It is 1976, and my physician dad has left his booming medical practice in San Antonio. We have abandoned our comfortable, sprawling ranch-style home on two acres and have moved into a twelve-hundred-square-foot home with a wood-burning stove on fifty acres set back on a red dirt road in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada. When I am older, my parents will tell me they made the move in order to support a simpler life, to be more connected to nature, and to be near an active spiritual community. But right now, I am furious. I hate leaving my friends. I hate the idea of moving to a “yoga community.” I’m sure I will never see another Hostess Ding Dong again! Also, I’m nervous and anxious because I have no idea what the future holds. But slowly, as the first year unfolds, I become excited about our new adventure. At school I meet kids from all over whose parents are just as weird as — if not weirder than — mine, and I get to enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom. I study pottery and other arts, and I write short stories while roaming the hundred-acre grounds of our school. Every day, my siblings and I ride horses through undiscovered forests and explore crashing rivers and forgotten trails nestled in tall, inviting Ponderosa pine trees. I find, like my dad, I’m a risk taker. Part of me gets why he is doing this. He — in his own way — is trying to create a new way of being for his family.
Years later, as an adult, I will often joke that all I remember doing during our six years in California is riding horses, reading the Bhagavad Gita, writing poetry, and making stained-glass windows. Yet this period of my life — when I am given the time, space, freedom, and encouragement to really explore who I am — will have a profound and lasting impact on who I become. (Excerpt from Nurturing the Soul of Your Family.)
Last week I was visiting with another entrepreneur about money and life choices and the radical decision my parents made in order to break free from the status quo. Simultaneously, my husband and I have been asking hard questions about our life and how we envision the next 40 years unfolding.
When was the last time you did a life assessment, pulled back and really looked at what’s working and what’s not working for you (and your family)?
HOMEWORK: are you willing to wholeheartedly examine the choices you’ve made, the unhealthy habits you’ve developed and where you need to “break free” in your life? If you feel called to do things differently, heed this urge and explore what this might look like for you. Carve out an hour this week to sit down with a notebook/pen (and your partner if relevant) and work through a powerful exercise from Breaking Free, Making Hard Choices (go to pg. 164), Ch. 9 from my new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. In this exercise, I’ll guide you through a review of six areas: work, home, play, finances, movement, and food as you examine with compassion and curiosity how you’ve set up your life.
This week consider, “What does the life I desire look like, and am I willing to make the choices necessary to experience a new way of being — to embrace greater freedom and joy?”
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.