After the trauma, or after the life changing event, or after the enlightenment-aha moment, there is often a period of adjustment to the new “normal.” Witness what the survivors of the Camp Fire in California are going through: With 90% of the homes destroyed by the fire, the town of Paradise seems to be a town in name only. The few remaining structures are surrounded by scorched land and rubble: How does a town recover and then rebuild after such destruction? The answers remain to be seen, but it has happened to communities around the world, post war, post storm or tsunami or earthquake: Something new gets built, and with mixed results of success or failure-to-thrive.
So too on the personal level: The adjustment to a person’s new reality can take time and patience. It’s especially a challenge to rebuild from the ashes of the old when there is not much of the old to rebuild from. That said, mixed in with the challenge there’s a kind of freedom in a total rebuild from scratch. For instance, there’s nothing more to lose when all is lost. Instead, a blank slate is there, waiting for creative input and development.
Yet how do we personally or as a community know what belongs and what doesn’t belong in the new construction?
I am personally rebuilding after an especially health-challenging year that followed several years of letting go of longtime home, husband’s pre-stroke health and personality, old support structures, and even friends and allies. And as I rebuild, I am learning how to do this in a healthful and mindful way. Here are some discoveries and tips:
Start from no-thing.
I know, it seems counter-intuitive to start from scratch…doesn’t experience count? Yes it does, but if I want long lasting results after the huge change, I clear my mental and emotional decks clean in order to make room for the new. And I do this by using discernment…
I find that I’m choosier about what I say yes to, including everything from new projects and collaborations to what I put in my mouth: food, beverages, supplements…
I ask of just about everything: “Is this mine?” Is this mine to take on, pour my energy into, consume, bring into my life?
It makes no sense whatsoever to invite back what no longer serves me. And this makes room for what I DO want….
Create what you truly want.
After the letting go or loss, I need to have something to move towards. Yet, how do I know what I am building? My discovery is that I need to know the essence of what I want in order to create cleanly, clearly. So, I ask my self the following question (this from the brilliant work of fellow teacher Laura Lavigne): “What do I want to experience?”
I create a list of essence words, and then whittle down to 3 or 4 essential words that bring a focus to my rebuild. My recent answers are: sustainability, joy, balance and support. Every offer and every opportunity is held up to the list. If the offering/opportunity matches the list, then the answer is “Yes! Come on in!”. And if it doesn’t match what’s on the list, then the answer is ”Nope, this is not what I am creating.”
Creating anew is hard work, yet can be eventually satisfying and sustainable. A rebuild requires both compassion for our human selves, and patience in the process. I know we are all capable though…so let’s create a world we all can live in.