- Name: Kathrine Vigdel
- Location: Oslo, Norway
- Occupation: Publishing editor
Tell us one way you are simplifying your life.
Clearing my afternoon and evening schedule. I aim to have at least three free nights on work weeks, and at least Saturday or Sunday absolutely free from morning to evening. Not that I won’t be spending those evenings and weekends doing lots of stuff, but freeing them up allows me to adjust according to my current energy level, it allows me to be flexible and it allows for those spontaneous happenings, say, meeting a friend who suddenly pops into town.
Or, if I am feeling tired and worn out, it allows me time for soul food: going for a walk, reading books, drawing, knitting, pottering around the house.
What’s the background story —what compelled you to make this change?
Up until recently, I was one of those people who multitasked her way through life—the typical 20-something who fed on the illusion that you can be and do everything, and that tiredness is a sign of a full life. I was majorly involved in church ministry and spent the majority of my free time in meetings, organized gatherings and events that felt more like chores on my list. I said yes when I should’ve said no—not to things I didn’t want to do, but to things I really wanted to do. I had a hard time prioritizing how I wanted to spend my life and ended up doing it all.
I wore my weariness like a badge. When people said I was smart, efficient, talented, trustworthy, nice, enduring and “there’s not a thing that girl can’t do,” I read their remarks as landmarks that pointed me in the direction my life should go. I hadn’t listened to my body or my inner voice my entire life, and I wasn’t about to start now.
Until a year ago, when I hit rock bottom. Such a cliché. I fell into a black hole of emptiness. That well-known feeling I’d carried on my back for so long I didn’t even know was there? Tiredness. Old tiredness. I’d made it part of my identity to always max out on my capacity, leaving no room to relax. I’d swallowed the lie that life is—and must be—stressful, hook, line and sinker.
I’ve spent the past year recovering, doing a serious soul-searching going back years. I quit the job that drained me and found a new and more fulfilling one. I said no to absolutely everything I’d been involved in before, and cleared my schedule completely. Now, at 29 going on 30, I am determined to make my last year in the 20s a starting ground for an entirely new way of living.
What were the obstacles?
There were two main obstacles:
1. People rely on me. What will they think? And
2. Where do I have my identity, really?
As I came to realize, both of these obstacles existed within the dry wasteland of my mind—the part where no flowers of contentedness or peace could blossom, because I never had time to water them. I spent a lot of time examining my motives both for living the life I did, and for wanting the life I didn’t yet have. It was more than just being tired and needing a break; I wasn’t being me.
I had to risk hurting other people's feelings, disappointing others—most of all myself—and be honest with myself regarding where I placed my value. Am I a human being or a human doing? Being brave enough to actually change the pace of my life was the biggest obstacle. But I did it.
How has this simplified your life? Or, how does it help you to live simply?
I live life more according to my actual energy level, I listen to my body more, and I’ve learned to be present at the moment. Before I hit rock bottom, I had a lot of stress-related health issues: daily headaches, muscle aches, I slept poorly, lack of appetite, I gained a little weight, I had stomach pains, there were lots of things I couldn’t eat (there still are), I got sick with the flu and stayed sick for weeks at a time.
Spending months just listening to my body and searching my soul (and adjusting accordingly) made the health problems more or less disappear. Because I’ve cleared my spare time, I find time to do the things I love: make art, read books, explore nature, catching up with long-lost friends, savour moments, breathe, learn a new craft.
I still have a full workday, but with an emptier afternoon and evening schedule, my life is in balance. It might be elementary for some, but it wasn’t for me.
What inspires you?
Nature is a huge source of inspiration. People who grow their own vegetables and drink afternoon tea. Any kind of botanical garden, preferably with a cute gift shop to wander in. Books where you savor the sentences as much as the actual story. All kinds of artists (as long as they’re not depressed and cut off each other's ears), book shops, Shauna Niequist, Ann Voskamp, Anne Lamott, Donald Miller. Knitting while listening to audiobooks by the above authors. My dog’s ability to be extremely happy, anytime.
Share a favorite quote, guiding motto, or perhaps your life’s purpose statement.
“Life is so urgent and necessitates living slow. It’s only the amateurs—and that I’ve been, and it’s been ugly—who thinks slow and urgent are contradictory.”- Ann Voskamp
Her book One Thousand Gifts was a real game-changer for me. I will always have ten thousand little things I want to accomplish, dreams to make a reality, things to learn, people to meet, and places to go, but I am slowly learning to do all those things at a completely different pace than before.
How do you celebrate everyday successes, no matter how small or large?
I punch my fist in the air, going “yesssss.” Or, whenever I’m stuck, I name ten good things that have happened or exist that day. It reminds me that me being here on earth, being me, is success in itself.