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Processing Massive Change – Part 1

The first three months of 2016 have felt like some insane spiritual obstacle course. We closed on our dream home on January 15th, two weeks after I left my corporate career.

As you’re about to read, the double whammy of full-scale home, and career renovations is not for the faint of heart. It took me past the brink in a few different ways.

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However, there were plenty of laughs and major moments of insight along the way. My goal in documenting this saga is to demonstrate how I applied everything I know about spiritual, personal, and professional development along the way.

I also think it’s important to debunk some of the mythology around undertaking massive change. Although it’s often necessary, it doesn’t mean it’s pleasant.

We don’t often get to choose how much change engulfs us all at once. But we do get to choose how we show up to face it. It can be a messy, embarrassing, and often terrifying process.

My hope is that if you stick it through to the end with me, we’ll add a few more tools to your Change Management arsenal.

Recovering nicely. Our new family room.
Recovering nicely. Our new family room.

 

Have you ever had a moment where you become suddenly lucid and wonder, “what the hell has just happened to me?”

A couple weeks ago, I realized I had traveled as far from who I knew myself to be as it’s possible to travel. If there’s a rock bottom, I was coming close.

I was an unshaven, oversleeping, junk food eating, caffeine-addled, out of work Dad racing my kid to school late. And I was wearing fucking warm-up pants!

How did I get here?

My life pre-January had felt pretty awesome. I had spent years creating all sorts of healthy habits and rituals. My workspace was a finely tuned creative paradise. Our family took nine years to restore an old house we loved living in.

My weeks usually included 2-4 plane flights to deliver trainings that inspired me.  I only ever needed to drive my car to the airport.

On January 4th, I found out my job as I knew it, (the one I had designed myself and rocked out for 3 years) was no longer going to exist. This news was delivered exactly 5 minutes after faxing our signed closing documents on the house.

Even more interesting, our home loan was written to include an additional 30% of funds to cover a full remodel.

This meant that our Seasonal Affective Disordered (SAD) asses would spend Ohio’s harshest months overseeing the movement of tremendous amounts of cash flow that did not necessarily include income.

We committed to doing more construction in 10 weeks on our new home than what took us nine years in our last one. It also meant our family of five would be crashing with my in-laws.

At some point in February my wife joked that all she wanted for her 39th birthday was to move our kids in with her Mom.

We knew it would be challenging, and result in staggering, irreversible change.

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January 15th, 2016. The night we got the keys to our new house we invited friends and family over for champagne & Swenson’s (legendary local burger joint in Akron, OH). Note the Brady Bunch atmospherics.

 

Step 1 – Taking Complete Ownership

There wasn’t much time to indulge in the victim game. My wife, being extremely more down to earth, took my job loss as a sign that we shouldn’t move forward with the house.

I couldn’t imagine it.

I argued that failure would feel like starting the next chapter of my career while looking out the same windows, into the same yards of the same neighbors. We had been feeling like we had outgrown our home, and were ready for an exciting new adventure.

After many deep, open conversations we were on the same page. It reminded me of every other inflection point in our lives. Once Gayle and I are united behind a cross country move, changing industries, or growing the family, then it’s Game On. It’s like we both clone ourselves to move mountains.

We knew the home renovation would bring a new level of momentum and energy. I visualized myself looking out of these windows, and throwing pool parties for friends and coworkers.

Taking ownership of the house was simple. We got the keys, and started demolishing the kitchen the next morning. It would take me much longer to fully process the loss of my job.

10 Week Kitchen Remodel in 50 Seconds

Posted by KC Carter on Monday, April 4, 2016


Grieving my departure from the company was unavoidable. I had spent 9 remarkable years with amazing people, helping build something great. Although I was mourning the loss, openly crying as I told my kids, I would still need to take full ownership of my role in how it went down.

All of this was something I chose. It was something I pushed for, and asked for repeatedly. The trouble is most of us never recognize what we’ve been asking for when it shows up. It never quite looks exactly like what we asked for. Our souls choose what needs to happen, then God (or the Universe, or the IRS) decides how it goes down.

As I was leaving the temple after meditation, toward the end of my December sabbatical in Encinitas, I asked God and Guru very clearly for some resolution. There had been a growing tension between who I needed to show up for work as each day, and the person I was becoming.

That night a very convincing peace washed over my being, making me stop and realize that my prayers were heard.

When you get hellbent on growth and evolution, you can’t be surprised when life uproots you. I may have not been working toward these specific outcomes, but they are indicative of a lot of other work I had been doing, or not doing.

Taking ownership restores our trusty sense of control in an uncontrollable universe. The other option is to stay locked in victim mode, blaming everyone for how they did us wrong.

This is why we must train ourselves, no matter how hard it is, to smile and say “great work!” every time our kids spill the milk. BTW, we honestly still get pissed off in our house, depending on our stress levels. However, I am likely to shout “awesome!” when I explode a bag of coffee grounds all over the kitchen.

The thousands of spilled milks each year just help us practice.

These seemingly jarring events are just  life asking how bad we really want it. These are the problems an overwhelming majority of humanity would kill to have. A great house, healthy family, and time to figure out my next chapter?

All are problems of prosperity.

That doesn’t make them less real, or scary. Many sleepless nights were still ahead of me, as my brain spun around the dream house, and designing a new career to support it.

 

Have you taken ownership for anything painful you were experiencing lately? Share it in the comments below. It’s a crucial, powerful first step toward getting back in alignment.

Read Part 2 of Processing Massive Change… Letting Go & Managing Your Mindset

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33 Responses

  1. Yes, KC, this is the way.
    I can relate.
    My request for clear resolution went something like…perhaps I need to live as a poet…is that what it’s going to take?
    Within a couple of weeks, my corporate gig was gone
    and I was/am living The Poet’s Way.
    It’s not a straight line. It’s not a clear path.
    It is the soul’s journey.

    —–
    In out of the way places of the heart
    Where your thoughts never think to wander
    This beginning has been quietly forming
    Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
    For a long time it has watched your desire
    Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
    Noticing how you willed yourself on
    Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
    It watched you play with the seduction of safety
    And the grey promises that sameness whispered
    Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
    Wondered would you always live like this.
    Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
    And out you stepped onto new ground,
    Your eyes young again with energy and dream
    A path of plenitude opening before you.
    Though your destination is not clear
    You can trust the promise of this opening;
    Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
    That is one with your life’s desire.
    Awaken your spirit to adventure
    Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
    Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
    For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

    ~ For a New Beginning by John O’Donohue

    1. You ALWAYS share a poem that rocks my world! What a gift that is; you are. Thank you, Carolyn. Means the world to me how deeply you empathize.

  2. I think a lot of us knew that this post was coming, and were even looking forward to it in a way. As always, thank you for finding the balance and grace to be able to put a good spin on some of the things that force growth, but aren’t necessarily “fun” at the time. Indeed, none of us is in this thing alone.

    And the next time the septic system backs up into the basement, I’ll need to remember to count the blessings of clean, running water and an “awesome” indoor bathroom! — ONWARD!!! 🙂

    1. Hahah that hits too close to home. The final gauntlet with our plumber before we could live here involved our utility sink drain backing up a bunch of nasty black water. It was the dark right before the dawn.

      Thanks for following my writing Colleen. Hope you find it helpful! -kc

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s a reminder that transitions are always painful… but necessary. It’s like how lobsters grow. They grow a shell and then grow within the shell, and when they begin to feel pressure from the inside it’s time for the outer shell to break so they can grow a bigger one. Now I don’t know this for a fact, but I would imagine being squeezed into a too-small shell and then wiggling out of it is not very comfortable! But it’s worth it, because then you can grow yourself a better one and get on with your awesome lobster life doing cool things you couldn’t do in your old shell. Know what I mean?

    I can relate here, because just 2 weeks ago I made the agonizing decision to let go of half my client workload (and income!) because it just didn’t feel fulfilling or like it was a good fit. Since then I’ve been learning, exploring, connecting, and evolving. Now I have a new client and have some cool new projects in the works I couldn’t have done with the old unhappy energy I was living with. Anyway, the point is that this is just how transitions happen, they suck but then things get better, I’m pretty sure you already know that 🙂

    Also, you’re super awesome and smart and successful, of course you’ll bounce back! Enjoy the new house, it looks beautiful!

    1. thanks for sharing that Diana. You are so brave to prune your banzai tree of clients. Smart move. You’re going to be so much happier (but you already knew that ;). Much love and thanks for stopping by -kc

  4. KC, your post gave me chills. Because it slices a bit of a scar that I know all too well. I can’t tell you how long it took me to get over my ‘breakup’ with said corporate endeavors and often times, my wounds surface like a dull and distant reminder of what was. Then I remember that the situation gave me purpose and clarity when I seemed to be more lost than I ever realized. I’ve grown so much from those early days that literally held my soul captive of my true potential. Gods grace and a supportive family brought me to a place that I am still fascinated by and a joy I didn’t know existed for me. Thank you for sharing your story. It feels so comforting to know that I wasn’t as broken as I blamed myself to be for those feelings of loss and isolation. I finally feel free, beyond blessed and by far my most creative self ever. Much love brother and I look forward to reading more of your journey.

    1. Hey girl, awesome to see your beautiful self in here. Miss you, girl! Beautiful family. You probably have about 19 kids by now, right? #kentucky 😉

      Yeah, the big takeaway is that as much as we wanna blame the org, or other people, we have to always take full responsibility for what we want. It’s OK if all that is far away from a swanky start-up office. In the end I just feel crazy blessed to have had the ride I did. I left my soul over that place, and I’m not done yet. We all were so lucky to cross one another’s orbit. That’s what was so special about being there.

      You’re far from broken. We’re only ever as broken as we tell ourselves we are. It’s OK to pass through that space, but it’s critical to get humpty’s ass back on that wall.

  5. Thanks for sharing this! It had me crying because I’ve been exactly there. I was bored and burned-out and asked for change – and, my, did I have it! This request catapulted me from a house and a seemingly perfect family to a rented apartment as a working single mum – with all the pain that comes with it. Took me a couple of years to process it but I am warmer and deeper and closer to my heart and purpose for it. A happier mum, too. The photos are awesome – again, thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey, love that you split your AMAZING comments in half so I could actually process their awesomeness. hahaha. Wow, that’s the “Another Galaxy” moment I’m going to discuss in Part II. Much love and congrats to your kids: sounds like they’re being raised by someone who knows what truly matters. -kc

  6. Come to think of it it all started with a cancer scare. I tried to make a deal with God…if I come out fine out of this I am going to really live. Make the most of my life. And I did. I do. Little did I know that this promise would mean much, much more than learning how to play the piano (which was the biggest change my scared little heart could imagine back then in the master bedroom of my old home). Thanks, KC, for taking me back to that moment. It changed my life.

    1. Loved that you shared this Miriam! So inspiring. Seems like your deal paid off well. What a beautiful (albeit scary, painful) moment. Much love, -kc

  7. KC, in addition to being one of the first people I’d invite to the cookout, your timing is amazing.

    As you may or may not know, I’m planning to move to Paris in the fall. I’ve been wanting to leave North Carolina for the past 10 years, but I always stayed where I am choosing comfort over change.

    I made my decision. I announced it to the world. I went about tidying up parts of my life I thought were broken. I was submitting my written work to contests and fellowships. It felt good.

    And then…

    My mom was hospitalized with kidney failure. We’re working on her care and treatment. I’m on the phone with her and her medical team. We’re getting more supports in place for her, but it’s going to be bumpy for the next little while.

    People I thought were my friends were openly questioning my sanity. If I hear the phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are” one more time, bitches will be cut.

    My writing is rejected. I try not to feel like a loser because I don’t have an MFA or am the winner of this or that prize.

    Just when I thought I’d lose it because I haven’t slept in 6 months, I got today’s blog post. I read it while attending a legislative committee meeting and stifled the tears of identification and understanding.

    It’s really hard to smile and say “great work” amid the cartons of spilled milk on the metaphorical floor.

    Thank you for this post. I needed it. And I need your wisdom and presence — track pants and all.

    Love,
    Kerra

    1. Wait. Are you saying that you love a brother in his #trackpants? Like Rerun on Good Times?
      Oh, girl… Please hear this: your determination to get out and live YOUR dream at any cost is what makes the great life. You’ll always be there for your Mom, or whoever. Presence doesn’t necessarily happen in person anyway. You just keep chipping away at being a bit more content, a bit more loving, a bit more present, a bit more WILLING to let any waves of resistance or emotion pour through you. That’s what will open up the pathways. Your soul is already eating croissants in some cafe. Your body just needs to catch up. That’s what happened with this house. Much love and thanks for the Great Namaste. Love, -kc

  8. KC,
    I just love this post, especially the part about you “asking for it”, and admitting you weren’t exactly excited about how (and when) it showed up! It’s hard to separate those two things… at least it has been for me. Sometimes I get so blinded by my assumptions of how something is going to show up, I don’t even recognize it when it does! Bravo to you for having the insight!

    The beauty in this transformation (among many other things) is that, in your line of work, this just gave you content for years to come 😉 LoL… embrace, enjoy and keep sharing!

    Lisa

    1. Hey Lisa, thanks for the comment. I have felt that through all the uncertainty and pain… there must be an amazing story in here. Can’t wait to see how it ends! The how it shows up thing was big for me. Glad you found that helpful. -kc

  9. KC

    It’s incredibly valuable to me to know that my role model for yoga and meditation also has huge problems, also gets lost sometimes, also has family arguments, also loses his job and stability… It’s great to know that, although you’re such a dedicated yogi, life happens to you in the same way and with the same nuances it happens to all of us.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Oh, there’s nothing like being a Real Live Human Being. The trick is to forge practices that enable our Big Honkin Souls to drive this crazy train. Much love and thanks for stopping by Marcia. -kc

  10. Thanks for keeping it real KC! I’m going to start screaming “awesome” at my four amazing little ones tonight- I can just feel it. 😉

    It’s refreshing to read something so raw and transparent… Thank you for that.

    1. thanks for dropping in and for the kind words buddy. You and Keirsten have such an amazing family.

      You and your bro are the O.G.’s of Manly Living. You’re like my heroes from the Days of Old.

      #COTTONWOOD4LYFE

  11. KC – I have been answering this question for a year and a half now. I’m finally owning I have been an absentee husband, dad and business owner. So what I’m saying is I was nowhere lying to myself that all the mindless costly activity was where I needed to be. I wasn’t present anywhere at home I was thinking about work . At work worrying about my family and feeling unappreciated and misunderstood everywhere . If I didn’t take action I would lose everything literally. Even though I’m still working on the business side. Owning the husband and dad part has made all the difference .

  12. Thank you KC for reminding me of the simple truth that the things we ask for don’t show up quite as we’ve imagined they would! As with others that have commented (& probably many who haven’t!), this post is a perfectly timed reminder for me and I am grateful for it. It makes the current transitional wave I’m surfing much more benign and has returned me to my place of trust – which I keep accidentally losing 😉
    Good luck with your new life adventures – may they fill you with luscious joy and laughter.

  13. K.C. –
    Thanks for sharing your journey. I can relate. I found out last September that my grant-funded position with a nonprofit was ending because my organization did not win a follow-up grant. So, I packed up my things and went home. I felt no energy or enthusiasm for anything, least of all a job search. I felt lost. With my husband’s support (and income), I’ve been on “hiatus” since October, working on figuring out who I am becoming, what feels right, what I want to spend time and energy on, what makes me feel alive, what I want in my world. I have been exploring, learning, volunteering, reaching out to others, connecting, listening. I don’t sleep much and I continue to wake upwith anxiety, fear and the blues, but as I engage with my activities and others during the day, the day gets better.

    I do take ownership. While my last 3 months at work were my happiest, most fulfilling in the prior 3 years at that organization, I have to admit that who I was required to be at work was not in sync with who I am and was becoming. Except for the last 3 months, I was mostly going through the motions, and was waking up depressed many mornings. The universe heard me.

    You and the many others who added their stories remind me that I am not alone in my struggle. We can all learn fro each other. We can all help each other. Thank you for creating this forum.

  14. I’ve been going through physical challenges one after another. I started a healthy eating and workout program 3 months ago. The physical stuff kept popping up, something new each time. I’ve bounced off the good for me food wagon but am still working out with weights as best I can. I’m using this change to push rather than ball up and roll downhill. It feels so different to accept difficulties as movement forward but I’m determined to keep this mindset. I booked a trip to Kyoto, Japan, to visit Buddist temples in October and I’m not letting anything stop me. My old self is no longer the dominant “can’t do” leader of this amazing trip!! Love your inspiring self, Kathy

    1. Loved hearing from you Kathy, and that you’re taking life by the horns! How were those travels?!?!?!? Sounds incredible. I’m jealous. -kc

  15. KC, I’m at the airport, heading east to visit my dad on the cape, and finally have time to read this – I’m going to push on through 2 and 3. I have also been through wrenching and painful change in the last four months – on the heels of my mother’s death last year, I ended my relationship of 4 1/2 years., had to move to a new house, and got a huge promotion (and a lot more responsibility) at work. Another friendship of 10 years also ended in the promotion dust-up. I have never been so terrified and unsure in my life but somehow keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know when I feel most vulnerable I am also closest to my higher power. But jeez. I don’t recognize my life at all. I know I’m in the midst of the fire of transformation, all the dross burning away, and that good things and a loving community are ahead, but it’s not a quick burn. Keeping the faith. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It resonates, gives me courage and I feel less alone. Love.

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