When I saw this quote several months ago, it resonated deeply and I’ve been holding it ever since.
So often we define ourselves by what we have, what we have accomplished, and by “what life has done for us recently”. It can be easy to minimize our past successes and forge ahead with newer and bigger aspirations, often with despair or annoyance for the middle ground we stand on. As a recovering perfectionist, this is something that comes up for me a lot.
Acceptance. I’ve never liked the word. It’s always felt like another term for settling- a concept I try keep as far a distance from as possible. And patience? Also not a fan. These words yell STAGNANCY to me, and make me feel very uncomfortable. I prefer decision, initiative, resourcefulness, manifestation. I believe we’re each responsible for creating our own reality, and that waiting idly by is not a stance for success.
Which is why anyone whose had a conversation with me in the past couple years knows my deep frustrations with our living situation and how it’s affected the rest of my life. Despite our best efforts to make our Spirit House (ha) appear for nearly 3 years now- it has not.
The backstory: when we found out I was pregnant in Nov of 2014, we thought we’d move out of our 600 sq ft Venice Beach apt soon after. But then figured what’s the rush? and decided to save money and wait until the spring, so we’d still have time to nest before the baby was due that summer. May came and went. We weren’t ready to move to the other side of town where we could afford the size home we wanted; I was afraid of being isolated with a newborn and wanted to be near friends and in our walkable hood. So we stayed, agreeing that newborns don’t need that much space. I nested by borrowing a co-sleeper from a friend, getting rid of the guest bed in my office, and replacing it with a rocking chair, a baby dresser doubling as a changing table, and a bookshelf to hold his sweet little toys. It was fine and cozy in those first months, and I felt very bohemian-minded in all my light living-ness.
Then in January, we left for Nicaragua, expecting we’d move when we returned in March. We loved our time abroad, but it was another temporary living situation without the comforts of a home. We returned to LA with a speedy little crawler and two anxious dogs who made their upset to be back in a small space clearly known, especially with Ben impeding on their limited floor space. It was more cramped than ever and stressful for everyone but we stayed sane by focusing on buying a house in LA- however the universe kept slamming doors in our face to the point that it became laughable.
By then it was June and through a series of happenstances it became clear that the reason we hadn’t found a home in LA was because we were meant to move to Ojai. We were overjoyed at this turn of events, and so grateful to have a direction- except for that our house wasn’t showing up there either. We moved anyway. Leap and the net will appear, right? Packing up everything we owned into a pod, we found a furnished month-to-month rental as a landing pad. It was not one of those cute earthy cottages nestled in the woods as I’d envisioned, but it was literally the only option that didn’t fall through.
We were thrilled at first- we had way more space than in Venice, loved the incredible neighborhood with its cute nightly ice cream truck, the dogs were visibly more relaxed with their new indoor-outdoor access, and the hot tub, orange tree, and complete privacy through every window was just the “new” we needed.
We thought we’d be there a month, maybe two. But six months later… hello!! We’re still here. And all the lovely things I mentioned above? Their novelty has worn off. We still have zero of our things and crave to be in a space that feels like our own. We miss everything from our bikes to our garlic press. (While I try not to be too attached to “things”, wow has this past year taught me which ones make life so much better!) I’m writing this post from a folding table with a towel draped over it the corner of the guest room/ office/ dog room. Ben still sleeps in a pack’n’play, and his room motif is leopard print. Our bodies and sleep are suffering from couches and beds that aren’t meant for long-term living. I could go on. But while I’m harping on the aesthetics, that’s not what it’s really about. I mean it is- to an extent- but more than that, it’s about how hard it’s been to stay patient, waiting for that moment when we can finally let go of that “sitting tight” feeling, for when we can finally relax, set down roots, and truly make a home.
And it’s about how much I’ve let my living situation define me. How much I’ve let that nagging voice saying our house is never spacious enough, bright enough, “us” enough, welcoming enough, good enough- prevent me from leading the kind of life I wish to live.
Through all of this, I’ve sometimes thought about that “how to have a beach body” print as it relates to a house: “How to have people over for dinner- have them over, give them dinner.” It really is that simple! And yet–
Why then do I still feel like our entire life is hinged on finding the perfect spirit house? The funny (annoying) thing is that in order to bring something into your life, you must be living as you would if you already have it. We’ve all had the experience of thinking “I’ll start doing this WHEN (fill in your own blank)- but the universe doesn’t work that way. Only when we’re grateful for the things we have are we able to receive the things we want.
Acceptance. Although in the past I’ve considered it as an excuse for passivity, I’ve now come to understand it not only as an important sanity preservation tool, but also as a vehicle in the process of manifestation. That it’s possible to both acknowledge desires and make strides toward them without railing against the truth of the present. And how important it is to live where we are in life even when we don’t love it- and most of all when don’t even like it.
Besides, there is something to be said for transitional time, and Danielle Laporte’s Love the Egg You’re In, says it perfectly.
And as obvious at it seems, it really struck me to appreciate that I am not the same person or in the same place in life as I was when I lived on Drew Street at age 11. Or at Uni House apartments at 19. Or on Clement Ave at 22, or whatever place we live when I’m 46 or 83. That this moment, the one where we live in what we jokingly call our 2-star hotel, with Ben’s leopard print room, his home when he was 20 months old, and everything else that goes along with this time in our life is so fleeting. The moment we’re in now is just our setting, not our reflection.
So if you too have been letting your circumstances define your sense of self, remember:
We are constantly evolving and life is always flowing. Relationships will change. Bodies will shift. Your mind will expand. Belongings will be acquired and purged. Your income will go up and down and up again. Houses will get bigger and smaller. Your preferences will surprise you, your circumstances will evolve. But you, the one who has little to do with any of this, will remain through it all as the witness, the memory keeper, the engine, the life-liver. Where you are is not who you are.