Life Is Happening For You, Not To You

my house under renovations “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” – Albert Einstein

If you’ve been with me a while, you know that we have been renovating our house. For over a year now. Here’s an update on that: We are still renovating our house. As of today, the shingles are half-on, the basement is still completely unfinished, we have no coat racks or towel racks or bookcases, or front door, for that matter. We do have plumbing and electrical for a new bathroom, a new water heater, a new whole-house water filtering system, a bunch of new windows, and 7/8 of a new wrap-around porch.

It would be easy for me to stew in frustration about how long it’s taking. In fact, sometimes I do. =) But then I remember how fabulous the house will be, and in not too long. How it’s an honor to restore an old home to its original integrity. And what a privilege it is to craft a house that really reflects who we are and what’s important to us. And then I generally either cook up some project in the yard (this past weekend the kids and I planted bulbs) or go on Pinterest and look up creative storage solutions for the mountains of hats, gloves, scarfs, and jackets that currently have no functional home.

One of those yard projects I cooked up for myself involved buying two beautiful planters to put out in front of our house. Since we don’t have a front door (which in feng shui is the equivalent of not having a mouth), I wanted to put something out front that said to the world, “We live here, we hope you’ll forgive all the racket and dust we create each day, welcome to our jobsite.” It was a fairly involved project – buying the planters, taking the kids to the plant store, corralling the kids to help me get the plants in to the planter, rolling the planters out to the front of the house.

My husband, although he understood where I was coming from, really wasn’t on board with the idea. “We’re under construction. Our contractors are going to have to move them several times. They are sitting in the only spot we have to put the trash cans out.”

I heard him out but then I went and put them out anyway. And yes, the contractors had to move them several times and they got in the way of the trashcans. So I rolled them to the back yard while the sidewalk and front steps were being constructed. Finally, the cement trucks had come and gone and the front stairs were framed out. So, two weeks ago, I rolled them back out to the front.

The next morning, they were gone. Disappeared. I was so mad!! Incensed, even. I was about as mad as I have ever been, to think of someone driving up, putting those planters I’d put so much thought and energy into, and driving away. Oooh, I would really like to hurt someone right about now, I thought.

So if I had the mindset that life happens to me, I would have held on to that anger. Or maybe felt defeated. Instead, I thought about it, and talked it over with my coach. Here’s what I think now about how I co-created the disappearance of those planters that were the perfect shade of celadon:

I needed someone to be mad at.

I was sincerely frustrated at how long the house has been taking. And yet, who is there to be mad at? Our contractor is doing the best he can. My husband, who is managing the project and doing a lot of the work himself in his spare time, is doing the best he can. The situation is the way it is because the situation is the way it is. But I needed a focus for my frustration, so I didn’t have to seethe, or make comments that would only make my husband or contractor feel like I didn’t appreciate the great amount of care and time into.

Thank you, life, for sending me a release valve.

This is the kind of switch that happens when you adopt the worldview that the universe is a benevolent place.

Can you imagine hearing that your beloved babysitter is giving her notice, and think “This must just be an opportunity to find a situation that suits us even better, even if we hadn’t become aware of how our current reality was stifling us?”

Or hearing your company announce that another round of layoffs is coming down the pike, and trusting that it’s just what you need just when you need it?

I mean, getting to the point where you take all potentially bad news in total stride doesn’t necessarily happen immediately (although it can – focusing on the good is certainly a muscle you can develop). Sometimes you’ve got to talk it out with someone, do some hardcore journaling, give yourself permission to swim around in the feelings the news initially triggers. But trusting in the idea that life is happening for you gives you somewhere to go after that initial wave.

It also opens you up to receive the gifts that inevitably come on the heels of a nudge from the universe. Last week, I got a balance ball chair in the mail. I have no idea who sent it or why (although I do blog for Gaiam, who manufactures the chair – perhaps it was a gift? It’s a mystery.). But the day after I got it, a friend called to say she had just seen a great available office space, would I be interested in going to see it? A great space at a perfect price just fell in to my lap, just at the point when working from home (aka the jobsite) was starting to give me fits. And I even have a brand new office chair to furnish it with.

Thank you, life, for knowing what I need even before I’m fully aware of it!

Believing that we live in a friendly universe is fundamental to everything else. The end. But it’s not a message you get from a lot of places – not your family, your friends, and certainly not the evening news. So you heard it here first, folks. =) Start looking for the evidence, and you’ll keep finding more and more proof.


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