MAKING POSITIVE CHANGES DURING CHALLENGING TIMES
Have you ever made the decision to leave a situation you still very much loved?
Sometimes the courses we choose cause us to grieve.
My move to California in July of 2010 was a brilliant choice, even if the first few years were challenging as I discovered my place in a community seventeen times larger than Minnehaha County, South Dakota where I was from. Eventually, I amassed wonderful friends through yoga, Landmark, and Secret Knock. Places previously unknown that had no meaning to me before I moved became sacred, joyous locales. I fell in love with this city on the Pacific. The people, culture, architecture, parks, trails, beauty, and, of course, the ocean thrilled me. I was very proud to call San Diego home.
Think of a time you made a choice that ended up being brilliant. This could be a time when you absolutely fell in love with something, someone, a place, or a community that was new and suited you so well.
San Diego was such a time, a place and a community for me. So, it may sound very discordant to announce that at the beginning of May I made a decision. I chose to move back to South Dakota with a huge smile in my heart.
UNDENIABLE SADNESS: MISSING MY AMAZING SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY & WONDERING IF I WILL EVER FIND THAT SAME SENSE OF COMMUNITY IN SIOUX FALLS.
Looking back on my decade in San Diego, I can see the natural progression of my life and sense of community there. What a glorious experience it came to be! I can proclaim with confidence, that during the last decade I was pleasantly occupied with joy, struggle and growth.
But could I see that during my first few years in San Diego?
While I knew that I loved the challenge of living there, I was often lonely. I vividly recall being so grateful that I had yoga class on Friday, Saturday and Sunday because I didn’t have anything else going on in my social calendar. In those early years I quite missed my life and community in Minnehaha County. This is paramount for me to remember now as I once again embrace a new experience. Even though I’ve moved back to an area I’ve known my whole life, I return a different person than I was when I left and the experience from this perspective is fresh and filled with new discoveries.
In these beginning, awkward, imperfect, stages of newness, looking back with longing is a natural side effect. Part of me would give anything to grab my shorts and head off to a yoga class at Pilgrimage of the Heart and, afterward, grab a blackened salmon burrito before embarking on a sunset walk with one of my dear San Diego friends.
But I’m over a thousand miles away, and can not.
This longing is real.
So is the sadness that accompanies it.
I am grieving.
I COULD BLAME MY DECISION ON COVID-19 JUST LIKE I USED TO BLAME MY DISCOMFORT WITH LIFE ON MY DISABILITY
With COVID-19, the San Diego I deeply loved and said a wholehearted YES to, changed overnight. My beloved yoga studio closed indefinitely. Gathering in locales I once frequented was no longer safe. Nor was meeting up with friends. The beaches were closed, the hiking trails blocked off. Zoom was prescribed instead. I was faced with living alone in a tiny apartment. When you read “tiny apartment” an image probably comes to mind. Take that image and shrink it two or three times. Yes, my San Diego apartment was a dream come true before Coronavirus but suddenly felt about as appealing as a rusty mouse trap. If I had stayed in San Diego, I would have had to grieve the loss of my San Diego life as I knew it, then also face the reality of being unable to safely travel to South Dakota to see my parents and family.
So, staying in San Diego would not have come without its own sense of loss and sadness.
Have you ever experienced this with a tough decision? That there just wasn’t a perfect answer? That no matter which way you would have chosen, some degree of loss and sadness was inevitable?
I could easily delude myself into thinking, if not for COVID, I would still be living blissfully in San Diego.
BUT everyone didn’t leave San Diego because of COVID-19. I would assume just as many, if not more people, live there now as when I choose to leave in March.
Yes, I CHOOSE to leave San Diego.
Why is this distinction important to me?
Because if I go around feeling that I was forced to leave San Diego, that I was the victim of a pandemic, I would also be mourning the loss of control over my life AND be far less likely to consciously seek out happiness and move forward with my new life in South Dakota.
Have you ever blamed a tough decision on something beyond your control instead of taking ownership over it?
While all of this factored into my decision, none of it is a reason I had to leave San Diego.
UNDENIABLE OPPORTUNITY IN SOUTH DAKOTA- A CHANCE TO BE CLOSE TO MY PARENTS, RENEW FRIENDSHIPS, AND MAKE NEW ONES
If we focus only on the sadness and loss that comes with change, we run the risk of blinding ourselves to the opportunity that comes with change.
I’ve chosen my new course and vacated my San Diego apartment. Now the question before me is how can I invest the same energy into starting over and building something new in South Dakota as I once did in the life I loved in San Diego?
To answer this question, I’m choosing to start with acceptance and acknowledgement. The real tragedy would be living in South Dakota, while always longing to be in San Diego. So, I choose to turn my focus away from what was and set about focusing on the opportunities I have before me now, as I settle in South Dakota.
I love living near my parents. In fact, right now I live really near them–near as in their basement. I love renewing friendships in Sioux Falls and starting new ones. I love that my work as a professional speaker and perseverance coach is going so well, that it could adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19, and that I feel more productive than I ever have in my life. I love that I’m doing land projects on my parent’s acreage. And I love discovering joy in unexpected places, like walking endless miles down gravel roads and photographing the beauty that surrounds me. I am deeply grateful that I can experience all of this freedom while keeping safe social distance and sheltering with my parents.
That’s a lot to love.
Imagine if I just laid in bed all day, mourning my old life. I would miss all of this love and enjoyment.
Actively discovering South Dakota anew is the motion that relieves much of the sadness I feel about leaving San Diego.
HERE ARE SOME IDEAS TO CONSIDER AS YOU TURN YOUR SADNESS INTO MOTION:
1 – When you make a decision, consciously take ownership of it instead of blaming your need to make it on something outside of your control.
2 – Accept the challenge of the process, don’t expect clear answers or direction to be immediately apparent.
3- Recognize and allow the sadness you feel about what you are leaving. This sadness is natural. It is part of the process. And it’s ok.
4- At the same time, don’t get stuck in the sadness. Pay attention to the opportunities that arise along the course you have chosen. Make a conscious effort to seek these opportunities out. They might not be immediately apparent but they are there, awaiting your discovery.
5 – Recognize and embrace each step you take, no matter how small. Motion relieves sadness.
JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment. He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.
He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.
His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.