Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Change Junkie, Part 2

Here I am at The Little House In The Woods By The Lake (TLHITWBTL), listening to classic rock on SiriusXM and watching big lazy fat solid white raindrops fall from the sky. If it were December, I would call it snow.

It occurs to me that it’s a slow news day when you have to quote yourself to have something to say. But last night, I had a talk with myself about what’s going on in my life. It went something like this:

Me: You are a change junkie. You know that.

Myself: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

Me: Well, when are you going to settle down and stick with one thing? What will people think when you keep on changing everything?

Myself: OK, here it is. Yes, I am a change junkie. I am probably never going to settle down and stick with one thing. And I finally find myself able to say truthfully that I don’t care what people will think about it.

I first wrote about being a change junkie last January, when I concluded a post as follows:

Choices, choices, choices. I am probably a change junkie, because with the sense of power that conscious choice gives me, I really actively seek change and feel restless when there is no change on the horizon. What I love about my life changes, so my focus is constantly changing too.

So bring it on, life: bring on my fix. Bring on the changes.

Eighteen months earlier, I’d experienced enormous change in the death of my husband, Tom. In that experience, I had found the reality of what I had taught in my workshops — that to manage change constructively, we must identify what part of the situation we can control, and focus our energy there. That process involves making conscious choices about what to do with that energy.

Most of 2014 has been devoted to working through changes, most of them of my own choosing. In February, I sold my house near Lansing and made TLHITWBTL my full-time home. I invested a great deal of energy over the following months on getting the house up here near Tawas City the way I wanted it. I hired a builder to add on a garage; I insulated and drywalled the garage myself, painted the exterior of the main part of the house myself, and spread and leveled two truckloads of stone myself. I hiked in the woods. I made new friends, played golf and played cards, got on a couple of bowling leagues, became more involved in the parish life at my church, and volunteered for a local hospice service.

I continued my knitting projects, completing and delivering no less than 4 Grannie Love Blankets in the first 10 months of the year.

I traveled, visiting my brother in Georgia twice and making a trip to Wyoming and back.

A few visitors came to TLHITWBTL, and I made a couple of trips back to Lansing — most notably in October, when my younger daughter married her guy.

And I constantly battled an odd combination of restlessness, anxiety, and a sort of fear. I finally pinned it down: There was no change on the horizon. On top of that, I really missed having family time, and that 2.5-hour drive was a lot easier for me to make than it was for the rest of them.

The idea came out of nowhere, quite unexpectedly, and once it had formed it was unstoppable. Why not re-establish a second home in Lansing? TLHITWBTL would still be my main home, but I could find a studio or small apartment in Lansing and spend as much time there as I wanted, near the people I love most.

Once I verbalized the idea, it took on a life of its own. A week after the wedding, I traveled back to Lansing for the sole purpose of looking at apartments. The first one on the list was a nice one-bedroom in a very well-kept older complex. The current tenant wanted to move to a two-bedroom unit but could not do so until the one-bedroom unit had a new tenant. What a sweet deal I got! Pet deposit waived, heat included in the very reasonable rent, free laundry facilities right next to the apartment, great location and neighborhood, lots of green space… Never let it be said that I take long to make a decision. I concluded that it would be a waste of time to look at other places, and signed a lease on the spot. This coming week, I will move in. JD, the little brown spotted puppy dog, will once again be convinced that I can’t make up my mind where we live, but it will soon be (a second) home to him. And I will have something new to put my energy into over the winter months.

Already, I can hear you asking : So what will you do when you have that new place all fixed up, and you get restless again? What will you do when the novelty wears off?

I have the answer, even though I categorically reject the negative implications of those questions. When it comes time for something new, when my psyche and my soul begin to crave the fix of a new change again, then I will find the right change and I will put my energy into it. And if life throws me a change I am not expecting or that I do not like or want, I will form up my choices and my energy around it and work through it.

You see, most of my life — growing up, working, raising children, being married — I accepted as normal and desirable something that I now recognize as a trap. I accepted that the desirable state is for things to stay the same, that we are better off when we know what to expect day after day — and get what we are expecting. I accepted that happiness could be found in avoiding change. Even when I came to a point of understanding that I like change, even seek it out, I explained it by labeling myself a “change junkie” — as though that were a bad thing.

The “Aha!” moment: The incredible realization that Change. Is. Good. Not in the semi-humorous way people say it when they are faced with a change they didn’t seek but still have to adjust to…but in a wholehearted acceptance that change is as necessary to me as oxygen — and it is OK to go looking for it.

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