By Kristin Armstrong
Art by RF. Alvarez
Here’s the thing. We have to be able to re-architecture our lives. Redesign. Remodel. Re-evaluate. Re-envision. Redo. Just when we think our lives will look one way, they shift and look another way. If we cannot accept where we presently are, we cannot possibly adapt to meet our life where it’s going. This requires vision, courage, openness and trust.
Take, for example, me. In the past year, my son moved into an apartment in Houston and is presently adulting and playing college football, my twin daughters are applying for college, one moved to Aspen to have her senior year there, my Love of four years suddenly withered and vaporized without warning or explanation, I graduated from graduate school, I’m working on a new book and am starting work as a therapist. Newly single, with one twin at home. What the What!?!?!? This was not my plan. This was not my vision for how things were “supposed to be.”
I am awesome at loving. Letting go, well, notsomuch. Notice how I put that out there, that my daughter is spending her senior year somewhere other than right next to me, and say it casually, in a phrase with commas around it, like that is a perfectly normal, okay thing to say. Except if you knew me, you would know the Everest-level climb it has been from basecamp devastation to the summit of being “somehow okay about that.” There has been altitude sickness, frostbite and various weather delays, let’s just say.
Which brings us to the question of a lifetime, “So now what?” Actually, that is a question we ask multiple times over a lifetime. Whenever we hit a dead end, a detour, a heartbreak, a setback, a hell no or a hell yes. Now what?
Well. Now we tap into our inner architect. We all have one. We often have to get fear out of the way in order to free the inner architect to get to work. This is the part of me that is a writer, a dreamer, a thinker, a planner, a visionary, a therapist. I am all about the rewrite, all about the reworking of plans, beliefs, storylines and visions. I am doing this within, and now it’s manifesting materially, literally, with concrete and wood and stone and windows. The metaphor is so good I shake my head in awe and smile at the Universe.
I had been looking for a new house for months — the yearning for a fresh start was a pull I could feel viscerally. My spirit needed to move out from the space of longing for what wasn’t and into a space of welcoming what is, and will be. A new home felt like the physical expression of a seismic spiritual shift. My higher Self mandated a complete overhaul, reflecting on the outside what is happening on the inside. In some ways, I hardly recognize myself. Who is this person who can accept, allow, let go, trust and endure loss and disappointment with an open, expansive, loving heart? This seems impossible, as a person who formerly reacted to pain or threat of loss with withdrawal, closure, control and fear. This is the real thing. I am finally free.
We often have to get fear out of the way in order to free the inner architect to get to work.”
Just when I was starting to lose steam, opportunity arrived — a house under construction, under contract, and the contract fell through. Or fell right into my lap is perhaps more accurate. My dad (Pittsburgh-raised, a Navy guy and an IBM executive for 30 years) always says, if you want something in life, especially if you are at risk of losing it to someone else, you come in “high and hard and you take it out.” So I did. I love my father. So much would get done in this world if we were all raised and loved by David. It wasn’t really my plan, but it turned out to be The Plan. We are building a house. I have never done this before. I got the buy-in from each of my children, tenderly approaching the idea of selling the house that has been a memory machine, a sanctuary, a time capsule of love and stability. Sharing the vision of the next phase of life, coming home from college, holidays, resting rather than rooting. We are all on board.
This house is smaller. Full of light. A fresh start. A clean slate. No wasted space. A new memory machine, programmed in the present. The newly poured foundation was metaphorical bliss. The first time I stood on it, under the beautiful trees with the wind in my hair, I cried. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Framing. Yes, there you go. Up, up. A second floor. A view. A vision taking shape one board at a time. Windows are coming. I cannot wait. Who knew I would love this? Just when I am done with one project, God gives me more. A new home. A new career. A new office. A new vision. A new design. A new story.
Creating space (literally) for the next chapter of life and love.