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6 Principles for Intentional Living

Lindsay is a Noonday Ambassador who lives in Maryland with her husband, Matt, and energetic sons, ages 6 and 3. By day, she works in higher education overseeing admissions marketing for a University. Lindsay is passionate about editing her life to match her priorities and empowering others to do the same. Read on as Lindsay walks us through her journey to intentionality and shares her principles for living a life of purpose.

We’ve all been in the weeds, right? Deep in the mess of life, overwhelmed by big demands and tiny problems, unable to see the flowers on the other side, the buds beneath our feet, and the beauty of the wildflowers hiding all around us. A couple of years ago, I was there. I was in so deep I barely noticed the huge hydrangeas blooming right outside my window.

2014 found us not unlike many young families, with the world’s smartest three-year-old, a sweet new baby, and two dogs who were really good at making messes. I had a job that I liked and was good at, but quite frankly, I was burned out. My bosses wanted me to add another person to my team when all I wanted was a moment to myself. My husband made a really good teammate in keeping our heads above water, but where I’ve placed him in this rundown shows you how much attention we were giving our marriage.

My heart ached for a miscarriage I had never fully grieved, for my parent’s surprise separation, and for a loved one who always seemed to be lost—and I was less than pleased that these things were spoiling my little family’s happy time. I would read other people’s posts about parenting and feel sure we were doing it wrong. Raising boys seemed heavy, with so much at risk, now TIMES TWO. My Pinterest habit made our house feel ugly. We had too much “not enough,” and not enough time. FOMO, anyone? Maybe you know the feeling.

We’d move, we decided. Go small. Quit my job. Scrape by and be happier than ever. Looking back I can’t say for certain, but I had probably read an article on the internet about a family that did just that. It certainly sounds like something I would have done. The FOR SALE sign went up and with it, our hopes. We fell in love with a tiny cottage at a lake about an hour away, and in our dream world, all that we needed was an offer.

It’s true that sometimes you don’t realize how good you’ve got it until it’s (almost) gone. It’s funny how ushering babies and dogs out of the house and into the car—for yet another showing—helped us see our home, and our life, with fresh eyes. Suddenly we could see past the weeds and into the future, and the truth is, we had it pretty good. We saw the school bus stopping right at the driveway, the kids playing in the woods and riding bikes on the quiet road. Our home was actually kind of charming from this angle, and gosh, do I like charming.

We felt a little silly and a lot thankful as we pulled the listing and began to edit our life a little differently. I even admitted to myself I liked working, and realized that was okay. We had been wasting time dreaming of a different life while moments passed us by. Instead of comparing our story to others, I started thinking about how to make our life work for us right where we were. Today, I take pride in my ability to say no (and yes) with confidence and encourage others to do the same. Three years later, here is what I know:

1. Priorities AND personality are non-negotiable (get to know them BOTH).

It sounds a little corny (I love corny), but I’m giving you an assignment: take out a piece of paper or notebook, and write out what is important to you and how you want your life to feel. My list includes things like my family (starting with my husband), faith, our health and well-being, love and kindness, people (valuing them and allowing them to be themselves), beauty (recognizing and celebrating it in all of its forms), savoring simple pleasures (AKA fun), and teaching our boys to do the same.

Almost like a budget of sorts, the list has a way of grounding me and guiding decisions about how I spend my time and energy, and it is the reason why in the last year I’ve felt confident in adding two new ventures to my life. Both my photography business and my Noonday Ambassador business allow me to further my focus on love, beauty, people, and fun. The list is also my guide for deciding how much time to put into both.

Sometimes I think we spend too much energy trying to change ourselves when we really just need to be aware of our needs and tweak our lives to meet them. Me? As much as I love people, I’ll always be an introvert. Myers Briggs type INFJ. I’m sensitive to the world around me and I have to be careful about letting others’ worries become my own. I crave quiet and connection to re-charge and that isn’t going to happen by accident. I plan for it now. I say yes to yoga and girls night with dear friends, and no to work trips or big events that I don’t really need to attend. You? You do you.

2. There is value in learning to say no without apology and to question expectations.

You might be surprised how much is negotiable when you are honest with yourself and those around you. When faced with a decision, go back to the priorities. Something you dread? Do you really need to do it? The to-do list item you haven’t gotten to? It might not need to be there at all. Did you put the expectation on yourself? Is it important? Can it wait or be eliminated all together?

An easy place to begin might be in your hands at this very moment. Checking e-mail after hours? Social media accounts that aren’t serving you? Apps can be deleted and accounts unfollowed—and unplugging is powerful.

3. I’m too blessed to be stressed (and so are you).

Have you noticed how stress shows up in your body? For me, stress causes achy joints and tight shoulders, and in one extreme case I came down with the shingles. Learn to listen to your body and when you feel those signs creeping in, go back to your priority list. Something is probably off, and it is up to you to fix it. The truth is, no one can advocate for you the way that you can. Give yourself some love. Get outside. Take a rest. Have fun.

4. It is okay to let life surprise you.

The second employee I never wanted to hire? Managing a team ended up being the greatest joy of my job, and my two employees even ended up teaching me that my two wild and crazy boys will more than likely grow up to be two wonderful young men. My latest surprise? Six months ago I had never even heard of Noonday Collection, and here I am writing this post.

5. The clichés are all true, and I have favorites:

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful…Comparison is the thief of joy… This too shall pass…When all else fails, look up. For good measure, I’ll throw in this truth, which I think deserves more attention: Nobody has it all figured out.

6. The hydrangea blooms in early July, and it is gorgeous.

Further Reading

When it comes to editing your life, there is no shortage of books on the topic, which I’ll take as a sign we’re moving in the right direction. I’ve read two of them, both of which I recommend. First, Shauna Neiquist’s Present Over Perfect validated so much of what I was feeling and observing, and did so through beautiful prose. I love the way she distills the message of adopting a more peaceful approach to living. Shauna brings it down to four words that make an easy mantra to which to return: grace, love, rest, play. What more could you need?

The second book is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and this book is about more than organizing. I first came to love Marie’s book because it was fun to read, but I love the method because it is in keeping with all the truths I’ve discussed here. Keep only the things that you love, give them room to breathe, and find yourself empowered to do the same in your life. I’m currently making my way through my home using Marie’s method, and those around me will attest to my love of the question “Does it spark joy?”

Meet Lindsay Thompson

Lindsay lives in Maryland with her husband, Matt, and energetic sons, ages 6 and 3. By day, she works in higher education overseeing admissions marketing for a University. Lindsay is also a photographer, aiming to capture love in her images and remind people just how beautiful (and awesome!) they are. As a new Ambassador—joining Noonday in March—Lindsay is intrigued by the business, leadership, and life lessons available from a company focused on doing good. She loves a mix of old and new, the local farmer's market, real butter, and is an on-again-off-again yogi. She’s an introvert who loves people, a recovering over-thinker, and soup might actually be her love language. You can find her at lindsaycaroline.com.