I promise this post is going to be about inspirational women, each of whom I consider a spiritual master… but first I’m going to tell you a little story. Forgive me in advance for the roundabout introduction, but this story is on my mind.
So I often talk about how I’m a perpetual internet over-sharer. It started in middle school with AOL Zines, and continued strong into high school with LiveJournal and MySpace and good old fashion custom built websites using only tables and rows and columns and shit. You know, before the days of Bootstrap and WordPress and pre-packaged pretty themes. I actually began teaching myself HTML and CSS in middle school, and the earliest website that I have picture proof of dates back to 2003. It was basically a collection of my pictures and favorite lyrics, but hey. I was expressing myself. It was a you know, a creative outlet 😉
My Obsession with Happiness
My internet obsession turned into a hobby of blogging, and although the name changed regularly and I jumped domains as often as one changes their underwear, my purpose in blogging was pretty consistent. I was creating a space to surround myself with happy things. Happy quotes, happy stories, happy songs, happy memories. At one point, the blog was even called A Pinch of Happy.
Happiness quotes were always scattered across my blog. Actual tag lines included:
- “The sun will always shine.”
- “Breathe deep. Taste the moment.”
- “Happiness is a choice. Make that choice today and every day.”
- “Look for what is good, and it will find you.”
Even at a relatively young and emotionally immature age, I was obsessed with happiness. Finding happiness. Becoming happy. Feeling… happy.
So when Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project hit the shelves in the winter of 2009, I became obsessed. Obsessed with the book, obsessed with her ideas, and obsessed with her.
So naturally, I plastered her graphics and community banners all over my 2009 blog.
See it way down there in the bottom left hand corner? I was encouraging my 14 readers to start their own happiness project. I was such an influencer.
And that my friends, is when I first encountered my very first spiritual master. I was 23, and her name was Gretchen Rubin.
What is a Spiritual Master?
Faster forward to 2016, when I binge listened to the first year of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier in an embarrassingly short period of time. In one of her early episodes, she suggests that her listeners imitate a spiritual master. At the time I had never even heard of this concept. But just as quickly as she described the idea, I was able to say definitively, GRETCHEN IS MY SPIRITUAL MASTER!
Although she initially references the spiritual practice of imitating a spiritual master to gain understanding and discipline, she quickly moves into the secular practice as well. She lists people like Oprah, Warren Buffet, Winston Churchill, John Kennedy.
3 Women I Aspire To Be Like
It was pretty easy for me to identify Gretchen herself as my first recognized spiritual master.
I’m sure as humans we all aspire to learn from the example of great lives, but as someone with a relentless urge for self-improvement, I have a propensity for trying new things, creating better habits, and imitating other’s great qualities. When I found Gretchen Rubin’s work, I found someone whose life and teaching completely captivated me. I’ve since spent over a decade incorporating her teachings and ideas into my own life, and continue to do so on a daily basis.
So much so… that when I’m freaking out about something, my husband often stops and asks me to think “what would Gretchen do?”
Somewhere along the way, I encountered the writing of Shauna Niequist, and decided it was time to make space for two spiritual masters in my life. While Gretchen’s lessons give me order, and practical tips for creating a happier life, Shauna’s teachings grounded me. I first read Cold Tangerines and by the time I was through, I had highlighted at lease one thing on nearly every page. One quote in particular, fundamentally changed my perspective on life. It woke me up, from a deep, dark place and changed my mindset permanently.
“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
Since then, I devour every piece of writing Shauna puts out. Bittersweet is an absolute must read for anyone who is going through a challenging time, and Present Over Perfect is so much more than just another trendy book on mindfulness.
Her empire is named Simplified. Need I say more? Gretchen is my original go to for simple happiness hacks, but Emily Ley is the queen of living a simple yet abundant life. I initially fell in love with her colorful planners, but quickly learned that her brand stands for so much more than a paper planner. Said in the most empowering, loving, and respectful way possible: she embodies a happy housewife. She is a servant, a wife, a mother, a leader, a cheerleader, and a boss. She strips away the unnecessary things in life. And as a result makes more room for what matters. Love, kindness, and lots of laughs.
I love, love, love the life she lives. AND the lifestyle she encourages all of us women to create for our families. From meal prepping and clean kitchens to creating family traditions like Friday pizza dates and Saturday cinnamon buns.