The plan is changing, as it does.
Late last week we received word that Dana won't be needed onsite for the next eight weeks. Because he won't be needed here in St. Louis, our lodging expenses won't be covered after Saturday. Does it sounds like our living situation just got a little interesting? That's because it did.
If you're new to these parts (welcome!), here's a few things you might like to know:
1. My husband and I used to live in a 34-foot motorhome, which made this kind of change in plans very exciting, because it gave us permission to start up the engine, batten down the hatches, and take our home on a random adventure.
2. We sold that motorhome in April, somewhat unexpectedly...and we didn't replace it with another (of the motor variety or otherwise). So, yes, we now travel by Toyota Corolla and lay down our heads on hotel pillows. Hotel pillows in hotel rooms paid for by Dana's employer. But only when he's needed onsite.
3. We've been fortunate to have family all over the U.S. to put us up when Dana's in between work assignments (or, we've hopped aboard Amtrak for a few days at a time), but we'd been looking forward to exploring a new city this fall.
So, here we are on Monday afternoon, having no idea where we'll be come next week. There's been talk of sending us back to Oklahoma for a couple weeks, but that's not definite, and even if it were, what happens after?
Just last week, in a session with a prospective client who put down temporary roots in the spring and is very anxious to know whether or not her living arrangement will change when her lease is up for renewal next spring, we talked about the exercise of loosening your grip.
"What if there were no way you could know now where you'll be in May?" I asked her.
She considered that reality even though she didn't really like the look of it.
I went on: "What if the circumstances haven't been created yet?"
I imagined my client staying focused on being present in each of the moments that occurs between now and the spring, living inside each day with the knowledge that she's capable, cared for (by herself, by the Universe), and in control of only her daily decisions.
I imagined her breathing through those moments of Holy-wow-where-am-I-going-and-where-will-I-be? and settling into the peace of not needing to do anything but show up, aim herself in a direction, and trust that the next step will reveal itself. (The brilliant coach Michael Neill describes it like so: "Whenever you show up and aim yourself in a direction, the impersonal intelligence behind life shows up with you.")
We talked about what happens when we listen to the ego's ever-urgent insistence that we figure out what's next (and that we work up several back-up plans, just in case something unforeseen does happen): We narrow the vision. Possibilities contract instead of expand. The color drains out of life because we give fear permission to be in charge, and fear is nothing if not a wet blanket.
Later that day while on the treadmill, I happened to listen to this episode of a favorite podcast. (I don't want you to miss the serendipity by not clicking over, so I'll just tell you the title of that episode right here: "What Knowing Feels Like (& What To Do When You Don't Know").) Then, the very next afternoon, this landed in my inbox. Naturally, I thought all these messages were for my client, so we emailed accordingly and I caught myself imagining, again, what wonder-full future awaits her if she can resist the temptation to plan it all out.
The end of the week rolled around and Dana came home from work one evening with new news. Another week in St. Louis, and then... And then?
Now, I'm not suggesting we're going to wait until check-out Saturday morning to determine what and where is next for us. That would be a fool's errand, and it would likely cause more harm (certainly in the form of anxiety) than good.
With each new day this week, we're allowing for possibilities. We're keeping our palms open. We still have those family and friends all over the U.S. We have the Corolla and an adventurous outlook and more curiosity and enthusiasm between us than most. (Truly, you must never underestimate the positive effects of curiosity and enthusiasm.)
At some point in the next day or two, we'll aim ourselves in a direction. And then we'll watch as our next step makes itself obvious.
What's the next step that's materialized for you? Hit 'reply' and tell me about it.
Ate: cosmically good crispy cauliflower and udon noodles at Lulu's Local Eatery, avocado & tomato toast with salt & pepper, pesto cavatelli from Small Batch, panino fresco sandwich at Blues City Deli, espresso from Northwest Coffee Roasting Company, Reese's 'concrete' from Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
Visited: Lise & Matt; Lulu & Spanky
Experienced: the perfect peace that comes with soaking in a tub (having first emptied an envelope of Aura Cacia lavender-scented, milk & oat bath into the very hot water) during the Packers/Vikings halftime
"I often, maybe you too, catch myself asking that harsh question, Are my photos any good? We must remind ourselves that that is not what is important. The only question we should be asking ourselves is... Are the photos I'm making reflecting my truths and leading me closer to my own voice?" Donna Hopkins introduced me to Henry Lohmeyer and this particular bit of his wisdom last week, and I'm grateful for it. This is what it is to make a practice out of anything.
Henry wrote other shining truths in his newsletter last week, and I'm still sitting with them, particularly this bit: "There are so many questions I have about my work—I know we all do. None is more important than the question, Are we willing to feel lost for our work, our craft, our truest expression? And more, Are we willing to let another know that we are lost—letting our work be that open to another? I feel I do and believe we all give the most to our photography when we ask these questions each day. Are we willing to be lost? Are we willing to share that space with others?"
I know he's a bit tricky to see, but it's the best I could do while we were stopped at a traffic light. Several corners of the Anheuser-Busch building in St. Louis are decorated with a "Renard the Fox" grotesque, an anthropomorphized fox from European folklore. (You can get a better look at him here.) A feather in his hat, Renard noshes on a chicken leg with a mug of beer in his other hand. I did a spot of research and found out that he was adapted as the mascot for Bevo, which was a near-beer produced by Anheuser-Busch just before (and as a bit of a statement against) Prohibition.