Lifestyle: Creating A Truly Good Life

Dec 02, 2019

Photograph by Annie Spratt

A journey from ‘doing’ to being — a self-professed martyr transforms into a self-possessed creator of a fulfilling life on her own terms


Not unlike most people, life didn’t exactly unfold the way I had envisioned…but thank God for that. Can you relate?

While throughout the years my heart hasn’t changed and the core of who I am didn’t either — all of this time, I didn’t really know how to become me. I had no mortal idea of my true power and capacity to love and create and make an impact. I certainly didn’t know how to enjoy it.

To be honest, I was once a rigid martyr who was very hard on herself (and she still tries to whisper in my ear on occasion).

Like many, I made my own interpretations of religion and what it meant to be a ‘good person’. But I wasn’t so good and pious to myself — and instead was always beating myself up. You’re not good enough, not smart enough…just not enough. Do more. Do better.

I wore my smile, but I still believed this wholeheartedly. So, I worked my fingers to the bone for others, wouldn’t buy myself anything new and never allowed myself to rest. Today, I barely recognize that person (besides, I love naps too much now!).

God didn’t tell me to behave this way. Religion didn’t tell me to live like this. Somehow I got my wires crossed and decided that to be a good person I had to live on a perpetual treadmill of ‘doing better’. But clearly that serves no one, least of all yourself.

Is there a place in your life where you set yourself up to fail continuously? Just know that you can stop and you can set yourself free.

Thank God my life took shifts because each shift, each dramatic leap and bound brought me closer to me — to being kinder to myself so that I could truly contribute to the world around me, to live into my dreams.

When we can love ourselves in all of our incarnations; our ‘failures’, our stumbles, our disappointments and pain — then we can start designing the lives we were meant to be living. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty pitcher. What do you have to give if you can’t give to yourself first? Start with dumping the martyrdom.

What does ‘lifestyle’ mean to you?

Mine means shifting from fear to feeling — to trusting in the timing and in myself — to giving myself time to smell the roses (and buy them for myself)…and to see, count and experience the blessings around me.

Lifestyle is about the big picture YOU. It’s about ceremony, space, time, honor and love for yourself and all beings. It’s about languishing in a hot shower, purchasing a beautiful body cream, buying candles or crystals or card decks that remind me to pray, meditate and connect to myself. It is about allowing myself the time to stretch, breathe, drink a beautiful cup of tea, brush my hair with intention, lie on the sofa to play with my cat, walk hand in hand with my daughter, doodle…daydream. But remember, it’s also about the power of saying NO to the things that don’t feed you.

There are so many ways to nurture oneself it doesn’t have to mean jetting off to an exotic location (though that would be nice!). It starts with an intention.

Rebuilding ‘me’ required a renovation of my thinking and being.

I created a home that is a sanctuary for my daughter and me. Once I began this process, a beautiful thing unfolded…a softer version of myself. And from that my café blossomed.

Lifestyle is creating beauty in everything; your home environment, your relationships, your office and in your own heart. Fill it with compassion. At the café we fill bellies with organic, nutritious food, but that’s just part of the equation. Lifestyle is about filling the whole of you.

I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg (they’re both safe here), but I feel like the café and I saved each other.

When I walk from my cottage in the early mornings before town is bustling, embraced by the solitude, it still gives me chills and tingles of pride when I first see the café in the distance. This job, this business, this vision became another sanctuary, part of my salvation. It gave me YOU. I always give thanks to her. I give thanks to my staff and my guests. I give thanks for the smell of yummy wholesome food wafting from the kitchen. And I give thanks to God for it all. Somehow I know he is smiling down on me now saying, finally, you’ve got what it means to create a good life. It was right there all along.

My life is still one big learning curve. I make mistakes all the time, but no more beating myself up. Nope. I’m an imperfect mess creating a lifestyle that fills me. Wanna join me and start designing/redesigning your own?

~ Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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