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Dominos and Donuts: The Truth About Change

photo: John-Morgan and Rob Boudon on flickr

There’s a common misconception about change, and it goes like this:

We see our lives like a donut. Everything is fine, except for the hole in the middle. If only this hole could be filled, everything would be perfect.

Maybe it’s our weight. Or our job. Or our partner. Whatever it is, we think that if only this one thing would change, our whole life would be better.

Here’s the problem with this view.

First of all, comparing your life to a high-fat, high-calorie substance is always problematic. Second of all, donuts are supposed to have holes in the middle. That’s where all the flavor is.

photo: D. Sharon Pruitt

And third of all, and this is the really important part:

It’s never just one thing.

Let me explain.

Whenever we desire a change in our lives, we imagine that this one thing will change and everything else will stay the same.

We’re going to have the exact same life, but with a better job/partner/waistline.

But that’s not how it works.

Instead, change is more like dominos than donuts. When one element in our lives changes, it sets off a chain reaction and everything else changes too.

When this happens, we need to be willing to let the dominos fall where they may. Even if it means changing things we didn’t know we were going to have to change.

Let me give you an example:

For years, I wanted a sweetheart. I was doing my work – visualizing, meditating, envisioning my life with my new partner. And, I admit, I was taking the high-fat, high-calorie approach. I was thinking that everything in my life was going to stay the same, except for the empty donut hole.

Then I met Melissa.

photo: Karen Fry

Talk about dominos. Suddenly, every single element of my life was in flux. I took early retirement from my job. I enrolled in ministerial school. I started a blog. I changed my diet. I changed my schedule, my routine, my habits, my life.

When Melissa first moved in, I’d lived alone for years.

I was accustomed to writing every morning, alone in my quiet house. I can still remember the first time I wrote with her in the house. She was being quiet, that wasn’t the problem.

The problem was that I wasn’t alone in the house. I was distracted by her presence.

I’d wanted a sweetheart. And I got a sweetheart. And now I was annoyed that this sweetheart was in the house.

I was clinging to a crumbling donut, while the dominos were falling all around me.

photo: Jamal Fanaian on flickr

I first heard about the concept of the domino nature of change from, of all people, Melissa. She was giving a talk about treatment, or affirmative prayer. She was pointing out that people “treat” for a change in their lives, not realizing that one change leads to another. And another.

Ain’t it the truth?

Maybe that’s why we resist change. Because we know what it entails.

Because we know we might have to rearrange our lives in response. We know we might have to make other changes first, in order to make room for the new element.

But here’s the good part: One desired change leads to another.

In my case, allowing Melissa into my life lead to a bunch of other positive changes. Even though some of them – like letting her into my house – were uncomfortable at first.

Any time we open ourselves up to change, we open ourselves up to be changed.

photo: Abe Novy on flickr

In shifting from Donuts to Dominos, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Step away from the donut! Let go of the idea that you don’t have to change, but your life does.

2) Be proactive! Be open to areas in your life that may need shifting before you can let in your desired change.

3) Be ready for the dominos! Stay aware that other adjustments may accompany your desired change.

4) Remain calm! Take it a day at a time, gently allowing the dominos to fall where they may.

5) You’re not alone! Ask for help – from others and from the Divine.

And remember: there’s nothing worse than getting knocked upside the head by a domino while you’re stuffing your mouth with a donut.

Just sayin’.

Instead, be ready for change. Welcome it! Love it! Embrace it!

You’ll be glad you did.

photo: Steven Depolo on flickr

Where do you need to adjust your life in order to allow a desired change? Are you willing to let the dominos to fall where they may?

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20 Responses to Dominos and Donuts: The Truth About Change

  1. Jo Lauer June 26, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Thanks for the reminder, Z. My life has been a long domino tumble. That’s a good thing. Each event that bumped into the next (some painful, some delightful) has brought me to right where I am today, and I LIKE where I am today.

    • Z Egloff July 2, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Hi Jo,

      Nice to know that you’re enjoying the “end” of your domino trail. Though I guess it never really ends, does it? I like to believe that it keeps getting better and better. And then it does. :)


  2. Aileen June 26, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Your blog needs a like button! :-)

    • Z Egloff July 2, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      My comments need a like button too. 😉

  3. Karen June 26, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Beautifully constructed blog post as always, Z. And I love your concrete (and edible) examples.

    • Z Egloff July 2, 2012 at 10:16 am #

      Hi Karen!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the edibility of this post. It’s part of my multi-media approach. 😉


  4. Angelica June 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    I agree with the need for a ‘like’ button — excellent analogy — and loved seeing the pics of you in the shirt Melissa made for you!!

    btw, if you’re ever heading to the East Coast — or the Mid-Atlantic — call me — you two can do something at my Center — CSL Baltimore

    Blessings, Angelica

    • Z Egloff July 2, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      Hi Angelica,

      Great to hear from you, as always. How about that shirt, eh? Pretty nifty!

      We will definitely let you know if we’re in your area!


  5. michael frank June 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I jus woke up from a nap…..I can’t even try to understand; I just ate a maple
    “old fashioned” donut……….There is one still in the bag..it is the biggest apple fritter I have ever seen. I bought a bag of donuts yesterday at Andy’s. What is wrong that the only thing left doesn’t even, ever have a hole in the middle?
    Why was it an old fashion donut?…I called my mom and dad old fashioned.
    My drink of choice prior to AA were always double old fashions…..I guess
    Z, I will not eat the apple fritter becasuse it might lead to more donuts. I am just going to contine the next right thing becasue he is always here with me.

    WoW, even more amazing the Grace!! and Rev. Jeff is guiding me through
    that pathway……….xoxox

    • Z Egloff July 2, 2012 at 10:13 am #

      Hi Michael,

      Step away from the donut! 😉

      It sounds like you are moving into a new life – I’m glad that you have help and guidance along the way. Help IS always there!

      Love and blessings,


  6. C Jay Page June 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Your topic is right on. We thought we would just move to the farm and grow a few chickens. Almost three years later we are growing 475 layers for eggs, and 100 meat chickens a month, Black Angus beef, lamb and Berkshire pork for two farmer’s markets and healthier than we have been in years.

    We miss seeing you. We’d love to have you and Melissa come to see the farm some time. We don’t travel much as the farm takes up most of our energy at 74 and 87.

    P.S. We were lucky to find a Mennonite Church here in Reedley that we joined and it even has a Peace Center. The first question someone asked Doug when we went to the first Peace Center meeting was,”Have you read Howard Zinn?” We knew we had come to the right place.

    • Z Egloff July 2, 2012 at 8:02 am #

      Hi C Jay!

      Great to hear from you. The farm sounds fabulous – what an adventure!! The Mennonite Church sounds wonderful as well. I’m happy to know that you and Doug are doing well – and are happily engaged in life, and farming! :)


  7. Nathan Krempely July 3, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Z, Z, Z, no, I’m not tired, although I should be… So much change so little breathing room. Well I think it started around 9:30am Valentine’s Day morning when my dad waited until after I shaved to tell my brother and I my mother had a fatal heart attack in her car on the way to school were she taught 2nd grade. She was 65 and going to retire this year…

    Then, after skimming the bottom, periodically relapsing on yucky stuff I sensed impending doom as I did not get my direct deposit from my employer… only to find a check waiting for me in the shaking hands of the HR lady. Sign here and ‘you’re done.’


    Within a matter of a couple hours taking a friend back home, I’m listening to her exclaim something hilarious that she read as I turn to look, with diligent focus and attention my gaze on the newspaper whilst traveling 25mph on a country road, MY HAND TURNS WITH MY HEAD and I crash into a concrete reinforced drainage ditch totaling my 2005 Civic with only 60K mi on it.

    So where do i go from here…. Well it’s Tuesday the day before the 4th of July and I got, The Power of Your Word class, from 10:30am – 1:30pm.

    How do I survive, I rely on others (my father) to give me a ride, I show up early to set up chairs and try oh so much throughout the day to get-out-of-myself.

    All this change, seen mostly negative at first, has been overwhelming and I can count on 1 hand all the days I stayed in bed even when that hurt…

    Well, Thanks for letting me type til the catharsis shift of consciousness came through.

    P.S. Sometimes it’s a Biggity Biggity Biggity Big BANG called change. Love ya, Z.

    • Z Egloff July 3, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      Hi Nathan,

      Wonderful to hear from you!

      Wow, sounds like a LOT of change all at once. To say the least. For some reason, it often seems to go like this. That’s been my experience, at least.

      Thank you for putting your thoughts and experience out there. Sounds like you’re moving through it. All of it. I’m so glad that you’re a part of our community. And that you’re riding the Biggity Biggity Changes with awareness and honesty. Sometimes that’s all we can do. And it’s enough.

      Feel free to comment again any time!! :)


  8. Susan Starbuck August 17, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    Dear Z,
    I am fighting my kitty Rascal for my lap again. He keeps pushing the keyboard out of my lap with his nose. Talk about boundaries. I’m not sure i’M DOING ANY BETTER IN THAT AREA; NOW CHANGE : ( (

    I have experienced lots of change in my life; always moving to where the best opportunity took me (always stayed wherever for a lengthy period. For example, stayed in Albany/Berkeley for many years cause have 2 sons that surely didn’t want to change Middle or high schools and I surely respected that. (My kitty Rascal is now laying contentedly on the comforter next to me. One boundary I kept! HOORAY : ) )

    My current changing situation I am having lots of difficulty with is: GETTING OLD(ER) : ( ( OR COULD BE : ) ). It is definitely a domino affect. If only I could live more years and nothing else will change.

    Let’s see: my breasts are drooping, my arms are getting that flabby swing layer of fat underneath, my bottom looks like it’s getting atrophied, my short term memory is getting to be a challenge: “Mom, you told me that story just yesterday!”. I don’t have the same desire to grab all my opportunities. I don’t think anymore: “IF I pass on, make my transition to WHEN I make my transition. ” I am afraid of the unknown. Dying seems much more a reality. I am still afraid of the unknown about a good spirit and transition. I have had more health problems now. I don’t believe that if I plan hard enough and work hard enough I will have and achieve what I WANT. I realize now that “LIFE HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE MAKING PLANS.” so perhaps I don’t get NOW what I WANT but I do get what seems to IMPORTANT in the long run (even if I don’t realize till later). So getting older and all the change that comes with it is definitely a domino effect and I never really WANTED to change by growing older.

    SO IS THERE AN UPSIDE TO GROWING OLD(ER) AND ENDURING THAT CHANGE AND ITS’ DOMINO EFFECT: )))))??????? OUR SOCIETY DOES SEEM TO HONOR YOUTH, BUT THE CHANGE OF GETTING OLDER DOES HAVE SOME BENEFITS. I am retired. I get to do whatever I want to do within reason and finances. If I want to read all day or all night I can. Instead of my life revolving around work, public health and children, I can now concentrate on my photography, writing, water coloring and any types of creativity I want to involve myself in. I am making my “Bucket List” so I make sure and do the things that are most important for me to do before I make my transition. I have had many experiences with lots of different folks, different ethnicities, cultures, belief systems etc. I do believe I am wiser. (But in our culture, younger folks don’t hear that wisdom; I listen to a lot of older folks and what they have to say now. I realize all the changes they have been through in their lives (just technology itself) how they percieve these changes.

    Anyway, my emotional self still fells like I’m 35; so I don’t have to “act” “old” just cause. I don’t really know if I have added much to your “change” conversation. One person who is adaptable to many changes is my Dad. He just turned 91. He is very smart, clear, and has many thoughtful things to say. He loves your blog. I send it to him via Facebook email. So I want to sign him up to get your blog directly in his email. I will put his name here and his email and see if I can sign him up elsewhere: rstarbuck@aol.com, Raymond Starbuck.

    So, hopefully, you can decipher this. It may not be written in a logical fashion; probably cause I have so many mixed feelings about change and its’ domino effect (and transition) <3
    Susan <3

    • Z Egloff August 20, 2012 at 11:31 am #

      Hi Susan,

      I too have some resistance to aging. One of the first posts I wrote on this blog was about my resistance to turning 50. And yet I find that life keeps getting better and better every year. So it’s hard to complain too much about getting older!

      I think it’s great that you’re allowing yourself the freedom and luxury to do what you want to do! More power to you! I think that staying passionately engaged in life is the best thing you can do to stay aligned with Life and the Divine – and even the inevitable domino changes that life sends your way!



  9. Jill Shinn August 30, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    This topic has been on my mind a lot this summer as I have been contemplating the possibility of a big change. At one point, I wrote to a wise friend and said,”This situation is making me miserable. I might have to walk away from it. I’d be happier somewhere else.” My friend wrote back to me, “If you can’t find a way to be happy in this situation, what makes you think you’ll be happy in a different situation?” Ouch…..OUCH!!! But she was right. If you think that surgically removing the “culprit” from your life is going to fix everything, you’re probably in a heep of denial about your own part in your life.

    • Z Egloff August 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

      Hi Jill,

      Ouch is right. But it sounds like there’s some wisdom there. Especially if it struck you that way!

      For me, sometimes removing myself from certain things does create improvement in my life, especially the things or people or activities have been “upstream,” a la Abraham Hicks. But it’s also the case that expecting the removal of a situation to make me feel better is a set-up for disappointment. So I can see both sides.

      And, as far as domino change factor, there’s no such thing as just one change. It’s always a whole web of factors and potential changes. So there’s that.

      I think it’s fabulous that you’re so open and honest and inquisitive about your own process. That’s worth a whole boatload of dominos. :)



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