A paradox* is defined as a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.
Here’s what I want us all to know. Our contradictions not only help make us super interesting but when we give them space to live and we give ourselves the permission to want what we want, we become whole.
And when we’re whole, we live more meaningful, purposeful and fulfilled lives.
I have had an office outside our home since Dec 2015. Saying YES to getting my own office was a dream come true. It’s the tiniest, coziest, prettiest office with very affordable rent, and it’s a 5-minute walk from my house. I am in love with it.
My initial desire to work outside the home surprised me, as part of why I left my previous career was to be home more, not less. But sure enough, I pretty quickly had a growing and hungry desire to have my own sacred space somewhere else (far from my family, my husband who works at home, and all the other distractions that home holds). I craved a space that no one could touch and that was mine all mine (read: little fingers and “Oh, can I borrow this cool pen and stapler and file folder and…?”)
So I jumped in, rented a spot, and 2016 was my first year in my office. And it was an awesome year. I saw clients there, I meditated there, and I saw my dream of being a working coach come to life there. And by giving myself what I really wanted, I felt so empowered!
Until something shifted late 2016…
I needed space, again. But a different kind of space than before. Rather than a desire to be out and away from home experiencing something new, I craved a space that was familiar and comforting and would feel like a warm hug. And I really wanted to be with my dog. I needed to be with my dog, at home.
So this last winter saw me home, a lot. Working, digging deep into myself, working on my Pillars of Genius. Some days I would say, “Ok, today I’ll go to my office.” Only to never go. Sometimes I felt defeated and like something was wrong with me. Other days, I was ok with giving myself the permission to stay home.
But what bothered me was that I could not figure out my resistance to going to my little office, something I had been deeply excited about only a year before. I got coached about my feelings and while I found some clarity, there was still a part of this whole situation that felt unknown, unsettled, still to be determined. I wanted to want to go. But when I was honest with myself, I just didn’t want to. So I stayed home and weeks would go by as my office sat still and ignored.
Here I was, paying for a space I was hardly, if ever, using. What a waste of money, I know! But as much as something was holding me back from going, something was also holding me back from releasing it when it came time for my lease renewal in May 2017.
And that something is what I like to call Paradox: the tension between two seemingly contradictory desires or realities or situations, especially when you can’t make sense of it.
My paradox was this: wanting an office away from my home AND wanting to stay home to work.
Huh. Now what?
Well, I did what any good coach does and I got quiet. I went inward. I sat still. I listened to my soul. I asked the advice of some friends and talked at length with my husband, François. And the answer came in a whisper, one I could barely hear, but it was loud enough to trust it.
The messages I got from my intuition were “big things are coming and you need this space away from home… for yourself, for your work, your mission, and even your sanity as an entrepreneurial mom.” Now was NOT the time to let it go. I signed my lease for another year and said to myself “Let’s just see what happens”, even though I still wasn’t sure what this all meant.
Flash forward to recently. Remember that something I couldn’t quite identify that kept me in the tension of paradox? Wanting two supposedly contradictory things?
I figured out why I felt so guilty, confused and unclear. Because what I want is not actually contradictory, even though I thought it was. What I want actually makes perfect sense! An office space, outside the home, to go to part-time, AND an office space at home.How simple! And yet I had convinced myself that I could not possibly have both.
Why, you might ask, would I do such a thing? Well, in my mind, I had put limits on what was possible for myself. If I rent an office space, clearly I need to be there all the time. And the flip side is, if I have a home office then why would I need to rent an office space? Pretty black and white thinking.
But the beauty of paradoxes is that they don’t always have to be contradictory. In fact, they can be complementary, which I know goes against the very definition of what a paradox supposedly is, but I think the distinction I am making is important. Perhaps they are two sides of the same coin. Two sides of the same face. Two desires that can live inside one person. Who says they have to contradict each other and therefore be impossible to contain in one space, together?
The tension found within a paradox can actually help us define what we want and who we are, and the end result is wholeness. We become whole in embracing our paradoxes.
For me, the desire to have a sacred and lovely office space outside my home while also having the desire to have a space within my home is owning my whole self. The part of me that wants my freedom, independence, need for my own private space AND the part of me that wants to stay home with my dog and sip my tea and do laundry in between emails and be home when my kids come in the door. Who says I can’t have both? Who says I can’t have TWO offices?
Unfortunately, I did.
There are so many boxes society tries to put us in; so many ways we are being asked to play small and to fit in. So many ways and reasons we find to deny ourselves our true desires. We all have paradoxes that live in us. Desires and dreams that we convince ourselves are unattainable or too far out there or just not possible. We often hear, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. WTF kind of comment is that anyway? You can be damn sure if I order cake that I am going to fucking eat it!
I wanted both options for myself, I just had to give myself permission to want what I wanted.
So I say, HELL YES, you can have whatever the hell you want! If you want an office outside the home AND one at home, go for it! Embracing the paradoxes that live in each of us, helps us live whole and reconnected lives. When we deny all of ourselves, we become disconnected and ultimately broken. Our light dims. Our smiles fade and we become shadows of who we are meant to be.
If you want to rock an AC/DC t-shirt one day and then pearls with a Lilly Pulitzer dress the next day, you go girl! Do it. If you want to eat only veggies one day and then stuff your face with a burger the next, go for it. Or, maybe you love listening to super loud music when you’re in the mood for a dance party but you’re also hypersensitive to certain sounds (like me, again), and need to listen to the TV with the remote in your hand (in case it gets too loud and uncomfortable) or you cover your ears at the sound of sirens. (BTW, this is called self-care and knowing this about myself helps me live an easier, happier life.)
The point is, be ALL of you. Own it. Go for it. Get it.
I want us all to be whole, authentic, take good care of of ourselves and take charge of our lives. But in order to do that, we need to know who we are, at our core. One of the ways to know yourself is to know what your paradoxes are. What needs, dreams, and desires do you have that seem to be contradictory but are, in fact, just two different yet complementary desires? And just who, exactly, is saying you can’t possibly want or have both? Is it you? Are you standing in your own way?
Consider this an invitation to give yourself permission to really want everything you desire (instead of telling yourself you shouldn’t want this or that it’s impossible to have it all), so you get clearer on how to take care of yourself, how to set boundaries with others, and how to live a life that allows for your whole self to be in charge. Imagine how good that would feel
If you’d like support to discover your paradoxes (among many other things!) and how to take charge of yourself and your life, I am launching a new coaching program designed to help you know yourself, love yourself and live your right life. It starts soon and there are limited spots. If this sounds like something you want, email me for more details!