Many years ago, my kids figured out that if I was having a ‘bad’ week, or if there was extra stress and frustration in my life, they’d likely come home to find that the furniture had been rearranged. I jokingly said that I was expressing my dissatisfaction with my life through the creative rearranging of furniture. It became sort of a standing joke… but in hindsight it may well have been more than that.
On some level, I recognized that things were not as I wanted them ideally, and while moving furniture wasn’t necessarily the most direct route to whatever it was I was missing/seeking, it was something.
Fast forward to a few years ago. I was a middle aged divorced man, not dating anyone, interested in eventually being in a healthy, loving, mutually beneficial & respectful relationship. More than that, I knew that there was an amazing woman walking toward me. I had given her the name Gwen, and we ‘talked’ often, even though I did not know who she was, I knew how she felt, how she made me feel. I knew that I would know, and that each day, we were getting closer.
There was a fair amount of self evaluation going on, over these years, and realizations about myself, in some cases surprising, others troubling, floated in on a regular basis.
One realization was a belief that I’d lived my life to that point, to a large degree focused on the needs and desires of others. Spouse or significant other, kids, clients, church, volunteer service, with the promise to myself that ‘if there was time’ or ‘if there was energy’ when everything else had been handled, everyone else’s needs met, I’d focus on what I needed and wanted.
But even with kids grown, with no spouse or significant other (in that moment), I never seemed to get around to me.
It felt like I’d been living in a small box. Too small for a person of my size, to be sure. I felt like I’d become more uptight, angry and frustrated than I wished to remain.
So as I pondered that a bit, I realized that at least figuratively, it was time to let my hair down a bit. Interestingly, at about the time the ‘hair down’ realization landed, I had an appointment with the magician who does my hair, Ben at SalonRE.
As always, as I sat in the chair, Ben asked me what I wanted him to do. Unlike my normal answer of ‘just clean it up/tighten it up’, I told him the story of feeling like it was time to let my hair down in my life, and asked what better way to support that change than by letting my hair down? So I chose to grow my hair from it’s fairly close cropped style to a bit looser, longer, more relaxed.
And for a couple of years, we played around with how long is too long, how wild is too wild, how could I walk the line of letting my hair down without looking like a silly old man who was afraid of being his age.
During that process, Beth came into my life, turns out she is and was GWEN, the wonderful, beautiful, loving person I knew was walking toward me. We both knew it very quickly (at the time, some said TOO quickly, but when you know, you know).
Among the huge number of delightful things I discovered as the relationship with Beth grew, and as we planned and then held our wedding, just 6-months after reconnecting (we’d known each other 40-years earlier), and in the almost 2-years we’ve been married now, was how amazing it felt to have a beautiful woman who loves me, run her fingers through my hair as we were driving down the road.
It wasn’t lost on me, that the rearranging of furniture had become the rearranging of the hairs on my head. Expressing the need for an outward change in my life, triggered by the need for an inward change. The need for a change of perspective, or change in thinking, to lead me to the outcome I desired.
A few months ago, my life was feeling incredibly out of control. The job I was working was demanding, the pace we were going was unsustainable and there were days that my life felt like I was going 90 mph down the road in a bus. On one side was a bent rim, on the other a soft tire, and the driver was off his meds (acknowledging that as always, I am the person who is driving MY bus). Day by day, my stress built, my realization that it was time for one of the more significant life changes I was likely to complete.
As I looked at that, our furniture at home was not in need of movement. So as I sat in Ben’s chair and he asked me what I was thinking, I reminded him of the reason I’d grown my hair out…because had been time to let my hair down. I went on to explain that my life was feeling totally out of control, and as I looked at my fairly long hair, it occurred to me that and outward change to a more controlled, cleaner cut on the outside could help me regain a bit more control on the inside.
We talked a bit, and because I trust that Ben has a better handle on what would and would not look good with my hair, I asked him a question. I said: “If I walked in the door today, looking like I look, and said I wanted a different look, what would you do?” Not giving him time to answer, I said: “Do that.”
When Ben and I first met, I told him that I only had two rules when it came to my haircuts. 1st and foremost, I never wanted to walk out of his shop and have people point and laugh and 2nd, I made him promise that given the number of hairs on the top of my head that had decided that life was not worth living, before they exited, that when the day came that it was time to go totally bald on top, or buzzed or whatever, that he should not hesitate to tell me.
So it was a leap of faith, somewhat, that I turned my hair over to Ben. And I’m happy to report that so far at least, no one has pointed and laughed, and I’m not rockin’ the Kojak.
As I’m writing this, I know that there is more to the story than just furniture and hair. (you were hoping that, right?) For me, it’s about the changes that are going to come into our lives, whether we are ready or not, whether we realize they are coming, or not, and what we do with them.
In the area of leap of faith, I resigned from a Corporate position I’d held for almost 3-years earlier this spring. Now, I still list and sell real estate and likely will continue to. But much of my focus is on my Lifestyle Engineer practice. It is the building of a totally new business, in a field that while I’ve utilized the skills and knowledge in the other parts of my personal and professional life, for many years, THIS has never been the primary focus until now.
It is an interesting place to be. And some of the old ‘issues’ that have poked their head up over the years are poking up with a bit more insistence that it will not be enough for me to rearrange the furniture, or to rearrange my hair. This time, the pieces of this puzzle are the foundational pieces upon which my new business will be built, and consequentially the modified foundation for the way that Beth and I will very slowly grow old together.
So I’m taking time to honor that call, knowing that if I rush past, I’ll need to double back and deal with it properly, or worse yet, I’ll get knocked off my feet by a Universal 2×4 that will make it necessary for me to heal from the wake-up call before I double back to deal appropriately with what is called for.
It appears that the buzz words for the moment are Beth, love, joy, detachment from outcomes, forgiveness, allowing, meditation, music, grace, peace, intention, bourbon and an occasional cigar.
I’m committed that rather than stirring up the furniture or getting a wild haircut, this time I will take my time, enjoy the ride, honor my process, love unconditionally, ACCEPT love unconditionally and live as the man I came here to be.
Written June 11, 2014