s your job to live it.
I look at my littles and I see how their stories start out: their story is homeschool and muddy feet, paintbrushes and charcoal pencils, ukulele plucking and off-key singing, playground slides and swinging high to kick the pine needles in the tree overhead. Their story is pajamas and pen pals, Lewis and Tolkein and reading aloud, with someone click-clacking on the vintage typewriter in the background.
It’s a good story, a story I like, but that’s just the beginning. It’s the setup. What comes next, they get to decide.
We’re all writing our stories every day. We’re all living our stories every day.
But sometimes… something happens along the way. We grow up, we get busy, and then we look around one day and find that the story we’re living doesn’t match the story in our hearts.
We aren’t living our story. We’re living someone else’s story, we’re living the culture’s default story, we’re living a generic story with fill-in-the-blank details.
And we weren’t made for that. We were each made with a story all our own.
This is my story:
Mine is a story of six children in twelve years. It’s a story of beauty and mess and dirty dishes, of mismatched socks and the occasional misspent afternoon. It’s a noisy story.
It’s cloth diapers and baby slings, playsilks and wooden trucks, herbal salve and homemade granola. It’s baby toes and midwives and stretched-out nursing bras. It’s trips to church and trips the library.
It’s a story of interruptions. So many interruptions. And sometimes the interruptions are interruptions, and sometimes the interruptions are the story.
It’s about working with your hands so your mind can be still. It’s about watching for beauty, practicing contentment, pursuing peace.
It’s still a noisy story.
It is a story that tries to tell the truth every day.
It’s a story of doing small things with great love, except sometimes I forget the love part and it’s more like doing small things with great exhaustion.
Mine’s a simple story, nothing flashy, but simple isn’t quite the same as easy.
Some days it is a story of bone-weary, soul-thirsty. It is a story of tired. It is a story of imperfection. It is a story of get up and try again tomorrow.
I can get discouraged at those parts of the story.
But then I read this, in Tsh Oxenreider’s new book: “We were made to live slower than our fast-paced Western culture deems normal. But it means paddling upstream through strong currents.”
And this: “It’s hard to slow down when the race has no finish line.”
And I remembered: it’s hard work, living our stories. It’s meaningful, important, soul-forging work.
Maybe your story is backyard chickens and a milking goat. Maybe your story is home-milled soap and hand-dipped candles. Maybe your story is bread rising, fruit leather in the dehydrator, sprouts soaking on the windowsill.
Maybe your story is world travel, backpacks and hiking trails, swimming in the ocean.
Maybe your story is blending satisfying work with family life in ways that make sense. Maybe your story is early mornings and running shoes. Maybe your story is making a difference in the life of this one child.
Maybe you’re not sure what your story is anymore. That’s okay. Slow down. Listen for the still small voice in your heart. It’s whispering the way back.
If you’ve veered off course, if the story you’re living doesn’t match the story in your heart, well, that happens. Because living your own true story, it’s not always easy. It’s hard work, but it’s good work. It’s the work of a life well lived. It’s worth doing.
My story doesn’t look like yours and your story doesn’t look like mine, because our stories are our own. I applaud you for living yours. I’ll keep working on living mine. We’ll do it together, and that will make all the difference.
Go ahead. Live your story.
This post is part of the Notes From a Blue Bike book tour — learn more here.
If your story is one about living simply, you are going to love Tsh’s new book, Notes From a Blue Bike. (You might know Tsh from The Art of Simple.) It’s part memoir, part guidebook, and it will inspire you to take back your own story and make your own intentional choices about work, school, entertainment, food, and travel. Check out the book trailer below, then grab your copy here.