Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sloshing Past the Doldrums

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I had attended a four-day seminar in Santa Barbara called LifeLaunch.  I didn't seek this out - it found me in the form of my friends who harassed me into going.  There were people at the seminar from all over - Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, etc. - and as we began on Day 1, they spoke about how they researched a variety of courses to eventually settle on this one.  When it was my turn to speak, I said that I had no idea what we would do here since I came at the request of my friends and had done little to no research about what to expect.  But, if I had been totally honest, I would have said that I went because this is my year of expecting more from myself (always mindful of my new year's resolutions).

LifeLaunch is really for people in transition, and I'm not actually at that point, having moved from grits to granola about a year and a half ago.  But I still don't feel as settled in Denver as I'd like and certainly don't feel at all like I did when I lived in Atlanta with my great life there.  It's been confusing to me to not be able to settle down the way I'd like, and it's been too long to continue to whine about it.  Right before I left for Santa Barbara, I read a quote that resonated with me, and I finally understood what was wrong. It's from Azar Nafisi, who wrote in Reading Lolita in Tehran (which I've never read but now want to):  "You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place . . . like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are at this time and this place, because you will never be this way, ever again."  This was exactly my problem.  I knew that I'd never be the person who I was in Atlanta, and it's a bit confusing to figure out who else I wanted to be.

The time spent at LifeLaunch was definitely worthwhile.  I've never spent four days of introspection before and may never again.  As you can see from the photo above, LifeLaunch divides your life into four phases with the idea that while all phases are necessary, the ultimate goal is to be in Phase I: "Go For It".  As the coaches explained the various phases, I realized that I had definitely been in Phase II: "The Doldrums" for a good part of 2011.  But now that we've made it to 2012, I found that I was sloshing (their term, not mine) between Phase II and Phase III:  "Cocooning", where you spend a good deal of time by yourself trying to figure out your next steps.  There are no limits to the number of times that an individual may go through these phases in a lifetime. The important thing is to not get stuck where you don't want to be, i.e. The Doldrums.

LifeLaunch utilized small groups and visualization of your goals.  It has its own vocabulary for the various exercises that we performed, such as "bouldering". Bouldering describes verbalizing your goals, specifying all of the negative things that you say to yourself to sabotage these goals (the boulders that keep you from achieving), and then both physically and mentally breaking through those boulders to get to the other side.  On Day 4, we spent all of our time creating detailed individual plans for how we would achieve the goals that we set for ourselves.  The plan includes dates for accomplishment, and I'm trying to stay on track.

This experience was actually a lot of fun - much laughter and getting to know a whole new group of varied people.  I came back feeling lighter, happier and more focused, though I can't exactly explain why.  Maybe I've sloshed my way into Phase IV: "Getting Ready"?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

California Dreaming

Birds of Paradise grow all over in California
Since I last posted on this blog, I've been to California twice.  The first trip was to the L.A. area where we spent a week in a cute rental house and did serial real estate hunting with our agent every day.  The result of this trip was that we have a contract on a house in South Pasadena.  As anyone who has ever bought or sold a house knows, any deal can sour until the closing, so I continue to keep my fingers crossed that it will work out.  This does not mean that we will move to California any time soon, but just that we will already own our retirement home when the time comes.

View from house with spiral staircase to rooftop deck

Our interest in this house proves a real estate adage that I've been told:  "Buyers are liars."  Originally, we told our agents that we wanted a condo near the beach in a walking neighborhood.  Well, this house is none of those things.  It's small, built in 1939 though has a modern California look.  The selling point is the beautiful 180° view as the house is high up in the hills.  If you would like to see photos of the house and view, shoot me an email and I will send you a link.

Santa Barbara

My second and more recent trip to California just ended on Sunday when I returned from what my daughter referred to as my "hippy retreat" in Santa Barbara.  In reality, I went to a seminar called LifeLaunch at The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara with my good buds from Atlanta, Cloe and Haley.  We had an amazing time.  Santa Barbara was so lovely; the seminar was very different from anything that I've ever attended and requires a lot more time to explain than I have right now; and I loved spending time with my wonderful friends.

Moi, Haley & Cloe - 3/3/12
(Photo by Jozef Lievens)

So a little over 2 months into 2012 and I'm happy to say that I have been working on my new year's resolutions - in particular, these trips to California work right into Resolutions # 2, 3, 5 and 8.  I review all of the resolutions often and hope to stay on track as the year goes by.