My experience with navigating change and seeking change in my life inspired the salon project. I create and facilitate small-format events called salons, in the vein of the salons of the French Enlightenments.
make (an action or process) easy or easier.
Unlocking our capacity to change comes with opening “unseen” and “unheard” parts of ourselves. The salons are active listening outlets and co-learning retreats using the activating power of storytelling toward self-education, which I define as self and its place in the world.
Since 2017, I have reframed everyday living as a laboratory for self-study to better understand what makes me come alive, what makes me thrive. This is a journal of how I have reframed change as a learning process.
A journal of change means logging the messy, unfinished bits of a journey that is ongoing. I am showing you a product unfinished so you can understand the process and the practice beneath. My journey has a known direction but an unknown destination.
A Bio of Change
The Wake-Up Call
Disconnection and change are companions. I was verging on my 30s. A lifetime’s relationship with anxiety compounded as a deep dive into depression in 2008-2009. A depression that was both biochemical and circumstantial. Everything came into question, personal identity, professional identity, the integrity of happiness and who was I married to— who I was and what I was doing here?
Circumstantially, I witnessed the financial crisis as a young, middling salesperson in financial services. It opened my eyes to the sweeping effects of misaligned incentives, poorly structured products and bad governance. I could not deny anymore that professional accountability was separate and distinct from personal accountability. Yet, I persisted with this state of unease rising through the corporate ranks but struggling to find a coherent mission and living disconnected.
Ripping the Band-Aid
In 2015, I resigned from a well-sponsored career as a salesperson on the trading floor and parted ways with a 17.5 year old relationship. Two core identity markers erased overnight. Marriage and a successful track-record and tenure with an employer. But I was no stranger to taking risks. I gambled and joined a smaller organization.
The job that was supposed to last more than a year ended and my blank canvas life began in earnest in 2017.
journeying with change
Responding to Change
2008 catalyzed a journey into self-care and self-work. Self-Care as a value and the mind-body systems of self-care became a significant foundational habit. They catalyzed a personal program of agency and confidence building. I completed a 600-hour Pilates teaching certification, started a dedicated yoga practice, and spent years in therapy for both healing and self-discovery. These systems helped me anchor to the primacy of self-study and understanding one’s unique center of gravity.
Free-Falling into Change
A door closing became the catalyst to another opening. After assessing finances, I took a gap year in 2017 to explore and travel. I traveled for 170 days on a strict budget. At the end of 2017 I decided to not go back to an office job. The joy of newfound autonomy was much too sticky.
Doing & Becoming
During this time, I asked existential and individuation question- flipping the logic and the syntax. Instead of— What do I want to become, I asked What can I learn about the person I am becoming, by the things that I am doing and the choices that I am making?
My writing and the salons came out of such exploration and experimentation.
Change as Process
To chunk down the ambiguity of change, I introduced process and structure where I could. I fortified the bridge financially, making sure that my life was responsibly resourced. I drastically cut down expenses and lifestyle, all the while honoring my values and never letting joy out of sight.
I built a new lifeline of change agents, people who were either undergoing change or were desiring to disrupt their lives. I studied the habits, choices and lifestyles of communities who mimicked the future choices I wanted to make— creatives, nomads and learners.
I used the tools and process of a framework called Life Design — from a book that was recommended by a wise friend end of 2016.
Change as Practice
I have gotten to a point where I don’t freak out anymore by the prospect of venturing into the unknown. My hands still get cold and clammy and when I find myself lapsing into old mental models, I have the awareness and the lifeline calls to forestall panic spirals. The last three years have been catalytic to unlocking hidden parts that had gone missing. This discovery has been foundational for happiness in ways that I did not anticipate. Armed with a new sense of resilience and confidence I look forward to the journey ahead even if the road is windy and does not augur a destination (yet).