The cost of change

Hi All!

I’ve been thinking recently about the various costs associated with change.

I’ve realized there is a tangible, monetary cost of changing my life. I want to change some of my thinking patterns, so I see a psychologist. Ca-ching! My brain is a bit stuck, so I see another psychologist who specializes in neurofeedback. Ca-ching! I’ve been having trouble losing weight on my own, so I joined WeightWatchers. Ca-ching!

The money pile is only so big and  it means my savings aren’t quite where I want them to be, but I look at it like an investment. Besides, I’m trying to do things differently so I’m willing to pony up the cash–within reason!

Then there’s the emotional cost of change. As I’ve said many times, this is really hard. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting.

I expected the financial and emotional cost, but it’s the social cost that has caught me a little off guard. I ‘ve read about it. I’ve thought about it. But actually seeing your social relationships change–for better and for worse–is challenging. Some people are invested in who you are right now–they don’t want you to change! It’s hard to say goodbye to people you’ve known for a long time or to put up boundaries where they were shaky before. And, just so you know, you will be tested!

In the end, the people who truly love you want you to be your best–even if that means some upheaval for a while. Thank you to those people–I couldn’t go through this without you!

There is one cost missing from this list: the cost of doing nothing.

change lao tzu

It may seem simplistic, but it is an undeniable truth. If you’re driving down the road and a fully-loaded semi crosses the center line and is heading straight for you…well, you better make a change–and quick!

The semi isn’t exactly in front of me, but I know I need to make change now before I lose the very best of myself. For me, the price is too high NOT to change.

When is the cost of doing nothing, too high of a price to pay for you?





Can it get any worse?!

I’m sure you’ve said this to yourself at some point in your life.

The simple answer is: Yes. Of course it can get worse!!

No one promised there would be good times and not-so-good times in equal measure. It’s not that way sometimes.

Sometimes, it rains harder and harder…and still harder and it JUST-WON’T-LET-THE-F*CK-UP! Sometimes, life is just hard. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.

If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone. There are times in everyone’s life (I mean anyone who’s ever lived on planet earth from Aristotle to Donald Trump!) when it feels like the negative train is stuck at your station with no plans to move on.

Before you think I’m being a Debbie Doomsday, this is actually a positive post. Let me elaborate…

I’m having a really difficult time right now as I get into the thick of The Do-Over Project. You see, change is really hard work–it’s been a while since I’ve gone through significant change and I forgot how tough it is (probably a lot like the pain of childbirth). It’s not that I’m feeling negative, but I am feeling overwhelmed. And that feels negative.

It doesn’t feel good to be constantly working on myself. One night it’s neurofeedback. Another it’s therapy. Another it’s singing lessons. Then there’s climbing and journaling and running and meditation and WeightWatchers and Sunday walking group and weening off meds and working full time, and, and, and!!!

The worst part is, I’ve put all this extra work on myself deliberately. It’s not like the world has thrown me curve balls–I’m doing it to myself.

I’ve talked about how difficult my process has been before and I feel I have no right to complain because it’s a deliberate act. I want to share this experience because anyone contemplating real change in their life is going to hit this same wall.

So why bother?

The end result. Ever witness a butterfly emerge from it’s cocoon? Ever seen a time-lapse of a flower as it emerges from it’s bud? It’s excruciating to watch! Oh, but the result!!!

That’s what’s kept me going lately. I’m in the cocoon, pushing out the walls so that butterfly can emerge! I don’t know when it will happen, but I don’t think I’m far off. I think that’s why the process has been so gruelling lately. I feel like I’m at a tipping point into some unknown universe. Almost, but not quite, at the moment when the tide turns.

I guess that’s the positive takeaway: no matter how difficult, the tide always turns. It has to because that’s what tides do! So what do you do until it does?

Give yourself a break. I took yesterday off because I had a headache and didn’t sleep well. At first I felt guilty because I wasn’t “sick enough” to stay home. Now I realize how much I needed that time. At this stage of change, you need to just get through it. Cut out a some activities, if you find it’s too much (guess what I’ll be doing in the near future?!). Instead of wearing yourself down further, find ways to rejuvenate. Take more walks, get a massage, etc.

Don’t make any major life decisions. Sometimes I think, “Maybe if I get a new house or change jobs…” As appealing as those changes are, they’re only shiny distractions. What you really need now is unshiny, slow plodding progress to the finish line. Ughh!! Not nearly as sexy as a new car!

Pay attention and applaud yourself. Look for evidence of small changes and celebrate them. Drastic change only happen on “The Biggest Loser” — and it usually doesn’t last. A small change is easier to repeat, and thus leads to solid, long-term change. For example, taking the day off even though I wasn’t deathly ill is a small change for me–it’s not something I’d typically do. Hurray!

Don’t isolate yourself. It can feel like a very lonely journey at times. It is, in a way, because you’re the only one who can make the change. At the same time, as I said at the beginning of this post, everyone’s been through it. Tell people who are close to you and they’ll help pull you out of your cocoon!

Remember: Things might get worse before they get better, but the end results are worth (if you can stand one more metaphor!) riding the wave.
















Renos: starting with good bones

It’s been 10 llll-o-n-g days since I last wrote. For good reason. In my last post, I wrote about being medication-free for the first time in 20 years and how exhilarating that is.

Since then, I’ve been paying the price for that decision. Withdrawal from a long-term drug (especially Paxil) is not as much fun as it sounds!

Hot & cold sweats. Nausea & vomiting. Headache. Feeling “scratchy” on the inside of my skull. Muscle tremors. “Swimmy” head. Dizziness. Lack of concentration. Restlessness. THEN, there are the emotional effects. One minute I feel full of rage. The next, sadness. AND, I worked every day last week, except Wednesday. No wonder they recommend taking a week or two off (which I didn’t do because I’m on contract )!

I don’t have addiction issues, but it sure makes me understand and empathize with those withdrawing from cocaine or heroin. The ONLY difference I can see, is that I don’t crave Paxil all the time (which is why what I’m experiencing is technically called discontinuation syndrome and not withdrawal).

I’ve learned important lessons over those 10 days and, oddly enough, they also apply to renovating a house (which I know something about because my husband and I have been doing it for a dozen years!):

There’s a big difference between remodelling and renovating.

When you remodel your home, you make it pretty.  It usually involves paint, maybe some new kitchen cabinets, new furniture, etc. Renovating involves pulling out walls, identifying and fixing structural problems, replacing an old furnace or water heater, etc. They’re both valuable, but, I contend, if you don’t renovate, remodelling is kinda pointless.

Yes, you can paper over a crooked wall, but YOU know there’s something wrong underneath that could be fixed. MAYBE the thing that needs to be fixed is so integral to the structure, that the house could fall down around your ears! Then what point is the pretty wallpaper? If you fix the real problem, the beautiful color on your walls is a source of enjoyment–not a source of stress because you KNOW what you’ve covered up.

The same applies to renovating your life. I can remodel with weight loss, working out, meditating–whatever. It’s helpful, but unless I renovate, get to the root of why I felt the need to do a do-over in the first place, I am much more likely to backslide. Maybe I’ll gain the weight back, drop out of the running group, etc.–without even knowing why. And because I don’t know why, I’ll likely blame myself for not sticking to my plan. It’s a terribly destructive cycle.

I wanted to take Paxil out the equation because I wanted to “strip off the wallpaper” and see the structure of who I truly am underneath.

Our house was built in the 1920s and it was solidly built. It has “good bones”. Building technology was different back then, so we’ve renovated, removing all the old plaster and lath and replacing it with drywall. There is not much worse (except maybe withdrawing from Paxil!) then being covered in a gooey paste of sweat and plaster because the only time you have to renovate is mid-July. But it’s been worth it. We know renovating on top of “good bones” means that any remodeling we now do will look amazing. From the remodeling we’ve done so far, I can attest to this truth.

I’m not as old as my house (I’m a 60s structure!), but I like to think I have the same “good bones” as my house and with a little renovating, whatever I put on top of those worthwhile renovations (weight lose, meditation, etc.) will be beautiful and enduring.

Expect pain.

Remodeling, in my experience, is a lot of fun! You pick out the tiles you love, get the high end finishings, choose awesome paint color, and you’re done. There’s effort, of course, but it’s mostly fun.

Renovating is hard (see gooey paste above!). You rarely see your efforts–only YOU know they’re there. It’s also more time-consuming. Boxes and boxes and still more boxes of plaster and lath went into the dumpster.

And it’s physically painful when you torque your back lifting all those boxes and boxes… In the end, the pain was worth it because renos provide a great “bang for the buck” (both structurally and financially). The true value, however, is in the enduring beauty of your efforts to work through the pain–just like renovating your life.

Accept pain.

I can’t explain this concept, except to say this: I have found it much easier to get through renos when I accept that there WILL be pain. You can count on it! I guess when I accept that there will be pain, I am also accepting that I can get through it–after all I’m doing it, aren’t I?!!


I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted talking about all this renovating!

In the end, after going through the last 10 days, I realize that the truly exhilarating times are still to come. Right now, I’m getting stronger every day. I am renovating the heck out of myself. It’s really hard. Painful even. But I have good bones (I bet you have good bones too) and I am up to the challenge of the renovation.

I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of this year. Here’s to many,  many more lessons!



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