Episode 79: Embrace the Chaos

August 19, 2016
Episode 79: Embrace the Chaos
Episode 79: Embrace the Chaos

Aug 19 2016 |


Show Notes

Rob and Sherry talk about the process of getting settled into a new place. They speak from their own experiences, making points that can help people deal with all different types of transitions in life.

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Episode Transcript

Sherry: I think we’re about a month into life in Minnesota. Does that sound right to you?
Rob Walling: Yeah. I think almost exactly.
Sherry: Yeah. And the first two-three weeks we lived with friends. And then the boys and I moved into our empty house while you were at Micro Con of Europe. And then the moving truck came and we’ve been unpacking ever since.
Rob Walling: Yeah. And we’re still not quite unpacked are we? I think the moving truck came almost about two weeks ago, and the house is feeling a lot more livable. But when you don’t have those finishing touches on, like paintings being hung and all the rugs out, it still feels like we’re in transition.
Sherry: Yeah. We do have the details to take care of.
We thought we would spend today’s episode talking a little bit about the process of getting settled in a new place. Obviously we’re speaking from our own current experiences, but we are hoping to make some points that are applicable to other people who are making different kinds of transitions.
Whether it’s moving to a new place or just changing some significant aspect of your life or rhythm or schedule.
Rob Walling: Yeah. And I think these changes, they can impact you in a number of ways. I mean, typically there’s something exciting and fun and new about them. And then there’s also something that’s disorienting and stressful about them.
In essence, since we’re still going through it, I feel like we have a pretty good perspective right now on some things that we wish we could’ve done differently, as well as the systems and the routines that we use to get through times like this.
Sherry: I think it’s important to point out the level of stress that goes along with a big change. Even if it’s a good change.
I think there’s this scale, I think it’s called the life events checklist, and it rates a number of different life experiences based on how much anxiety they cause.
There’s lots of good things on the list, like a move or a promotion or even getting married or having a child. So even though we’re in the midst of a process that we all agree is really a positive thing for Rob’s business and for our family, it’s definitely impacting our life and causing quite a bit of stress and upheaval.
So don’t forget even really great things can cause a lot of anxiety and disorientation.
Rob Walling: Yeah. It’s easy to do that, you know. It’s easy to think that just because something is hard that you made the wrong decision.
I think that we’ve talked about that, about was this worth it. I think I asked you at one of the peak stress times, and you were like it was still worth it. It’s really hard, but when it’s the right decision it’s good that you know that.
Sherry: We’re still very much in the middle of getting settled, our kids are still not in school. There’s still a lot of upheaval and freeform living, I guess. One of the things that has been really important to me as I’ve attempted to make this adjustment is to start creating some simple routines in my life.
The most important one for me, since moving to Minneapolis, has been to go running every morning. I’m switching back and forth right now between running and Ashtanga yoga. But creating those simple rhythms in my day has been super important for me to both feel like I’m healthy and taking care of myself, but also to feeling like I have some structure to what’s happening in life beyond unpacking boxes and making decisions about what piece of art goes where and where we’re going to keep our shoes, and those kinds of things.
Rob Walling: Yeah. I think these routines have been really helpful for you, especially, because you don’t have the other routine, which is work. I’m going into an office three days a week, so I get up and I go into work. Or even if I’m here, I’m working and I’m doing the normal feeling things.
I’m doing email and I’m doing calls. This all feels … that’s the normal piece of it. And that can help soothe you or help you feel like things aren’t actually that out of whack.
Whereas you had a full-time job in Fresno when we left, and now you’re here and you could feasibly have no routine. I think that that would be probably a negative.
I also think that in addition to the routine, being able to get outside and exercise and do the yoga and have to think your own thoughts for a few hours a day, has been really really powerful. And definitely helping you deal with all the chaos that’s around us.
Sherry: It also is really helping me love what’s great about Minneapolis. We live a block from a lake, and the path around the lake is 3.2 miles and that’s a perfect run for me in the morning.
Even though I’m taking care of myself and providing some structure and schedule and all those things, I’m also practicing how to fall in love with this city and enjoy the best things about it.
I’m also really working to try to establish some sense of schedule with the kids. That has been challenging, because when we first arrived we were living with friends and we were kind of here and there. Some time in a hotel and some time in our friend’s home and then camping out here.
So our kids have been without much structure at all, really all summer. In some ways I love that because it’s a very quintessential summer experience of you guys just have to go play and keep busy and entertain yourselves.
But I think with all of the upheaval in their environment, that’s provided some challenges for them. So we are resetting how our mornings go and how our days flow, in ways that I think are helpful for the kids so they have some sense of consistency and predictability.
And even just talking a lot about how stressful it feels to really not know what you’re supposed to be doing at any given time, and not have much direction to your day, I think, has been helpful for the kids to understand some of what’s causing them some stress.
Rob Walling: Yeah. I think routines are even more important for kids it seems like. And experience, like you said, it depends on the child. But our youngest especially doesn’t do well when it tends to be freeform. He worries about what’s coming and where he’s going to be and who’s going to be there.
I think it’s nice for them to have that morning schedule specifically. And I think you, as usual, instituted it and it works really well. It’s worked really well so far, and I think it’s going to be good to prepare them for when school starts. That they’ll be all ready for the mornings.
Sherry: If my first strategy is creating routines. I think that the second one, to round out the picture, is to embrace some of the chaos.
And for me that has meant to try to have as much fun as possible in the kind of upheaval of our lives.
One way that I’ve been doing that is of course our driveway, our garage, are full of these big moving boxes that we’re emptying out slowly. I have needed them to be broken down and flattened so I can create more space, so I sent the boys out there the other day with boxing gloves and hammers to smash the boxes down.
It was probably sort of dangerous, but they had a lot of fun and they got some energy out and all of the boxes are now sufficiently smashed.
Rob Walling: Yeah, that was cool. You texted me a photo of them hammering on them. I think I clarified there’s nothing of mine in there. My new standup paddleboard is not in the box, is that correct?
Sherry: Not yet.
Rob Walling: Not yet.
Sherry: The other thing that we did to have fun in the chaos was to camp out in the empty house. This is while you were gone at Micro Conf Europe, but we set up camp in one room and played hide and seek and ran up and down the stairs, and just had a really fun time living in an empty house for about a week.
Rob Walling: Yeah. I think there are certain things that you can make fun about this experience, and that’s one of them.
I remember before we had kids, moving into new houses, and we would eat pizza on paper plates. You just kind of live a little differently for a day or two. It gets old quick, but it can be fun if you embrace it and just say ah, it’s just like camping but we happen to have a shower that works.
Sherry: And there are other ways that I’ve done this. Just letting a room be really messy, which normally bothers me tremendously, but yet still deciding to just sit down and read a book and take a break and let it be chaotic and know that it’s going to happen eventually. I’m trying to balance wanting everything to get done and organized as fast a possible and living a little bit of life and having a little bit of fun in the midst of all of the mess.
I think that the third thing that I’ve been thinking about after creating routines and embracing the chaos is to prioritize what effort will contribute to the least amount of stress and anxiety. What’s most calming and what is going to be most helpful to helping our family feel settled and happy and connected.
For me, that was first and foremost, unpacking the family room. Which is the room where we have our couch and our TV and all of the Legos and the games. It’s kind of the kids’ playroom, but it’s also where we hang out at night.
That has been really important, especially because it’s allowed the kids to play and be busy while I’ve unpacked the rest of the house.
Obviously that’s specific to our family, but I think it’s really helpful to think through what initial efforts will contribute to the most amount of calm. For me, at least in this case, it’s been thinking through what spaces need to be organized first.
Rob Walling: Yeah. This is such a big thing. I don’t know if we’ve always done this but I know that with this move, once we were in here I realized that I really needed, like you said, we needed work spaces because we had to work. I needed the kitchen, because if I’m going to be preparing meals I want to know where everything is. It’s stressful to cook or try to do anything in a kitchen where you’re pulling stuff out of boxes or you’re missing this pan or that spatula.
And then our bedroom. The family room was great for the kids, so they had a place to hang out. And then having our bedroom so that we could walk in there and go to sleep or get ready in the morning and not be surrounded by all the boxes and the chaos, was a big one. That’s the first thing I attacked when I got back here, was trying to get everything out, up on shelves and in drawers, and then figuring we could organize it as we went.
It was a big deal. I think we did a decent job of not dabbling. Because it’s easy to wander around the house and unpack a box here and unpack a box there. But like really focusing on an area and nailing it can help you have that. It’s like a little sanctuary.
Sherry: I’ll have to say that my other big priority was to get my paddleboard. That’s one of the things I was really excited about, about moving to Minneapolis and living near a lake. The sort of surfer, ocean lover in me needed a nice transitional object.
And so the first week that we were here, I did a bunch of research and selected a paddleboard and have been out on the lake almost every day since it arrived. Even if I just run down for 20 minutes and paddle around for a little bit.
That has been a high priority to me. I bought a paddleboard before I got a couch. And I just, again, have wanted to be outside and enjoying the things about Minneapolis that are really enjoyable. But also to settle into these rhythms and to prioritize this lovely summer experience while it’s here.
Rob Walling: Yeah. It helps that we basically moved to a place that has a really nice summer life, and you had made that a priority early on. By the time you knew the house was going to be a block from a lake, you were talking about we’re going to rent kayaks, we’re going to rent paddleboards and probably buy one.
There was a lot to look forward to. And that, I think, you do a pretty good job of putting enough of that, like not working the entire time. Because we got the boxes and then you work 20 hour days until it’s done. Or you can work a solid 8-10 hour day and then make sure that you have some time to decompress.
Whether that’s riding your bike or hopping on the paddleboard, getting on the lake, whatever. Walking to ice cream. Whatever it is, there’s prioritizing some calm time, some restful time.
We notice that in the evenings the boys get really tired and we get tired and everybody oftentimes wants some alone time. And I think we’ve done a reasonable job of being able to balance that.
Sherry: And the other thing that related to the paddleboard is that when we arrived in Minneapolis, I had a whole long Google Doc full of fun activities.
So that’s my other strategy for adapting well to a new environment, is to make a plan for fun. I have a list of ice cream shops that are local Minneapolis shops that we’ve slowly been working our way through.
I also had a list of activities to do with the kids in the first couple of weeks. Including, of course, the Mall of America and the Children’s Theater and a couple of different art museums.
And then we’ve had a list of lakes to visit. We also have a list of brunch places that we’re slowly working our way through with our friends Matt and Liz.
Rob Walling: Yeah. Again, this is one of your strengths. In new places, getting oriented quickly and figuring out what the fun things to do are and then exploring those.
I think someone, I think Clay Collins, actually commented and said, “It feels like we’ve done six months or a year’s worth of exploration in the first two, three weeks we’ve been here.”
That was mostly attributed to your impetus and your … I don’t know if you read a book or if you searched online or what it is, but we’ve had amazing meals and we’ve had really fun times and the boys have had great times at those camps. And we’ve had a lot of really good ice cream.
It makes it, kind of eases the burn a little bit, right? It eases the chaos and the stress of settling in a new place, to be able to have something to look forward and just to do something fun. It lightens the mood and makes everybody feel better. Even if it’s only for half an hour or an hour and then we have to get back to work, it’s definitely been a decent balance the last few days.
Sherry: I think it’s important to celebrate the new place that you’re living. There are lots of great things about Minneapolis, and I don’t want to just start discovering those in a month. I want to start now.
It helps, also, to balance the stress with the enjoyment of the new city. It definitely is challenging to move so you want to give it some positive emotion, have some good fun experiences in the midst of all of the work.
Rob Walling: And there are always things that you can do differently or you feel like you could’ve done better. I think the Micro Conf Europe timing was not good this year. I had actually entertained the idea of not attending this year.
But it would’ve been extremely … it would’ve been a really big deal, because of all the stuff I was involved. It was too late to make the change. But the timing just happened to hit right in the middle of Micro Conf Europe and I wish that that didn’t have to go down that way.
Because this wasn’t necessarily planned. You wound up getting the keys and having the moving truck show up during the few days I was gone the following week. And it’s a lot to manage. You’re managing two kids and the moving truck’s showing up.
Sherry: I think the hardest thing about it was that you then just rolled right back into work and there was no relief for me that’s sort of coming now. But yeah, it was a pretty hard couple weeks.
Rob Walling: Yeah. That was hard. I was basically one week into the new job at Lead Pages, or one week into … I guess I was a month in, but I was one week in at the new place and then I took off for a week.
I was working nights and weekends in Barcelona, and so I come back and everybody wants stuff from me and there’s all the stuff that I have to do. And so that was tough. That was something that I wish could’ve gone differently.
I think another one is, I don’t know how to do this exactly, but during the unpacking phase there’s obviously a lot of chaos and the kids are running around and the grownups are hot and kind of stressed out. And there are times where I wish that someone could take the kids out and let them have some fun while we get the work done.
I don’t know if you felt that way, but I did feel like there were times when I was getting angry at the kids while I was unpacking because I’m trying to do that and they’re doing something that I need to stop what I’m doing.
Or it seems like there’s probably a better way to manage that. Maybe if we had family in town or something. I can imagine if we were here and it was the two of us, or the two of us plus friends, and our kids were with their grandparents or something, it would be like five times easier to hammer this out.
Sherry: Yeah. That’s tough also, because they really want us. You being gone during this time was really hard on them, and they have, sort of, since we’ve been here, been told a lot of wait and hold on and I’m talking to this person and I’m doing this.
Yeah. I can appreciate wishing that they were occupied. But I think especially for our little one, he really wanted us and our attention. I don’t think shipping him off to some camp would’ve been good for him.
You want to end our things we wish we would’ve done differently with your visitor today?
Rob Walling: Yeah. I was on a call this morning, I was just wrapping up and someone’s banging on the door downstairs, ringing the doorbell. I come down and there’s a guy who says, “Are you Rob Walling?” And I said, “Yeah. What can I do for you?
And he said, “Come down and take your stuff out of my Dumpster.” And I was like what? Totally disoriented, like what are you talking about? And then I realized that we had, obviously, our whole garage is filled with boxes and we’re waiting to figure out, give them away on Craigslist or whatever.
But there were some boxes in front of our garage here and I had seen this, it was a construction Dumpster, it was open and barely had anything in it. And so I had chucked a couple boxes in there. But I guess one of them had a piece of mail in it or something.
I felt so embarrassed. It’s like you said, coming from Fresno where all the dumpsters were locked all the time, it genuinely didn’t occur to me that it was that big of a deal.
So I felt pretty dumb on that. Won’t be doing that again.
Sherry: He scared you straight.
Rob Walling: Totally. Well, when he pointed it out I was just like, I asked him, “Is it that big of a deal?” But he was obviously … it obviously really rubbed him the wrong way.
So I was like okay, I guess that’s not something you do.
Sherry: Sorry.
Rob Walling: Yeah.
Sherry: All in all, everybody’s getting settled and we’re getting life reestablished here. It’s mostly fun and mostly a lot of work. And that’s how transitions go.
Just to recap quickly our strategies for doing this with as much sanity as possible are to create routines, embrace the chaos and make it fun as much as possible. Prioritize destressing activities and unpacking rooms that create the most calm.
Make a plan for fun. And don’t put your stuff in other people’s dumpsters.


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