In my twenties, I lived a life of transition; never settling into a particular way of doing anything, moving every six months when my short term rental spaces expired, experiencing new venues for city entertainment without revisiting past ones, making loads of new friends and acquaintances without taking the time to foster long standing relationships, trying several odd part-time jobs while managing a full time office position, and signing up for classes, workshops, outdoor adventures, mixed with as much traveling as my meager budget would allow. I had one person to look after and that was Me. Self reflection occurred to the best of my ability. My usual mode of operating life was devoid of routine. But that's what younger years of life are about: searching, exploring, running fast with excitement, drive, and plenty of energy. The transitional phase of leaving adolescence behind and moving into adulthood seemed ripe with potential and always filled with something new.
In my thirties, I got married, had babies, managed a home along with some part-time business interests and life became all about routines. Structure became paramount. Whenever life interjected a transition, whether it was a child's illness, another new baby, financial struggles, or a move to a new home, retaining order seemed crucial to keeping my sanity, my family's well-being, but most of all my desire to feel in control during potential chaos. Self reflecting moments seemed to orbit around questions about my servicing roles: Was I being an affective mother? Was I keeping everyone happy? How can I do better? Am I doing this right?
Before I entered my forties, life introduced another series of transitions that couldn't be placated by my rigid to-do lists, goal maps, and strong desire for manipulation. My nervous system and immune system went into hyper drive and the more I pushed for answers and solutions to my deteriorating health, the more inflamed my insides became. I had the opportunity to be fully present during this transitional phase from life without a diagnosis to a life with one. I learned more about my daily routine and how my body responded. But, as is the case with being human, my habitual tendencies to avoid anything messy made me stay in the shallower waters of this experience. I made outward changes that altered my diet, my exercise regime, how much sleep and rest I gave myself, etc., but I refused to reflect upon the emotional components buried in my deep visceral body that were screaming to be acknowledged. That is, until I was dragged further into another transitional moment; this time involving my marriage. As my husband and I churned through difficult emotions, I felt anchor-less for several years. Basic routines of work, chores and taking care of the kids helped a bit. But most days seemed murky with a mix of pain, anger, sadness...all emotions I wanted so desperately to clean up and turn into something positive. Why couldn't I just make everything better, follow a formula of sorts, and move on to life as it should be?
Luckily, my meditation practice was helping me see another perspective. What if, instead of rushing through this transitional moment, I stayed fully present? What would happen if I sat with the unknown? What if I fully accepted the emotions brought forth during this time and let them be felt? No calculating what tomorrow would look like; no making rash decisions to end my constant doubting; no manipulating my words or thoughts to help erase my pain; no demanding life to give me something different because I didn't deserve this. Just be present with the moment, hour by hour, day by day. And so I did. My practice continued. Years went by. One day during meditation I had a clear picture of what transpired and where I was after it. By surrendering control and living moment by moment, my life didn't fall to pieces as I had once feared. In fact, the opposite seemed to occur. My journey through these transitional periods helped me become integrated with my truest self - not just some role I chose to portray. My journey coalesced with the journeys of of my husband, kids, and loved ones at the same time. We all transitioned simultaneously. Albeit, each of us took a unique path, we still were united from this common experience. Some say "we made it through to the other side." But I don't know if there is "another side." Maybe just calmer waters carrying us forward. Whatever the aphorism, I know I'm blessed to be surrounded by these wonderful people and feel such a loving connection.
I still have a few more birthdays to celebrate before I enter my fifties. But I can say I know this to be true. Life is a series of transitions. Some big. Some small. Practicing awareness through the small ones helps me enter into the big ones with more compassion, grace, and love. Whether I'm transitioning from one day to the next or one decade to another, my full awareness of feeling what arises without judgement leads me to a deeper connection within. Once that happens, I open up to see the ultimate connection with everyone else in my life. Flow as well as structure work together as I navigate through everyday events. Balance is paramount. Laughter and humility are essential. As I look forward into adulthood, it once again seems ripe with possibility and filled with all things new.
This blog is dedicated to all my friends and loved ones feeling through transitions right now: those sending kids to college, moving to new cities, leaving old jobs, starting new adventures, birthing babies or new projects, receiving a diagnosis, dropping old baggage, making tough decisions, losing a loved one, celebrating big events, or taking on new roles. We're connected through this common thing called Life. May you remain open to feeling your experience throughout every transition and know with certainty you are always supported and loved!