In this season of gratitude I am taking a look back at my very first blog, published in 2012. How could four years have gone by so quickly? My post, “New Beginnings”, introduced me and my fledgling counseling practice, Women Reshaping Lives, to a handful of people…mostly family members I had corralled to visit my website and read my blog.
Today the Women Reshaping Lives website and blog reaches many more readers! I feel blessed with your readership, your comments and all that I have learned along the way. This has been my journey of change and transition. It is not unlike yours, complete with the discomfort, pain, loss, doubt and letting go of those safe familiar places before being ready and able to embrace that new, untested space.
There are common threads in the experiences of our life changes. While each transition, divorce, career transition, retirement, empty nest, aging or bereavement have specific challenges and unique circumstances, they are still connected to universal roadblocks that make all change hard. This month I reexamine some that I talked about in my initial post. I continue to learn from and gain new insights on facing and dealing with these challenges.
1. World View
I described myself as a “worried traveler” back in 2012. My tendencies to choose pessimism over optimism, anxiety over faith, made it much harder for me to trust that what I wanted to share would be helpful to my audience. My self-doubt and glass half empty world view held me back from allowing myself to fully embrace what I was so passionate about. With the encouragement and prodding of my support system, those special people surrounding me with honest, non-judgmental feedback, I learned much more about facing fears, owning feelings and moving past my “worried traveler” tendencies. What is your world view? How does it impact how you face issues and changes in your life?
Think about your own journey of transition. Can you recall being impatient and hard on yourself because you expected that healing from your divorce, finding that new job or adjusting to retirement should have been faster or easier than it turned out to be? We can feel very disappointed and frustrated when our expectations aren’t met. I remember well my own feelings of frustration in not learning new skills fast enough. Publication deadlines became an exercise in procrastination, avoidance and pressure to fully formulate thoughts that would speak from my heart to yours. I became overwhelmed and worn down by the pressure I put on myself. What I learned was that I needed patience and trust. If I took a deep breath and relaxed into becoming still and reflective, I would be able to access my message.
3. Diving In
Most often when we are worried travelers, we are cautious too. My own inclinations of safety and comfort over risk and discomfort may be shared by many of you. As a child I was never one to dive right into the cold water. Instead I needed to dip my toes in gently and slowly to take my time and acclimate myself. I didn’t want to deal with that shock to the system that happens when we just jump right into cold waters. This is how we try to protect ourselves from the fears and realities of new situations. And yet, these new situations can come up quite suddenly and without warning. When dealing with the grief and loss of a loved one, we are not guaranteed a period of anticipating and adjusting beforehand. And having time to prepare for such a loss doesn’t necessarily make it easier or lessen our pain.
4. Gratitude for the Journey
When I dug back into my files and reread that first effort of four years ago, I was struck by several things. The first was my passion for wanting to express what I believed in. I was more timid, unsure and untested then, but the promise was there. My learning has been in allowing myself to grow bolder, try to connect in deeper ways and to challenge myself to keep growing through the process.
As you sit down to your Thanksgiving Dinner this year, take your own time to look back. Remember and digest where you were last year and where you are now. Reflect on your path to this seat at the table.
When you find yourself full and satisfied with what you have eaten, sit back and think ahead to where you have yet to go and what learning lies ahead. Above all, feel the blessings and thankfulness for the journey and those who walk beside you on your way.