Reduce Your Influence, Increase Your Inspiration

I have recently adjusted to a big change in life: I moved from Culpeper, VA to Wellington, New Zealand–the other side of the planet. Though my family of 6 is experienced at moving to new places around the world, there’s always a lot of differences to which we must process and adapt. And while we know what to expect, it never fails to knock us on our asses. The first six months are always the toughest.

So, here I am at eight months in Wellington to reflect on what has occurred and learn my lessons for the next time. The first thing I had to take note of: The Energy Shop wilted in my absence. Before I left Culpeper, VA in May, I hired someone to handle and ship my orders and I stocked the shop for my hiatus. I left the shop open, and it sat. In fact, it went stale. I made the mistake of thinking it could operate from the current pool of customers I had, but I realized that my previous customers had already shopped for what they wanted. With no new inventory being added, they understandably lost interest.

Reduce your influence, increase your inspiration |

The idea that I had to constantly breathe new life into the Energy Shop deflated me. I know small businesses depend on their owners, but I didn’t know how true it was. I resented the Energy Shop for needing me, I even questioned my passion for a store that couldn’t sell without me. For a moment in time, thinking about the Energy Shop actually drained me.

Well, that’s life. It’s the uncomfortable parts of change manifesting in the every day. Making dinner and doing laundry drained me too. Being so far away from the United States drained me. Losing my dog after 15 years of her lovely companionship drained me. Learning to drive on the left side of the road drained me. There was very little that didn’t drain me during this period.

I procrastinated on just about everything I had to do. It felt like I was moving through mud. My husband shared these feelings, and we worried about our children and the toll such change takes on them. We complained. To make ourselves feel better, we went everywhere and nowhere and signed up for lots of activities. We criticized our former lives, “Why! We must have sat around on our asses all the time!” But adding busyness was a big mistake. Being a family of 6 is busy enough. We like to schedule one thing at a time, and if we’re booked, everyone else is out of luck.

We forgot ourselves, and life got noisy.

Some people thrive in noise … I’m NOT one of them. I don’t think anyone in my immediate family unit is built for it either. What we needed, what we CRAVED, was quiet, peace, and harmony. It felt like the world was shouting at us, and if we had a minute of downtime, it seemed like all we did was shout at each other. Which means, no time felt like downtime.

Finally, we took a weekend to remember ourselves. We planned to make no plans, and stuck to it. Turns out that we never sit around on our asses. We tried a new restaurant that we ended up loving, went shopping and explored new neighborhoods, played Monopoly, cuddled, discussed some of the crazy that has really been bothering us lately, and treated each other kindly. Really kindly. With less noise, we started to think about each other again.

When we returned to quiet, we experienced a rage of appreciation for each other. With a sigh of relief, we realized, “There we are. That feels better.”

When I sat back down to work this week, I realized that the noise had carried over into every aspect of my life. My Facebook account was flashing pictures of people I don’t know, my Google Reader was a mess of nonsense I never cared to read, my email inbox was cluttered with junk, my closets were messy, and there was mold in the shower–something I made note of every day when I washed, but DID NOTHING ABOUT. There are littles messes all over my home–not big deals, but energy drains nonetheless. I’ve taken care of most of the pressing noise (like the mold, for goodness sake), but I have a to-do list of other things I’m going to square away. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all.

The point is, noise builds gradually. I didn’t go from q u i e t to LOUD. First, I agreed to something that wasn’t true. And then again. And then again. Until I was up to my neck in “not quite right.” As in, “I’ll accept that invitation and hang out, but something about this crowd ISN’T QUITE RIGHT.” Or, “I wanted to try this activity, but it’s NOT QUITE RIGHT for me.”

We’re almost a month into 2012, and I have to say, this feels like it’s going to be a big year. Before anymore valuable time passes, take a moment to do a volume check on your life. Is it noisy? Too quiet? Just right? I’m wishing you the perfect volume and all the best. Until next time!

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  • It is true isn’t it that we all need to take time to “smell the roses”. It is so easy to get caught up in the noisy & fast paced life. Thanks for the reminder and good luck to you & your family in New Zealand.

  • Lisa- I loved this. I especially relate to

    “The point is, noise builds gradually. I didn’t go from q u i e t to LOUD. First, I agreed to something that wasn’t true. And then again. And then again.”

    Thank you for the eloquent reminder to check the volume. Really great post.


  • Hi, Lisa, found you via your thoughtful post on Handmadeology. It rang so true, and it is wisdom that could only have come to you because you lived it. It felt like you laser-pointed at aspects in our lives—even the mold that’s in my shower, for goodness’ sake! : )

    “I felt like I was moving through mud” — yes, that about captures it!

    I am so sorry about your dog’s passing. Sharing fifteen years is such a huge part of your life and only understood by people who also have that kind of connection. My daughter has two dogs and I have a rescued cat—first pets in life for both of us; we’ve confided in each other how we know the inevitable is coming but that knowing doesn’t the lessen the dread. One of my childhood friends, who is with his third dog in life, said that he’d rather his dog go ahead of him because he cannot bear to think that Cooper would be left behind, wondering what happened to him should he go first.

  • Wow. What a beautiful and inspiring post… I am feeling that “noisy” feeling right now, and have been for awhile. This genuinely spoke to me…thank you for sharing this. I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2012. 🙂

  • Hi Lisa, I just found your articles on Handmadeology. I appreciate your candid and honest style. I think in our society, “busy-ness” is so valued that when we take time to slow down, it’s hard not to feel guilty, unproductive, or even worse: lazy. It’s good to be reminded that it’s during the down times that we can really connect with others and with our creative selves.

    I admit to being confused by the title of your article, however. I’d instead call it “Reduce Your Noise, Increase Your Inspiration and Influence.” As a former kindergarten teacher, I learned that the kids paid much closer attention when I was speaking in a very quiet voice… 🙂

  • This so hit the nail on the head for me….I did in fact spray the mold in the shower just the other day. I had gotten wrapped up in everything everyone else wanted and thought was what I needed to do. Thanks for this very timely and thoughtful post. May you have peace and quiet!

  • Seriously, what everyone else said! My life has gotten very noisy and LOUD. I see now that keeping the 2 “busy days” days busy (work, school, add gym) and full would be better than having all week be like that (doing gym on the non school days), so some re-arranging is in order. =)

  • Hey Lisa….yes what she said, and what she said and what she………….
    I certainly have found your advice noteworthy and appreciate the fact that when we need the teaching it comes…. I live in Charlottesville and do wish I had known you while you lived right up the road. And now you live in the one place I would leave here for… NZ… Blessings to you and yours…Now I have to get off here and get on with the business of running a business…. Keep an eye out for me on etsy, Raw Energy Design, coming to a screen near you……….BTW your most recent post on Pitfalls via Handmadeology…absolutely great.

  • I just moved countries – so this old post really resonated with me. Last year I tried to simplify my life and reduce our possessions to make the move easier. This year I often feel overwhelmed and lost – I guess it is part to adjusting to the new place. At the same time it is great chance to re-evaluate and understand what is really important.

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