The idea for this post came from my seester, who got it from ETK. I remembered the first time I did the exercise of having a conversation with your future self while training as a coach, and the powerful effect it had on me.
The Jennifer that did this exercise was stressed, burnt out, angry, sad and confused. This driven workaholic lived in a tiny house on a small lot surrounded by concrete and other houses, just five minutes from one of the busiest airports in the world; wore black and navy and high heels and very plain jewelry; she had several watches and no jeans. She had mostly recovered from the latest in a series of miscarriages, and had just quit a profoundly toxic job to take the first wobbly steps into life as an entrepreneur.
She lay on the floor for the exercise, both skeptical and hopeful, and closed her eyes. She went up into space on a pink light, and rode back down to the year 2050 on a white one. This is what she saw:
Future self lives in the woods with a brook – it is hilly with lots of ferns and moss. A large cottage with a thatched roof and smoke from the chimney. Beautiful front door.
I knock…she answers door in comfy pants and shoes, a pink t-shirt, an interesting necklace and an apron and no watch. She has been baking cookies today. Short fluffy gray hair. Twinkly eyes, pretty lashes, pink cheeks, wiping hands on apron.
Living room is lovely with rough-hewn beams, dark red, rough stuccoed walls, dark wood furniture, light stone fireplace. Hundreds of soft pillows, mullioned windows with dappled light, stained glass.
I ask her what stands out the most from the last 25-50 years. She says her book tour and her vegetable garden and reading her fan mail, knowing that she has helped change lives.
I ask her what I should pay attention to in my life. She says my husband. She tells me to walk, to celebrate my life. To believe in myself and how beautiful I am. To tell my story because people have been waiting for it. To eat better. To be as kind to myself as I am to others. To not worry so much. To let others be themselves and not to worry that they’re OK.
Her name is Grace.
I visit her once more, in the same house.
This time, I notice more stuff. There is lots of art. A back porch heads into the woods and a front porch is finished with rocking chairs. The yard is a wild jungle of color and vines.
She is hardly changed. She wears a soft blue jacket and her hair is more white than gray. She is happy and content from working in her garden. There is a young man outside in a deck chair (son?).
Her greatest accomplishments are taking care of her home, being human, and making a life, she says. Her advice for me today is to pick something and stick to it. She calls her husband (my husband) “Golden Boy.” Can’t see his face.
Peacefulness. Accomplishment. Growth. Family. Connectedness. Groundedness. Roots. Creativity. Going with the flow keeps you in control. Use creativity instead of force when problem-solving.
Never live the same day twice.
Grace has been more of a guide than I thought, as I look at my now-comfy clothes and shoes and my new baby blue fleece. I don’t wear a watch anymore.
I sit on my pillow-filled couch under a wall of art, my feet on a rustic, heavy wood coffee table. My husband sleeps upstairs in our cherrywood and crimson and sage bedroom, with its steep pitched farmhouse ceiling under the tin roof that sings when it rains.
I look at our carved front door with its leaded window, and out the many-paned living room windows at a messy yard full of vines and exuberant wildflowers, and at the steep hill across our dirt road that is home to deer and crickets and everything in between, judging by the sounds at night. Our wooded yard has a brook and our front porch has rocking chairs. I have gotten lots of compliments on the jewelry I’ve started making, and my Christmas presents to the neighbors this year will be freshly baked cookies. My hair is on the verge of being more salt than pepper.
It’s clear what I am supposed to do next.
Plant a vegetable garden. Duh.
And then I’m visiting Grace and asking her what her book was about…and how she snagged a publisher.