What an HGTV.com star gained by losing it all

A famous blogger and former HGTV.com star, Erin Loechner knows that money and fame don’t give you everything: “In a way, we already ‘have it all.’ We’re just not paying attention.”

Art director and stylist Erin Loechner.

Erin Loechner had it all: a successful career as an art director and stylist, a wonderful husband, a popular blog, millions of followers, and a show on HGTV.com! Her work had been featured in The New York Times, Lucky, Parenting, Dwell, Marie Claire, Elle Décor, and Huffington Post, and she was in demand as a spokesperson.

But as happens time and again in our demanding world, Loechner began to notice a few cracks in her big dream of “having it all.” When she and her husband faced harrowing health and financial issues, Loechner realized it was time for a change. A huge change. Away from their frenzied life in LA toward one simplicity, away from a life of busy toward one of rest. Away from a life of pressure to one of peace and joy. All toward a new chapter, which she would start in a small, midwestern town where they could rebuild their family and try to discover what having it “all” really means.

For Her talked to Loechner, whose book, Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path, releases in January 2017, to see what she’s learned so far.

You recently ran away from fame. Did you seek out fame in the first place or did it just find you?

Oh, it certainly found me! My success has been very accidental, which isn’t to say that I didn’t pour a lot of myself into it, or that I didn’t work hard. I very much did. But, it was less a strategic, 10-year-plan and more of an unexpected adventure.

You write about how you bought the lie that our work alone gives us purpose. Why do so many of us fall into this trap of thinking we need work to define us?

Because it’s an easy trap to fall into—this idea that work defines us. If we’re defined by work and we’re working a LOT (which many of us do), we must be doing great, yes? We must be on top of our game? But because we weren’t meant to be defined fully and solely by a two-dimensional business card, we’re left feeling empty and depleted, and funnily enough, with less purpose than ever.

MORE TO READ: How to take the first step toward finding your purpose

So what should define purpose?

I think we assume that purpose is something static—a gift, a calling—that is handed to us. But to have purpose, we must be purposeful. We must take a good, hard look at our lives and priorities and skill sets, and we must tend to those as if we were gardeners cultivating growth. (Spoiler alert: growth is a direct result of pruning!)

What was one of your first indications that having it “all” wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be?

I’d found success by the world’s standards, but I was exhausted. My schedule was no longer aligning with my values: to deepen relationships and support my small community of family and friends. I remember falling asleep on pristine white hotel sheets during a press week in New York thinking, These are great. But I miss the warm flannels at home. (That was a pretty clear sign something wasn’t right, because what could be better than pristine white hotel sheets?!)

What did having it “all” once mean to you?

I used to think it meant I would juggle my day and priorities and responsibilities in an effortless fashion, with a smile on my face, and I would radiate joy and happiness and success.

What does it mean to you today?

It’s important to define the “all.” I think when we use the phrase “having it all,” we mean having all the good things. But all is all—the good, the bad, the ugly, the surprising, the frustrating, the heartwarming. So in a way, we already have it all. We’re just not paying attention.

MORE TO READ: 11 things successful time managers don’t do

So to me, today, having it all means really having it all—the ups and the downs. There’s a gift in all of it. We needn’t measure it, or seek to control it, or even define it. We have enough. There is enough. We have been given enough.

What have been the biggest benefits to your life (you personally, your marriage, your family, your career) since breaking up with your busy lifestyle?

I’ve found that I can truly listen to the people in my life when I’m not so focused on proving something, or being someone. There’s a humility to slowing down, in taking yourself out of the game. You’re essentially saying—”You know, I’ve got a different goal now.” And you decide what that goal is. For me, it’s a variety of things: connection, joy, peace, growth.

What would you say to a woman who has finally realized she is not in fact superwoman and can no longer stretch herself five different ways. What are the best first steps to take to wean yourself from the frantic life and yet still find fulfillment?

Place your worth in something else entirely. Place your worth in something unchanging, something not circumstantial—something outside of your calendar or your kids’ behavior or your 401K. Place your worth and your identity in something deeply rooted that can never change. For me, it’s my faith in God. It’s my status as a child of love and a child of light. Once your worth is no longer in question, there’s no proving left to do, no frantic necessary. You are fulfilled. It is finished.

Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.

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