Aspirational living or Getting practical

longwoodgardens via kimberlyanncoyle.com

I often get so busy living life, that I forget to stop and take in the long view. I wrote a little bit here, about taking the time to examine what I want my life to look like, and then taking some real-life steps in that direction. Over the past few months, I’ve given a lot of thought and, more importantly, a lot of prayer to bringing together the vision for my life and my everyday reality.

I read an article recently, in which the author talked about her time working as a salesperson in a clothing/lifestyle store. She wrote about the customers who spent their time and money obsessively (and excessively) on an imaginary lifestyle curated for them by this particular shop. The writer found it ridiculous that women were shopping for a fake life, one that looked artistically crafted and handmade, when the goods really came off an assembly line in China. She said these customers chased a life that looked fancy, expensive, and vaguely European, but in reality, it was lived out in a suburban colonial three streets over from the local mall.

She took a lot of license and made some unfair assumptions about her customers, but she got me thinking. How much of my time and money do I spend cultivating a life I will never live? How much time do I spend pinning beautiful photos on Pinterest that have no correlation to my reality? How much money do I spend on cookware that will never meet the front burner because, as we all know, I hate to cook. How many books will I read on topics I have no interest in pursuing? Am I wearing, eating, writing, participating, and investing in things that belong to the me I used to be or the me I pretend to be rather than the me of today?

Over the past few years, I’ve become more selective about the things I bring into my life and my home. Some of this is a function of time and space, but hopefully, it’s also because I have examined my heart with care. I play out various scenarios to the bitter end in my head, and this has served me well in determining what I truly want out of life. The idea of living in a large, international city long-term sounds romantic and utterly delicious, but at the end of that trail of thought, is the fact that I would raise rootless kids. Buying ‘one of each’ from the Williams-Sonoma catalog sounds fabulous until I come to the end of this ridiculous fantasy and admit I’d rather make pancakes on the old sticky griddle than add another saucier to my collection (my husband, the true gourmet of the family, would stop me here and say something like “sacrilege!”, but it’s true. I don’t even know what a saucier is, much less how to spell it).

The key for me, is learning the difference between fantasizing about a life and aspiring to a life. If we live with intention and authenticity, our aspirations will naturally lead us to the real thing. Want to live artfully? Consume art. Make art. Paper your doors, your floors, and the walls of your heart with it. Want to live in peace? Create quiet. Pray. Bite your tongue until it bleeds, and then bite the words back some more. Want to live healthy? Quit buying workout clothes at Lulu Lemon until you have the exercise routine to support them. Want to be well-read? Put the People magazine down and pick up a real book. Want a better relationship with your mother/friend/neighbor? Pursue them. Preferably not in a creepy, stalker-ish way.

As a sarcastic, People reading, cookie eating aficionado, I feel comfortable telling you, I’m preaching to myself. As I discover more of what I want and who I want to be, I realize it takes both aspiration and perspiration to get there. I am the curator of my own life–not the shop down the street, or the lifestyle magazine, or her blog, or my fake fantasies, or their expectations. Let’s start cultivating the lives we want to live, right where we are today. Baby steps, friends. Let’s take them.

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What’s one thing you aspire to in your life? What step can you take today to move towards that bright, shiny vision?

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  • Kimberly! This post pierces me to the marrow. Thank you,
    thank you, thank you!

    “The key for me, is learning the difference
    between fantasizing about a life and aspiring to a life. If we live with
    intention and authenticity, our aspirations will naturally lead us to the real
    thing.”

    I’m so tired of being miserable because I can’t attain the unrealistic.
    I need the real thing!

    And in reference to your previous post, it may not be perfect,
    but you wrote something… and it was perfect for me.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      I’m so glad it resonates with you, Susan! I’m tired of reaching for the unrealistic and unattainable too. I can’t wait to hear more about your journey.

  • Andrea Frazer

    “Over the past few years, I’ve become more selective about the things I bring into my life and my home. Some of this is a function of time and space, but hopefully, it’s also because I have examined my heart with care.” Yes! And like Susan Harms said, I agree! What’s the one thing I aspire to in my life? It would be connection. Like you, I don’t want a purchased life. I’m so close to a book agent I can taste it, and yet, God is really having me examine my motives. Why is this a good thing? Why did I write this book? Was it to prove to myself that I don’t suck as a mom? That my kid is okay despite Tourettes? Perhaps some of that is true. But really, as I journal and pray about it, it’s much deeper. It’s not about a book sale for me. It’s about connection to others who are struggling, too. Perhaps, like Anne Lamott or Glennon from Momastery or Kelly Corrigan or Elizabeth Gilbert (though I don’t dare try and same I’m their caliber prose wise) we share the same need to not just communicate but transcend our suffering. And isn’t that the point of the Gospel, anyway? To not just suffer, but rise from our circumstances? Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Your post came at such a good time. You’re such a lovely, deep, reflective and wise writer. I appreciate your posts so very much. (I miss this kind of writing from when I was blogging more instead of FBing. YOUR stuff makes me remember why I write. You are onto something, my friend.)

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Andrea. I love that you aspire to connection, and you’re seeking it authentically through your writing. Wonderful!

  • So good! I want to stop picking up the books I feel like I “should” read, only to discard them after I realize I have no desire to finish them and then feel bad about not finishing them because really, I should have just minded my own interests in the first place.

    Super long sentence to say that I’ll probably be reading lots of British mysteries, biographies, and quality kids’ lit this year :).

    “I am the curator of my own life.” That’s a good one.