Contributor Post: Transformation as Inspiration
I mentioned in this month’s newsletter how we met Sam and Laura Brown, but if you missed it, we both had a lot in common, found each other on Instagram, and this summer, we gathered together for the first time. Since then we have found an amazing friendship we feel so lucky to have. Knowing them and their story I knew that the topic of Transformation would be a beautiful one for them to contribute to on TFE. Sam is a talented writer and Laura has an eye for beauty that many wish they had half of. Together, I knew they would offer something amazing this month. They have and today you get to enjoy what these two magical souls have for the month. Enjoy! Find out more about them and how to follow them at the bottom of the post.
When Megan asked me to contribute to The Fresh Exchange, I asked for advice. I sent her an email of thoughts and ideas carelessly typed on the page. The next day we sat around a dinner table discussing these ideas and transformation in our own lives. What I love about our relationship with this radiant couple is the depth of conversation they dive into before we finish the appetizer. There is no small talk at this dinner table and we love that.
We spoke about our different paths, the zigs and zags that weave through the fabric of our lives and how it has shaped us into the people we are becoming. Candles replaced the fading light—empty drinks were topped off as the dogs ambled over to the table looking for food scraps. We looked back on the difficult times of transformation, and how they seemed over bearing and unfair. Yet it was through gritted teeth, late nights, and supportive partners that we were able to overcome. That night Megan gave me a compass heading, but I was still on my own for what I needed for the journey.
Fall seems like a perfect season to recognize transformation. But I’m reminded of its impermanence and why transformation should constantly be a part of our lives regardless of what latte is popular. Often the thought of transformation brings the anxiety of fear, failure, and doubt. Yet it is these emotions that accompany some of the most important, and difficult decisions of our lives. Pursuit outside of our comfort zone is where the progress begins.
When we look through the ocular lens of fall and try and parse out the trajectory of our own lives during this season of change and decay—it’s not that hard to tease out the patterns and meaning behind this season and the happenings of our own life. The difficulty arises when we’re called to do something uncomfortable. This is usually the part where I make up excuses about chores to do around the house, a dog that needs to be walked, or that familiar voice in my head, “the timing just isn’t right.”
Transformation is necessary. It is the leaves falling off the trees as much as hitting the snooze button three times each morning (eight if you’re me). How we quantify transformation and use the momentum it gives us, whether good or bad, is imperative to how we live our lives.
My wife and I came from very different backgrounds. The transformative experiences, or lack thereof, that set our lives on course took very different shapes. I grew up in the North in a suburb of Chicago that I couldn’t wait to leave once I graduated high school. My wife grew up in Mobile, AL surrounded by family, good cooking and the hospitality you can only find in the South.
Transformation played different roles in our early years that would mold the character and values that determined the trajectory of our lives. I sought change and risk and left for the mountains as soon as I graduated high school. This decision led me to different homes, jobs, friends and circumstances on an increasingly regular basis for several years. I never called anywhere home for more than a year from ages 16-23. But I was surrounded by what I loved—the mountains—and I was selfishly willing to let go of anything routine to live my life. I was constantly on the move, packing and unpacking in a seemingly normal routine of circumstances that set the course for the life of a restless transplant.
Laura, on the other hand, found comfort in the familiarity of home, friends and family. She grew up in Mobile, AL and only left occasionally for vacations with her family. She made great friends and had a community of the people and family she loved surrounding her. It wasn’t until she left for college that she spent a significant time away from home, which was still only a few hours away.
I’ll spare you the details of our courtship and marriage, but I will tell you about the amazing woman I get to call my wife. Without Laura’s patience and unending grace, this marriage might not have ever happened. We dated long distance for 4 years. We were in each others presence about three times a year for a week. Yet she never let go, never stopped calling, checking up on me, or sending packages. And I felt a depth of love I’ve never experienced from 2,000 miles away. So I moved. I moved from the West to Alabama.
Our different backgrounds might have set the course for friction in our marriage. Me, always wanting to be on the move and Laura attracted to the idea of growing roots. But we’ve used this as momentum only marriage can encourage, forcing us to let go of our own vision for our own lives and make room for someone else’s—to let transformation break down barriers we’ve put up. Laura showed me the value of community, and settling down, getting to know a place for more than a year or a few months. She showed me the emotions you can only attach to the places, people, and objects once you live in an area for awhile. I’ve shown Laura the raw palpable sense of freedom you can only discover once you arrive to a new town or mountain range for the first time—where every turn, restaurant, and summit is a fresh new experience. The transformation that comes from these experiences guides our intuition about the life we are living and priorities we place.
We’ve found this fine balance in our relationship—yet we wonder if this compromise is possible in our life. That ironic balance of living a life a freedom yet calling a place, a community, or a piece of land home. Does this balance exist? Where does this gray fuzzy line get drawn, and can any one show us?
My wife and I married young. I was 25, she was 22. Wise mentors consoled us before we stood on the altar. We’re visual people, so we can only read so many books or listen to advise about how to create the best marriage. But when we met Megan and Mike we finally have this living, breathing example of how to be a great spouse and where to draw that line. Spouses that recognize transformation for what it is—a learning experience, a different perspective. Mike and Megan practice what they preach. Yet it wasn’t without failure or doubt—but they’ve overcome transformation that would set many of us back.
You can’t measure transformation on a scale because often failure can be the impetus of new circumstances that can lead to success. There is no yardstick for transformation to gauge its quality. The trees transform whether they want to or not. Nature surrenders to the cyclical changes in daylight, knowing there will be a change in the spring. How soon, or how long they might not know. And neither do we.
Let the knowledge you’ll glean from transformation be the inspiration. Perhaps it’s not knowledge but experience, or habit, or a relationship. Whatever it is, you must surrender the thoughts of resistance that keep you comfortable and know that a step outside that comfort zone is imperative for growth—whether that’s spiritual, emotional, or professional.
I often find myself waiting for transformation to knock at the door. The anticipation of transformation is an excuse to be lazy. Transformation needs to be intentional. Without intention, our life is simply pushed and prodded along by outside forces and people whether we like it or not. So I’ll end with a request. What makes you scared to transform? What makes you bite your lip or your stomach turn when you think about it? That’s the best sign on where to start your transformation. What better time to begin than now?
Thank you so much, Sam and Laura, for sharing your story and perspective on Transformation this month. It has been awesome working on this together and experiencing watching you two tell a story together.
Find out more about Sam and Laura at these places: