At the start of 2019, I had a discussion with a friend about the way the government shutdown had been making me feel like a sitting duck.
We’d met up at the bowling alley so our kids could play together, and our light conversation had grown serious. It was right after Christmas, my hubby had just missed his first paycheck, and while we were not in panic mode (yet) I knew many, many families who were. There was a sense of our “security” being ripped out from under us and it was terrifying.
But amid the crashing of pins that day, as our kids happily rolled their balls down the lane, my friend mentioned this word:
She reminded me that it’s not just in military-family situations like mine that this happens. It’s everywhere. It happens to people of all classes and trades. And I knew she was right. I see it in all the ways people avoid change. The way they fear it. They settle for what they have, or what they are given, because it is more comfortable than going after what they truly want.
Complacency is easier and safer… until it’s not.
That word hit me so deeply, and it has stuck with me ever since. It moved me to stop sitting around waiting, and to take action toward what I truly want. And as the idea of “complacency” bounced around in my brain over the days and weeks to come, I found myself feeling worn out from doing things the same way I always had been. The trusty old normal wasn’t working for me anymore.
It took me a little while but finally I realized why: I was settling. Coasting. Following others instead of forging my own path. Allowing life to just happen to me. This wasn’t “bad,” per se. It just was. My life felt pleasant enough… but somehow stagnant. Stale. Comfortable, yes, but lacking the freedom and ease that I craved. I was complacent.
So I made a decision. A pivot. A promise.
I was done investing time, energy, and money into activities and objects that didn’t feel good or align with my values.
I was done throwing my precious resources away on stuff that didn’t enhance my quality of life.
For too long, I’d allowed “experts” to convince me that I needed to ignore the voice inside that told me their way was not the way that was best for me. I was done with that, too.
I’d reached a crossroads… and decided to honor my bones-deep ache to get back to basics:
- Live SIMPLY
- Consciously CREATE the life I truly want
- Prioritize true CONNECTION
- EXPERIENCE more and consume less
- Create OPEN SPACE in my physical, mental, emotional environments
- CUT THE FLUFF in my life, the time-wasters and stress-makers, even the “necessities” of this 21st century life like Facebook and Netflix… because sitting and looking at screens all day does not bring me HAPPINESS, and I want to focus on what does
Allow me to offer a teensy glimpse into how this pivot has manifested in my life.
For the past 20 years, we’ve moved when and where the military tells us to go. We’ve been assigned units in military housing, always in clean and comfortable condition but with no choice as to location. Our latest move, however, was not military-mandated.
It was joy-mandated.
Life had me feeling listless, trapped in a pit of discontent. I didn’t love our cookie-cutter townhouse in the middle of the Illinois cornfields, and yet there we were, mandated to pay over a third of my husband’s salary to live in that place. We were so settled into believing that military housing was the safest, most affordable, “best” way to go that we hadn’t even looked into other options at this location. It took being slapped in the face with the uncertainty of our finances—and coming to terms with my truest desires—before we even considered making a change.
With some research I discovered that we could cut that expense almost in half by relocating to the city… and cut down his commute to work… and be closer to lots of fun activities and resources for the kids (we homeschool so this is extra important)!
So we purged half our stuff and sold or donated it, and moved ourselves and what was left of our belongings into an adorable 1920s brick bungalow in a gorgeous, quiet neighborhood of St Louis. We are within walking distance of the library, a family-owned market, multiple parks, and a 90-year-old frozen custard stand on Route 66.
The house has hardwood floors, stained glass windows, a kitchen garden window, a fireplace, arched doorways… The antique crystal doorknobs spark happy childhood memories of spending time at my granny’s house… And the porch, oh the porch! It is the most perfect place for sitting and sipping my coffee in the morning while I read or write.
This was my dream home. It was exactly what I wanted.
Once I acknowledged what I desired, and started looking… it showed up.
When I stopped being complacent and took an active role in my life, deciding what it was that I wanted and insisting that my life bring it to me, it showed up! Instead of settling, I now feel settled. For the first time in forever, I feel at home.
And even now, amid this pandemic, when “security” is again shown to be little more than an illusion, I remember that conversation with my friend and I remind myself: Complacency is easier and safer… until it’s not.
But making your own choices and walking your own path? Staying true to yourself and living in alignment with your values? That is the space in which we can always feel secure.