A few weeks ago I was frantically cleaning my house in anticipation of a visit from the dog-sitter. For the nth time, I said, "This is nuts! I should keep the house looking great all the time -- for me, not just for visitors."

And I began a daily program of upkeep. A swish here, a scrub there. Wonderful!

But the more I cleaned, the more I noticed. A pot that had blended into the background now stood out, crying for help. A long-ignored corner seemed buried in dust. Was I moving backward?

The same thing happens when I edit an article. The writer makes a correction, which calls attention to another problem, and then another.

And when clients begin to change their lives, they begin to notice new dust in their corners. "I think I'd like to go back to school," they say. "But I would have to move to a new state. And then I'd have to deal with my boyfriend. And my grown daughter, who depends on me."

Or they notice how they spend time and money. "I need a reserve fund, just in case." "I don't want to give up the time I spend on my garden."

Sometimes just the first step -- hiring me for an hour or a month -- can air out a security blanket. When you've made a decision to change your life, and actually taken an action step, you view the world differently. You send out new nonverbal communication: "I'm on my way!" And folks around you respond, although they may not know why. Some relationships grow closer; others begin to come apart at the seams.

At first, this new awareness seems disturbing, a source of new stress. It's easy to blame the process. "Before I began, I never thought about…"

Two steps forward -- one step back? It just seems that way. In her first book, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron reminds us that we seem to be moving very, very slowly when we're actually flying in a jet plane, hurtling through space to reach our destination at great speed. Change works the same way. It's really two steps forward, no steps back, as long as we don't pay too much attention to the bumpy air created by our own forward motion.

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