I want to share a little story with you about gaining “perspective.” It’s about my husband Michael and me being married for 40 years, which means we do things like finish each others sentences, phone one another at exactly the same time, crave the same food for dinner, a symbiotic twin-space that people who have been happily married for a long time often get into. And it’s a story about moving to a new home after 30 of those years together and letting go of the big yard with towering pines, the pool and spa, the symphony of bird songs … and also the time and resources spent on maintaining what was our family home. Moving on to a down sized, turnkey lifestyle that we are finding both challenging and exciting.
Challenging in the minutia of address changes, new Internet and cable services, finding a go-to grocery store and pharmacy. Exciting in that everything feels fresh and different, the square footage and responsibilities pared down. But one thing stymied us. With year-end holidays nearly upon us, we tried to figure out how we will accommodate visiting family in our smaller space of 2 bedrooms and a den, when for the past 30 years we spread out comfortably in 4 bedrooms and a den. Well, we figured someone in the guest room, someone on the new futon in my den and … and someone would have to be in the living room on a sofa bed.
Okay, so that seems viable, right? The problem, however, is how do we set up our living room to house our existing furniture, plus a sofa bed and still make it comfortable and un-cramped for our daily living? This bit of minutia felt like serious business and became the center of numerous conversations.
When Michael and I bought this new home, in our symbiotic twin-space we immediately imagined the TV and entertainment center in a particular place in the room. For my sports loving husband, this has to be the core of the arrangement. But in this configuration, as hard as I tried with tape measures and scaled drawings, I could not make the space work. The sofa bed had nowhere to pull out and the room would be cramped and crowded. Hardly the right arrangement for daily living or holiday sleepovers.
We were stumped and discouraged, and with much regret finally decided that the only option was to get a dang blow-up bed, which we would inflate at night, deflate during the day and remake again at night. Augh!
On the day of our unsatisfying decision, I had a FaceTime chat with my sister and retreat partner, Elaine. She has an amazing flare for interior design so I shared my sad living room saga with her. And then, she asked me one simple question ~ Why don’t you move the TV to the other wall?
In all of our conversations, Michael and I had never once considered shifting that “center” to another location. As soon as she spoke the words, I knew I could configure the furniture – including a sofa bed – perfectly and still have the space feel open and comfortable. Mike agreed. Our perspective shifted!
As excited and engaged as we have been in this transition to our new home, Michael and I both dragged with us an old way of thinking and seeing to the new environment. We brought the configuration of our old living room to the new one without even realizing it. Change offers an opportunity to move out of a well-worn comfort zone and discover new perspectives. Elaine was not invested in our comfort zone so she could see something we could not.
Of course, as a writer and life coach, I immediately saw the epiphany-cloaked metaphor in this situation and asked myself, “Where else in life am I dredged in old thinking? What small shift in perspective could change my personal center to something more spacious and comfortable?”
I want to expand my awareness on this issue of perspective, and I encourage you to do the same. Based on my living room experience, here’s my plan to do it:
When an outcome or solution feels distinctly dissatisfying, take a step back before moving forward, and do one or more of the following:
Consult a friend or colleague (or amazing sibling) who has knowledge and experience with similar situations.
Journal about the issue, using stream of consciousness writing and/or mind mapping.
Meditate and visualize – begin by meditating on the situation, just as it is; then release it completely and envision a blank slate before you; then, allow a new scenario to present itself in your mind’s eye.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know that “heightening awareness” is my mantra. Sometimes we are successful at this, sometimes not. And, as one of my clients recently shared, developing awareness can be hard work! This is especially so when we are stressed or feeling the discomfort of change. I recognize this in my own experience. But, now I can take the “awareness” I gained and apply my learning to find new perspectives in future situations.
On to discovering new perspectives!
Many blessings, Plynn