Living With One foot In and One Foot Out

I still have the occasional I wish we didn't have to live here thought, but I'm onto myself now. I'm clinging to the thought that an extraordinary and passionate life requires extraordinary and passionate emotions.
06/30/2014 12:41 pm ET Updated Aug 30, 2014

This week I reluctantly moved home from Maine to Virginia. It all came down to a job offer that my husband couldn't refuse. I say reluctantly, because our new location is not a place that sits high on my list of ideal places to live. It's a perfectly nice town. Not too big or too small. People are friendly and charming and call me Ma'am. And our brand new home has sky line views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not too shabby. But, it's not New England. It's decidedly inland. There's no ocean. This is what I miss.

For several months I've been busy dismantling one life to get ready for another. I knew we were going. The move was inevitable. But it was only when we got in the car and pulled out of the driveway that I realized I'd been holding myself back emotionally from fully stepping into the new life that was waiting for me to create. My physical body was leaving, but my heart just wasn't into it.

Living with one foot in and one foot out is a torturous way to live your life. And that's exactly how it's been for me over the last few months. I know all too well about being in this predicament. It's eerily familiar. In the past, there were unsatisfactory relationships and jobs that were far from ideal, and I ended up living through too many years of feeling disconnected, resentful, and with a belly full of sour grapes. There was no way I was going to fully commit to any of it. And so, I deliberately used those circumstances as an excuse to live a half-baked, watered-down existence. At the time it seemed logical to me that if the conditions weren't ideal, then why should I surrender to them? How could I possibly allow myself to get happy? Truth was, I didn't believe I even had access to happiness.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for changing circumstances that don't feel good. Having a preference is perfectly normal and even life-giving. And it wasn't wrong of me to expect something better for myself. But sometimes you just can't change where you are or who you're with overnight. You are where you are. But, that doesn't mean that your experience of happiness has to be put on pause. In fact, I discovered that my stubbornness to not get happy was actually the thing that was super-gluing me to my miserable life. What a paradox to realize that the one thing that was blocking my happiness, was me.

Living with one foot in and one foot out creates a split energy, and energy that splits in two is naturally weak, diluted, and tasteless. It's like drinking watered-down red wine or a weak cup coffee -- utterly pointless. A life that's split has no passion, no zest, no feeling of fullness. A perfect recipe for a mediocre life.

An extraordinary life is when action is infused with delicious emotion. One without the other is as useless as an electrical appliance that isn't plugged into its power source. It can't really do the thing it's meant to do. When you take action and you deliberately feel good while doing it, now you've got one powerful combination. It's the stuff of inspiration, creativity, opportunity, and serendipity. This is what you get when you put both feet in the water.

If you're stuck with a life you don't like or even want, it could well be that you're in the wrong job or relationship. But don't hold your breath if you think that taking action alone will change things. The quickest way to get out of your rut is to show up with both feet in the water regardless of what's going on. I used to think that if I surrendered to my crappy circumstances, I'd never change my life. I had the crazy belief the complaining and whining would get me out of it faster. But it's actually the opposite.

Philosopher, Joseph Campbell writes: "The gods will give you everything you want, but you have to be ready for it." He was so right. People who live with both feet in life are ready for it. They light up like a lighthouse. They show up to be seen by the universe, and they ooze passion and possibility. It's as if they're walking around with a sign on their back that says: Here I am, I'm ready for change and opportunity. These are the people the gods are looking for.

I still have the occasional I wish we didn't have to live here thought, but I'm onto myself now. Just like a piece of gum that's stuck to your shoe and won't let go, those old tiresome habits of thinking will also want to cling to you. I'm clinging to the thought that an extraordinary and passionate life requires extraordinary and passionate emotions. Here's to your two feet.