Expand, Push and Challenge Yourself | Shannon Dee

Challenge Yourself

Unlike Jessica’s big, bold, brave decision to travel the world and work remotely for SoulSalt for the last sixteen months, I’ve had smaller, yet significant growth experiences. It seems the universe always knows when I need to expand and push myself and she speaks this truth loudly.


First, you should know that my core values are Family, Integrity and Happiness. And while they are three very distinct values, they all must be present and working in tandem within my life for me to be truly aligned. I know this.


After some pretty big life changing events about ten years ago, I felt it was again time to restyle my life. My husband and I had flipped multiple homes over the years, which meant moving our family repeatedly. Uprooting the family was often chaotic, but it became our new “normal.” My husband and I decided it was time to give our kids a chance to grow roots and have a place they could really call home. Building our dream home seemed like the best way to achieve this goal. But after a few months of living in the new house, I realized something was missing. I had this nagging feeling there had to be more. But more of what?


Even though it was modest in size, the house was still big enough that I could go all day without seeing my children. They had their area, and I was relegated to mine. I found myself devoting most of my spare time to yard work and house cleaning. I had no time with the kids. It made me angry and sad. I wanted my kids to have memories of being together as a family. I realized, I didn’t need more of something, I needed less. We needed a little simplicity in our lives. I mean really, what was one more move after all the moves we had made? So, we listed our house and decided to downsize. I didn’t care if we all slept in the same room. I wanted to interact with my kids and husband regularly and not be married to yard and housework every weekend, only to return to the office exhausted on Monday.


Downsizing was the best thing we ever did! It’s been three years and I can honestly say that most days are low key. It’s not unusual for our family to be gathered around the kitchen island cooking and catching up on the day. Or enjoying a game night where my youngest can’t help himself when he gets the Old Maid card and he bursts out laughing, only to reveal his hand. And some days it’s just the kids hanging out, working on projects or socializing with each other in their rooms. It’s perfect. Each night, after work, I can sit on my back patio guilt-free without the stress of a weekend to-do list.


The concept of simplifying has pushed me to really define what exactly simple means. For me, it’s being with my family and creating memories without guilt. It’s having meaningful conversations and being present for each moment. Although I still need a reminder now and again, I’m getting better at it each day.


Simplifying our lives has helped us do some of the things we’d always talked about, like buying a camp trailer. We finally had the freedom to pack up on a Thursday or Friday, drive to the middle of nowhere and disconnect from the world. It’s a time when I can truly be present with my husband and my kids. Whether it’s sitting in silence or listening to the kids giggle and say, “Remember that one time,” I finally feel all is well in my world.


It’s not that our new life has alleviated all the anxiety that comes with being a parents; it hasn’t. Being a parent pushes me. Frankly, it scares me. There’s no instruction manual to follow. (I still wonder how in the world my parents ever survived raising me.) I know there are heart-wrenching life choices my children have to make, things that keep me up at night with worry. And it still makes me feel uneasy when I have to step back and let them fail so they can understand consequences and learn from their own mistakes. But having the space to be present with my children as they work through challenges reminds me that I can do hard things like learn patience and work through difficult situations with them. My job is to hug them tightly and remind them that everyone makes mistakes and that my love is unconditional. And even though being a parent is the toughest thing I have ever done, the reward is far greater than anything I could have imagined. My children are my greatest joy in this life.


< Read Lyn Christian’s “Courage” take on Expand, Push and Challenge Yourself.

Read Jessica Draper’s “Growth” version of Expand, Push and Challenge Yourself. >