Updated: Jul 3, 2019
This time last year, I quit my job.
I had an 8 month old baby, a 5 year old and was about to go back to my career in fashion after a second maternity leave. The client I was to go back to was Britney Spears, and the work I was going to continue was design assistant and online marketing manager. I was working for Scandinavia's largest lingerie company at the time, and they had just taken on the American pop-star in an attempt to reach a younger target audience.
I was reluctant to return and satisfy the demands of a company that had little investment in their employees but unrelenting expectations in their performance, so I went through the inner turmoil of figuring out what to do about changing my career, how I could contribute something more meaningful to the world my children would grow up in.
We all know that feeling. Anyone who has ever worked in a company that puts profit before people knows the feeling. Anyone mother who is conflicted by their career knows the feeling. Priorities change when you have a child, but a workplace often doesn't, so we are left with this feeling of being yanked back into a box that no longer accommodates our new perspective.
I debated looking for another job on my maternity leave, but I am a foreigner to my husband's homeland and it took me 6 months of free labour and intense language lessons to get this job after having my first child - so I was realistic about the opportunities I would be offered after having a second child.
I had spend years trying to cut down on work hours to spend more time with my son and, as a result of the nature of my work, the debilitating stress and lack of creative flexibility in my office, I landed up going through a brutal psychosis - which happened to collide with an untimely existential crisis. This affected everything in my life to the point I gave up on any dreams of my own, any form of self-love and whatever I had left of hope - until I fell pregnant again.
As the maternity leave came to an end, I was at a cross-roads in life where I was about to either continue on a path that I knew was harming to my mental health and therefor my young family - or take on the rebellious task of breaking cultural/societal/financial expectations that were demanding me out of alignment with the empowered person I wanted to be - and priorities I so wished to fight for.
What I did next might inspire you towards your own rebellious act and I hope it resonates with those who seek a more unconventional life in motherhood.
Now that I’m on the other side, I wish to empower every single struggling mother with the tools to create their own rebellious life, one that is unconventional, authentic and aligned to their own, unique inner blue-print of freedom.
In the end, I have come to see my act of rebellion as really the ultimate act of self-care. It has been a journey of coming back to myself, regenerating confidence through the power of intentional living and creating an abundance of energy through simply letting go of what society/culture/work thinks my life should look like.
1. I talked to my partner about what we really wanted in life - and how we could afford a change.
The first step I took was talk to my husband about how we could live without two incomes. My husband is Danish, and I am a little bit of everything that is not Danish - so we had very different cultural ideas of what is considered a 'normal' life. What we did share were the core values of family, travel and personal freedom so we were open to talk about those priorities. We had just signed for a house outside the city that required heavy mortgage repayments through both of our two, full-time jobs. When we sat down and looked at what this lovely bunch of bricks and mortar in the countryside would do for our freedom and realised it wasn't even our own desires that lead us to look for a house. It was a combination of family pressure, friends doing the same thing with their young families and a little bit of 'But that's what you do when you settle down, right?' So, we pulled out of the contract immediately and started looking for a more financially-freeing option of living.
Create a little of your own rebellion - What has slipped into your own life, or has been normalised without your consent, that is not by choice? Shine the spotlight of consciousness onto all areas of your living conditions and see what has not been intended by your own desires and core values. Consider how you could live differently to free up the costs that go into living traditionally.
2. We moved into a commune and built a cabin in the wilderness.
There are many ways to make passive incomes these days, but sitting in a house for 20 years, working the best years of our life to pay it off - and eventually selling it for a pension did not make sense to us. We wanted to live for now and to experience life with our children. So, we sold our apartment and moved into a communal living apartment in the city centre. In Denmark, you are able to share a mortgage with other tenants as well as live in a small apartment yourself. It requires being on an impossible-to-get internal list that is usually passed down through the generations, and luckily my husband was unknowingly on one from an old Aunt who signed him up at the age of 3 years old.
We now share working days in the communal garden, grow our own vegetables and sometimes we eat together. Our children go to the same school and play together in the evenings outside, and we help each other out with tasks. The sacrifice we made to live here was space because we now live in the attic apartment at the very top of the building and climb 5 flights of stairs every time we forget a diaper- but the benefits outweigh the challenges, to us. We needed to stay in the city because of work and the international community but at heart we are both farm-children.
While my husband grew up on a Danish crop farm, I grew up on a Southern African peach farm in . So, our need for nature was imperative. We used the last bit of money from our apartment to buy a piece of land in North West Zealand and built a cabin on it by hand. We now drive every Friday out to the little wooden cabin and spend our weekends immersed in creativity, wilderness and peace - and have even automated it through Airbnb recently, so we make a little money on the side too.
It takes sacrifices to make a change but when we realised it wasn't actually a sacrifice and more a deeply ingrained habitual attachment to what we knew, we began the process of de-cluttering what was left of our unconscious life, like getting rid of the t.v, the attic of unused clothes and the excess of toys.
Create a little of your own rebellion - Take a look at your living space and see if everything in it holds a purpose or passion. If you love your home and all your possessions, are you happy to work the rest of your life for it? Or could you live alternatively, in a tiny-house, in the wilderness, in an intentional community that would provide more financial freedom to do what you love? Could you start today by getting rid of your 'unconscious' items that clutter your wardrobe or kids' room?
3. I quit my job and started writing books.
I asked the Universe what my purpose in life was - to which she answered, 'Go ask your journal'. After days searching through my 15 years worth of journalling and poetry books, I found nothing.
Until I realised that the actual books could be my purpose and spent the following 6 months condensing these spiritual-nomad-turned-mother notes into a 80k word, non-fiction book, which is being traditionally published at the end of the year. I wrote the first book with the prioritisation of spending more time with my kids, healing my mental health, taking care of my physical fitness and reuniting with my husband through a deeply loving and growing relationship.
I wrote the second book of poetry in 3 months and published it myself so I could own the authority to give the audiobook away for free. This was a way of contributing to something soul-crafted and selfless to the world without asking for a return.
I have learned quickly that being an Author and poet is the greatest act of spiritual freedom I have ever experienced. I suddenly realised that life is meant to be this way and not the way I was about to 'settle' into. Life is meant to be Creative. Purposeful. Introspective. Calm. Slow. Passionate. Rewarding. Patient. Giving. Joyous. A constant process of learning - and could see that suffering was caused as a result of being out of alignment with all that which makes life beautifully unconventional.
And yes, quitting my job was one of the most satisfying and petrifying experiences of my life.
Create a little of your own rebellion - If you want to work differently, have more control of where your energy goes, be a more present parent in life, then perhaps creative entrepreneurship is journey worth considering. You need only overcome the dominant authority that is yourself, which is an act of liberation in its self. Your sub-conscious is the steering force to your life's direction, but it can be taught how to achieve anything you dream by beginning to be more conscious to more of what you think, say and act. Learn more about how to empower your state of mind through meditation and reconditioning. Incremental changes are the most powerful to make, so do something today that will inch you towards your dreams and learn how to enjoy the process of challenging yourself. Small changes, made consistently over a period of time have the power to transform your life as you know it.
4. We started travelling again
Travel used to be the main priority in my life but it suddenly became a void among the responsibility of motherhood. I was brought up in 3 different continents and moved over 7 times in early childhood, before continuing to live around the world as an adult, so travelling has always been home to me.
While I was working in the traditional sense, I felt like I was constantly juggling life with my young child, as well as struggling to settle into a culture that only supported me as a full-time contributor. This meant holidays were spent recouping in all-inclusives and places that had daycare facilities. This had never been me or what I enjoyed most. I lived on remote islands and in jungles, on secluded mountain ranges and in solitary ashrams. I lived for adventure and had always wanted my children to know the awe that comes from standing on the salted earth on the Etosha pan in Namibia or the feeling of expanse from watching the sunrise over the Horton Plains in Sri Lanka. So, when I had more mental bandwidth from the changes we were making to our life, suddenly wanderlust showed her wings again.
We complied all our leftover holidays into one travelled solidly for a month around Sri Lanka and now have an abundant travel budget from the savings of our minimalist life. The experiences we have gathered from this year's adventure alone has been compiled into a full wall of photos to where our TV used to stand. It has every memory of exquisite scenery, every smile under night's star, every surf's wipe-out, every friend we made along the way on a mural dedicated to our uncharted escapade.
Adventure does not disappear with responsibility; it just becomes a different type, a slower type, a more present type and a shared type.
Create a little of your own rebellion - Choose experiences that bring your family together under adventure, rather than the 'usual' chartered destination.. It does not have to be expensive or exotic, but hold space for experiences that offer more than just comfort. Weekend breaks spent camping, long afternoon's walking in a part of nature that you've never been, or even watching a documentary instead of a film can all be these incremental experiences that create for an adventurous motherhood.
6. We kept realigning, kept going.
Along every step of our journey, we have been met with some resistance. Not only from friends and family but from the culture we live in and even our own doubts. It is hard to go against what is collectively accepted as 'normal' and you can almost fear from a lifetime of being conditioned. But what may feel like comfort, knowing and familiarity for a few days can quickly become an un-lived life. And before you know it, you are wondering how it got this boring, or how life became this lost, or how you became this sick.
It has taken resilience, but mostly discipline to consistently come back into alignment with our dreams. Distraction comes in many forms and dilutes your intuition from the outside in - and what we realised was that the more we sought only ourselves for guidance, the more empowered we became.
We sat down often and talked about how to keep going, how to keep on this path, how to overcome our fears, how to keep inspired but we never questioned what we were doing or why were were doing it - only how to continue. We spent more time with our children, less nights arguing about money, more evenings watching the sun go down, less mornings waking up to the robotic routines, more time laughing, less Sunday's dreading the start again... we never needed to be reminded of why this was right for us.
Being rebellious is a test of resilience. It requires boldness, confidence and a determination to act in accordance with what you know is best. And keep going.
Create a little of your own rebellion - How do you align with yourself every day? Consider how much the world around you affects your ability to be true to your own needs and see how you can create more time spent being yourself. Get rid of activities that do not serve you and take time from these activities to put into your own grounding.
In the end, rebellion is simply an act of rising against a dominating authority - this comes in many forms such as over-cultures, oppressive societal structures, possessive partners, friends or family members - but it also comes in the form of our own sub-conscious which makes sure we fear deviation in favour of safety. But safety does not ensure a long, fulfilled life, nor does it reflect the authentic person that you really are.
Rebellion is about being you, with all your unique nuances and shades. It's about singing aloud with your child as you walk under bridges without caring what others think. It's about getting on that swing and having a go because it's fun, even if it feels embarrassing. It's about standing up for the way you parent your child, even if it is unconventional. It's about keeping your dreams alive rather than settling for 'good enough', even when it seems easier, safer and more comfortable to just be 'normal' - and it's about taking incremental steps, consistently, towards a dream that you are uniquely aligned with - because it is a truly exceptional life that awaits you there.
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