Yesterday I was watching What Not To Wear while folding clothes.
I was watching only half-heartedly, distracted by my whites vs colors. Stacy and Clinton (LOVE. THEM.) were working with an ex-ballerina (Holly) who gained weight after not accomplishing her dream of becoming a professional dancer, and was having trouble accepting her new body.
Every time she looked in the mirror, put on clothes, or talked about her life during the episode, she would refer back to her "old body" or "when I could wear that" or "someday I'll fit into that again", or "how I used to be."
Finally Stacy cut her off, looked her straight in the eye, and said
"at some point you have to let go of who you WERE, and start celebrating who you ARE."
That stopped me (and ex-ballerina) in my tracks.
I thought, "Oh my gosh, she totally nailed it."
CHANGE is a scary word for many of us. For some, it literally gives us ulcers and keeps us awake at night. Why? Because the unknown is scary. Being vulnerable opens us up to getting hurt. Trying new things takes risk. We don't want to fail. We don't want people to think less of us. Change takes work. Change can be very, very hard.
Trust me, I know.
If you remember my story, my husband and I poured our heart, soul, sweat, blood, tears, and every dime to our name (including 100% of our hard-earned savings) into building a home...only to walk away from it (and all the money we put into it) so my husband could follow his dream of staring a business. It was unexpected. At the time, it didn't seem fair. It was hard. And more than anything, it was a huge, massive, cut-you-to-the-core disappointment.
The months following our walking away from the house were some of the darkest of my life.
I was mad.
I was frustrated.
I was exhausted - physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I would cry or curse every time I drove by that big, beautiful house (now someone ELSE's house), on my drive home to our tiny 2-bedroom town home in the ghetto of South Salt Lake.
I would get depressed logging into our bank and seeing big ZEROS where tens of thousands of dollars used to be.
And sadly, I even became embittered toward God.
"We felt so good about building the house. We prayed, and you told us it was ok. Why would you let us do something like that, knowing we would have to throw it all away? Why couldn't you have protected us from this?"
Well, as we all know, hind-sight is 20/20.
One day I simply grew TIRED of felling the way I did. I looked at myself in the mirror and I decided to make some changes.
1) I decided to be happy.
2) I decided to stop complaining about my situation.
3) And most importantly, I decided to DO something about it.
From that point on my life has never been the same.
Did I like the hand that was dealt to us?
Big. Fat. Heck. No.
Was it easy to change?
Another, even fatter, Heck. No.
But was it worth it?
I get teary even thinking about it... YES. YES. Oh my gosh YES.
God knew that in order for me to make MAJOR changes in my life, I would have to be knocked down to absolute ground zero and be forced to build myself up again. It was hard, but to date, it has led to the most incredible, amazing, astounding opportunities; ones that I could never dream or image for myself.
We became closer as husband and wife, it allowed me to have kids sooner (the greatest joy in our lives), it forced us to come up with all of the methods that I am now able to pass along to YOU (helping others), and it opened the door to blogging - another MAJOR (and unexpected) blessing. It forced us to refocus our lives, which has ultimately protected us again and again from other potentially catastrophic situations.
We are all faced with change and challenges in our lives. For me, it was losing a house. For some, it might be infertility. Losing a job. Moving. Losing a relationship or loved one. Challenges at work. Challenges with kids. Marital problems. Money trouble.
Whatever it is for you, it's hard, and it leads to change in some form or another.
So, what does that mean for YOU?
On the show, Clinton had a conversation with the ex-ballerina that went as follows:
Clinton: "Many people think it's about jumping head-first into the pond. When really, it's about stepping from lily pad to lily pad."
She answered with, "But what if you don't know where the end lily pad is or should be?"
Then he said...
"It doesn't matter, because the only lily pad you can focus on is the one right in front of you."
MAN those guys are GOOD! Isn't it true? Sometimes we get frustrated when we don't have all the answers, or we don't know EXACTLY where we are going. But life really is about taking things step by step. The lily pads might lead you in an entirely different direction that you thought you wanted in the first place, which is scary for some. But as I learned the hard way, sometimes it leads you in a BETTER direction than what you ever could have thought for yourself in the first place!
So, how do we embrace change?
Here are a few things that have helped me and my family:
- Learn to relinquish control. Have you heard the song, "Jesus Take The Wheel" By Carrie Underwood? That song has a lot of profound meaning in it. It's about letting go in a scary time in your life and understanding that often times you are NOT in complete control of what happens to you. What you ARE in control of is how you react to things, and what you do with the opportunity that has been presented. I finally accepted the fact that there was no way I could change what happened to us, so I decided to let go of the past, and move on. It was a huge burden and weight lifted from my shoulders once I realized that I can't be in control all the time!
- On the WNTW show the ex-ballerina kept talking about her old body and how she used to look. Stacy finally said "look, that's who you USED to be. I wish I had the body I had when I was 17, but I don't. Boo hoo! Get over it, and accept the NOW in your life." It's true! Sure, we can exercise and eat well. But we are ultimately NOT in control of how we age, how our bodies deteriorate and change over time, and we have NO control over our body-type and genetic makeup. Every time she looked in the mirror she would blame her body and herself for looking "bad" in a particular outfit. They helped her learn to accept and love it, and let go of comparing herself to others - because there is nothing she can do about it!
- Own up to it. I have a few people close to me that chose to take the Victim Role in life. We all know the type; nothing is ever their fault, they make excuses for everything, blame others, never own-up to their own problems, and worst of all, complain about their problems but choose to do nothing about them. Aren't those people exhausting?? Sadly, it's all to easy to do. I blamed everyone and everything around me for us losing the house. But ultimately, the decision was up to US! Once I took a step back and focused on the reason we made the decision to walk away from the house in the first place (because it was the best decision for our family and our future), I was able to drop the victim act and move forward.
- The other day I was talking to a woman I met who also happens to be a reader. She talked a lot about "back in the day" when her family was incredibly financially secure, and how they used to life. They lost all their money in an investment-gone-wrong, and she's never really gotten over it. She only knows and is comfortable with how things WERE, and she hasn't made peace with the HERE AND NOW. She hasn't fully let go, thus, she hasn't been able to move forward.
- Grab it by the horns. For heaven's sake, grab life by the cajones and MAKE something out of it! Don't sit back and let life happen to you, and certainly don't make excuses for it. Get out there, pound the pavement, and determine your own fate. If you want something, make it happen. Don't know how? Find a way. If you get a "no", try something new until you get a YES. Just. Do. It.
- For us, we sold our car. We stopped eating out. Tightened up on our budgets. We sold our furniture. We worked our tails off at work. Live by the 3-month rule. We focused 110% of our time, talents, and energy on accomplishing our goals of getting out of the massive debt we accumulated, and building up our savings again. We couldn't change what happened to us in the past, so we focused on changing our future. We had to take it one lily pad at a time, though, because if we had focused on an end "picture" then we would have short-changed ourselves...because we are happier than we ever even IMAGINED we could be!
- Focus on sacrifice. Sacrifice is giving up something good, for something better. Sounds simple, but this is quite possibly the hardest step. Many people look at my life (awesome house, lots of "toys" and gadgets, great family, lots of opportunities) and they think, "wow, you're so lucky!" or "man, I wish I made as much money as you!" or whatever it appears that has gotten us to where we are. What I eagerly explain to people is that we are where we are NOT because of the things we have, but because of the things we have SACRIFICED.
- We focused 2 entire years of our lives (and still continue to) COMPLETELY dedicating ourselves to the task of reshaping our lives. We gave up many things that people around us weren't willing to. Years later, we now HAVE more, DO more, and LIVE more than almost anyone I know...without making very much money, and certainly without having things handed to us...because we were willing to put off our immediate desires for the sake of the bigger picture.
- There is someone very close to me that struggles with this...but they have absolutely no idea. This person sees people around them (including me and my family) doing fun things, owning cool things, and living the life they want. THE VERY SECOND money hits this person's bank account, they run out and spend it on something they want...an unnecessarily nice house for their time of life. New car. Expensive toys. Clothes. Eating out. The list goes on and on. They are only focusing on what they want RIGHT NOW, and they think it's how to get the life they see "everyone else" living. Ultimately, this person will live in the moment for the rest of their life. They will constantly live getting by, rather than getting ahead; all because they aren't willing to put off the things they "need" or want, for something better.
- When we got married my husband taught me a motto that we decided to live by:
"Let's live like no one WILL for the next 5 years, so we can live like no one CAN for the rest of our lives."
We just celebrated our 6 year anniversary and guess what? It went by in a flash, we really didn't have to give up much in the grand scheme of things, and now 6 years later, we live an incredibly amazing life. Giving up something good for something better? Um, yes please.
And the last way to embrace change...
- Learn from it. Life is all about stumbling, falling, getting back up, and redirecting our steps. It's about growth, change, and experience. Isn't that our role as humans?? Come to this earth, get a vulnerable, flawed body, and learn as much as we can in the few years we are given...and then using those lessons to help as many people as possible. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, and expecting different results. Use the change in your life as opportunities to...well...CHANGE!
- Another part of learning from it is sharing what you've learned with others. It's a selfish thing, in my opinion, to go through a challenge and NOT share the lessons with others. Embrace it, learn from it, and pay it forward!
At the end of the episode, she was a completely different person. Once she EMBRACED the change in her life, she blossomed.
Holly (ex-ballerina) said, "It felt so good to finally let go of the past and open myself up to wonderful new things. I'm just glad that I took that risk. Who I was before doesn't have to define my identity any more...I can alter my situation to make it work for ME. I can go explore new parts of me; it's very refreshing and energizing. I feel like I can take on the world."
When her family saw her, these are the words they used to describe her:
Energetic. Happy. Glowing. Enthusiastic. Confident. Beautiful. Comfortable. Light.
I don't know about you, but watching that episode reminded me of how important it is to embrace change in our lives. I have a renewed sense of excitement for change. I plan to take every CHANGE in my life, use it to grow and learn from, and then blossom from the experience. It won't be easy, but the end result should be a life full of growth and blessings.
What CHANGE have you experienced in YOUR life? How have you learned and grown from it? Please leave a comment to share, I love hearing your stories!