Meet Me at the Settle Down Cafe

settlecafeIf I could, I’d meet all of my new clients at the Settle Down Cafe.

Settling used to be a disparaging word in my vocabulary, laced with judgment. “What are you settling for?” I might have asked a new client when I first started coaching.

Now I am just as likely to ask you, “What does it feel like to settle into that?” “That” could be anything – a feeling, a fear, an idea, a dream.

I realized today that settling has shifted in my lexicon and in my experience from something to be vigilant against, something to avoid-at-all-costs, to a way of listening to the quiet answers waiting to be heard.

Back in high school, my friend Jessi used to say, “You can’t settle, Jenn.” (She called me Jenn.) “Not you.” We were probably talking about guys, but the idea stayed with me, simplistically probably, when it came to making bigger life decisions. Don’t settle – for a job you don’t love, for a person who doesn’t treat you well. It was our thirteen-year-old way of saying, “Don’t be a victim.”

Long story short, I met Greg. We talked a lot about what we didn’t want to settle for. We envisioned ourselves settling down, however, making a life in a place together. We got through grad school, we got married, we moved to Burlington. In a word, we got settled.

But I still didn’t know how to settle in. And settling in, it turned out, was exactly what I needed to learn how to do. Instead, I was a closet smoker. A late-night eater. An agonized decision-maker. I had to learn how to allow myself to settle, not in the give-up sense but in the let-down sense. How to settle a busy mind. How to settle into the body instead of turning to so many distractions.

I am still learning. In fact, learning how to settle has become a powerful way of assessing where I might be settling. Got that?

In other words, settling is no longer the enemy of a creative life. It is the key to one.

8 thoughts on “Meet Me at the Settle Down Cafe

  1. Jena Strong says:

    That’s true! Grounding is another good word for this kind of settling. Funny, though, because I’ve often thought of writing about that one, too. Remember how getting grounded was once a punishment, whereas now it’s this thing we practice doing?


  2. rowena says:

    I like this. I think it’s similar to my idea of acceptance. Accepting the life we have as a worthy one. Making do. Enjoying the moment. And a bit of commitment, too. Settling means you stop *here*. You pay attention to *this* moment. *This* life. You say yes to what you have, instead of always yearning for the other side of the fence or the next town down the road.


  3. Karen Pery says:

    I used to think of settling as taking the bad side of a compromise; now thinking of all the times I’ve told my children to settle down, and considering how settling in means getting into my groove, I think the process of settling is an exercise in negotiating choices.



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