I am knee-deep in the midst of a home renovation, which is a lovely metaphor for what’s going on in my personal interior. The outdated building materials, the cabinets that don’t efficiently hold my stuff, and the cramped layout that doesn’t accommodate the incipient bigness of my life are all being reworked, with the help of my contractor-coach, a soulful, hilariously funny, and talented man named Tyler.
Tyler talks me off ledges, pours out a river of creative project ideas, solves a million design and engineering problems, and helps me choose the right trim, all before lunch. He encourages me to allow myself to have what I really want, not what I think I can afford, because the former is expansive and the latter scarcity-minded. And because I’ll regret it if I deprive myself of what I really want by letting short-term fears prevail. He does everything my life-coaching mentors do, but with wood, nails, and power tools.
My home is being purged of raggedy accoutrements, while I’m purging raggedy entrenched convictions about the scarcity of money and what I’m allowed to enjoy in this world.
Despite the chaos, the space in which I dwell will soon match the sizeable space I hold for the people I love.
Until then, I am consumed with decisions: where to put outlets and switches, which of the ten thousand iterations of base moldings, crown moldings, window and door casings to choose, pocket door or sliding barn door, clear glass or textured, refrigerator left or refrigerator right, what type of door, what kind of wood for the cabinets, which stain color, concrete or granite, fireplace stone, fireplace mantel, fireplace insert.
I find myself wanting someone else to narrow the choices in every category, so I can confidently pick the “right” one.
Who knew how many deadbolts there would be to choose from?
All of this is taking up an enormous amount of energy, which requires an equally enormous amount of rest. I’ve been adding to the energy burden by mud wrestling in a deep, sloppy should-hole. The list of what I think I should be doing is long and familiar and a big fat lie. What I should be doing right now is lovingly, carefully watching over the dual transformations of home and self, while observing and enjoying the process. And that is all.
The very thought of it in these terms brings me to a state of calm that feels as smooth and comforting as that thick, creamy hot chocolate that Starbuck’s used to sell until somebody blew the lid off the fat content.
Yet each day, I observe myself obsessively tied to the computer, as if sitting there while my soul calls for me to dance around in the dust and debris that fills my inchoate (look it up) living room is somehow more acceptable behavior. I am making myself miserable by valuing the appearance of a certain kind of productivity over the huge amount of self-care that seems called for right now. It’s a special form of self-torture for which I hold the Olympic record.
In the brief moments between the countless choices I make each day, I daydream about reciprocating the hospitality that has been extended to us during the Winter of Our Disarray. I wander around the house, marveling at the progress. While I still taste the dust from the demolition, I can sense the bright, clean surfaces of the new kitchen, and the delight, laughter and sustenance that will be generated there.
I want to remember that like my expanded new life, that joy-filled space already exists. With each choice that I make, I realize that both a life and a home are already built.
I’m currently dwelling there.