November marks the one-year anniversary of the roller coaster I call rightsizing: spouse JM and I left our beloved home of two decades to build a cozy craftsman cottage. Other than divorce, downsizing and death, rightsizing has been the most chaotic event in my life.
Still, I remind myself daily how blessed we’ve been to undertake this change. With apologies to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, read on to learn how I survived and hope to thrive during this time of upheaval.
Basic Needs, Security
There's nothing like the excitement of having your life turned upside down ... not! Those two weeks of closing on two homes and living in a hotel in the interim were a blur. I’d wake at night, not knowing where I was. I gained new understanding for people who don’t have a permanent roof over their head, and every night for them is another stab of uncertainty.
TBH, I get squirrelly when there's extended periods of chaos like this in my physical space. Once we moved into the cottage, I attacked the unpacking, de-cluttering and recycling of a gazillion moving boxes. (It didn’t help that I was fighting an allergic reaction to a wasp sting. Prednisone dispensed to manage localized swelling had me madly organizing our new kitchen until 3 a.m.)
I looked to little things, like locating our winter clothes and discovering cherished pieces from Mama made the move intact, to lift my spirits and fight that feeling of being overwhelmed.
I’m big on feathering the nest, too. My surroundings are my security blanket and creative outlet, so I beavered away to make our cottage feel like a home. Furniture happily placed. Curtains I sewed for the former homestead draped perfectly on new windows. Pretties from the old garden nestled about, waiting for their new beds and soil amendments in spring.
Best, four months and two evil hurricanes later, the new space was finally where I hoped it would be. Then I kept my promise of christening its first "company" meal with our BFF former next-door neighbors and their daughters. We watched those two sweet girls grow from infants to amazing teens and were over the moon the family wanted to share this milestone with us.
Hey, you’re virtually invited to check the new digs, too, in a 60-second Before and After video from my You-Tube channel below.
Social Needs and Self-Esteem
slowly getting there
In addition to months of hard labor with boxing, unpacking and organizing, I was unprepared for the emotional upheaval and feelings of loss from exiting a dear community where I knew everyone, and everyone knew me. I tossed countless nights in the wee hours, second-guessing our decision to leave.
It helped to replay a lightbulb moment from a change leadership workshop I took back in my days in the private sector. I remember having 5 minutes to find a partner and complete three rounds of guessing something the other changed in each round.
Nearly everyone, including moi, REMOVED items ... eyeglasses, notebooks, pencils, etc. Nobody ADDED anything to demonstrate change.
to staying on top of transition was to
thinking of change
as a subtraction or loss.
get down and
boogie with change
as an addition or enhancement to new situations.
Think of change as gain!
I focus on viewing our transition as a huge, lovely win. Less on feeling sad by the loss of what we had before.
I miss the old ‘hood and cherished friends there, so I seek out new neighbors. And oh, those marvelous miles of wooded walking trails! I find different trails for morning walks that keep me sane and where I burn up audio books as I move along. I ramp up Body Flow workouts at the gym to 6 days a week to exorcise rightsizing demons. Being more active with volunteering and community service helps tons, too.
(be all you can be)
The most precious piece still eludes me:
I haven't gotten back to writing and publishing. I stopped altogether during the move and recently started with blogging and social medial in moderation. But I never want to return to 10-hour days/7-days-a-week craziness of crafting blogs, newsletters, marketing strategies, book reviews, Pinterest/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram posts, plus cranking out my WIP. Yikes! That was the road to burnout!
However, I don’t have a current work in progress. My kid lit writing is majorly stuck.
Zip. Zero. Goose Egg. Sigh.
After ending the Sweet T Series because of the expense to publish its color illustrations, I haven’t figured out which genre or content to tackle in its place. In fact, my brain shuts down whenever it wanders to the topic. I hope as life settles and the holidays pass, my brain will kick in, and I’ll be back at it by the first of the year.
In the meantime, I try not to fret and give myself permission to be on this transition roller coaster a bit longer. Your company on my writing road helps tons, too -:D. Cross your fingers for me?
How do you manage change? What strategies helped you master transitions? Please share in the comment section.
Thanks a ton for stopping by. Like what you see?
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11/2/2018 03:31:16 pm
Awesome job describing all your fluctuating feelings as you tackled changes in your life. Sending you a virtual hug. As far as your writing, after decades in the business, I’ve learned to find balance. Go at your own pace, Cat. If you need to shift gears, enjoy the discovery of an exciting new path. Over the years, I’ve changed from writing for children and teens to steel-frame homes to my latest book about caregiving. If you decide to change directions, you will no doubt grow as a writer and as a person. I appreciate your honesty and laying yourself bare in this piece. That’s what makes great writing. Change isn’t easy - but it can be liberating and exciting in the end. BTW, your video was great! You’re inspiring, Cat! Sending you my love and support!
11/3/2018 10:33:59 am
Majorly grateful for your virtual hugs and kinds words, Julie! I did not realize your writing content was so varied! It gives me hope I can do the same once I clear the cobwebs and decide which direction to take. Delighted to have you virtual visit our new home and for helping me get through those rough patches on the writing road.
11/2/2018 04:32:06 pm
The universe is "change", that's simply the way it is. We can choose to embrace it and benefit, or struggle and make ourselves miserable in the process. Either way, we come out the other side eventually, either better or worse for the experience depending on our own choices. What a wonderful approach you have, and am sure the writing muse will be visiting again very soon! 🤠🐻
11/3/2018 10:29:59 am
You nailed it, James.... No escaping change! Usually I'm better at dancing with it, but this transition has knocked me for a loop. I keep looking for that writing muse, but I think it's on an extended vacay through the holidays.
11/2/2018 05:54:54 pm
Hi Cat, I think you are handling the transition brilliantly You are doing all the right things, finding new walking trails, meeting new neighbours and becoming involved in the community. You can't do more than that. Take time to breathe, it will all fall into place and before you know it, the old 'hood' will be a collection of wonderful memories while you embrace your new experiences. As for writing, it will come when it is meant to. Doesn't hurt to take a well earned break. The inspiration will be there when you are ready.
11/3/2018 10:24:35 am
"A collection of memories..." ".....inspiration will be there when you are ready." Appreciate your comforting words way more than you know, Sandra! It's hard to do what's best without waves of doubt about taking the right path. Many thanks for your support on the writing road!
11/2/2018 06:50:25 pm
Wow Cat, the teacher in you showed me the wonderful concept of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I feel like I'm the only one that reflects back to that from all those hours in college learning the importance of what it means to all of us.
11/3/2018 10:18:44 am
Your mama was a wise woman -:D, Rosie! Change is NOT easy! I fall back on Maslow as I work through tough times. It helps me make sense of my feelings.
11/4/2018 02:26:08 pm
Cat I love it. What a cool take on change. I just intend to be in the moment. When I am present, I resist nothing, including change. I also live kinda fearless and also, dive into my fears. Super 1-2 punch for diving into the fear of change.
11/11/2018 08:32:15 pm
Ryan, I admire by the way you live in the moment and dance with change. Most grateful for your kind words of encouragement!
11/7/2018 02:53:56 pm
Congratulations, Cat. And your husband looks like he weathered the move well.
11/11/2018 08:40:09 pm
Sarah, giggling here at the thought of your downsizing to a 4500 SF house, but it’s true a milestone going from a 7-acre lot. We are weathering the rightsizing storm, figuratively and literally after Flo and Michael -:D. Thanks for the reassuring words, and best of luck with your countertops.
11/7/2018 06:08:12 pm
Congrats on managing your new life style. In the end, you'll be happy. Just hard process to go through. And I bet your writing muse will return at some point.
11/11/2018 08:44:30 pm
Thanks a ton, Carol. It’s been a journey, and I appreciate your kind words. Hoping my writing returns in a fury and on a renew direction.
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