Lately, every time I think about my life I see a wave pool (in my mind). It’s a strange new metaphor that rocked my world a little because usually the images I receive are earthy–gardens, tornadoes, forests, oceans, and whatnot. I don’t know why these lessons didn’t come on ocean waves, but perhaps because getting the day job isn’t a natural course of events for me. These waves are woman-made, a little chaos that I created intentionally to shake things up in my world.
The pace of my personal evolution–specifically around money, the growth of my business, and physical activity–was driving me mad. I was (painfully) aware of how my thoughts, beliefs, and actions around these issues needed to change for me to be the woman I was born to be but I simply couldn’t do it by sheer force. I couldn’t even create space in my life to do the things I knew would help me shift, like complete the powerful Emotional Freedom Technique that a colleague offered me or make it to my beloved Kundalini Yoga studio to take my five free classes (a gift for helping out during an event some time ago).
I had resources available to me but I was stuck and I needed to do something radical. I applied for a job as a grocery clerk at a local market. It’s a place I love to shop, doing a job that is intensely physical (sometimes I call it going to the gym, instead of work) which thrills me beyond words, and between the work and the commute, it’s about 45 hours a week that I’m simply too busy to obsess about whether or not someone is going to hire me or register for one of my classes, or what I need to be doing differently to make this business grow (with absolutely no resources to invest). Frankly, I found that to be about as effective as using yesterday’s greasy kitchen towel to clean the bathroom mirror. It doesn’t help at all.
In the month since I started the day job, I’ve published only a couple of blogs. I haven’t produced a newsletter to send to the mailing list I worked so hard to build over the last almost four years. (Doing the math on that surprised me just now. Wow!) Between the physical exhaustion, the massive number of hours I no longer have to sit in front of the computer and generate words, and the complete loss of what in the world I want to share, I just couldn’t do it.
The great news is that I missed it like crazy. It’s the first time since I started writing that I hadn’t at least been trying to write (read: obsessing and sucking at it, as was sometimes the case) and I longed for it, like a… well, like a wife who moved to a new city to go to law school. (Some references are built into the story of your life.) I began to crave to connect with the big, loving community that I’ve cultivated through my heart’s work at Seeds and Weeds Coaching. (I do have the most remarkable Wild Ones on my mailing list and when I send something out, I always get a flurry of love letters back.) The fact that it’s been months since I enjoyed a crafty weekend to fill up my ETSY shop popped up on my radar and no matter how many times I tried to explain about time and energy and the new life, it wouldn’t stop alerting me that I was due for a play date with myself.
I suddenly noticed the loss, or perhaps the cost, of what I affectionately call The Great Manifestation Experiment. The experiment is working perfectly. In fact, I have more private coaching clients right now than I’ve had at any one time in the last year (just as I intuitively knew it would be) and my body is stronger and healthier than it’s been in years. But I’d left behind some activities that I’m not sure I can be me without–at least not a sane, satisfied, healthy me.
At first, the realization of the loss made me sad (rather desperately sad, if I don’t say so myself). I thought that these things might be more difficult with the day job but I had obviously underestimated the impact that commitment would have on my life. For a week, I longed and grieved and looked for space in my life to do something different. I started putting blog on my to-do list every day but as each day came and went, I simply didn’t have it in me to produce something.
And then last week, some of the intensity of the last month caught up to me and I went to bed one night with some mischief in my neck and shoulder. The next morning it was stiff and by the time I got off work that day, I could barely breathe from the pain. I couldn’t turn my head or use my right arm and I was alarmed (to say the least). With only a couple of very well-timed days off to work with–as I continue to be uninsured and didn’t have the resources to procure a visit to a chiropractor or massage therapist–I came up with my own Hail Mary pass sort of plan.
I was hearing one loud, clear message (in my head). You’ve worked as hard as you possibly could for years to grow this business, and in the last month, you worked as hard as you possibly could physically at the day job. It’s time to rest with that exact same intensity.
Perhaps because the pain was so overwhelming, or perhaps because I didn’t have any other ideas, I took to the bed. I asked my children (teenagers who are very capable of helping out in this way) to fetch for me dinner, the heating pad, something from our rather barren medicine cabinet that didn’t make a dent, and anything else we could imagine Kristin (the aforementioned wife) would do if she had been here. They were champs and I rested… relentlessly.
After exactly 24 hours, I “heard” the first bits of this blog post. I didn’t pop up and write it, I just rested and let it simmer in me. I applied to my own recovery the ideas that I was hearing to share with you. How do you like that for quality testing?
I was reminded that I chose this chaos. I am not a victim of this intensity and I am not out of control of what happens to me. I decided to dive into the deep end of the wave pool because I wanted to become a stronger swimmer. The physical pain was a gift, a warning that I was at risk, and that I needed to make some adjustments before I… well, before I drowned in all of that chaos. I heard that it wasn’t necessary to be all wild and crazy, planting myself up against that back wall of the pool where the waves are biggest and the bottom is the furthest away from the fresh air.
For me to carry this experiment to the end, I needed to shift to a more survivable place in the wave pool. Now, tanning in nine inches of gentle artificial tide isn’t the intensity I need to cultivate the change I desire in my world. I still need some chaos, but perhaps five feet of chaos is enough for a woman who stands 5’2 tall. When the waves are coming, as they do at least five days a week, I can handle being picked up and hurled around… if my feet come back to the ground between each wave. That’s not just survivable, that’s a reality in which I can thrive.
So, what’s the real world equivalent of getting my on the bottom of the metaphorical pool between waves? I heard that these seven things were my anchors, that if I could create space in my life for them, this experiment could be what I need it to be.
Next: 7 Things That Keep Me Afloat In The Wave Pool Of Life
1. Money Mondays – This is a little trick I use to manipulate myself into staying engaged (read: not disassociating) with my money. Every Monday, I balance checkbooks, invoice clients, pay bills and tend whatever other financial matters need my attention (taxes, banking, etc.). I’ve been doing this for more than a year now and it’s not flawless but I believe it’s made a huge difference in my recovery from money madness.
2. Simple Space – I have to keep my living spaces clean and simple. When stuff starts to pile up in my car, the kitchen counters, or my desk, my inner chaos piles up as well. Luckily, I’m the creator of a clutter-clearing class. This comes pretty naturally to me… if I do it. This wake-up call has renewed my commitment to maintaining an environment that supports my sanity.
3. Fabulous Fuel – Plain and simple, if I put junk in the tank, my vehicle cannot run optimally. I’ve been going the extra 10 feet (because if you’re at the grocery store, it’s not an extra mile to the produce department) to buy healthy, easy foods to put in my body. I’m carrying my bottle around as a constant reminder to drink water. I would never get marathon-ready on a diet of processed junk food and frankly, my life these days feels like I’m training for a marathon.
4. Sleep Soundly – I simply cannot be the employee, business owner, mom, and wife I want to be and get eight hours every single night but I fight hard to get as many as I can. If it’s less than seven, I look for space in my day for a nap or plan to go to bed early. I know it’s hard to make sleep a priority but my body cannot do what needs to be done without it.
5. Covet Creativity – When I was able to sit up comfortably, I spent a day making bookmarks for the ETSY store. I won’t even get them posted for a week (long story) but I posted pictures on my Facebook page and let my wife and friends oooh and aahhh over them. It was good for my soul. The good news is that it reconnected me to my creative side, which spreads into meal preparation, conversation, clothing choice, and even a little dance.
6. Plan Powerfully – Part of what makes the chaos survivable is that I have a plan that honors my life purpose. I was born to empower others. (Everybody has their own unique way to finish that sentence.) And I’m doing this day job thing with that in mind. I bring that part of myself to work every day and I’m also using this job to cultivate the change I desire in my dream job. I work with several people who are powerfully planning careers with the very company that I am planning not to have a career with, and I can tell that those people enjoy their jobs. I think it almost doesn’t matter what we do… as long as we live with intention.
7. Sustain Spirituality – I’m working in only a few minutes a day of Kundalini Yoga but it makes all of the difference in the world. It helps me feel grounded, connected to the Divine, and also my higher self. I know from past experiments that again, it doesn’t really matter what I choose to do–walk, hike, meditate, yoga, etc. What matters is that I honor myself with a daily practice that honors my spirit.
So, I’ve hurled myself into the chaos of the wave pool of life. It was intentional and it’s shaking up all of the areas of my life that needed badly to be shaken. I’m grateful but also humbled by the reality check from last week. These things are making a huge difference, proven at least in part by the fact that you’re reading this. I hope it reaches you wherever you are and helps you get your feet back on the ground… at least for a moment to steady yourself before the next big wave.