It was by sheer luck that I stumbled across the amazing art of Kristin Noelle. The further I got into her website, the more quickly I realized she was so much more than an amazing artist, she is also a very gifted writer. I loved her site and the concept of ‘trust tending’ so much that I asked her to do a guest blog post. I’m so excited I got to share it with you today. THANK YOU Kristin for all you do to nourish trust and make the world a better place!
I live on a peninsula where much of the ground is constantly moving. Quite literally, there are signs along the coastal routes saying “Constant land movement, Next 5 miles”.
Pavement cracks sometimes.
Streets get covered with mud.
Sewage and water pipes rest above ground, since that’s the difference between constant breakage and “business” as usual. 😉
For me, this is disturbing. Houses here are built on stabler ground, but that “er” is still part of each “stable”, and constant shifts surround them all.
My work is all about tending trust, however – about learning how to live in such a way that my posture toward life, again and again, becomes soft and hopeful and open, and the driver of my actions something other than fear. So as I see those signs and feel my gut clench, I press in. What can I learn on this land about trust? The answers I’m discovering are more about life than this peninsula. Because isn’t life just as shifting as this land?
I work and work (and work!) to build a good life – a set of relationships, a living situation, an income stream – assuming I’ll arrive at it somehow. As if that’s possible. As if there’s a finish line on each of these fronts (relational, vocational, domestic) to finally cross, and then life will be happy ever after. But the reality is much more fluid than that. Far more about working hard and experiencing successes and defeats; enjoying dear relationships for seasons and watching them shift because of inner changes or outer circumstances; living in homes that I love or not, and that feel too big or too small or too close to the neighbors, depending on the number and size and type of people who live in and around them right now.
It’s an ever-changing dance, this life. Not out of my hands completely, but neither all the way in. And I could resist that fact, and spend a lifetime trying to claw my way unsuccessfully onto solid ground, or… (deep breath)… I could learn to accept it. Learn to find peace with my partner – with life – in this untoward dance.
Here are my current, work-related moves to do just that:
Don’t even try to “arrive”. Don’t try to think up the Business Model of All Business Models, don’t pine for the best web design, don’t get glimmers in my eyes about “when THIS happens, THEN I’ll be set”. These mentalities are set-ups for shock and stress and indignation when life does its (predictably) unpredictable dance. They’re set-ups for brittleness and rigidity, too, when it comes to success (Gasp! This is my arrival! MUST HOLD ONTO IT TIGHTLY.), rather than a suppleness that can bend with life, since bend is what life will do.
Instead: Become a student of seasons, and seek to align myself and my business with whichever one is current. Maybe I need to start with a homemade-looking site while I build my professional skills and save for something more slick. Maybe I need business model X right now to be honest about where I currently am, and to take me where I want to go. Etc. A seasonal mindset takes the “Ech! No Way!” out of projects and plans that aren’t what I always want to have or do but may need right now in order to get there, and takes the rigid clinging out of plans I have that really do rock, and that I love.
Anticipate the next season, incorporating my sense of it into decisions I’m making today. Will my choices now set me/my business up for the next season well? Are there choices I can make today that might ease my transition into the things that will come after? Daily (every single day) unwrap my ego from its grip around my work.
The more tightly I associate “me” with my work, the more shaken I become when my work changes, or when my dance with it involves breathtaking belly flops, or when something in my external or physical circumstances makes work-as-I-now-know-it impossible. Seeing those sewage and water lines stretched out above ground and the “constant land movement” signs on the roadsides is unsettling. But from another perspective, and with some conscious work (and not a little irony), these things can bring peace – peace that the changes on this land haven’t gone unheeded. People have learned and continue to learn from them, and are making good lives for themselves here as a result.
I’m not a geologist, but I am a student of life, and I suspect that the more we ignore the shifting ground beneath us, or try to convince ourselves that it’s otherwise, the more likely our fears will come true. The less likely we’ll live lives marked by trust that no matter WHAT happens with our “ground”, we’re okay; we’ve learned how to dance.
Kristin Noelle is a Los Angeles-based writer, speaker, and trust coach. Her work explores conscious moves we can make to nourish trust as a worldview. Find her at www.kristinnoelle.com where her sketches illuminate her writing, helping to shift it from head to heart.
Thanks, Kristin XO
’til next time,