Tag: transitions

In-Between Times

In-Between Times

transitions, Lent, transformation“Sometimes we are living in the ‘in-between-times’ when we’re no longer who we used to be, but haven’t yet arrived at our next stage ”.   ~ Marian Williamson

As the snow begins to melt after last week’s storm, and the calendar flips from February to March, I am reminded of the torment and the power of the in-between times. March in North Carolina is an in-between time. It can be cold (35) and rainy like it is today or sunny and warm (75) as it promises to be tomorrow. It’s neither here, nor there, and there’s no certainty about what to expect. It’s difficult to plan and dressing is a layered affair.

Despite the ups and downs of the weather, the birds know what’s on the horizon. They are already in full spring song. They have awakened from winter survival mode and the drive to mate and procreate has set them in motion. As they prepare for new life their song reveals the joy of new re-birth and the new beginning that lies on the horizon.

Life is a series of transitions. No sooner do we land in a place we’d like to stay, than it is time to move on. Something shifts or changes and we are called upon, once again, to adapt and change. Sometimes we are grateful for the change and sometimes we are terrified by it. Either way, the in-between time is one of not quite knowing who we are, what to do or what to expect.

Transitions come in all sizes, from the large life-altering external events such as marriage, birth, and death and the internal shifts of puberty and menopause, to day to day shifts in interest and focus, such as tiring of one hobby and searching for a new one, or finishing one book and looking for another. In all cases, the in-between times trigger an uneasiness, a restlessness and an uncertainty about what to do and what is next.

When we can step back from our discomfort and see the in-between time, as a period of gestation, of fertility, of alert waiting, just as the birds surely must wait and prepare for a mate and birth of their young, we can perhaps avoid falling into the trap of self-loathing, fear, anxiety and despair that too often moves in to fill the gap.  To elevate our viewpoint to one of open expectation, standing open to everything and afraid of nothing, ready and alert to the next challenge or adventure, is to understand and accept that transitions are a part of life, the driving force within and behind our inherent drive to create.

It’s no coincidence that major religions incorporate traditions that include the symbols of birth, death, and re-birth into their yearly liturgical calendars.  In the Christian tradition, for example, the season of Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and takes place in unison with the re-birth of nature. The season of Lent is a period of preparation, symbolic, if you will, of the in-between time.  (The word “Lent” is short for “Lenten” which refers to the forty days before Easter and comes from the Old Enlish word “lencten” meaning “springtime or spring”.)

One can see how important the “in-between” time is to the process of transition and transformation within the Christian tradition when seen through the eyes of the Lenten season. For forty days and forty nights, Christians are admonished to fast and pray, and essentially to wait with an open heart for new life.  One need not be a practicing Christian to understand and see the value of taking time out from focusing on everyday demands, from having to have all of the answers and knowing exactly what is coming, to prepare oneself, to realign priorities, assess values and activities, to pare down and create space for a new beginning.

We are a culture that thrives on activity and production. In-between times of non-activity and non-production are perhaps even more important to the final outcome. After all, if we are not ready and prepared, waiting openly and expectantly, creating space within and without, but are instead buried in activity or anxious mental gymnastics, how can we hear or see what is right in front of us?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Day We Have a Choice

Every Day We Have a Choice

 

Every day you have a choice ~ to dwell on the past or focus on today. Ask yourself: what can I do today to bring me one step closer to my dream? You do have today…this moment…now. You owe it to yourself to make the most of it.

Life goes by so quickly. It seems I turned around and in a flash my kids were grown and I’m nearing sixty. Age is just a number to me. I don’t feel old. I certainly don’t feel sixty, but I haven’t a clue what sixty feels like so I can’t be certain. It sure doesn’t feel like what it looked like when I was young!  My body is showing the effects of time, but I often forget to notice and the impact is minimal.

Moving from fifty to sixty was difficult and challenging, but unlike what I had imagined, it has also been extraordinarily fulfilling. Like most mothers I cried when my kids left home and like most daughters I cried when my father died and then my mother. I churned with regret for too long about how I had spent my youth and lived in fear of the future even longer. But through hard work and the invaluable support and guidance of friends and books, I have ventured onto a path that feels like the one I am meant to be on. Trust me it’s not always obvious or blissful ~ but it is amazing and worth getting up for in the morning.

I think the fifties is the decade of change, the narrow, treacherous pathway that takes us from life then to life now ~ from seeking to being ~ from reaching for the future to living in the moment.

Life is richer now. My dreams are more meaningful and feel more attainable. We have today. I have today. You have today. We owe it to ourselves to make the most of it.

 

The Gift of Age

Getting It Together After Fifty

Adapting to Change as We Age

Adapting to Change as We Age

Change is difficult even under the best of circumstances. As we get older we often find ourselves resisting change and seeking security and consistency. As a young person I thrived on change. At any opportunity I was ready to try something new. Eager. Hopeful. Optimistic. The new “shiny thing” was both mesmerizing and enticing.

At almost sixty, I know about new shiny things and the grass is always greener. The years of disappointment and unfulfilled dreams has left me barren of hope for a new outcome from change. Particularly external change. Had life been different would I now be more optimistic? Less set in my ways? It’s hard to say.

I’ve become cynical even about internal change. If I haven’t fixed myself by now is it really possible to even be fixed? Does it matter? Yes, change is difficult and no less so with age. I still believe change and variety in life are important and help to keep us young and involved in life mentally if not physically.

We do have to choose what we change more carefully. When once a move across the country may have been the change we needed, now we may have just earned the right to seek more modest change to keep us humming along. A change of routine, a change of décor, a new dress may be all we need to stir things up and keep us engaged in life. Chances are an external change will be thrust into our lives in the not too distant future anyway.

The important thing about adapting to change is to be patient with ourselves and above all, kind. We need to remind ourselves that change is hard and requires a flexibility of spirit and attitude. Flexing those muscles now and again keeps us in shape for the unexpected, but it’s okay to be different at sixty than we were at twenty-six. Life holds a different sort of adventure for us now.