This post is in collaboration with my good friend,
Nyre Grace Swainson - a lover of nature, mother of three, family woman and Youth Worker based in Whakatane, New Zealand. You can follow her inspirational journey on Instagram
Loneliness comes not only from the disconnect with others, but most importantly with ourselves. The more I chose to listen and fulfil my needs first, the less external validation I sought. Before I left New Zealand, my friend Nyre and I had been experiencing a similar shift in our way of thinking and living. Since we met three years ago, she had been a positive influence in my life – especially with her bubbly personality and infectious smile. Then I learned that before this shift, deep down there was a need to fit in, to please others. Somewhere along the way her soul had a growing longing, craving to feel whole again. Feeding her soul became a priority, not only for herself, but also for her family.
“Pretty much all my life I lived to please everyone. I was a tomboy and my mother painted my room pink. She wanted me to be just like my girl cousins. I'd get teased at school for all sorts of things - being ugly, having no shoes etc. Even though at the time I didn’t care, then after so long it caught up with me. I've always been a friendly, happy chick, and that comes across as being a flirt. Things like this moulded into me and made me not want to be myself because it made me feel like it was wrong.” — Nyre Grace
How does she feed her soul? She acts on those small thoughts we all have, though don’t really take much notice of. Have you reminisced about past hobbies and wonder why you stopped doing it? Nyre had loved sketching, and one day decided to pick up a paper and sketchpad again. The simple act of sketching makes her happy, and that joy feeds her soul. How many of us have taken a photo of a beautiful sunset, yet never actually watched it with our own eyes, away from the glare of a screen? Feeding the soul is to allow ourselves to be in awe of the gift that is in front of us.
“This year I made a promise to do more for myself. To feed more of those small thoughts that I pushed aside for years and years. Mainly because I knew deep down something was missing. I didn’t feel whole. I was all over the place from pleasing others. When you’re whole, you feel like you fit into your body, you’re happy and everything around you make sense. Life is brighter.” — Nyre Grace
Giving ourselves permission to enjoy the simple things, as well as acting on ideas that we often push aside in place of “more important” things. Staying in jobs to pay the bills yet know it is neither fulfilling or living our purpose. Losing ourselves to situations that no longer serve us, lift us up, because we have grown comfortable or we don’t see a way out. Choices disguised as responsible, a justified suffering or discomfort because the thought of change is more daunting.
“I took a job (a job I'm very thankful for) but at the time I didn’t feel like I was myself. Old negative thoughts came in - I was complaining about past problems and fell into old patterns. One day I thought about getting a new one, so I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a “good job”. Next thing, I'm applying to work as a Youth Mentor, something I've always wanted to do. They even created a job just for me. When you lead from the soul, you find purpose.” — Nyre Grace
We are now both in our thirties, and looking back, there are no regrets for what we didn’t know back then. Nyre mentioned that for her, her twenties were spent being led by ego and seeking external validation. She says that she owes her mental clarity to those years of finding herself.
“No one is happy all the time, and it's totally OK when you’re not. We just have to remember that 'happy' is always waiting for us to enjoy. Just ride out the other emotions, because trying to shut them out will only hold back the full force of happiness.” — Nyre Grace
There is no right or wrong way to feed your soul, because only you can know what truly fulfils you. I had asked Nyre if she has a mantra that she lives by, and she offered the philosophy of Tapa Wha: Mind, body, spirit and whanau (family). For her, this resonates with what makes her soul happy, and now that her cup is full, she will continue to live her best life. In the moment, for every moment is a gift.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently based in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.