Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Connecting the Dots

Dear Friends,

One of my more adaptive responses to stress is to clean.

Let's just say my house is nearly spotless right now. I'm considering re-organizing the closets. I can't wait to break down the last of our moving boxes. I am mentally combing through all of the toddler toys considering what to sell or donate or at least rejoin all of their parts that have gone astray.

All of this points to the fact we have some major life changes afoot.

I'll start with a brief summary: Two days ago, Ben asked for some flexibility in his 9 to 5 schedule. His boss's response? She ended his contract. Aaaaaand, scene!

Deep breath. We saw this coming. We have actually yearned for this. It may appear to be sudden and mysterious, but this has actually been in the making for some time.

Last year (September 2010), we attended the Rethinking Everything (RE) Conference for the first time. We connected with numerous brave, joyful, loving families who inspired us to reevaluate every aspect of our lives. We came home and began taking major steps to free our time, our finances, and our lives.

We moved to a smaller home, in a more affordable community. I jumped back into theater with both feet. Ben launched websites and learned a ton about creating value online and marketing it. We sold and donated non-essential belongings. We settled into our new home, however, Ben was now commuting even farther than before, still trading his time for money 50 plus hours each week. Life was better, but still not ideal. Logan, Paige and I experienced a degree of freedom, yet we understood none of us was free until all of us were free.

Fast forward to September 2011: We attended RE for the second time. This time I more easily selected the sessions I wanted to experience, visualized what I wanted to gain from the conference, and identified specific people I wanted to connect with. I was less overwhelmed by the setting and sheer numbers of people, and was able to settle in more smoothly with Logan and Paige as we adapted to the major shift from low-key daily life to intense, energy-charged, maximally-connected conference immersion.

I knew I wanted to know more about Law of Attraction and its intersection with unschooling and parenting. I knew I wanted to see Chris and Sarah Parent, and to meet Dayna and Joe Martin in person. I wanted to hug Barb Lundgren and experience Quinn Eaker. And I wanted to connect with John Strelecky, as his books and ideas have been a huge change-agent for us.

I also wanted to open every possibility for Logan and Paige to play and create and experiment and discover. Kid Village, art projects, take-apart electronics, scavenger hunts, the pool, bouncy Twister, games -- all of it was like Kid Heaven, and we eagerly highlighted these sessions on Ben's rockin' smartphone application.

Perhaps more than anything, I wanted Ben to have the opportunity to connect with other dads who are further along the path of self design, living out their dreams, and are joyously free.

I wanted answers, a map, a quenching of our thirst for freedom. I wanted connection and inspiration and hope.

All of this happened. I got everything I wanted, and more. One session I attended was entitled, "I Always Get Everything I Want." And that is exactly what occurred. Abundance.

I communed with the people I wished to be with. I attended my favorite sessions. The kids had a blast. And Ben made awesome connections personally and professionally (one of the hallmarks of SelfDesign -- there is no compartmentalization of our lives -- we live who we are, and create value for each other; earning a living is living in and of itself).

Attending RE, experiencing healing, gaining insights, connecting deeply, and drawing inspiration from others who are further down this road of liberation has made all the difference for us making intentional choices to be free. We couldn't do it alone, nor would we want to! We are designed to need each other, and live interdependently. Isolation is becoming a thing of the past, and I am feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually supported by an invisible network of loving friends and family.

Yet, the support isn't actually invisible: it is clearly visible in the faces and voices and writings of all of our friends.

Thank you for your invaluable encouragement, unconditional love, and courageous trailblazing!

So, here we are, no longer on the precipice of freedom, but actually having declared it. We are free!

How does it feel? Exhilarating. Scary. Hopeful. As in now with hope. Mostly, I am experiencing a deep peacefulness. I know this is what we have all longed for, and it feels right. Aligned. We are vibrating with love, peace, knowing, confidence, stillness, the presence of God at our cores. And it is good.

When I married Ben, I wanted to spend my life with him. Not just a few hours crammed in at the end of every day. Not part-time, casual. I wanted to hold him, carry him, be carried, walk, run, play hand-in-hand, live, love, laugh, experience all of Life together. I feel the same way with our children. I don't want part-time love and occasionally shared existence. When we are together, I feel whole. Every fiber of my being did not want Ben to get into the Subaru and drive an hour away from us every morning. So, he's not going to do that anymore.

What's in store? Our minds are racing, our bodies are charged, our energy is high. We can't seem to talk fast enough and can barely capture our rapid flow of ideas. Flood gates are opening, and it is amazing. It makes me realize how many ideas, connections, brainstorms, and energy we held at bay, ninety percent of the time, just trying to get through another day apart. Too much work for Ben, not enough family time. Too much single-handed parenting for me, not enough Ben and vocation time.

And now it's all becoming aligned. Our arms grew tired propping up the dull, grey cubicle walls. We no longer agree to participate in what inspirational author Don Miguel Ruiz calls The Dream of the Planet. (In a nutshell, we lose touch with our true selves in the process of becoming domesticated. We create an image of how we think we should be, in order to be accepted by others. And we judge and berate ourselves when we fall short of perfection. The secret: its all smoke and fog, a socially constructed mirage. And Ben and I are actively choosing to stop supporting this lie. We choose instead to restore our true selves who already know how to dream big, play hard, and dance as if no one's looking....More on Ruiz's The Four Agreements another time....)

So, we've taken the leap of faith, and sure, it is stressful. But that is merely a surface emotion, occuring at times when I allow my mind to participate in what John Strelecky calls "The Mad How Disease." How am I going to make a living? How am I going to get students? How are we going to choose avenues for Ben's web-based work? Instead of asking "how," we want to ask "who" and learn from those people. Trailblazers. Map makers. Dreamers. Entrepreneurs.

We have already begun to attract a huge inflow of whos and exciting possibilities. There are more options for income streams than we could possibly follow. So now we are in the delicious position of choosing what feels fun and great and energizing. We are pursuing our passions, and it is thrilling.

Join us!

I wonder how many people in unsatisfying jobs worldwide walked into work the morning after learning of brilliant Steve Jobs' untimely death (so young, so young, we chanted) and said, "I want to make a change. I am no longer willing to settle. Slavery is not noble. I am out of here, and onto bigger and better things. I want to create and follow my passions and make a difference in the world."

Rustout is the slow death that follows when we stop making the choices that keep life alive. It’s the feeling of numbness that comes from always taking the safe way, never accepting new challenges, continually surrendering to the day-to-day routine. Rustout means we are no longer growing, but at best, are simply maintaining. It implies that we have traded the sensation of life for the security of a paycheck…Rustout is the opposite of burnout. Burnout is overdoing. Rustout is underbeing.
Richard Leider

I am so done with underbeing. I am here to LIVE! And I'll take it all: the joy, the anticipation, the uncertainty, and yes, even the stress. It feels good to feel. At least now I know I'm alive, and I am ready, willing and able. Let's go for it!


  1. WOOHOO!!! Charlie left his position with M.I.T. purposefully on August 5th, 2011!! We have experienced some surface emotion stress feelings, but all in all we are FINE!! Now, I still work 24 hours a week as an RN.... so we are nearly free, all three of us, but not quite there yet!! SO happy for you all!!!!

  2. New follower here! I love this post we are working towards something similar as far as being freed permantly from the industrial slavery society tells us we must live to survive in. We are so brainwashed into thinking we must work 9-5 it is liberating to know there are happier alternatives of following your passions!

  3. Thank you so much, Susan, for your enthusiastic support! Tomorrow is Ben's last day at the 9-5 job. We are so psyched!
    P.S. I believe we met last year at RE -- you painted a butterfly on my daughter's face:)

  4. Carrie, I couldn't agree with you more! The first step is to free your mind, and the actions follow. We feel liberated already! Tomorrow is Ben's last day at the 9-5 job, and we have so many options and ideas. It's fabulous! I will check out your blog, too, to hear of your journey:)