Fear Not The Dark Side. Understanding it is the Quickest Route Back to the Light.
Renovations are hell. Anyone who has undergone a renovation knows this. I should know this. I have lived through enough of them in my personal life to expect broken promises, and things to not happen as planned. But somehow, as with other challenges we welcome into our lives, we often go into them focused on all of the shiny and happy they will bring in the end and seem to forget about the discomfort and turmoil that happens on the road to getting there.
Let me just say close to the outset of this post that I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to have such problems. To be able to have an office to renovate is such a privilege and a blessing that to complain about things not happening as planned seems pretty ridiculous. And yet, as much as I managed to keep calm and carry on through weeks of delays, poor communication, and lack of follow through, even after I let go of timelines, plans for a big grand opening, and surrendered to the fact that much of this important project was out of my hands, I managed to reach a breaking point.
Here is a little video of me in the office at 7 am, on the day that this project was supposed to be completed (which was one of many “final” delivery dates that did not come to fruition). This is the calm before the storm.
While the renovations were happening, I set up shop in one of the boardrooms in the building. That day when I came back to the unit to pack up, I was delighted to discover that the appliances from my unit had finally been removed and were delivered to my house. I was chatting with my contractor, so happy to express my appreciation for some work being done after a week of nothing and was feeling hopeful as we discussed next steps via bluetooth on my way home. When I arrived, I hung up, and was greeted with this:
I immediately texted him with a picture of the scene and asked for him to contact his crew to come back to put the appliances inside the garage. His texted response was to tell me that his team were not returning and that he had explained this to my husband. That’s when I lost it.
I could not believe that these men could not make the effort to climb the stairs, ring the doorbell, to give the adult at home the opportunity to open the garage so that they could deliver the appliances properly. They clearly did not care. They did not care about me. They do not care about this project. How could I have people who do not care be involved in creating a space that is all about taking great care of people? And why is he talking to my husband and not to me? We had discussed this so many times. My husband had told him this over and over again and yet he continued to discuss plans with him and not me. I was just on the phone with him! No matter how I looked at it, all that I could see was evidence of disrespect and a lack of care and I was mad. So mad. A line had been crossed.
That evening was tough. I went for a walk by myself to blow off some steam, which was probably visibly coming out of my ears looney tunes style to anyone who was in my vicinity. It helped a little, but not enough.
I did not get much sleep that night as the frustration and anger and the uncertainty of not knowing how to proceed swam around and around in my head. It felt awful. Something needed to change. This was not me.
In my 2 am delirium I had this vision of going to my office with a big piece of paper (the kind you used to paint on with those messy easels in grade school) to write out a mission statement of sorts with a black sharpie. It went something like this:
This space is a place of healing and transformation
This is a safe space.
A place where all who enter can expect to be accepted, nurtured and cared for
in order to access and empower the divine within.
Every being who enters, no matter their role, is invited to take a moment to centre themselves in the purpose and focus of this space
So as to do their best work, with their highest level of skill, ability and care
In service of the divine within themselves, which ultimately functions to serve others.
With deepest gratitude and respect for your service
Your willingness to show up fully in all that you do
and share your divine light with us
My focus in writing this message was on the men hired to bring my vision to life. It was a desperate plea. An attempt to try to regain a sense of control of this thing that was not going as planned with a team whose actions communicated to me a lack of caring for something that I believed required the utmost care. It felt like everything was misaligned. This was my way of righting that.
And while the image of me writing this in big black letters and posting it on the wall was all about them, in the end it was really about me. I was the one who was misaligned. That message was for me. I was the one who needed to return to being a place of healing and transformation.
As soon as I crafted that statement in my head, something shifted for me internally. The anger, that I chose to accept and allowed myself to feel, started to dissipate. So much so, that two days later, when I came back to the space on a Sunday morning it felt like the anger, that at one point was overwhelming, was completely gone.
As I entered the unit with my friends to give them a tour, I was surprised to find my contractor and crew working away. To my surprise, and his, I immediately walked over after greeting him and, believe it or not, I actually gave him a big hug. I was able to express my genuine gratitude for him being there. I also grabbed him by the shoulders as I pulled back and told him to look into my eyes. As I pointed to my own eyes while I stared into his, I asked him to do a simple thing. To see me. I told him that I needed him to see me. I reminded him that my eyes existed before my husband existed. I exist. I needed him to see me. And seeing me meant that he needed to speak to me. No matter what, he always needs to speak to me.
He laughed and said he understood. We hugged it out again, and we both parted with smiles.
As I left I realized that just like the way my subconscious brought me back into alignment with the divine light within me, my anger was all about me too. I had projected my own values, and assumptions onto the renovation crew. I made the assumption that they could not be bothered, that they made a choice without regard or respect for how overwhelming it would seem to have to figure out moving appliances a few feet when for them it was so easy. The fact is, they were likely not conscious at all. Who knows what they were thinking? Their thoughts were somewhere else. And yes, thinking things through is a reasonable expectation to have of anyone we hire to do work for us. But the extent of my anger was about something else. I was the one who added the layers and made it into something much bigger than it likely was or needed to be. I was the one who has had too many experiences where I was overlooked, my opinion, undervalued, my voice unheard that predated the experience with this contractor. In the end, it was all about me.
Now I know some of you are wondering whether my internal shift resulted in a better outcome. The answer is, yes and no. The office is useable and I am delighted every day that I get to be in it. People tell me that they feel at home and some of the groups I have hosted hang out because they don’t want to leave. It means the world to me that people feel comfortable here. In this respect, my goal has been realized.
However, it remains a work in progress. I am still missing my internal doors, the lighting is not quite right and there are some other finishing touches that need to be completed. But whether with the original crew, or someone else, it will all get done. And more importantly, I am not stressed or distracted by it. I am focused and relaxed and my energy is where it needs to be. And I am confident that I will be able to maintain this mindset, regardless of how long it takes for the vision for my office to be realized.
The point of this story is not so much about the outcome, it’s about the process. It’s always about the process.
I do not regret feeling my anger. I did regret expressing it to those who were undeserving (e.g., hubby) and apologized for it. But I do not regret allowing myself to feel it. It pushed me to explore why I felt so strongly, which ultimately led me to understanding and affirming my values, my purpose and even my existence. The solution that arose was fantastical and weird and perfect in its own way. It allowed me to come back to me. And I am happy to say that I have been even more conscious about choosing how I want to feel and what I want to experience each day, especially those days that have the potential to be hard for whatever reason.
Designing Your Life is all about assuming responsibility for your inner world. It is the only way to have true control and to live the kind of life you want to live.
So as we enter a new year, I ask you, are you willing to face your “dark side” with compassion, and acceptance with a focus on understanding the source of your distress? If not, consider that it might just be the most efficient and effective way of reconnecting with your light.