So today is the first of a series of posts where I'll more publicly "release" this work, with the hope that it might speak to someone, somewhere. It's amazing to me how much I've changed since I've written this, and yet how much has remained the same.
With that, first the intro bits. Here is my working title page:
And my dedication, to a friend gone, but not forgotten:
To Paige, with love and appreciation for how you've helped me grow.
And my acknowledgements:
I'd like to thank several people in my life who have made the writing of this book possible.To the faithful members of my "Reviewer's Circle" who read early drafts, asked questions, made suggestions, and encouraged me to continue writing (and, put up with all my emails over the course of several months): Amy, Deborah, Eric, Joan, Pam, Paola, and Paul. I may not have been motivated to continue in this pursuit without your help. To Sybil and the aspiring writers I met while taking continuing education classes in writing--the fact that my stories resonated with you all sparked new creativity in me and kept me going when I felt pretty lost. And to Paula who helped me with the cover art.To my husband, for putting up with me when I felt anxious over not writing as much as I'd like, for all the hours I worked on this book instead of spending quality time with him, and for encouraging me to continue working when I felt like maybe I should stop.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
“Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you imagined.”
- Henry David Thoreau -
I had a terrifying dream one night. You know, the kind that startles you awake. A room in my house had exploded, and I watched it happen. I slid out of bed and stumbled toward the bathroom, not even sure I had to go. I noticed I was cold, and sweating. What does this dream mean? I wondered. I recalled the interior design class I attended the night before and thought it might literally represent changing a room in my house, starting from scratch. But I know that a house and rooms are typically metaphors for one’s psyche, and I had been doing a lot of work with my inner child lately—could this dream be about totally changing the landscape of my mind? That I was destroying and rebuilding my view of the world? On the Post-It notes I had just started keeping on my nightstand, I scribbled the words: "blowing up rooms—psyche or physical?", and went back to sleep.
When I woke up about an hour later, I went through my typical morning routine. I changed into my workout clothes, went downstairs and fed the cats, poured a glass of water and a cup of coffee, wrote in my journal, and then went upstairs to work out. When my workout was done, I sat on my meditation cushion and closed my eyes. After five minutes, I just couldn’t sit anymore.
I had one of those "flashes of inspiration" I’ve heard about other people having—yes, me! For a few weeks, I’d been wondering what else I could be doing with my life. What might bring me more creative fulfillment than the job I’m doing now? How might I contribute more to helping others who struggled with the same types of things I do, day in and day out? I’d taken the interior design class to see if this hobby was something I might be more interested in. At the same time, my belief in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual improvement continued driving me to stacks of self-help books, yoga classes and meditation. Plus, I loved to write. I was struggling with these things, even emailing to my friend Paige: "When I grow up and retire, I want to be a self-improvement coach / best-selling author / interior designer. LOL!!" What a bizarre mix of things. And, of course, I assumed I had to pick one.
When I jumped out of that meditation (title already in mind) it occurred to me that I didn’t have to choose. I could write a book that explored how mental, emotional, and spiritual transformations (in other words, of one’s “inner spaces”) can happen when one changes outward physical spaces (and vice versa). I had many stories of my own, plus several examples from friends that could illustrate just how closely these concepts were linked. A quick brainstorm with my husband that morning as we were getting ready for work turned up more examples of situations fitting this theme than I could capture in a notebook at the bathroom vanity. Coupled with the fact that my best friend didn’t think I was crazy, my morning revelation encouraged me to write this book.
This book is intended to be one of many resources you use to guide your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. In it, I share stories about myself and people who are close to me to help you increase your overall awareness of your relationships to all your spaces, and to give you ideas about how you might think differently about them to improve yourself and your life. I don’t claim to have resolved all my issues, but I do believe that being more mindful of how my spaces influence me (and vice versa) has been a helpful part of my journey. Plus, I do believe the first step toward anyone’s personal growth and opportunity is a solid recognition of the things that might be holding them back.
I use the word “space” broadly throughout this book, and I’ve tried to qualify it where necessary. It might refer to a physical space (such as a room, house, or the body), or what I label an “internal” or “inner space”, which includes mental (thinking / mind), emotional (feeling / heart), and spiritual components.
This book does not contain specific recipes for fixing problems you might have in these areas, because the truth is, there are no easy answers. Everyone deals with their issues and progresses in their own unique way, and one is always at a different stage in their personal development timeline. (I like to think we’re always growing and changing in a positive direction!) But I do hope that my stories and "thought experiments" will get you thinking differently about your spaces and your perceptions of them, and point you in a direction you may not have considered before.
Note that some of the things in this book might not make sense to you right away, or you might feel overwhelmed by the concepts in it. This is OK. I have personal experience trying to read books several times and feeling like they’re not resonating with me, then finding that years later, when I try them on again (sometimes for the fourth or fifth time!), something clicks and I’m ready to hear and process what they have to say. What doesn’t work for you today will work for you tomorrow, or maybe years from now—you have to be ready and open, and if you’re not, accept that and take in what you can, or revisit this book at a later time.