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Going up the mountain only to turn around...



Picture this…. You have been planning the trip of a lifetime, researching every stop, imagining the people and places you’ll visit and experience. You’ve handpicked every piece of clothing especially for this new climate and given thought to any and all possibilities you may face. You’ve created lists of all the restaurants you want to go to, along with items on the menu you just have to try.  You are so invested in the plan that you can almost taste it! You pack your car, leaving behind all that you don’t need; you get on the road and you hit every green light, the weather has been perfect – nothing seems to slow you down. You look up at the sky and laugh, feeling that you are being Divinely guided along your journey. You begin the dizzying trek up a mountain pass with tremendous effort and expectation of making it to the top so that you can traverse your way down to your desired destination and right before you get to the apex of the top of the mountain, a huge boulder has rolled down and not only blocked the road but demolished the overpass so that there’s no way forward. You sit, stunned and paralyzed in the car, unsure of what to do next…

 

Feeling it? Seeing it?

 

Yep – that’s what Heath and I have just been through.

 

But it wasn’t a trip – It was a move; a letting go of our old identities, our beloved “stuff” to embark on what we felt a deep calling to do; to carry on the legacy of a family business; to heal old wounds and to infuse our energies into something that would benefit so many. Everything was lining up, so much so that when Heath was laid off from his job in the midst of these conversations, we saw it as a sign that we were moving in the right direction. We began clearing out our house, detaching ourselves emotionally from our beautiful home that we’ve put so much of ourselves in. We even went as far as giving away the majority of our books (I must have packed over 20 boxes myself of my beloved books) – this act alone was a sign that we were serious and truly ready for this change. I have said more than once in my life that you would have to pry my books from my cold, dead hands!


Heath sold his cherished motorcycles to a dear friend, which took the sting out of the letting go. I was preparing our social circle and family for the imminent departure. Realtors were being interviewed, house was being prepped and the excitement was palpable. Three weeks until house went live on Zillow. Heath would leave and begin this new chapter and I would finalize the sale and follow as soon as I could. While preparing my home for someone new, I was actively seeking our new home and so surprised that I was actually willing to see myself living in a way that was very different than I’ve lived in the last 20 years – more simple, less extravagant.


I know you’re asking yourself “Why would they be willing to give up this charmed life that they’ve created?”


What we were seeking was not tangible – it was multi-faceted and burned within us both to the point that we were willing to give everything up for the chance at change.

Thankfully, right at the 11th hour, before the point of no return, it became readily apparent that the risk was too high and that we could not move forward. I’m not going to sugar coat it – I fell to my knees, quite literally. I spent an hour on the floor of a hotel bathroom, vacillating between sobs and nausea. Were there red flags? In hindsight, not really. Did we do our due diligence? Absolutely! To the point of paranoia. We are so very fortunate to have very accomplished and successful business people around us that were able to review financials and give us invaluable guidance.


So, as we sat paralyzed at the top of the mountain, looking at the boulder that demolished the way forward, we had to figure out WTF to do. Then began the arduous job of “unpacking” the entire journey – looking for fault lines, for anything that we may have missed. Questioning ourselves and our motives. Wondering how in the hell do we go back home and say “Ha, just kidding. We’re not going anywhere!” A month of job searching was lost and Heath had not only informed everyone he worked with in the industry that he was leaving it, he had withdrawn from jobs that could have been valid opportunities. I had to cancel realtors, contractors, moving companies, storage facilities, etc. in the blink of an eye. I had to apologize over and over again to people who were involved in helping us prep our home, sell our home or find us a new one.


But, wait…. we wanted to go for a reason. We don’t WANT to be here. Maybe we should just continue moving forward with selling the house and get out of our area. But where do we go? Well, our daughter is about an hour from us, maybe we should we go there. Yes, that’s the answer. PIVOT!


Well, that’s a short story – NO! Nothing we would want “off the shelf”, so we’d have to build. That’s 10-12 months and we’d have to be free of our mortgage, which equals being homeless for a year. Yeah, that’s a huge NO for me. Sure, it would be a “change” and the real estate and personal property taxes are much less than where we are now, but would it be the true change that we need? Sadly, it is not.


I felt like I was sitting on a spinning bar stool, turning myself in all directions to see where it was that we were headed. It was dizzying and exhausting. More than once, I found myself having emotional breakdowns, as it’s MY job to figure out our next move, to plan and direct. But I saw no way forward. Again, I found myself paralyzed! A good friend gave me some wonderful advice – “Just STOP! Let it ALL go!” So, I did.


Then the grief set in. I felt apathetic and despondent. What exactly was I grieving? I sat in my leather reading chair with my journal and pen in my lap for days, asking that very question and when I had the flash of insight that provided that answer, I literally lost it! Deep, visceral sobs from the depths of my being came flooding up; the tears flowed with such intensity that they burned my face. Words long buried bubbled up through the mud and exited my mouth, shocking my husband to the point that he was in tears and speechless.


In a nutshell, I was grieving the loss of the possibility of being provided a purpose, an identity associated to this business opportunity. I had been excited for the first time in years – looking forward to being in a position to share my creativity, my brilliance and my skills in a way that would be appreciated and respected. I saw so many angles that would allow me to utilize all the pieces of me – I wouldn’t have to operate in a preconceived “box”. I could dabble here and dabble there; I could offer insights and help direct things to create positive change, all while supporting my husband and our financial future. Heath and I have always been a highly effective team and this was a chance to work together to take something that was already successful and make it better. As I sit here, it is impossible for me to put into words the weight of the gift that I saw in that for us and even harder to find the words to express the weight of the pain of that loss.


Thankfully, Heath and I are able to openly discuss our feelings, insights and awareness as they come. I usually come to the table with the “topic of the day” and we work together to unpack what it all means.


We’ve dissected every angle (so far) and have found the silver lining where we can:


·        We were made willing to get rid of so much that weighs us down

·        We CAN live with much less and be happy

·        Our identity is not our job (or lack of job) or our home/car/stuff

·        We have more clarity on what is truly important to us and where we want and need to be (and NOT be)

·        As long as we have each other, the rest doesn’t matter

·        Our kids/grandchild will be just fine, no matter where we live

·        We are still a very effective team

 

Life is still in flux – Heath is in the process of seeking new employment, we are continuing to de-clutter and our visits to the dump are the highlight of my week. I sit with my journal every morning as I drink a cup of coffee and ask for guidance. The epiphanies come when I’m ready to receive them and I say “Ohhhh yeah…I can see that!” I do find myself feeling stuck more than not, but after the whirlwind of the last month, I am okay with being STILL. It’s in the stillness that we hear God.


I do feel that this experience, even with all its disappointments, was filled with HUGE life lessons for not only us, but everyone connected to it. I feel deep gratitude for everything that it brought to the surface to be seen, to push us to do things that we may not have been so willing to do and to make us stronger for having to turn the car around and begin the journey back down the mountain.


There’s no truer example of the quote “Life is all about the journey, not a destination.”

 

The cars still packed, so where to now?




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