Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Road Thus Far: Chrysalis

Good grief. What happened to me this Spring?

On March 1, I started a random bit of self-imposed homework and the next thing you know, my life looks truly different. I’m not saying that a lot of this wasn’t already in the works, or something I wanted to do and had thought about pursuing before, but I’ve never had so much consistent positive forward motion, despite the resistance that threatened to bog me down. If I’m really honest, the path started in December when I met a mortgage agent who said he was willing to work with me if I was willing to do the work required. Boy, I bet he had no idea what he was about to unleash; for that matter, I had no idea that I could accomplish all that I have. But here’s the important part: it’s not about what I accomplished, but how those small accomplishments have impacted my self image and how I feel.

It seems that once I got my feet under me and shook off the winter, I put in place a gradual-but-undeniable (some might even use the term relentless) path of improvement. For all that the list below looks a little intimidating, it wasn't really very hard at all. I just made up my mind and did it. The secret was that I didn’t look at the big picture while I was working – I just looked at the single step I was taking. I wasn't on a death march, by any means. In fact, it was pretty gradual, starting from a "Hey, do you want to . . . ?" conversation in each and every case. I surrounded myself with people who were supportive and positive, and cut out the people who weren't. The results are more than impressive; they are awesome.
  • I signed up for Six Sigma Certification classes in April, and they started in May. I completed the Green Belt certification at the end of June. I feel credible.
  • I started Pilates on May 20. Seven weeks and five classes later, I'm in love with it. I look and feel better than ever, and the two weeks I was without my Sunday ritual I felt spiritually depleted. It has become my church service, and The Girls have become my spiritual community. I feel connected.
  • I went rock climbing for the first time in my life on May 5. I have since been once more, and I'm looking forward to incorporating it into my regular life. I feel strong and capable.
  • I purged clothes that don't fit and stuff I don't use. I feel lighter.
  • In July, I paid off my final old medical bill and my credit is officially rehabilitated. My credit rating has climbed from laughable to serious, and I am in charge of my financial reality in a way I have never been in my life. I feel responsible.
  • I got prequalified for a mortgage and I am working with an amazing realtor to find a house I like that I can afford in the neighborhood I love. I feel enfranchised.
And it's still going on:
  • I began classes for Lean Six Sigma this week. It’s another level up from the Green Belt, and at times, just as before, I’m lost and have to go back through the lecture a second time. I’m dedicated, though.
  • I am considering an outdoor climbing camp. Real rocks. Real high in the air. Kind of intimidating. Can't wait. (The only reason I'm not already signed up is because I'm waiting to see how much I need to put down on the house.)
And here's the best part: It was worth it every step of the way, even when it wasn't fun. I was scared or overwhelmed (or both) at each endeavor. Honest, there were even times that I thought I simply wasn't going to be able to do it -- I was going to fail. In so many ways this looming failure was liberating: it freed me not to worry about my success and to focus instead on the process. And here it is.

Right after we moved out of the farm, my sons bought me a mug that I simply adore. It's heidi-blue, and in white letters it reads Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she turned into a butterfly.

P.S. Just as I was putting the finishing touches on this The Year Thus Far analysis, my friend posted a quote on her blog. I can’t think of a better way to wrap this up, so here it is:
This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy. ~Susan Polis Schutz