Okay here’s a big disclaimer. I do NOT treat fear lightly. Nor do I treat the process we often need to go through related to overcoming fear, as if it were easy. It’s not. It really is a bitch. Believe me. As you read this article, you will see that’s been true for me.
At the same time, I wanted to share a bit of my own transformation and how I have come to understand more about the nature of fear and what it means to overcome it….
As you may know, in a couple weeks I’ll be moving to Santa Monica, California. And as you may also know, I’ve been wanting to move there for years.
What may surprise you is how MANY years. 25 to be exact. Wow. A move twenty five years in the making!
So what the heck is that all about? And what kept me back all this time?
Bold Moves Are In My DNA
I mean, you’ve probably read somewhere how I mention having lived all over the country, I’ve driven across the entire U.S., in move-related drives, a half dozen times over the years. I’ve even lived in LA, Central California, and the San Francisco Bay area multiple times.
So what’s stopped me from living in Santa Monica?
It’s not the cost of living. Heck, living in Brooklyn, and Marin County, and even Capitola was essentially around the same cost of living overall.
No. It’s fear.
The Quick Back Story
I first realized I wanted to live in California, twenty five years ago. Actually that’s not right. The FIRST time I was fascinated by California was when I was a teenager – and my first attempt to go west from New York came at the ripe old age of 18. That attempt landed me in Oklahoma. WOW.
Yeah, I hitched a ride with my brother and a friend of his on their move west. And we ran out of money in Oklahoma. Ended up getting a job, at 18 years old, digging ditches. Terrible experience overall. Lasted 3 months before moving back home.
A Golden (State) Opportunity
So it wasn’t until the year my sister invited me to come stay with her and be my oldest nephew’s live-in nanny when he was just 9 months old, that I actually got to California the first time. I was freshly into 12 step recovery, and didn’t have any other commitments. So I was both humbled she’d ask me, and at the same time jumped at the chance!
It was magic that first time up in Marin. The weather was PERFECT. Every Day! (summer can be like that in Marin). And in fact, I made that trip on a 3 day bus ride the week of my birthday, which is coming up on July 19th.
Destiny Reveals Itself
Anyhow, it was that first trip out, one day I took the car and drove down the coast to Big Sur. And on the drive back, stopped and watched the sunset. OMG right there, in that moment, with the sun blazing its orange glow over the glistening Monterey bay, I was hooked. And knew I’d have to make it my permanent home.
Long story short, even though I returned on and off several times over the course of the next several years (averaging two – three weeks at a time), it wasn’t until I got married that I made the first move.
As much as I love my sister, I felt drawn to live further south – where the beach doesn’t require a sweatshirt in the summer (yeah for it’s “perfect” weather, Marin can get really cold some days out on the beach…)
And thought – LA! Something about LA was calling me. Had no idea what it was at the time.
Except I was afraid. – LA is hundreds of miles south of Marin. And I didn’t know ANYONE in L.A. at the time. And back then, (1993), I was still a year and a half shy of discovering the Internet, and making that my career.
An 18 year (Plus) Odyssey
So that began an eighteen year adventure of back-and-forth moves to and from California. In all that time, I kept choosing places in California that weren’t my ideal – Santa Monica. I lived in Santa Cruz, Calabasas (twice), and Marin (twice). Not to mention moves back to New York a few times in between.
Every time, fear held me back because LA was…. Intimidating. Overwhelming. Too good to be true. Too expensive. Above what I deserved. Better than me.
Wow – so many “reasons” came up each and every time why LA, and specifically, Santa Monica, were beyond reach.
Sure, I visited LA and Santa Monica several times over the years. Yet it always felt bigger than my capacity to handle.
The Biggest Shock Of All
What really shocked me came last summer, when in the back of my mind, I was working up the courage to finally find a way to move to Santa Monica. That was when Christine Gibbs came into my life. And offered me a job running her SEO team. And three weeks later, I was relocating not south to Santa Monica, but 720 miles NORTH to Washington State!
Talk about the “wrong” direction! Okay well it turns out it wasn’t the “wrong” direction at all.
My past year here has, in so many ways, been magical and miraculous. I’ve grown so much on so many fronts. Yet even though that’s the case, this winter REALLY took its toll on me. Having not lived in such a damp, wet climate in so long, my body just wasn’t prepared to handle this past winter.
In December, I ended up with two swollen discs in my neck and missing an entire MONTH of life and work. And even after that, as I began to heal, winter stayed around a lot longer than I was prepared to endure.
Confusion Sets In
By mid March, I was at a complete loss as to what this was all about. What God’s plan was for me. I mean, how could I have longed to live in SoCal for so many years, and here I was, at 52 years old, with the serious possibility that I was going to finish out my working career here – meaning live here for at least another ten years!
On the one hand, my career was soaring. On the other though, my body was by then, screaming at me. And I was torn. Literally emotionally torn.
God has a Plan
Maybe you don’t believe in God. I do. Came to believe in God when I was at the bottom of bottoms, wanting to die, many years ago. That belief transformed my life. So that’s how I see the world. No excuses. No justification. Just my understanding.
Something really amazing happens in life when you do your best, and when you follow your heart. If, in that process, you learn to put ever more and more faith in God, in a greater purpose, you discover that you’re led where you need to be. And that the end result can be beyond your wildest dreams.
For me, every move I made brought with it new experiences, new friendships, new opportunities to grow, and evolve, to learn what it really means to have healthy relationships, and to not only establish a dream for your future, but to turn that into goals. And to drive toward those goals. Realizing those goals CAN come to be, and you’re more likely to achieve them if they’re in alignment with who you really are inside.
Self Discovery Takes A Winding Path
Inner discovery – learning what you REALLY want, need and desire, coming to be in alignment with your purest essence, takes a lot of time and footwork.
And if you’re a recovering addict like me, you might not ever get there. Not even close. Or, you could be blessed, and find help for your problems, your “disease”, your confused understanding of yourself and the world around you.
And if you do, it can be a very long, sometimes seemingly excruciatingly slow and winding path to self discovery on a deep enough level.
And that means a lot of lessons need to be learned anew – lessons some people get when they’re children. Or when they’re young adults. Lessons that are even more difficult to get now, after decades of incorrect thinking, of “survival mentality”.
Life’s Perfect Timing
I happen to have, through the years, come to believe in the concept of life’s perfect timing. That until you’re truly ready for a next step in life, that step won’t present itself. Or if you THINK it does, and if you aren’t truly ready for it, you’re going to encounter serious resistance. Which leads you to end up trying to force it to happen. Even though you’re not ready.
Sometimes we don’t fully understand what it is we don’t understand.
Sometimes, we don’t know what we need that will prepare us to receive the gifts, the experiences we think we know we’re meant to live.
When the Student is Ready, the Teacher will Appear
Wow how many times has that cliche’ been said? What’s crazy and at the same time totally glorious about that statement, is for me, I can map out the past several decades of my life and pinpoint exactly where, when and to whom that’s applied in my own life. All the places I’ve been led to go by my heart. All the circumstances in which I met my next life’s teacher.
All the lessons I’ve learned in that specific leg of my life journey. At least most of them – the ones where the biggest growth has resulted.
It’s literally a chronological catalog of now after-the-fact validated truths that when I, as a student, have been ready for that next step, I’ve been led to the perfect moment to meet each next life’s teacher.
Coming To Peace With Living In Washington State
It’s for that very reason – understanding that Christine Gibbs was that next life teacher (mentor), and seeing how much I HAVE grown this past year, that this spring, when part of me was torn to shreds over the possibility of living another decade here, that I was able to make peace with the concept.
Because I knew that there’s a bigger process going on. A bigger plan. Something greater than me working to continue to guide me, shape me, mold me.
You may happen to not believe in it. I do. It’s NEVER EVER in my own little world, failed to be spot-on and prove itself out over and over.
So the moment I remembered that during that particular round of fear leading to inner conflict, I just let go. I gave up the fight. Surrendered the need to have to figure it out, to force it, to fix it.
Coming Full Circle
It’s not surprising to me, actually that within very short order, I was flying down to LA once again, to speak at Blueglass LA. And of course, I was in the land of magical unicorns, rainbows, palm trees, Santa Monica and my beloved future home front.
Of course, this time it was “just another visit”. Yet was it? I mean, once I had surrendered the fight, I knew, somehow, without needing to worry about the when or how of it, I’d eventually get to live in Santa Monica in this lifetime.
As you can see by these twitpic photos, I was at peace, and excited and once again dreaming the pure dream. Which is vital. Because it’s only when we get to that place where the dream is pure, that the next step can potentially become a goal. Strong enough that we might just actually follow-through on the footwork to make that goal a reality.
Don’t Quit Before The Miracle Happens
That’s what is so amazing about this experience now. It wasn’t much longer after returning to Lacey from that LA trip, once I truly settled into really honoring being present here on a new level, at peace with God’s plan, that ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE and I was “unemployed”.
Well for me, it wasn’t ALL HELL. It was “just another moment of “in the blink of any eye, and the world is different”.
Because I truly was at peace with life.
And in that transition back to the world of new possibilities, something even more magical and miraculous happened.
With all the job and business partnership offers that started coming flooding in (for which I will be forever grateful), all of a sudden, EVERYTHING started to make sense.
Where literally days before, I had been completely at peace with maybe living here another decade, I instantly had the effortlessly presented renewed opportunity to move to Santa Monica.
OMG Santa Monica!
Except almost right away, I needed to deal with the onslaught of fear. You know – the fear that had been played out in my life for decades. The fear that had prevented me from moving to the place that’s been calling me for most of my adult life.
Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired
That’s what it’s about now. After all I’ve been through, all the journey, the turns and twists along the path, I’m at a point in my life where I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of the tapes. The noise. The committee in my head – fear, shame, guilt, remorse, anger, confusion, frustration… Yeah they each have had a seat at the conference table in my head for way too long.
And that’s when I realized – I have a choice.
Or more accurately, when my best friend on earth, Tania Rodrigues, who happens to have moved to Santa Monica before I have, reminded me I have a choice.
This is where having best friends – people you can count on to remind you of your truth, to keep you aware of your inner self, and to reinforce all that’s good in you while keeping your ego in check, really can pay off.
I can either continue to live by that committee’s claims, justifications, rationalizations, noise… Or I could choose differently. I could remember that I have come as far as I have because I’ve learned to show up enough times, suit up enough times (not a real suit, a “figurative” suit – because real business suits suck), and one day at a time, put in the footwork that day that would allow me to make this move.
In a way that wouldn’t be based on forcing life to happen. Instead, it would be based on care, consideration, planning, and effort. Applied consistently. To the best of my ability. Until it happened.
Here we go! The Move Is On!
So here I am, the wheels are in motion. Next week, I fly down to Santa Monica for a week of home-hunting mixed with visiting my best friend Tania, and lunch with other friends who already live in L.A.
And four + days in an ocean-front hotel room with a private balcony overlooking Santa Monica pier.
And not only will I get to put in the apartment-hunting footwork – it’s my birthday that week. So I get to celebrate being alive 53 years. And reflect on how amazing the journey’s been so far. And how amazing it will be this coming year.
Then I get to come back to Lacey, wrap up my local affairs (no, I’m not having an affair with a half dozen women – I’m talking about my home furnishings (selling / giving away everything just like I did last summer coming here), and having a last get-together with a few very important people in my life. And then it’s off to L.A. Again. Except this time, it’s to live in Santa Monica!
OMG how cool is that?
Life On Life’s Terms
Okay so even though its actually happening, after decades, I have also learned that life happens. And as I shared above, sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. And I know I’m still human. Imperfect. With more to learn, more to grow through…
So maybe I get there. And fall flat on my face.
Or maybe a plane crashes into my car as I’m driving 1000+ miles down the coast.
Or maybe I get there and an 8.7 earthquake strikes the next day.
Or maybe I get there and a wildfire sweeps in and wipes out Santa Monica.
Any of those are possible.
Yet here’s why that’s okay (for now).
It’s okay if any of those happens because in this moment, right here, right now, I’m about as happy as I’ve ever been in my entire life. Every day is exciting. Thrilling. Amazing. Blessed.
And I’m living each day accordingly. I’m not waiting to get down there to find happiness. Because happiness isn’t there waiting for me. It’s inside my very being.
So I’m good with that.
Because I get to go on another wild life adventure
And maybe, just maybe, this too becomes yet another experience beyond my wildest dreams…