Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Self-Love and the Choice to Live Deliberately

 First of all, updates!

When I last wrote in May, the world was going into “hide and survive” mode.  Shelves were emptying out in grocery stores and convenience stops everywhere, first with toilet paper, cleaners, and water, then with, well, everything else!

At one point my children wouldn’t let me go to the store alone.  They really were worried about my safety.  What a relief that shelves are just about fully restocked now and the tension level has dropped to more manageable levels!  I hope you have access to what you need, too.  I hope you’re well.

This has been a monumental week for me in the growth of my dream of entrepreneurship--a 20-year dream--to build a company dedicated to helping women of all ages and backgrounds have tools that allow them to live more beautifully: to have more hope, to have real resources, to live with greater clarity, support, and newness of direction.  This has been a long time coming. I’m happy to announce that my eldest daughter and I have started vlogging on Instagram and you’re invited!  The video messages will be uploaded weekly and last between 5-15 minutes.  

Please follow us on Instagram at beautifullivingsystems!

The Path to Deliberate Living

This week, our focus is self-love: what it means, what it looks like when it’s balanced and healthy, and what to do to develop it.  Learning to live deliberately is an expression of self-love. Let me explain.

In the Fall of 2017, I was teaching English and American History to high school juniors and seniors full-time.  Our school’s Director, Robyn Ellis, arranged for me, and a fellow teacher--and dear friend--Shannon Cannon, to attend a workshop in Boston at the Harvard School of Business.  Because we were going to be among historical haunts related to our teaching content, and because we lived so far away from the East Coast, we got permission to stay an extra day to visit some of the most important sites.  Walden Pond, outside of Boston, made the list of places important to us to see.

Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts entered American lore on August 9, 1854, when Henry David Thoreau published Walden, or, A Life in the Woods. (Click here to digitally read through the original book!)  

Thoreau’s move to Walden was his attempt to simplify and clarify his life.  It was his two-year-long date with himself.

While there, besides foraging for food, tending his garden, and generally avoiding contact with others, he wrote extensively in his journal.  His intent was to minimize the clutter and noise of his life so he could maximize what really mattered the most to him: how he felt, what he knew, what he believed.  Boiled down (and in his own words) Thoreau writes:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Thoreau’s time alone helped him clarify his mind, organize his thoughts on paper, renew his courage to go back to society, and live with centered conviction.  

The Art of Renewal: Your Self-date

When Shannon and I arrived at the pond, we enjoyed the walk leading to the location of the hearthstone--all that remains of the original, tiny, one-room cabin from 1847--set back off the beaten path.  We each laid a stone of remembrance at the site as a token of his attempt to “live deliberately.”  Then, we separated so we could walk, reflect, and write our own deliberations.

I found large stones leading down to the pond's edge to write.

Thirty minutes later, after writing and thinking, I felt whole and renewed. I wrote what I valued the most and what I most wanted to become as a person.  The responsibilities, challenges, and concerns I carried into Walden had neither been erased nor had the world changed, but I felt more centered, more assured--courageous, confident, and at peace.  I started thinking with more courage about what I really wanted from life.  No decision was made definitively, but then again, no seed grows overnight, and prior to that, I had not taken the time to really think deeply about and write down what I wanted to create with my life long term.  I began to wonder--quietly--if there was something more for me.  Was it time to start my own dream for me?  What exactly did it mean for me to “live deliberately?”  Was there space for this kind of decision?  Where there resources and support?  

I didn’t label it at the time but looking back I had taken myself on what my oldest daughter, Madeline, calls a self-date.  Recently, she encouraged me to go on one again.  Soon.

It took my daughter’s coaxing to teach me that these moments of escape and reflection do not need to be 3 years apart.  A self-date is any planned activity of any given length that allows you time alone.  You don’t always have to bring a journal but you might want to be prepared to capture all the thoughts and ideas that flood in when the noise of the world is quieted.  If you’re a busy young momma, a self-date can be scheduled at nap times or on a weekend when more babysitters or a spouse are available for an hour or two.  If your job demands most of your daytime energy, a self-date may be planned into lunchtime or scheduled as an unbreakable “appointment” with yourself after work.  Be creative.  But be proactive.

A Change and A Dream

Some things come full circle.  On my last day of teaching high school in late Spring of 2019, I took my classes up to a park in Provo Canyon for a field trip where they could also have a self-date and share in the invitation to think a bit and write on how to “live deliberately.”  It’s interesting.  It took me a year and a half just to get enough courage to reset my feet on a new path.  With my sweet husband’s support, I was able to step back from high school teaching and redirect my attention to strategizing the next chapter of life first into clear ideas, then into words, and finally into tangible reality as a fully legitimized business: Beautiful Living, LLC.

It is by no means a clear cut creation.  Since my visit to Walden Pond, I made lists of goals--big ones and small ones--that will most likely occupy the creative energy of my life.  Beginning a new venture feels like holding an infant--knowing there’s living potential, a certainty that there will be joy and pain, realizing and accepting my role in nurturing and shaping it.  It is by no means certain to succeed, but it can have a chance at life through me.  And it will touch more lives than just my own could.

The other night, November 12th, 2020, Madeline brought home papers filled out for me to register my dream business with the State of Utah. The next morning, November 13th, my husband called his attorney to get the paperwork filed to legally give this new dream life.  That afternoon, I went on a scheduled self-date again after three and a half long years. I opened my phone to search for inspiration to begin writing and found myself again reading these life-altering words from Thoreau:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Sometimes, life becomes poetry.

A Time To Act

So go on! Set up a date with yourself. Pack a journal, a sandwich, some sunglasses or walking shoes. Don’t be reckless, be deliberate. The world needs more people to live deliberately, those who take the time to measure their thoughts and feelings, who pause to plan, who think about their resources in new ways, who gather to themselves support even if God is the only one who shows up, who seek to collect wisdom and invite stillness to themselves, who listens to that still, small voice that whispers, “there’s something else you need to prepare to do.”

A Personal Invitation

If I can help you better directly through coaching or mentoring or if you’d just like to stay up to date with all things Beautiful Living, LLC, please contact me through this blog or at We have recently branched out into Facebook and Instagram where you can connect with Beautiful Living through social media.  Let’s stay connected!   Until next time, may you know that God loves, that life goes on, and that there is always a way to...

...Live Beautifully!

Heather Butler

Founder and President of Beautiful Living, LLC

P.S. Don't Forget to Follow Me on Instagram at Beautifullivingsystems!

Here are a few takeaways from this week's theme: Self-love

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