Savoring a transition | Renewal Rundown #3
Reflections on Place and Work
Good afternoon from North Carolina! I’m in the midst of packing up our house as we prepare to move to New England in early November.
This is the Renewal Rundown a monthly newsletter where I share a few updates, ideas, and sources of inspiration on applying self-renewal to ourselves and the world around us. Let’s jump in!
Reflections on Place
The word savor is on my mind as we pack our life into boxes. I’m prone to steer my attention forward, focusing on the rush of getting somewhere new. It’s exciting but costly. I lose contact with the beautiful things in this moment and this place. Shifting to savoring reminds me to:
Appreciate the perfect fall weather, colorful trees, and late flowers before the cold winter. Sit in my garden a few more times and reflect on the lessons learned. Visit my favorite coffee shop and say goodbye to the baristas. Hang with local friends and revisit our favorite hiking spots. Enjoy our last days in our current home and laugh at the memories. Recognize this state of transition and the opportunities within it.
In this space, I feel deep gratitude. Even though we are leaving after just a few years, I’m glad we thought we’d live here for decades and acted accordingly. It meant studying the land, building soil, connecting with neighbors, cultivating community, and planting things that others can now enjoy. Even if you leave, fully committing to a place is worth it. In the words of the great David Holmgren: “what I take away in my head is worth way more than what I leave behind."
These reflections bring to mind authors that have written books that read like love letters to a specific place. One of my favorites is The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd about her experience in the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland:
“Summer on the high plateau can be delectable as honey; it can also be a roaring scourge. To those who love the place, both are good, since both are part of its essential nature. And it is to know its essential nature that I am seeking here.
Hit me up with recommendations if you have any favorite books in this genre.
Reflections on Work
Given our move, I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about work. In the short term, not much will change. Yet, I’m aware of how much our environment shapes us and my work has evolved significantly each time I’ve moved.
I wrote about these experiences wrestling with Work, Ambition, and Identity over the last decade and explored different components of how we work on three recent podcast episodes:
On the societal pressures that define our default approaches to work and strategies to break free to discover new ways of working:
On why we should view productivity as emotion regulation and how we can bring more of ourselves into our work:
On how individuals can thrive in large organizations, develop skills to drive change at scale, and embrace the power of a sabbatical
These conversations highlight how we can more intentionally shape our work and how our work can shape us. In this way, it’s a source of renewal for not only the world around us but also for ourselves.
If you’re interested in further exploring your relationship to work, I recommend these two books:
The Great Work of Your Life, by Stephen Cope
We derive the greatest pleasure and fulfillment when all our faculties are drawn together into our life’s work. In this state of absorption, we experience extraordinary satisfaction. We human beings are attracted to the experience of intense involvement
Three Marriages, by David Whyte
“Work, like marriage, is a place you can lose yourself more easily perhaps than finding yourself. It is a place full of powerful undercurrents, a place to find our selves, but also, a place to drown, losing all sense of our own voice, our own contribution and conversation.”
On the Horizon
I’m excited to share a long-form essay I’ve been working on about how embodied exercise can unlock the joy of exercise. It will go live soon as part of Tasshin Fogleman’s Essay contest, where I expect there to be an amazing collection of writing on interesting topics.
After this, I’ll be shifting into a quiet season as we settle into our new home. I believe times of transition can be powerful opportunities for renewal and plan to use it as a chance to open to new possibilities in my daily life.
I will also use this time to explore a few ideas I have for this newsletter, the On Renewal Podcast, and my work more broadly. If you have ideas for any of these, I’d love to hear them. Please don’t hesitate to reply to this email or add a comment below.
Thanks for reading On Renewal! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Thanks for Reading!
To support my work please consider sharing this newsletter with a friend and subscribing to the On Renewal podcast (Spotify | Apple Podcasts).
I've moved 8 times in my life (didn't know it was that many until writing this!) because of the military and I know the emotions behind it all too well.
It's exciting yet sobering. It reminds me of how quickly life can pass by without notice. About how people come and go in your life (and things are never quite the same again, even after making so many memories and they promise to keep in touch)
You've gone about it in the best way. Shifting to a lower gear when it comes to online content production is a great idea for you and your family.
Good luck with the move Sam!
What a thoughtful update. I know it must be a very full time in your life right now but yet you’ve found the ability to slow down and savor these last days. North Carolina will miss you!