We closed on our dream home and took on a full remodel two weeks after I left my corporate career. I’m sharing our saga in the hopes of adding a few more tools to your Change Management arsenal. Find the previous installments here: Part 1 or Part 2
Self-Care is the Lifeline
My brother in law is a case worker for the International Institute of Akron, which helps refugees and immigrants find work, and assimilate into the community. Over dinner together I shared how my home and career changes were keeping me from sleeping and thinking clearly.
He confirmed this was his biggest obstacle in helping his clients improve their lives: they stay stuck in duress, where everything feels like a crisis due to lack of sleep. You’re more likely to eat like crap, and any form of self-care goes out the window. You treat people poorly, don’t interview well, and it’s near impossible to become solution-oriented.
I’ve become increasingly obsessed with self-care over the last few years. I’ve led many programs and workshops for Good Life Project, and on this site around meditation, maximizing vitality, and integrating self-care into daily workflow.
We need to work on ourselves to outpace the rate of increasing complexity in our lives. No one is capable of doing this for us. If you’re not working on yourself, life is working on you.
These truths had become my identity, but my new reality wouldn’t allow me to live those truths in the same ways.
I hoped my previous efforts had built up some reserves. A couple months into transition between homes, I was slipping into my personal abyss. My workflow, workspace, and tools were scattered across multiple locations, so my usual integrated workday of self-care wasn’t possible.
Whenever I felt panicked, all I had to remember was get up and walk out into nature.
Perspective lives along the trails, out near highway 271. Just a 20 mile bike ride from the minutiae of life, and work. As much as it wants to think so, the busy mind isn’t capable of thinking its way into the larger territories we’re called to explore. But strap on some studio grade headphones, bump those binaural ambient beats, and let your legs pump beyond any grinding monotony…
Everything starts expanding again. In fact it never stopped. Your narrator just hijacked the plot for a couple scenes. We must find our wide angle, high-def perspective at any cost.
Faith & Surrender
The biggest mindbender was around the volumes of cash flow needed to keep the home project humming, without any guarantee of income. Jumping into entrepreneurship with a family would have been plenty, but doing so while making daily major purchases for things that no longer felt necessary was torture.
Could this have been any more perfectly timed to prepare me for the realities of running my own business?
One thing become glaringly clear: It was now impossible for me to work my way out of this. The situation couldn’t be remedied by taking more action. It was just too big, and ridiculous. There were new levels of faith and surrender required.
For years I’ve been evangelizing a family-centered, aligned way of life which flowed out into a high-impact career I was passionate about. Now it felt like the final exam required me to test all hypotheses.
I’ve never taken kindly to poseurs, whether in music, business, or on the personal/spiritual development tip. If you can’t back up what you say, sit your ass down and be quiet. You may learn something. Now, all I had was time to revisit all my lifestyle design philosophies and assess whether or not they were bullshit.
I became increasingly open to the possibility that everything I ever knew was wrong. This was as liberating as it was terrifying. It hinted at larger shifts I needed to make beyond the home, and career.
Gratitude Lights a Path
It was unclear whether I felt enough gratitude for my prior levels of success, or if new levels of gratitude were needed for what was emerging. There was no going back to our last home, or my job as it existed.
All I could do was practice gratitude for everything around me, no matter how grumpy or stressed I became:
We had an awesome place to stay, where the kids were happy. We never ran out of money to buy the food we wanted to eat. Every day we’d stop at the house to see amazing work getting done. Everyone seems to be on our team. I’m healthy, and capable…
When you need to shift away from the enormity of your first world problems, go surprise somebody and make them happy. One Friday, my 4-year old and I rolled into his daycare with donuts for the staff. We walked in like Oprah: “YOU get a doughnut! Y-O-U get a doughnut!” The vibe was euphoric. Leon was so excited to make people that happy. It cost $8.69. I made a point to tell each of the staff and interns how grateful we are for their help in raising awesome kids.
At every painful twist or turn, some silly idea or perfectly-timed kind word rescued my fragile perspective. That in itself is what I’m most grateful for, because it was rallying The Faith I was being challenged to create.
We can guide our little ship to new shores; to challenge the incessant nagging of the ego that we’re not doing enough.
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Every smiling friend is a lighthouse, every kind word a reminder of our true nature. The people who love us need us to see we’re not our circumstances. It’s why we should be willing to die trying to improve the lives of people around us.
Whenever I became highly-intentional and threw out the rules for what I “should” be doing, situations would improve. It was counter intuitive to take the family out for a big, fun dinner if I was feeling strapped for cash. But the energy it created helped me see we were more than fine on money.
It’s entertaining how insane this is: we’re so rigidly committed to our old ways of navigating our world, we forget what we’re navigating is actually transformation.
I don’t see too many butterflies crawling on leaves, wondering what those cumbersome wings are for.
They share a chant with the perennial bulbs, buried beneath the Ohio soil each winter: “Onward. Upward. Outward.” When navigating transformation, we must surrender to the waves of massive change it takes. There’s no going backward, or resisting these forces at work.
They’re already having their way with you, so you may as well comply.
The best we can do is to breathe into The Flux, until we become one with its scale, and power: Carry me onward. Carry me upward. Carry me outward. <Click to Tweet>
I’ve never seen a bored surfer. They always seem pretty elated to be at the mercy of something bigger than themselves.
To be continued….
Are you able to express gratitude and/or faith in even the harshest circumstances? Share it in the comments below. Have you had any recent moments of surrender?