Transitions – that time in life when change becomes inevitable. Or, at the very least, expected. Definitely not always looked forward to. Sometimes even feared. Or avoided.
‘How does the dictionary define it? A transition is a change from one thing to the next, either in action or state of being—as in a job transition or as in the much more dramatic example of a caterpillar making a transition into a butterfly.’
I like the notion of transitioning into a butterfly. I have even written a children’s story about butterflies and posted it on to my blog in an eight part series titled “Salma Butterfly’.
There is something very beautiful about the way a butterfly transitions from one stage of its life cycle to the next. As it does, it totally transforms itself. So much so that in its final stage it bears no resemblance to how it started out in life. It’s a wonderful metaphor for our lives. We transform – grow – change. The wear and tear of life leaves its marks on our physical form. The wrinkles we carry are an outward manifestation of our transformation. Wear them with pride! We work long and hard to earn these medals as signs of courage, bravery and growth.
When I googled how to transition and adjust to change, I got over 3,130,000 search results in 0.62 seconds. OMG!! Obviously this is not just a fly by night minor issue. I like the following article from Huffington Post. Here’s a few snippets –
Mastering Transitions: Trust that You’ll Adjust to the Changes in Your Life
Know how transitions work.
Why don’t you feel good yet, even if it’s a good change? Because you haven’t located yourself yet in your new context. You are literally in transition. Think of transition as a place in and of itself. You’re not totally lost and disoriented, you’re merely between contexts. …. Regardless of the specifics, transitions have roughly three predictable stages. Know which one you’re in: That, in and of itself, will curtail the feeling of disorientation.
Stage One: Resisting/Reacting
Characterized by doubt and discomfort as you are actively objecting and negatively comparing your new situation to your old. You’re not looking, you’re judging and it doesn’t look good.
Stage Two: Adjusting/Exploring
Characterized by doing more than feeling. You’re gathering information on how to make this work, making choices, making connections, asking questions, digging in.
Stage Three: Living Well in the New Old or the Old New
This is the stage you don’t notice because it doesn’t feel like a stage. You’ve arrived at your new destination. You’re accepting and incorporating the new so much, you wouldn’t have it any other way: The new is the (new) old.
Don’t Expect to Feel Fantastic at First: Expect the Opposite – The way to be gracious (and cut down on your anguish) is not to expect that you’ll have a seamless process, but actually expect the opposite.
Fast Forward to the End and Put a Time Frame on the Adjustment – Estimate how long you think it will take to settle into the new routine.
Don’t Forget to Add Yourself to the Equation – You may feel powerless against change, but you’re in the picture, too. How did all those previous changes get worked through? You can be sure that you had something (a lot) to do with that. All the tools and experience that you bring to the situation are there for you.
What Changes, What Doesn’t? – Appreciating what doesn’t need your attention may give you more energy to face head-on what does.
Don’t Think, Do, and Do Small – The best things in life come out of change, oftentimes even the changes that are unwanted. We don’t have to embrace change by diving in to those cold choppy waters headfirst, but if we can start by just dipping our toes in, one foot at a time, before we know it, we’ll be well on our way to arriving at our new destination.”
Sounds like good advice, doesn’t it?! Change comes to us all in many ways. Throughout our whole life. It presents challenges. It also fosters great growth if we have the courage to work with it and allow it to flow, teach us what we need to learn and integrate.
John O’Donohue, the Celtic priest, author and poet, in his book ‘Anam Cara’ writes about transitions – life changes. He writes of seasons of the heart, the art of inner harvesting and experiences through the times of our lives as being etched in our Soul and our memories. I find these beautiful and comforting images.
Ageing, he writes, is “ a time for visiting the temple of your memory and integrating your life. Integration is a vital part of coming home to your self. What is not integrated remains fragmented; sometimes it can come to great conflict within you. The presence and process of integration brings you more fully home to your self. ….….. to visit the temple of memory is not merely to journey back to the past; it is rather to awaken and integrate everything that happens to you. It is part of the process of reflection which gives depth to experience…. Every human heart seeks meaning…to discern the meaning of what has happened to you is one of the essential ways of finding your inner belonging and discovering the sheltering presence of your soul…everything that happens to you is an act of sowing a seed of experience. It is equally important to be able to harvest that experience.” (pg 222-223)
I have been reflecting on the whole notion of transition because a major one has just entered our lives. You see, my husband recently retired. So in our household we are living through the process of mastering transition. It affects all of us to some degree. Him most of all of course. And me next as the person closest to him. The kids sort of drift around the edges too absorbed in their own worlds to take too much note of what the olds are up to.
I can see him stepping in and out of all the three stages, sometimes all in the one day. Akin to the process of grief, it does not flow neatly from one stage to the next. It jumps around all over the place until it finally resolves and settles into the ‘new old’.
As I prepared for his retirement party, I came across an article in a magazine. It was called ‘The Retired Husband Syndrome’. I thought it was some sort of joke. Until I read it. It is something we wives/partners can suffer from. I found a whole lot of websites addressing the issue, its seriousness, and how to overcome it. Wives who have run the household for the last forty years suddenly can find themselves with a husband under foot wanting to be involved in the minutiae which previously they were oblivious to. Hence the importance of preparing for the transition. The importance of having hobbies, interests, activities and projects to be involved in becomes critical . Not just during the transition, but in moving forward into a happily retired life. I’m pleased to say that I will not fall victim to Retired Husband Syndrome. If he can’t find things to do himself, I have a list a mile long ready for him!
I’d like to finish this newsletter with one of John O’Donohue’s poems –
A Blessing for Old Age
May the light of your soul mind you,
May all your worry and anxiousness
about becoming old be transfigured,
May you be given wisdom for the eye of your soul,
to see this beautiful time of harvesting.
May you have the commitment to harvest your life,
to heal what has hurt you, to allow it to come
closer to you and become one with you.
May you have great dignity, may you have a
sense of how free you are,
and above all may you be given the wonderful
gift of meeting the eternal light
and beauty that is within you.
May you be blessed, and may you find a
wonderful love in your self for your self.
May your life transitions flow with ease and grace.
© Raili Tanska