Black Sheep or Free Spirit?

Photo courtesy of Suzanne Whitfield Vince.
Photo courtesy of Suzanne Whitfield Vince

I used to think that my sister Nancy was the black sheep of the family, but I’m beginning to think that she had it right all along. Nancy has always marched to the beat of her own drum. At the age of 19, she became disillusioned with the material world and realized she needed to find the meaning of life and try to live it.

After dropping out of college, Nancy traveled and lived in places as diverse as California (where she roller-skated down hills in San Francisco and generally lived a true hippy lifestyle – it was the 1960’s after all), Maine and Connecticut, as well as France, Switzerland, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

During her travels she studied and taught Transcendental Meditation. At 35, she finally settled in Fairfield, Iowa – home of the Maharishi International University – where both she and her husband taught TM.

Over the years, Nancy has had many hobbies (she makes THE best lip balm) and many jobs and has struggled to make ends meet, but she has never let society or family pressures dictate how she should live her life. She does it her way. She lives life on her terms.

I, on the other hand, have lived my life in the most expected way. I went to college (eventually), got my degree, and joined the daily grind. I’ve enjoyed career success and material success, have all the latest gadgets and technological devices.

In this fast-paced, technologically-driven life we live in, it’s easy to forget that there is more to life. That we are more than the jobs we do and the things we own. We’re even more than an extension of the families we belong to.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience and if we don’t, at some point in our lives, recognize this truth then our spirits will slowly wither on the vine.

What took my sister only 19 years to realize took me the better part of 50 years. But, as she pointed out, we are fortunate to have discovered the deeper meaning of life in this lifetime. Have you? Here’s a test:

When was the last time you ate real ice cream,

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Stu Spivak.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Stu Spivack

Laughed until you cried,

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, Courtesy of MBiz
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, Courtesy of MBiz

Or danced like nobody was watching:

Photo courtesy of Nathan Vince
Photo courtesy of Nathan Vince


When was the last time you cried tears of joy, did something you’ve always wanted to do but were too afraid to try, were present with your child and just delighted in the sheer joy of their existence, noticed the sky on a cloudy day or a tree bursting with fall leaves?

When was the last time you slowed down, put your smartphone aside and noticed that life is happening right now, right here, and that this moment is the only moment you are guaranteed.

Start today. Do something fun, spontaneous, unexpected. Your Twitter peeps, website stats and Facebook followers will still be there waiting for you when you return. And just maybe you’ll have a new adventure to share with them.

When was the last time you did something fun, spontaneous or unexpected? I want to know! I love hearing from you. And to prove it, for every comment you leave, you’ll be entered into a drawing. At the end of the month, I will draw a lucky winner who will receive a $10 gift card (your choice, Amazon, Starbucks or iTunes). Winners will be announced in the first post of the following month.

Congratulations to the October winner:  Leslie Robison.  Leslie, please contact me via email to claim your prize!!

10 comments on… “Black Sheep or Free Spirit?”

  1. For my birthday I ate nothing but dessert. Red Velvet and Vanilla Bean cupcakes (a dozen) and chocolate cannoli. I was on a day-long sugar high.

  2. I so don’t want to be like my friend’s grandmother, who said in the nursing home, “I wished that I had eaten that chocolate cake, when I could have enjoyed it.”

  3. The last time I did something spontaneous it cost me a lot of money. I went shopping, just because I wanted to. I bought stuff I didn’t need, just because I wanted it.

    I’m not a cryer when it comes to sappy movies (usually) or when I’m really happy. I usually cry the most when I’m mad, but shedding tears is a great way to relieve stress. It works.

    Good for your sister to have found her path and stayed on it all these years.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Nancy J.

    I think about this all the time. It’s so easy to get into a rut. My simple “outside the box” activities are often on my drive home w/my daughter from school. Instead of the regular routine, we randomly choose something different. It could be eating ice cream, having “dinner” at 4 p.m. because we’re hungry, or making “breakfast for dinner” right when we get home. It’s not crazy stuff, just an effort to mix it up and spend time together. My retirement dream is to choose a town and live there for a month (as if it’s the town I live in) so I can do regular things instead of the tourist life. I hope that really happens!

    • I like that, Nancy. Simple ways to breakup the routine of daily living. Our lives are so busy, it’s hard to think about being spontaneous sometimes.

  5. Thank you for this reminder, Suzanne. I have a huge tendency to let work suck up my life, and I’m trying really hard to find some balance. I did have a crazy adrenaline-pumping experience in October, though. I went to a gun range while traveling in the US and fired a 1928 Thompson machine gun, while wearing my pinstripe suit and gangster-style fedora. Life is all about the experiences, and I will never forget that one!

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