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This Is How You Evolve
This should actually be titled, “This is how I, Molly Mahar, bought a church in Montana, left California, spent a winter in the woods of Washington, and am about to embark on a trip around the world with my family while taking a sabbatical from my business + real life.”
Yes, it’s about external evolution! And it’s also about internal evolution — being a “big feeler” dealing with pandemic exhaustion + an existential crisis + a country rolling back our human rights while the world literally burns up. What does that all mean for my day-to-day + for my work + for our community? How do I handle the gobs of uncertainty that have become my constant companion?
How do I EVOLVE from all of this, not end up a numb, overwhelmed, sweatpant-clad 40something surrounded by useless shit I bought off Instagram ads?
I compiled/wrote the first 2 pieces of this 3 part series back in November 2021 and the 3rd piece in July of 2022.
1/3 Destruction: Behind the Scenes
If you follow along with my personal IG account — you know that change is happening in my world but I’ve been hesitant to share any real details. And you also know that I’ve been having very strong reactions to it all for the last year…
The short version:
“We bought an old Church in Montana! There’s a mysterious 2 year plan that means we’re leaving California! Reclamation is only 3 months long next year! I may quit the Internet forever! I’m currently in the middle of a destruction-mode OMFG WHAT HAVE WE DONE freakout!
I mean, no surprise, right? The foreshadowing has been quite clear…
APRIL 2021. Taking a breather from the shitshow of the last 1.5 weeks to exhale a really loud AHHHHHHH. It’s definitely more 😱 than 😎… But quick note to self – Beauty is everywhere. Growth is hard, but it’s also necessary. Mistakes will be made. But joy is possible in my messy world. Choose the JOY. Keep choosing the JOY. 💛
JUNE 2021. Roadtrip Day Whatever. 😂 We made it. All the feels including complete overwhelm, nostalgia, homecoming + exhaustion. Yes – we bought this 1890 Church site unseen during the pandemic thanks to Mary’s mastermind planning. 😉 No – we are not 100% sure what we are doing with it. For now? 3 weeks in Helena while we try to figure it out. No pressure, right? Really grateful for my steady husband who grounds my wild emotional swings + holds “possibility vision” with the best of them. ❤️💛
AUGUST 2021. I was scared of falling into another dip (my word for depression lite) this summer because that’s what happened last summer… And although there were challenges being “on the road” for over two months – my heart felt lit up on adventures + stellar company + immense gratitude for the abundance of help we received.
Things that were good? I started talking openly about our 2 year plan + dosed up on vitamin D ☀️ + had a lot of one-on-one deep talk time with friends I love + spent entire days playing in nature + kept my morning journal routine strong + stayed sober + talked to lots of strangers + slept a ton even if that meant missing out on late night festivities + gave myself plenty of dedicated working time for Reclamation. I’m sure there are a million other factors that helped keep the dip at bay, but we are headed home today + I am feeling JOY. 😍
OCTOBER 2021. Golden Thread in Action this weekend. 💛💛💛 And yup – it’s the last day to sign up for Reclamation Essentials via Early Bird, friends. It may be my only online offering in 2022 — an epic celebration + exploration of the work I’ve been doing the last 5 years. 3 months of unpacking your Authenticity, the Expectations you are carrying, and the Purpose you’re are here to embody.
Here for it? Me toooooooo. 💛💛💛
NOVEMBER 2021. Reminding myself that tomorrow will be another day to begin again. Rough one over here! Frog 🐸 belly eyes and all. All is fine — just a very dramatic middle-of-destruction-mode “WTF are we doing, this is never going to work” freak out kicked off by a (hopefully mistaken) surprise giant ass IRS bill. But dosed up on some vitamin D at the beach with the littles this afternoon and will try again tomorrow! That’s really all I ask of myself these days. Feel your feelings, try not to make any rash decisions, stay sober, and go the fuck to bed! 💛
First a few things to know…
It’s starting to get confusing trying to share in drips + drops. I’m 100% a person who would rather have you just know all my business in real time because that feels simple to me. Like, lay it out there + deal with it, because it is what it is, even though the online world keeps telling me, “Don’t talk about “stuff” when you’re in it — only AFTER the fact so the good stuff looks magical + effort-free OR you can tie a shiny bow of lessons learned on the shitty stuff.”
But in this case — I’m both IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THE CHOSEN STUFF + I haven’t been able to share in real time about all of it.
So much of what is coming is dependent on a million other things happening beforehand… And honestly? There are some things that aren’t mine to tell.
And yes, I get nervous that I’ll change my mind about what I want + look flakey. Like a failure? Like someone who dreams big + then can’t back it up?
I get nervous that you’ll make assumptions about what’s going on that aren’t true. I get nervous you’ll judge me for making changes that affect our community + your plans. I get nervous that complaining about my privileged life (hurrah for a household of 2 entrepreneur incomes + location freedom) will turn you off because I should just be grateful + shut the fuck up about wanting something different…
But I can’t control any of that!
All I can do is live my life in a way that feels in integrity, while I embrace my values of adventure + joy. All I can do is trust that getting quiet (LIKE REALLY QUIET) to listen to my heart + impossible dreams reminds you that you’re allowed to do it too.
And because I know that The Holiday Council is fast approaching — I feel like it’s time to get you caught up on the whole “WTF is going on” story so you understand what I mean when I claim DESTRUCTION on the Cycle of Years framework.
And I will. Next love letter…
Like Juliet said to me this morning when I wrestled the library book out of her hand so she would get her butt in the car, “But it’s a hiff clanger, Mama!”
So it is, my friend. A big ‘ol hiff clanger.
More from me soon, promise.
2/3 The Unrest Was Already Brewing: Behind the Scenes
If you read my Holiday Council notes + comments closely last year, the current of Unrest was very clear. (Unrest is the stage before Destruction!)
And hell! I was posting about it publicly during the Fall of 2020…
“I’m 100% confident I will cycle back up to a state of hope + find the shift in perspective that allows me to practice finding “joy in the messy world.” (Who recognizes that old tagline?! 😂) But for now, in the swampiness + gap, I am honoring my shadow + my ugly. And I’m cool with it because I’ve been here often enough in my life to trust that unrest births truer + more poignant alignment for my next season of life. Like a phoenix…
Burn it up + out, baby!
If you happen to be in the swamp, I welcome your company. If you’re on the bank of hope + perspective shift, I welcome your inspiration. If you have no clue where in this imaginary landscape you happen to be, I wish you a moment of quiet to check in with yourself + a deep breath to honor what you find out.”
“Some days we are so afraid that we’re not enough. That we’ll never find peace within our bodies, our parenting, our relationships, our never-ending list of adulting tasks, our desire to do good + be happy.
In the dark of the night, we worry that we lack in some essential way that means we will never be loved in the way we want to be loved. That we will never be seen in the way we want to be seen. That we will never have the impact we want to have on our world. We convince ourselves that all our dreams will remain forever out of reach. That we can’t ask for help. That we will always feel alone. That it won’t ever get better. That we’re broken in a way that others just aren’t.
There’s nothing wrong with you if your shadow voices say those kinds of things to you.
My shadows say the same shit to me!
And those shadows capitalize on depression, on anxiety, on social isolation, on the fatigue of a world steeped in systemic injustice, on the current state of global pandemic, on entire states on fire.
Here’s my take on dealing with those shadow voices, sweet friend — observe them, dance with them, get super sweaty with them, scream about it in the solitude of your car or your pillow, throw an epic temper tantrum. Bring those fears, those worries, those frustrations out into the light of awareness in your journal, with your safe people or with your therapist
Or you know, the entire internet if you’re like me… 🤣
Feel those Feelings.
Feel Them Feel Them Feel Them Feel Them.”
“Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t pretend no one will understand. Don’t enter the loop of judging your own feelings validity or acceptability. Don’t hold back when your friends check on you because you don’t want to bring them down. Don’t gloss over your big feels with fake gratitude or continually distract yourself with productivity or numb yourself out.
Or maybe I should say — do all those as needed because you are human + sometimes we need a break from the big feels + there’s nothing wrong with productivity or emotional eating or social media or positive affirmations or radio silence.
It’s the getting lost in those avoidance mechanisms that’s dangerous!
We all know that our feelings aren’t THE TRUTH (cause hey! hormones + sleep deprivation + trauma patterns + astrological shit + brain chemistry) but I also truly believe that the only way out of our messy feelings is through…
And yup, this is totally a personal update to tell you I’m slowly crawling my way out of the Swamp! Shoreline + sunshine ☀️ + potential destruction 🔨 here I come…”
“Slowly crawling out of the swamp! Being bolstered by noon Sit + Shakes, 4 pm get out of the house dates — garden Tuesdays, beach Wednesdays, and Hiking Thursdays — and dreaming (aka Zillow porn) about the mountains. Only way out is through..”
Destruction here I come… 🤣 🔨 🤣
During that whole period, I knew in my heart that it was time for something NEW, but I wasn’t sure what NEW was… I knew it was time for the next season of my life to emerge, but I wasn’t sure what was actually next…
(THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF UNREST! Nothing’s “wrong” exactly, but it’s not exactly right either.)
I journaled + I hiked + I cried + I made a hell of a lot of gratitude art trying to get to the bottom of it.
Was it my marriage? Nope.
(I mean, there’s always room for deepening + expanding desire, but Ken is my beloved, chosen partner + I make that choice everyday.)
Was it my kids? Hahaha, nope.
(Not that there is much I could do if it was! But I’m 100% certain I’m meant to be a mother in this lifetime, so we’re solid here.)
Was it my business? I didn’t want it to be, so I noped this one.
(Things were running smoothly, as planned + I get to spend a majority of my working time doing things I LOVE. I was tired, but so was everyone else.)
So what was left?
Our home, our community, our choice to be in California.
We’ve been in California since 2011 and in this Shell Beach house since late 2014. We’ve built deep friendships, fallen in love with the ocean, immersed ourselves in the stunning nature + food + weather + great neighbors, welcomed my mom here 5 years ago, and landed our kids in the most amazing elementary school.
And while I love it here, the continued slog of the pandemic just emphasized that I was also a bit bored. I blame it fully on my Enneagram 7 novelty seeking self who thrives on adventure… But because Ken + I both work for ourselves online — we have FULL control over where we live + I’m always accurately aware of this fact.
We chose to move here without knowing a soul + it was starting to become clear we could choose to leave. There are other places I love too! Other communities of humans I adore! And I’ve had some deep cravings for winter. And a house with a bit more space for my growing kiddos.
So a year ago — as I was crawling out of the swamp — we started burning it all down after many, many conversations about what kind of life/family/legacy we wanted to create.
Ken + I did all the math + decided we could leave CA, but keep this darling beach house + rent it out. We bought the Church in Helena site unseen for our future selves. We resurrected our dream of living abroad with the kids. We decided we could lower our cost of living dramatically so I could rest + regroup.
I’m still not 100% sure what is “next next” – but I do know that if I sit still + stuck, I stagnate – so we throwing a bunch of arrows + seeing what sticks!
The mysterious 2 year plan?
- We are moving to our cabin in Index, Washington over the holidays. 34 days to go before we pack up our Honda CRV + drive north!
- We’re hunkering down for our kids’ very first winter + working while they finish up the school year in WA. I’ve got the Holiday Council, Reclamation Essentials from February – April, and Camp in June on my Stratejoy plate. And then? I’m taking a work sabbatical for as long as it takes to figure out what’s next.
- We’re going sailing in Croatia in August, hiking in the Alps in September, spending the fall in Italy, and early winter in Thailand. Kids will be unschooling + I’ll be doing whatever the hell I feel like doing.
- Most likely, we’ll be back to WA for the winter + I’ll host Holiday Council 2022 for us.
- Then, we’re off to Central America for 6ish months. More unschooling for the kiddos, writing (novel? Stratejoy book?) for me, and Spanish language immersion for all. I’m pretty sure Ken wants to spend all his time fishing + surfing…
- Finally, we’ll land back in my hometown of Helena, Montana in time for the 2023/2024 school year. Potentially in a renovated Church… Potentially on some mountain acreage… Still figuring out how/if we can swing the finances of this one, but the desire is clear.
Will everything work out perfectly as planned? Of course not.
But I’m willing to risk that in order to embark on an adventure that lights me up. I’m willing to fail + adjust as needed in order to live a life that feels like mine. I’m willing to strip back major identities (successful entrepreneur! responsible saver! minivan soccer mama!) in order to evolve into the next version of me.
I’m willing to chance regret for beauty hunting, for collecting memories, for pushing my own definition of what’s allowed.
It’s not the right choice for everyone — but for now? For me? For us?
It’s our chance to explore the unknown potential of what’s next.
And yup! I’m terrified + excited, both.
More soon (3/3) about the questions I’m holding in my heart about my work + our community. About fear + commitment. About permission to change…
Thank you for letting me be my full, messy, big-dreaming, raw self in the middle of it all. Love you. Mean it.
3/3 The Pause (PreGrowth?): Behind the Scenes
I wrote those first 2 pieces in November and now it’s July! We are fully in the midst of the “2 Year Plan” — wrapping up our stay in Index + getting ready to leave for Croatia in a week.
Holy Shit. It’s happening.
My kids have been feral free-range bicycle-riding mountain children for the past 6 months, loving the freedom of a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. They survived changing schools, adored learning to snowboard, made a lot of money on Sunday lemonade stands, and found all the geocaches within a 20 mile radius. There was plenty of Minecraft + banging away on the keyboard + baking piles of sugar + art messes + minnow catching + swimming in the freezing cold Skykomish river too.
They are ready to hit the road after us talking endlessly about it for 9 months… Me too for that matter!
I’ve been in awe of their resiliency. And grateful. Although I have a lot of mom guilt for leaving their incredible elementary school back in California, I know they are benefitting from a different kind of learning right now.
Ken worked his ass off for the past 6 months (on top of the last 20 years), crammed on a tiny desk in the corner of our cabin bedroom during the long grey days. He set a goal 3 years ago to sell his email marketing agency by July 4th + HE DID IT!
His business sale was part of the “2 year plan” that I couldn’t really talk about as it was rolling out + honestly? I had no idea if it was actually going to happen. More than the money (significant, but not life-changing) — this sale buys him freedom. Freedom to travel for the next year. Freedom from being online/on meetings all day. Freedom to evolve into something new when we land in Helena a year from now!
I am so proud of him.
And me? I’m sick of checking off as many of my “To Dos” as I can each day in preparation for leaving — feels like my brain is stuffed full of booking flights/housing/last minute appointments + buying cabin supplies for our Airbnb renters + packing all our shit up for the 2rd time in 6 months + buttoning up Stratejoy + ALL the things. It’s been this way since I got back from Camp + got over Covid…
Which is fine — it all needs to happen. It’s how the next year of travel adventure/sabbatical CAN happen!
But I am definitely craving time + space to think about the big questions around my work that got kicked up during this process of Evolution…
- Who am I now, in this season of my life? What am I willing to let go of? What am I open to allowing in?
- How do I feel about this industry (coaching? personal development?) overall? And my place within it?
- Do I need to make the same amount of money I am used to making? Am I willing to sacrifice other desires to do so?
- Is my focus on individual joy/reclamation causing more harm than help in the big scheme of things?
- Is there a way to participate in social media/content marketing even though I find it mostly toxic to my mental health?
- Am I willing to fail at something new? Am I willing to trust I might be good at something else?
- Does the world need something more from me right now? Do I care?
- How do I want to use my gifts? WTF even are my gifts?
I thought I might have more wise things to say by now — but really it’s just felt like a series of closures without many clues to what’s next…
It’s weird. I’ve had my fair share of intense scarcity freakouts. I recommitted to my sobriety, realizing that my favorite self is alcohol-free + attempting to moderate was causing me unnecessary mental anguish. I’m uncomfortable a lot of the time. Some days I wish I’d ignored all the unrest and just continued on without getting all “I MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!”
But in reality, I’m glad.
Stagnant + stuck Molly is not fun for anyone — she gets super whiny + self-righteous + the bad kind of main-character-energy…
Even with the parts that have been hard + scary, I’m incredibly grateful for the ability to pause + rethink some things about how I’ve been working + mama-ing + wife-ing + just living. Also grateful to the extreme level of planner I am that make the whole logistics of this upcoming year possible! I’ve been saving for a few years to make the money work and booking months of accommodations + travel doesn’t scare me…
And even more than anything? I’m really happy with past me who chose “Live the question” as a goal this year.
I am ready to full on live all the questions.
From a sailboat! And the Dolomites! While eating pasta + drinking Crodino! On a Thai beach! In between language + surfing lessons! From the passenger side of an open air Jeep in the jungle!
I’ve got a new journal + I know how to use it… 😜
I don’t know if I will be sending many email love letters until Holiday Council opens up for registration, but I will be posting/using my personal Instagram if you want to stay in touch. We’ll be sailing in Croatia for August, road-tripping in Italy during September + October, island hopping in Thailand for 6 weeks, and then spending next winter learning Spanish + getting back on our surfboards somewhere in Central America!
Thank you for being here for the journey – wherever it ends up taking me. 💛
Catch you on the flipside, sister.