A Few Things I’ve Learned About Living From Scratch

Since I left my full-time job five weeks ago, I’ve noticed and learned several things about transitioning to this new life, this unformed life that I am now living from scratch. Here is the list I have so far:

Pros:

  • While spending most of my time working outside of my house, I definitely did not notice or did not have time to be disturbed by the collections of cobwebs, dust, and just dirtiness in all of the nooks and crannies of the house. Wow, here it is in front of me now! (This is a good thing.)
  • I no longer need to tote around a “daily living” bag, as I am already home or mobile enough to access whatever I might need during the day regardless of the unpredictable situations that might occur – you ladies know the bag I am describing.
  • I immediately got more time with my husband.
  • MANY people have shown and voiced their love for me and support of me.
  • My cat is not alone for 12 or more hours a day.
  • On one particularly overwhelming day, I took some advice from my counseling and coaching training and created an inspiration board. It helped me externalize and visualize my varied desires, and it caught the attention of my husband’s oldest daughter. She and her friend decided to do one together and she hung it in her room. That was a cool moment:)
  • I’ve been saying “yes” to many things that I can now do now that my time feels more like it is my own. I attend networking events, meet more people and have great and helpful conversations. I am also volunteering a bit. AND, wonders upon wonders, I can run errands during the calm hours of the daytime! (Rather than screeching out of work two minutes early hoping no one cares only to curse the slow drivers and hope to goodness I can make it to the cleaners before they close.)
  • For the first time in years, I used a gift card from a lovely friend to buy NON-sensible boots:) These are boots I would not have worn to the office.
  • Upon week 5, I finally realized that I felt rested. I learned that rest is not just about the number of hours you spend in the bed. It is about the way you use your energy in your waking AND sleeping hours.
  • I now recognize what stress feels like because I don’t feel it constantly, and I have more options to combat negative stress now that my schedule is more flexible. In a concrete way, this has equaled fewer migraines and more smiles.
  • There are others out there who greatly value living differently, are doing it themselves, and celebrate my efforts to find my own way.
  • I appreciate learning from friends who are generous with their time and insight and have gone before me in paving their own paths.
  • I’ve flip-flopped many times on what I would like to focus on as a profitable endeavor (making money again!), and I am zeroing in on something. It’s getting interesting. We shall see.
  • Lastly, I can get A WHOLE LOT MORE done in less time on my own than in a traditionally structured work environment. There’s nothing magical about an 8-hour, 10-hour, or 12-hour work day.

Challenges:

  • I had so little margin of time while running around like crazy and working my traditional job. Now I have to rediscover times to eat, work out, wake up etc… It is not the tiniest thing to retrain my brain to actually listen to my body for these cues rather than follow a predetermined script. Also, my body is not making a smooth adjustment to these changes.
  • I catch myself looking for stress that I am used to feeling, almost as though I am trying to manufacture that which is familiar, even if it is negative.
  • I am dealing with feelings of guilt. My husband and most of my friends and family are still plowing through the daily grind, with plenty of stress as proof of their hard work. This is an odd and sometimes stifling feeling.
  • All of a sudden, everyone has advice, whether I asked for it or not, and it feels like EVERYONE has an opinion about what I am doing.
  • Some people who love me are sometimes the ones who bring me down and zap my energy based on their own doubts, worries, and fears. This is unintentional, though significant in its impact.
  • I liken the first two weeks to a total detox complete with migraines, stomach aches, restlessness, confusion, wasted energy, fear, and surrender. (And I somehow managed to get food poisoning during this time as well, though I am certain that is not a mandatory part of this phase!)
  • One day, I was paralyzed with uncertainty and feelings of bewilderment – I watched the “Sex and the City” movie two times in a row…and then I moved on and the spell seemed to be broken.
  • It gets lonely in the house by myself. Thank goodness for my cat Rosa.
  • Somewhere in week two I realized that my brain was tricking me into starting to think that the women on the food network are my new friends. This is of course not the case, and in week five, I notice that I don’t keep the TV on anymore.

Somewhere In Between:

  • I’ve counted – there are 18 billion and 2 articles to read online about how I should be navigating this time right now.
  • I have far more questions than answers, and I’ve decided that being a little uncomfortable is a good thing right now.  I’m shaking things up. Of course it’s uncomfortable at first.
  • I am not sure where structure belongs in all of this yet.
  • I finally got a smartphone. Yes, I’d been holding out.
  • In the first few weeks, I felt like a new born giraffe learning to walk every day.
  • Confession time: If I didn’t have a feminist streak or feel some sense of social responsibility, I realize that I could be capable of hanging out on a beautiful beach all day every day. In short, I am not a natural workaholic.
  • I tried to change everything I could think of all at once. I wanted to incorporate everything I felt I’d been missing in the first day – Exercise! Eat better! Get more sleep! Try all my new ideas! Clean the whole house! Organize the whole house! – PHEW! This backfired on me a bit, and I had to take a step back and regroup.
  • I did spend the first two days cleaning and reorganizing everything I could get my hands on in the house.
  • I no longer have neat and clean answers for common questions such as, “What did you do today?” and “How are you?”

If you are pondering taking a leap of faith into a new life, can you daydream about what that first day might be like? Can you make a list of the things you’ll be excited to do and experience along the way? How does it feel to ponder such an opportunity?

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