2016 note: This post was written in 2010, while I was bumbling through the transition from coaching executives (who often guiltily and furtively asked me to help them with their relationships) to focusing exclusively on deeper love, sex, and aliveness. I love seeing now both how far I've come and how applicable these four laws still are. - mlc
Kurt and I tore the roof off our house. This was five years ago now, but the memory is still vivid. We lived there the whole time, which was deeply disconcerting. But we survived to live in a home we love, one that is a perfect expression of us and the community who gather there.
As I do some intensive remodeling of my inner (and, it's true, my outer) world right now, I'm realizing that the guidance I so yearn for is right there, in my memories and lessons from remodeling. Here's what house remodeling can teach us about deep personal "remodeling" work:
The Law of Loss: While systems are being upgraded, you may be without certain services.
If you're replumbing or rewiring or replacing the furnace, it's going to compromise your running water, your lighting, or your heat. That's usually when people move out. The hard part about being me right now is that essential systems are down, temporarily, but I still need them. I'm still living here. Recognizing this doesn't meet the need (for instance, for the feeling of "knowing what I'm doing" or being certain everything is okay or the avoidance of feeling messy and vulnerable and tear-stained), but it helps to recognize and contextualize it. "Oh. Systems are being upgraded. That's why certain services are inoperative. Gotcha." Which "services" are you missing? What might substitute in the meantime?
The Law of Sanctuary: Visiting noise, dust, and disruption are exciting. Living amid them is a whole other deal.
I said to a friend this morning, "It feels like I'm renovating this old house and good things are happening, but I just wish that in the meantime, I had a lovely quiet, clean condo across town to retreat to." Kurt and I didn't have a rental. My sister and her husband did (just moved in this week!) but it was a cheap and correspondingly nasty little den I only visited once in six months.
When we're disrupting our entire "home" - locationally, physically, or emotionally, we still need a sanctuary. Viewing it that way is helping me to design my "clean, well lighted condo" for my personal renovation. I can't get away from me. But I can give myself respite from the work and the discomfort. For me, it looks like time on my yoga mat. Asking for more listening than I'm used to asking for. Permission to cry in Kurt's arms. Unabashed immersion in the joy that is Cooper's entire existence. What would it look like to you?
The Law of Vision: No one in their right mind would go through this if there weren't something really good on the other side.
I gave up an adorable 2 bedroom cottage with a mature Wisteria tree, plus two years of having a home, for my beautiful home. And I gave up a tidy if vaguely dissatisfying career as a leadership team coach and corporate trainer, for... well, some of the details of that remain to be seen!
Blueprints and elevation drawings help home remodelers see where they're headed. That's how they see the "why" behind the staggering costs - financial and emotional - of remodeling. When we're inner-home remodelers, it's essential that we keep our eye on the outcome as much as we can. For me, what I know already is that on the other side of this transformation, I will experience more peace and authenticity. I'll be more transparent with my feelings and needs. My work will fit into my life, not the other way around. And every client will experience dramatically expanded capacity for experiencing, being, and doing good in their lives in the world... Not just navigating stress better. Other details of the end result continue to reveal themselves in time. It serves me well to keep good notes on what I'm learning about the end result, so I can keep fleshing out the "blueprint" and thereby nourish my sense of hope. What can you already see beyond your current "mess"?
The Law of Catharsis: A little room to whine makes way for resilience.
In both inner and outer renovation, I've needed to complain more. To get compassion from myself and others. To vent. As a determined and card-carrying member of the Positivity Club, this has been humbling for me. Not only recognizing the value of making space for the misery... but actually DOING that.
Like a logjam on a river, flow is facilitated when the stuck stuff gets released rather than denied. So you'll have to excuse my b$#@ching. I need it right now. Would a little room to whine give you more access to your resilience?
I'm so hating where I am right now. Simultaneously, I marvel at the beauty of the human process. What a magnificent mess! May your mess feel magnificence as you shine the light of these Laws of Transformation on it. Namaste.