Contentment, Numbers and The Big Arena—In, Out or Both

Yesterday I wrote a post on my public Facebook page that unknowingly seemed to sum up, in many ways, my inner summer reflection and eventual clarity:

~Speaker Brene Brown says it takes great courage to step into the arena. I agree. But, it also takes great courage to step out of the arena once inside. And, it also takes great courage never to enter the arena in the first place. Millions of paths, there are millions of paths into our soul.~

I started the summer very tired. Not the kind of hard physical labor fifty weeks a year tired. Not single parent tired. Not grieving for the loss of a loved one tired. (Let's get all that straight right away.) But, nonetheless, emotionally and mentally tired.

When I first started out on this career path as a soul nurturer, spiritual author, circle leader, blogger and public speaker, my goal was to create a brand, gain a following and eventually enter the big arena like so many of the other spiritual authors that I admired have done. Granted, I was never Type A about it because I am not wired that way, but still, there was a striving—a not there yet feeling—simmering underneath my work, and therefore, my life.

After several years of trying to get my name out there through various common ways, and specifically last year after two major attempts to take a leap into a larger arena that ended up feeling all wrong for me, something inside of me this summer lost all motivation and drive for the big arena.


Instead of questioning it, I chose to just let it be, take the summer totally off and relax with my family.

Yes, I KNOW that this is not possible for many people. But, it is possible for me, and I am grateful, extremely grateful for my circumstances. I chose the time off without apology as it is a reality of my life right now that I do not take for granted. Again, just have to shoot straight and get some things laid out on the table.

So I listened this summer. Really listened to my soul—not to the outside world, not to the big players in my field, not to any other players in ANY field.

What I was listening for, although I didn't fully know it at the time, was this: At forty-three, as a fully operational soul (meaning I know what I am) embodied in this extraordinary/ordinary beautiful life with so many blessed choices, what do I, Annie Burnside, truly desire from my work life, from MY LIFE, in full knowing that I have the capacity to choose it.

Turns out, when I took away the outside aspects of creating a brand—numbers, readership, statistics, pushing, pulling, climbing, higher earning power, publicity and all else under that umbrella of "success" in most fields, I enJOY my chosen work, but not at the expense of Annieness and not at the expense of my LIFE.

I am basically a content person. I like lots of quiet and stillness. I like easy. I like simple. I like peaceful. I understand that for me less is often more. I am in many ways a loner. I don't like long term goals. I don't do yearly plans. I don't desire busy. I don't thrive wearing many hats all at once. I don't do well spinning multiple plates.

I observed myself very closely this summer on vacation. While others may love an action-packed day filled with faster-paced pursuits, my great joy is simply sitting on the dock very consciously aware of the nature that surrounds me and how I feel on my inside. Or a long, lazy dip in the cool water. Or a slow paddle board to notice the natural habitat on the lake. I love simply to be with my family doing a whole lot of nothing. I am in many ways gentle.

I realized that what I enjoy on vacation and in my free time at home (similar type pursuits that allow me to feel highly connected to my soul) is actually how I feel about my work.

I am slower-paced. I am spontaneous. I enjoy the moment-to-moment, day-to-day unfoldment. I desire simplicity and focus.

Sometimes, the bigger arena and all that it entails just feels like a lot of ruckus to my soul. It feels too full and too loud and too busy. It feels like a big rush to an unknown top. At times, I find even the thought of it utterly draining.

I realized that if I had to choose, I would choose simplifying my life rather than striving for more.

I have often wondered if I am afraid. I have wondered if I am lazy. I have wondered if I just don't have what it takes. At times, all of these may apply.

But by the end of the summer, the word contentment, and more importantly, the feeling of contentment, overtook me. I realized that perhaps, for me, the climb into the big arena may just be a big race to nowhere. I realized with great relief that I am more than okay never getting there. And suddenly, I knew without a doubt and with utter delight that my soul was smiling.

I see now, that the big arena is my own life lived in total alignment with my soul. From my perspective, that inner soul arena is as big as it gets. The climb is actually an inward "climb" not an outer one. And, I am already there. We all are...

This clarity that had been germinating all summer rushed in one sunny afternoon as an ecstatic knowing throughout my whole body while driving my daughter somewhere. We were listening to the new song Easy by Sheryl Crow. Something about it brought me to my humbled knees.

The striving, the need always for more, the exhaustion, when the life that I am already living is teeming with purpose, pleasure and love. My LIFE in the big arena IS right here and right now...

Warmth and LOVE,


P.S. It goes without saying that I can only share perspective and experience from my life. There are no rules. As I share in my post at the top, I am thrilled beyond words to understand that there are millions upon millions of paths, the number of sandboxes to play in are truly infinite, and I bless them all. Who knows how my life will unfold both in and out of different types of arenas. I am open. I am willing to live from my soul and see what evolves.

And, always, THANK YOU for reading!

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