My thoughts are constantly wandering, and I often allow myself time to ponder whatever it is I’m finding particularly interesting in the moment. This morning, as I sipped my coffee and listened to the distant cry of seagulls, my musings were around feeling stuck. I thought about the times in my life when, typically amidst big change, I had no plan, no idea as to how to move forward. I suddenly realized, however, my reaction to my most recent set of challenges was different, and as I reached the bottom of a second cup of coffee, a phrase popped into my head: keep the line moving.
I used to work in retail, and a big emphasis was on ensuring customers moved through the checkout line in a timely manner. No matter what, the priority was to keep the line moving. As an example, if a product fell on the floor and broke, we didn’t fixate on the glass shards, oblivious to what was going on around us. A clean-up crew was called, and another register was immediately opened for the remaining people in line. It was understood that after dealing with the immediacy of the situation, we needed to take quick action towards solving any issues that may have developed as a result. It occurred to me I may have unknowingly used this strategy to keep things moving in my personal life.
At the end of 2018 my vehicle broke down, I was suddenly miserable in a job I once loved and a relationship I really wanted to work, apparently wasn’t going to. On top of all of that, I was given notice I had to move. I struggled heavily with the gravity of the situation, and took time off work to think. I was in a bad way, and not just because of the circumstances. I knew if I didn’t change the way I was looking at things, I’d really be in trouble.
I gave myself a week to feel everything I needed to feel and, after wiping the streaks of mascara from my face one last time, made some liberating decisions. I decided not to fix my vehicle, choosing to make my bike and city transit my new transportation options instead. I vowed to do the best I could at work, with the understanding that if I became unbearably unhappy, I could make a change. I surrendered to the reality of my relationship and let it go in the direction it needed to, with love and as much understanding as I could. And instead of scrambling to find another place to live, 2019 began with that idea indefinitely on hold. I put my whittled-down belongings in storage and embraced the hospitality of friends and family, and said yes to various house sitting opportunities.
It wasn’t an easy time, but at the end of those seven days, I realized I was fixating on the ‘broken’ parts of my life. I didn’t necessarily know what to do, but I knew I needed to take some sort of action. I need to do something – anything – to at least feel empowered to create my next chapter as opposed to waiting for life to continue to ‘happen’ to me. It didn’t change the reality of the circumstances, and I had no idea if the choices I was making were the right ones. But after I was finished feeling sorry for myself and got through the ugly crying, I knew the priority was to figure out how to deal with the issues I was facing.
Ultimately, seven months after making those first life-changing decisions, I did leave my job. And although I’m grateful for the experience, it was the best thing I could’ve ever done. And I can’t help but look at it now as just one of the many actions I took to keep my own personal ‘line’ moving.
Photo by Carol Good – all rights reserved