Early in the summer, I visited a new friend and noticed new art on the walls, different pieces than what had been hanging just a few days before. I commented, “You hung up some new pieces!” My friend looked at me drolly and answered, “Why, yes! I’m always hanging up different things and changing it up. I don’t like things to be stagnant and I like my energy and the energies of my home and of my things to be shifting, moving, growing.”
His answer, like him, was deeply thought-out and intentional and thorough. He’s an artist and has a studio full of finished and in-progress works of art. It’s no wonder that he has an ever-rotating selection of his work on the walls. He is always creating, always doing, always dreaming. It got me to thinking. I went home and looked around at my walls. Most of my walls are full of art pieces or photos that I love, but most have been hanging up in the same spots since I hung them with the help of a friend, a few weeks after I moved in, four years ago.
This new friend got me to thinking more about energy and not just about wall hangings. I do say that I like to mix it up, but I can also be a creature of both habit and comfort. I tend to drink the same tea and sit in the same spot on the couch when I’m writing. I’ve been at the same job (not career, but job) for a couple of years while dreaming of other things, but not really making much progress on the other fronts. I tend to make the same few recipes in rotation and keep up with a small set of people and hobbies and volunteer activities. I write a lot on this blog about making big plans and making slow progress, or I tend to reflect on the inner life, while much on the outside remains the same.
Sometimes, there is a turning point. Maybe it was the comment or the vibe of this new friend. Maybe I know that I need to kick things up, to stir up the dust, to find that new energy, to go to that new place (metaphorically and literally).
There is a change in the seasons, and there is also a change that comes, perhaps, with a certain age. Sometimes change is involuntary and sometimes change is voluntary. We know, though, that change is what is constant, and the smaller incremental changes can be hard to see, especially with daily reflection.
It can take a bit for change to settle in, for it to become the foundation for the new. There can be an incubation period, a time where nothing looks to be changing on the surface, but big changes are being made underneath and internally. Often, following that incubation, big changes happen quickly and permanently.
Four years ago, I kicked things up to move from Colorado to my long-held dream of living in New Mexico again. A little over two years ago, I left my job as an environmental educator to start massage school and to work at a food co-op (a more flexible schedule and less-involved job to make school easier). Last year, right before Thanksgiving, I had plans to complete my massage therapy license, with about three weeks of specialized classes (to be taken in the spring with a new class) and about five hours of clinic to complete, when the school shut its doors. The writing had been on the wall, little signs popping up everywhere, but it was still a shock. I failed to procure a transcript, and so my massage therapy dreams are on hold, for now, because it means a new school and money and time to start over, and logistics to make it work.
It took a few months to recover from that disappointment and to find the lessons.
It helps to remember that things don’t always turn out like you planned, and sometimes what happens is a good shake-up, a good way to stir up the energy, and to see what is on the other side of disappointment, what is on the other side of changed plans.
In this year that has followed, I have found that the therapy and healing I sought in the years prior have sunk in and I have permanent and profound growth and resilience and healing. I had a year to think about what I really wanted and I had time to examine my life in a way I might not have if things had gone exactly according to plan.
I cleaned and went through a monumental “Marie Kondo-ing” of everything in my possession last month. I made a huge pile of belongings to give away and with the help of a dear friend, I filled up the bed of her small pickup with the boxes and bags. I waved goodbye as my friend drove away to take all my stuff for donation. Over a long weekend, I cleaned up my apartment and proceeded to rearrange and reorganize all that remained. I found new energy and new joy in my space and also, left space for others. Now, my bed is away from the wall, making it easier for two to share it. My couch, that I bought two years ago for its fold-out-guest-bed-capabilities, has a new place in the living room, not entirely against the wall, so it can be quickly converted for guests without much effort. There is a place for guests to sit and visit with me while I mess around in the kitchen and my table is available for bigger meals to share. I tweaked my hall office, so I have room for writing the book I’m working on and possibly a new online gig. I hung up new art by a friend and framed a couple of my own photos to hang. I dusted and rearranged and rebuilt my nest.
Following my birthday in July, I wrote down a huge list of things for the next 15 months, up through December 2020, that is a lovely combination of to-do and tah-dah. There are fun things and mundane things and big things and little things, but they are all things I want to do and I am making room in my life to do them, whether it’s recalibrating my finances and remaking my relationship with money or finding an easy skin-care routine or visiting all the museums in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and finally buying a good pack for long backpacking trips.
I sold my car a couple of months ago, after more ill-timed mechanical problems. It’s bussing and walking for me, for the time being and I am pleased at the rediscovery of joy that is part of taking the bus and walking everywhere, with an occasional ride from friends and maybe a once-in-a-great-while ride-share or weekend car rental for a trip. (When I lived in Saint Paul a few years ago, I got rid of my car and took the bus for a couple of years and I really loved it.) My phone was stolen about a month ago, and I learned to live without a phone and internet when my home internet connection went awry at the same time. I got a new old phone and repaired the disconnection and found a new intention in my technology relationship. Yesterday, I opened up a gift of a small turquoise record player. I have one record and when I expand it, I know that I will keep it to a small collection.
My writing and workouts are going strong. I have made plans with a friend for writing dates in November. My meditation and journaling practices are going well, and even when they aren’t, I keep doing them, because that’s the whole point. I have been cooking more, using different recipes and finding new ways to make use of familiar ingredients.
I have a couple of dreams that feel impossible at the moment, so I research them, and make a plan and a budget for them. I know that these dreams and plans become the foundations for those “castles in the air”
I let go of a person that I needed to. I stood up for myself in a conflict a few months ago and left when a situation felt unsafe, even when it felt uncomfortable and weird to leave. I am enjoying a new friendship that may or may not become something significant. I am comfortable, for once, with the slow pace as we discover each other.
I have new plans to help a good friend finally earn her GED. I have three interviews this week for a possible online gig.
I have plans to figure out some bike repair with the help of online tutorials this weekend. I also need to figure out how to get my printer to work.
I realized that this year is the first since 2012 that I haven’t had any of my writing published. But then I remembered that I was selected to be a contributing blogger for a new website, although its launch has been pushed back into early next year. For several months, I have been writing weekly blog entries for their site. I’ve decided to keep contributing for now, and reassess in the new year.
My mom came to visit for 10 days, she was in town for a conference for part of her visit while I worked during part of her visit. We had one of our best visits ever. We talked and listened to each other. We shared meals and just spent time in each other’s company. We visited our favorite restaurants and made breakfast on lazy cozy mornings. We lingered over coffee and curled up at the end of the day to tell each other of our adventures. It’s nice to find that we choose each other’s company and revel in the joy of it, and not sink into the obligation of it.
My new friend visited yesterday. We talked and dreamed and shared. We are learning about each other and opening up to each other, finding our way slowly.
All of the above is to say I am learning to grow and learn with change. There are steps forward and steps back. There is kicking up the dust and finding new energy. It means keeping and holding boundaries, and stating intentions. It means letting go of expectation and finding space for myself and others. It means letting others in and making space for others (and myself) to leave. It means picking up the pieces and starting again or deciding to let some things go dormant for a while. It means not caring what others think and listening to myself and knowing when my internal voice is true, or when it’s just the distracting chatter of being afraid. It means holding hands and also walking alone. It means speaking up and also letting in silence and space. It means finding forgiveness and making a new way. It means being okay with the good and the bad, and just being.