EEE To The Rescue!

Examine Envision Emerge to the Rescue!

The author, Christiane Northrup, said this: “Our souls design many potent wake-up calls to get our attention back on track.” As it turned out, it only took one potent wake-up call for me to gain clarity and insight about where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I’m heading. Because everything I needed to know about moving to a place of illumination I learned by locking myself in a barn on New Year’s Day!

Ah, New Year’s Day. A day of possibilities. We close the door on the past year. We look forward to the coming year.

And so it was with me in 2005.

I began the day by closing the door, not only on the past year, but on the last 20 years of my life as well. I was packing the rest of the things that belonged to my about-to-be ex-husband who had moved out two months before.

And I was looking forward to the coming year, and the rest of my life, with a little fear but also with lots of hope and excitement!

I had been boxing up my husband’s things for several weeks. And, whenever I had a few boxes for him to pick up, I’d leave them down in the barn so he could retrieve them when I was at work.

On this day, New Year’s Day, 2005, I packed the rest of his tools, loaded the toolbox and the dogs into the car, and drove down to the barn, which is about 2 acres behind my house, and about 3 acres away from my nearest neighbor’s house.

Let’s be clear about one thing: to call this structure a “barn” is probably a stretch. It’s really just a big storage shed. The walls and the doors are constructed from heavy plywood boards that are 4 feet wide and 8 feet high. The roof is corrugated metal tacked onto the top of the plywood walls.

I don’t have any livestock. Which means that I’ve never actually used the barn to stable anything other than some boxes and suitcases. Which also means that there’s no water or electricity. Plus, there are openings for windows, but they’re boarded up from the inside with slightly smaller pieces of plywood.

So I drive down to the barn, let the dogs out of the car, grab the toolbox, and go to open the barn door.

Again, calling this a barn door is another stretch. It’s just one of the 4×8 pieces of plywood. It’s attached to the barn by two gate hinges, and there’s a big gate latch on the outside that keeps the door securely closed. Keep that in mind – “outside.” (And yes, with hindsight, it was probably a mistake to place it there.)

Trust me - this is not a picture of my barn. This barn would be an upgrade from mine!

So I drive down to the barn, let the dogs out of the car, grab the toolbox, and go to open the barn door.

Again, calling this a barn door is another stretch. It’s just one of the 4×8 pieces of plywood. It’s attached to the barn by two gate hinges, and there’s a big gate latch on the outside that keeps the door securely closed. Keep that in mind – “outside.” (And yes, with hindsight, it was probably a mistake to place it there.)

Now, because the door is pretty big and just attached with two gate hinges, if you want to keep the door open, you have to prop it open with a big piece of concrete.

But on this day, I wasn’t planning on staying in the barn. I just had to swing the door open, drop the toolbox inside, and drive back to the house to enjoy the rest of the day and begin planning my future life. Easy!

I place the toolbox on the ground outside the door. I unlatch the door and swing it open just enough for the dogs to run in excitedly and sniff around. With my one hand on the door, I pick up the toolbox with my other hand, take one step into the barn, grab the toolbox from outside, and lean down to place it on the ground just inside the door.

As I lean over, I lose my balance, and the hand I’m holding the door open with comes off the door. As I turn around to catch the door before it swings shut, I hear this big WHHOOSH, a huge gust of wind sweeps by, I hear a big BANG, and the barn door slams shut.

And then I hear a quieter, but more ominous sound – the gate latch on the outside of the door clicks into the lock.

I am now trapped in a dark, empty barn three acres away from my nearest neighbor in the wee hours of the morning on New Year’s Day. No electricity, no water – and no cell phone because I wasn’t planning on staying down at the barn so it didn’t occur to me to bring it along.

And as the darkness closes around me, my life passes before my eyes because clearly, I’m probably going to perish out in this barn before anyone comes to rescue me. So for all intents and purposes, there is now no way out of my present circumstances.

But, hang on a minute—haven’t I developed a powerful and proven three-step process called Examine Envision Emerge that helps people explore ways to shift their perspective in order to consider new horizons and chart a new course?

So how might I use this approach here? Well, I just have to examine where I am now (locked in a barn); envision alternatives, possibilities, and options regarding where I want to be (out of this barn); and then take the next right action in order to emerge into the light of a new day (and out of this barn without breaking my neck!).

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So, as my eyes adjust to the darkness, I take a look around, and I realize I have not just one option but several options.

Option #1: I can do nothing.

It may seem paradoxical but doing nothing is always an option. What are hikers told to do if they get lost in the woods? “Do nothing. Stay where you are.” However, sometimes there are consequences even for doing nothing, and, in this case, the consequences could be dire indeed if no one finds me. Plus, my dogs are starting to whimper and whine, so clearly they don’t think much of this option either.

Option #2: I can scream for help.

Of course, my barn is three acres away from my nearest neighbor. Plus, it’s New Year’s Day, and it’s unlikely that any of my neighbors are even awake yet, let alone hiking out near my barn. It’s an option, but again probably not my best option.

Option #3. I could run at the barn door with all my might and hope to break the lock.

Ashleigh Brilliant once said, “In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through it.” Sound advice, no doubt. However, it might take a few tries before I actually succeed in breaking through the door, during which time I would probably also break one of my shoulders and one or both legs, in which case, I won’t be able to crawl back to the car, let alone drive myself to the hospital. So, here’s another option that probably isn’t the next right action to take.

Option #4. I could escape through the roof.

Because the roof isn’t nailed down securely, I can see patches of daylight in some spots. And since I’m using the barn as a storage shed for lots of boxes and suitcases, I could pile everything up like a ladder, climb up, and try to push the roof away from the wall enough for me to shimmy out and drop to the ground. But remember—it’s at least eight feet down, and that’s even assuming I can get up there and swing my legs over in the first place. Which ultimately means we’re looking at that whole “break my shoulders and my legs” outcome again, so this doesn’t seem to be my best option either.

Things are beginning to look bleak indeed if these are my only options. So not wanting to perish in a barn, I continue to take stock and shift my perspective. Looking around once more, I notice the boarded-up window.

Aha – a new possibility!

I know that there’s no glass I have to break through because, as you recall, I never put the windows in. I just need to remove the plywood board that’s nailed over the opening on the inside of the barn. But how am I going to do that? I don’t have any tools.

Hang on a minute. I DO have tools – a bunch of tools. Which is why I managed to stupidly lock myself in the barn in the first place!

So, I open up the toolbox and take out the hammer. I pry out the nails, and voila! The board gently swings open just like a door! I climb up onto the window ledge, swing my legs out, and drop gracefully to the ground, which is about six feet below, managing to only scrape my arm and pull most of the muscles in my upper body in my fall from grace. I brush myself off, look around sheepishly to make sure that no one has seen me (because in the immortal words of Louisa May Alcott, “Let us be elegant or die”), go around to the barn door, and open it to let my dogs out.

And as I drive back up to my house on this New Year’s Day of new beginnings, I realize that everything I will EVER need to know about getting from where I am to where I want to be, I’ve just learned by stupidly locking myself in the barn!

So let’s look at how I applied the Examine Envision Emerge process to rescue me. And as I tell you how I applied these steps, I ask you to begin thinking about how you might also use them in your own life right now, to inspire you and equip you on your journey of personal exploration.

Step #1, Examine. In order to get from where you are to where you want to be, you begin by taking stock of your present circumstances WITHOUT JUDGMENT.

One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, wrote this: “If you start to look around, you will start to see.”

If you’re going to break free from where you are in order to chart a new course, retrace your steps to understand how you got to where you are, or perhaps choose another destination altogether, the first thing you need to do is start to really see. See what might be keeping you locked in a barn. Look around. Take stock. Shift your perspective. Look for your options. Look for the tools that might be available to you.

Now the most important thing about this step is taking stock NONJUDGMENTALLY. And why is this so important? Because if you’re too busy beating yourself up for getting locked in a barn in the first place, you can’t see clearly.

The moment I realized that I had locked myself in, I thought, “Are you stupid? You just locked yourself in the barn! There’s no way out. No one knows you’re down here!”

But then I realized that beating myself up was NOT going to get me out.

So I waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, and then I took stock: I examined what was IN the barn that I might be able to use to get OUT of the barn: the door, the roof, the boxes and suitcases I could pile up, the boarded-up window, the tools in the toolbox.

Which brings us to Step 2 in our 3-step blueprint for moving to a place of illumination.

Step #2, Envision. You visualize all of your options – and what the outcome might be for each option.

Once I examined my surroundings and my situation, what did I do next? I started to see that I did in fact have options, and I pictured – envisioned – the possible outcomes for each one.

And why do we picture the outcomes? Because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it – and you won’t be able to change it, which, in my case, meant finding a way out that would cause me the fewest broken bones!

Remember how I saw five options, each with a different outcome? All of these options were possible. Not all of them were the best next right action to take. But all of them were possible.

Which reminds me of something that Coco Chanel once said, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” Sounds like she might have locked herself in a barn once or twice, and she’s letting us know that, while we might have many options, not all of them are in our best interest.

Which brings us to the last step in our three-step blueprint.

Step #3, Emerge. You take action towards whatever you decide is in your best and highest interest.

Herbert Hoover said, “Wisdom often consists of knowing what to do next.”

In order to make a conscious effort to change the way you perceive and interact with the world, you have to move from thought to action.

So how did I apply this step to getting out of that blasted barn?

After I considered all of my options, I decided that my best next step was to escape through the window. And what did I do to literally emerge from that barn? I took action!

  • I found the tools I needed to pry off the board.
  • I hoisted myself up onto the window ledge.
  • I dropped gracefully (kinda) down to the ground on the other side.

Free at last!

Dr. Michael Smith said this: “You are the one who finds your way out and you will.”

Looking at your life today, do you feel as if you’re locked in a barn with no way out? Are you at a place in your life where you know where you want to be but you can’t figure out how to get there from here? Maybe you’re overwhelmed by options, but you need help to determine which option is in your best interest?

Well take heart—and take action!

If I can get myself out of a locked barn without breaking a single bone, you can break free of anything that is currently holding you back and keeping you from getting from where you are to where you want to be. And you don’t even need to lock yourself in a barn to know what that is.

You just need to follow these three simple steps to leave behind all of the thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, emotions, and expectations that no longer serve you:

  1. Examine your situation without judgment.
  2. Envision your options.
  3. And then select your best option to take action and Emerge into the Light!
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