How much do we need to grind up against challenges, big or small, before we accept that we may need to make a change? How is it that this sense of needing to stick-it-out, endure, maybe even prove oneself in some way can creep in to the way we make our decisions?
As a newly-nomadic family, we are learning. A lot. And the lesson del dia seems to be about knowing when to stick-it-out and when to pull the shoot. And most importantly – how can we accept ourselves and our preferences without judgement?
After ditching our traditional life in Canada, we are feeling the tension between what we believed to be comfortable at home compared to what we can expect to find here in Mexico. What is reasonable to expect? Where do my expectations even come from? Are they my own, or have I just unknowingly swallowed consumerist ideas of what a home is supposed to be?
The bigger question is this: how do we determine when enough is enough, and when to make a change?
Two months ago, we entered our towering 3 story rental in the historic centre of Guanajuato, lined with vibrant tile, century old stone work and beams, and paint colours you couldn’t even dream of. And while this place was incredible, I somehow felt myself coming close the the edge of my comfort zone as soon as we arrived – the stairs were rough concrete, everything seemed unfinished and cold, there were nooks and cracks that I could only begin to imagine what lived in there. The stair wells were outdoors and uncovered, with only an unroofed wall separating the neighbours from us. The metal banisters spaced just far enough apart that our toddlers could squeeze through. The windows opened up to a 5 story drop.
And at the very same time … the view was unbeatable! The patio was heavenly. The colours were inspiring, the architecture grounding. This was a classic, intruiguging, traditional Mexican home. How could I be so critical? Why don’t I love this? Oh wait…I do love this!
As I think back to our two months here, the osciliation between this is amazing and this is fucking horrible was exhausting.
I started judging myself for wondering why I wasn’t happy here…what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I adjust? Am I so bought in to modern comforts of home? People would die to live here.
Then the universe helped me out. She threw a whole lot of shit my way so it became easier to see things clearly.
We saw more and more and more scorpions. We fumigated. And they kept coming. My husband has 15 kills under his belt. We let go of the idea of “catch-and-release” after I got stung. Forget it. And then our girls got sick over and over and over. Viral infections, hospitalization for dehydration. Pneumonia. And the kicker. Our littlest stood on a chair, knocked it over to smack her head on the tile kitchen counter and split it right open. Back to the hospital. Stitches. Tears. Stress. More tears.
What the fuck is going on?
I said to our tutor (who is an MD…thank god), I have never felt so out-of-flow in my life. He got it. He saw it. He wondered what it meant. He had wondered if these were all signs that we shouldn’t be here, that this was not the place for us at this time.
I have never felt so out-of-flow in my life, I repeated a few times that day. It was the most honest thing I said in a while.
So stop fighting it.
It wasn’t just about the house itself. It was the flow of our day-to-day life. It was about the way our days were progressing, how we were doing things, the energy we brought to them. It was about the way it felt like we were bumping up against the house, whether it was literally the physical obstacles like stairs, or possible old energy or spirits occupying the space. I don’t know. But it was clear. This was not the place for us.
Our friends had just moved out of a little apartment outside the historic centre. We called the manager and moved in the next day. And just like that, it shifted. Everything shifted. The energy settled. Our girls settled. The chaos settled. Calm. Quiet. Peace. Simplicity. Flow.
What I am learning is this: Challenging myself to try new experiences enriches my life. Questioning where my ideas of “normal” and “comfort” come from is important as it expands what I see as good and valuable in this world. AND. There is a limit to what I am willing to endure.
It is okay that I love a cozy bed with a soft pillow top. That is okay.
It is okay that I am unwilling to live amongst scorpions even when they are a part of life in many Mexican homes. I choose NOT to live with them. And that is okay.
It is okay that I am uncomfortable with some standards that others consider to be “safe.” I do not need to change my assessment of safety just because I am in a new place. This is okay.
And it is okay to have a feeling, a vague, undefined, unarticulated feeling that something needs to change. This can be enough.
Discomfort is information and motivation for change
When we feel discomfort, we are urged from within to make a change. We are challenged to weigh options, think critically about ourselves, our reactions, and choices. Tension and discomfort serves it’s purpose to motivate us to make changes. It feels exactly that…uncomfortable…and that’s what lights a fire under us to do something differently.
Sometimes we change our inner dialogue, attitude or perspective. This is the best thing at times. And other times, we change our context. We take a look around and realize we need something different.
And every time we listen to that niggle inside that tells us something isn’t right, we strengthen that pathway of self-knowledge and instinct. Our bodies often know first. The more we listen, the more they tell us and stronger their messages get.
What I am learning is also this: There is no right way to live. There is no right way to find comfort. There is no right way to set up your life, or move through your day. How boring would that be anyway? Our job is to listen to ourselves and figure it out. Take risks. Try new things. And don’t be so stubborn to not make a change if something feels off. It’s okay.
Author: Kate Butler
Kate Butler is a writer, a wanderer, a digital nomad. A mother of two, lover to one, and dedicated to living an inspired, colourful life. She co-authors Flipping Moons and has an online therapy practice, LiveLight Counselling.