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 Part 1 here.
There is a moment, a stitch in time
When leaving home is the lesser crime
When your eyes are blind with tears
but your heart can see
Another life, another galaxy.
– Paul Simon, Another Galaxy
Leaving our street was harder on the kids and our neighbors than it was on me. I actually needed to suppress my George Jefferson Swagger. Once I committed to the new house, I staged the old one and it sold in minutes.
That in itself is a full-on miracle in NE Ohio’s housing market. There was little time to bask in gratitude.
Packing was a blur. We were gone the month prior to moving, so when we returned it already felt like someone else’s house. We were used to renting, and moving on.
Fortunately, there wasn’t much letting go to do. The kids were emotional, and we supported them the best we could.
There were a couple days when my emotions started to boil over. It had to do with letting go of my dream office. My friends and I built it by hand, and it had everything a digital yogi householder could ever want. My friend Karen called it Garage Mahal.
I talked about building that space for years, created a maelstrom of kickass stuff in it, then sold it and moved a year later. What was that all about?
It will take years to fully grow into living in our new space, but that was by design. Sometimes the energy we set into motion needs a larger vessel to express itself. I’ve had a hard time reconciling this with my dreams of monk-like minimalism.
Although homes require tons of work and upkeep, our family deserves to have the space to fully express ourselves as individuals. Last year I became obsessed with buying a micro-camper for vacations, but Gayle promptly brought me back to earth by reminding how unbearable I would be to travel with.
She’s right, I would completely lose my shit sleeping in a tiny room with our kids.
I can safely say that, having just slept in a tiny room with one of them for the last 8 weeks.
Knowing my job was ending, I was getting weird about packing my office. Gayle was giving me end dates based on the new owners getting keys, but I wasn’t packing. I still needed a sanctuary to meditate in, but I was also handling a crazy volume of e-signatures for our home sales.
The entire house was moved, but my office was untouched. Since it was out above the garage, I was starting to convince myself the new owners wouldn’t mind if I just kept using it. They expected keys on Wednesday morning, and Monday night all of my guitars still hung on the walls.
I was working late, frantically tying up loose ends. After realizing I missed dinner hours ago, I stopped.
Looking around at everything my last job afforded me: the freedom, the trust, the money to build my life on my terms… The view from the window where I could watch our kids grow up while I worked…
Letting go can be a bitch. But holding on is like falling on water skis and grinding your face off around the lake.
The gurus were still on my altar so I sat down. “Tell me my work is done here. Tell me that it’s time.”
By 1PM the next day, there was no trace I ever worked, or lived there.
At every point in the house transactions, I thought I would run out of money. This was a completely unfounded fear, but I was so terrified about being guaranteed a next paycheck, I knew I must be going down and taking our sweet family with me.
It became comical. If one of our contractors needed $150 to fix a chimney I assumed it would cost $2000. Every tiny expenditure seemed out of control. It had nothing to do with the reality of the digits in our bank accounts, or our completely affordable lifestyle in Ohio.
It was the ominous black cloud of uncertainty, and it was royally screwing with me.
On the surface I could see I was experiencing unprecedented change. It wasn’t helpful to tie it to anything I’ve ever experienced. It was useless to think I could manage it with the same resources that got me to this point. As excited as I was for the new adventures of home and career, my emotions were digging in their heels out of fear.
Step 2 – Manage Your Mindset
When in the midst of massive shifts, you have to start by taking complete ownership, and letting go. Much of the time you’ll still want to grab the wheel and steer back toward a familiar shore.
But what if all the familiar shores have vanished?
The only way forward is through. Everything can’t be worked out on paper, much less by the mind. We need to feel our way forward.
Getting, and keeping your mind in check is crucial to weathering the storm. I started getting very specific on who I could lean on for support. There were calls with my friend Susan Lustenberger, who’s a gifted intuitive specializing in abundance mentality. We did energy readings, clearings, and talked through the origins of my money stories.
The most crucial partnership I formed during this period was with a healer. (I hesitate to share her name because I don’t want her getting inundated.) Our weekly calls have been key in reminding me who the hell I am at a soul level. She helps me rewire damaging thinking patterns that disrupt my energetic flow. Our work together will be something I look back on as pivotal in my life going forward.
If all of this sounds too woo-woo for you, that’s fine. As a yogi I’m scientific in my application of spiritual principles to practical life. From the day I left my sabbatical on January 1st I knew I had knocked some spiritual pillars loose.
These weren’t just circumstances I was needing to manage. The ceaseless, incoming waves of changes needed attention.
We need to become the type of people who can handle the changes we’ve been asking for. It’s not enough to whine or go fetal ball when they show up.
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As my physical life moved further and further from everything I recognized, I began setting anchors. Since we shared my in-law’s attic with my daughter, I started meditating in the bathroom. During the day if I wasn’t helping clear space for the contractors, I’d be journaling or listening to my mantras at the gym.
The Man of Action in me was starting to create a consulting practice. My closest advisers were telling me to slow down and take care of myself. It felt premature, if not impossible to be in work mode while our home life was in chaos.
Imagine everything you need in a given day not being where it should be. If you’re a Virgo, this alone is exhausting. Now add to that making endless purchase decisions. We had to spend thousands of dollars on appliances or building materials each day for weeks on end (and I hate shopping).
I’d lay on the futon beside my wife, just in awe of the enormity of it. One day I put $9,000 of appliances on my Amex to get the points, and then received a text just before bed from a contractor asking for another $9,000.
I had to move my meditations from the mornings, (where they had been religiously for years), to the evenings. Part of this was to control + alt + delete the day. I was also sleeping so poorly that I couldn’t get up.
Either my body, or my mind doesn’t want me to sleep. That’s how I’ve been waking up since this transition period began. On good days, the prana energy in my spine fades in like a steady hum. Prana is the life current we yogis practice moving up and down the chakras.
It becomes a built in alarm clock, and lights an alluring path back to the altar.
But on mornings like today, it’s a different energy entirely: Stress dreams.
My stress dreams always involve an airport to get to, with an impossible series of obstacles in between. Missed trains. Stolen luggage. A hellish sitcom of old work scenarios. My favorites are a mash-up of needing to perform a set of music while missing a flight, or a meeting. Often my cords and loop pedals are in a Christmas Vacation cluster of knots.
Stress dreams are the combination of too much untethered thinking with not enough concerted action. Coffee only compounds their intensity, so I needed to slay that dragon.
At some point in February, I felt like I deserved to have a vice. So I started drinking caffeinated coffee again. Similar to my long lost drinking career, every time I went back to the well it was with more intensity. A cup in the morning quickly became 2-3 cups a day, including evenings.
In both cases, this becomes a strong signal that I need to quit for good.
By the time I wrangled my caffeine addiction, it had gotten out of control. It was racheting up the cortisol in my body and amplifying my anger. If I wasn’t completely pissed off, I was sulking or exhausted. I couldn’t stay awake. It only took a few weeks.
Quitting this time hardened my resolve. The withdrawal headaches and mood swings were so absolutely hellish, I know I can’t go back.
The First Glimpse
My last morning as a coffee drinker was hysterical, in a kind of pathetic way. Our family was driving the morning carpool, except we had to leave early since we were staying 15 minutes away.
For the first time in Carter Family History, we all overslept.
Gayle woke us up with a yell so jarring, that I went from deep REM sleep to fully clothed in 45 seconds. We were so screwed on time that all I could do was laugh, and speak in soothing, calm words to the kids. “Honey, get the hell up. We’re all late for school.”
Another parent covered the carpool, so I just needed to get our oldest daughter Elliott to school.
I grabbed a cup of coffee as we raced out the door.
A few miles into the trip we had to turn around for her homework. Coffee was sloshing everywhere. Still, I was somehow keeping it together. “Honey, run the hell inside and grab your stuff.
We are late for school.”
There wasn’t any music on for the drive. I was just quiet and morose. The caffeine wore off almost instantly.
I was starting to see how far how I was moving away from my true nature.
This brings us to where Part 1 of this saga began:
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.
Ellie could sense how upset I was with myself, and our situation.
“Daddy, do you know that nobody dances at our school dances until I show up?”
That was kind of a random statement. “Oh, really? Why is that?”
“Because I’m your kid.”
Before my eyes could fully fill with tears, she told me how the crazy sleeping lines on my face made me look like Voldemort.
She’s hilarious. The old man has trained this young Jedi well.
She asked me about my upcoming return trip to our company’s HQ, this time as a consultant.
“So you have to put on a suit, and fly back to Chicago soon?”
“Yeah. It’ll be my first time back.”
“Daddy, oh my God, you need to wear ALL black.”
“Oh yeah? Why is that?”
“So they can blast Back in Black by AC/DC!”
By this time I could feel the prana humming from my spine out through my extremities. She had lifted my vibe from the depths, allowing a first glimpse of our new, renegotiated landscape.
Like so much of life, all of the struggle had prepared us for some other level.
Every unshaven, oversleeping, caffeine-addled, out of work Dad needs to hear their 11-year old daughter sing Brian Johnson’s shrieking lyrics:
“I got 9 lives! Cat’s eyes! Forget the hearse cuz I never Diiieeeeee!”
I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried. We howled with laughter the rest of the way to school.
Stretched to the furthest possible distance from my center, I started rebounding back home.
Have you needed to let go of anything recently? How do you manage your mindset? Share it in the comments below.
Read Part 3 of Processing Massive Change… Navigating Transformation
Can’t wait till you are singing this lyric!
“So look at me now I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck just get out of my way”
While you may have strayed from your path, I am so impressed with your ability to recognize what was going on and steer yourself back! I am going through a transition as I leave a 12 year career for something completely different (which I am figuring out). For us, this also may mean a move to a more affordable area and it has my head spinning. I am also a Virgo and want certainty even though I know life does not work that way. I’ve already checked out Susan so thanks for sharing that!
White guys LOVE when I sing “Back in Black” complete with air guitars and hair whipping. I wonder why that is?
KC!!! Brutha from another mother! THANK you for sharing your story. I’m highlighting the fuck out of this. As soon as I figure out my Twitter password, I’m tweeting your post.
My mindset has been all over the map. This sentence resonated with me: “We need to become the type of people who can handle the changes we’ve been asking for. It’s not enough to whine or go fetal ball when they show up.”
I envy you having a family as cool as yours. They are your superpower.
It’s been difficult navigating these changes alone. I can talk to friends, but after awhile I’m sure they get sick of hearing me whine.
So, thank you for this — all of this. Thank you for sharing your story in such a hilarious and real way. (I love your writing, btw.) Thank you for reminding me that I have to step up and be the change I asked for.
Love you man,
Yes! Thanks for taking us on the ride with you and talking in pictures! We just want to see the Back in Black Paradise City photo opp! Much love to you and yours!
I made a choice, a year or so ago, that this very personal fertility journey I’m sharing with my husband would be a conscious one. God, sometimes I wish I chose the other pill. The blue one, or is it the red one? Sometimes I wish I could do as I’m told and follow, follow, follow. Wouldn’t it be easier? Probably, but waaaay less interesting…and less fun.
I feel like I have spent the last year letting go, making space, letting go, making space… It’s really fucking hard. I must have a bit of Virgo in me coz I love to know where everything is, how things are going to go down, that everyone will love me and yet, and yet, I know that’s horse shit too.
It’s late. Actually it’s early. In the morning. I am up way past my bedtime because I’m waiting for a file to upload and I’m using a mobile hotspot. It’s breaking my heart. Clearly I can’t let go of having this done before I go to bed!
Adore Kerra’ comments above, I too am printing this off and highlighting the fuck out of it. Oh my God, I’m going to stick it up on the as yet unsullied walls of my new office.
Love you KC, love your writing, love your honesty and generosity. Hope we get to meet some day, x
You mentioned in part one that you felt a growing tension between who you had to be at work and who you were becoming. Was deciding to change houses when you did a result of that tension — a clamoring for change that just couldn’t be denied? If the job had disappeared two weeks earlier, would you still have moved?
Seems like you tipped up the glass full of wet ice, hoping to get a single cube to break free, and the whole mess landed on your face before you could get out of its way. Good recovery! 😉
When my life changed big style I kissed the ground quite literally with too much booze and no helmet on a bike that fell in love with a the curbstone. Had not been in such a state since teenage times. Woke up in hospital and when the nurse handed me a mirror for the first time ever I realized how much I love my face! I wasn’t proud when I had to face my kid with her bunch of flowers looking like that but I got my face back, I got back on track. I cannot always take it like buddha, I realized and that is ok. From those flaws, from all the flat-on-the-living-room-floorboards-nights of my life I gained the deepest compassion for overslept, out-of-their-mind, tracksuit bottomed parents – including myself. And you:) A beautiful moment between you and your kid – she sounds awesome!
KC – I read this first, feeling you and your experience. I went back and breezed through it again through Gayle and this last part has me thinking about your kiddos.
All I can say, you have an amazing family! And, that’s no accident, I’m sure you know.
Love as much as you can, because in the end, love is all there is. When you hit your bottom (or think you have) love is all there is.
I love this redemption story so much!