Transition – Life’s journey
We are all in transition, most of the time. Moving from one task to another, moving from one place to another, progressing one task at a time through our ‘to do’ list. But such progress is not necessarily useful in itself, nor is it satisfying. Most of us need a plan, a vision, a direction, to keep us occupied, directed and fulfilled. Ideally that plan should inspire us, stretch us and motivate us too.
Many women experience strong feelings of transition when their children head off to college or university. After years of nurturing and home-making it is painful and difficult to adjust to a different way of living. A daily routine that can involve isolation, loneliness and (in my case) self pity. In this situation transition and change is not optional it is essential for our survival. First of all we need to look back to ourselves as young adults, probably in the 18-24 age range. What mattered to us then, what were our passions, are they still, or can they be once again, our passions once more.
For example a friend of mine has always loved dancing, as a child she danced and later as a teenager she loved parties and discos where she could move to the music. A great form of exercise and a real stress and tension reliever. When her youngest child left for university she signed up with a local dancing class, she learned Latin American dancing. I can honestly say she’s never looked back. Twice a week she is out dancing with her group. The dancing invigorates her, fulfills her and gives her confidence. She loves doing it and it gives her a feeling of self worth. By discovering or renewing her passion she has transitioned successfully from an ‘empty nester’ to an independent, mature woman. Her kids love the new her too. When they come home they find a parent who is engaging with life, a parent who is contented and happy. This is so important to our kids, that their parents are happy, and yet often we overlook this vital fact.
Another acquaintance of mine, Rachel, survived and transitioned through bereavement – the death of her husband at a very young age. She used her powerful feelings of grief and her dis-location from society to retrain as a counsellor and later as an occupational therapist. She now specialises in helping prisoners at a large women’s prison. Many of these women are serving long prison sentences, sometimes for very serious crimes indeed. Rachel’s work involves developing close relationships with these women, often over many months. She then helps and guides them to develop their skills, both practical and intellectual. She says that the vast majority of these women have suffered extreme emotional abuse, often over many years. For some the routine of the prison, the rigid daily timetable and the predictable format of each day is actually a welcome change from the uncertainty of life outside.
In the case of Rachel, training as a counsellor helped her to transition from one stage of her life to another. Her work with the prisoners has been rewarding and helps her with perspective too. Whilst I can’t speak for the prisoners, who I haven’t met, I can tell you that Rachel’s conversations and relationships with these women have now endured for many years. Some have continued once the women are released from prison and are back in the ‘free world’.
One of my son’s is very fond of saying that ‘….we humans are just monkeys in shoes….’ he has a point. Human beings are simple creatures, we have basic needs of shelter, warmth, food and security. Once these needs are met then we move on to seek fulfilment and involvement. Social interaction is vital in our daily lives. For women transitioning this is essential, join clubs, participate in local groups and societies, get stuck in. If you don’t work outside the home then get a part-time job. It doesn’t matter what the job is, just get out and do it. Who knows what it might lead to. We humans love to complicate matters, we think too much about things without actually changing our daily lives. If there is something about your life that is not right or does not suit you then just change it. This might mean changing job, moving house or enrolling on a course where you learn a new skill. My advice here would be, don’t just talk about it, do it! You can worry about the detail later.
My youngest children, twins, left for university three years ago. I was devastated. As a mother of four kids I was used to a house full of people. This departure coincided with my husband working in London and being away from home from Monday to Friday. After several weeks of moping around the house and doing alot of weeping I finally took a hold of myself. I moved into a transition phase. I reorganised my business, a travel company that I have run for many years so that it runs in a way that suits me. I moved away from boring office administration tasks and back to my passion – working as a tour guide in Italy, France and The Alps. In 2017 I’ll lead about half a dozen small group tours to Europe – and I’ve found a new niche. My niche is escorting small groups of ladies on leisurely tours of specific regions of Europe. So for example last year I led a small group to Southern Italy and we discovered Basilicata, Calabria and Catania. Next I took a small group to Sicily. In a few weeks I am taking another small group to Venice and the Veneto. I love writing these tours, researching them and then delivering the tour itself. This transition has taken some time, probably about two years. I’m proud, really proud of the result.
Whilst I have transitioned in my working life I’ve had to deal with transition in my personal life too. Friends locally have moved away. People with whom I had something in common, typically children of similar ages, no longer share my values or philosophy of life. Time to move on I guess. That ability to move on, to transition to the next thing, takes bravery and determination. However I would argue that it is not optional, it is in fact essential to a healthy approach to life. A relevant life. My friend Alison runs mindfulness courses. She will tell her students that we ‘…..only have the now, the present….’ she is right. Of course we have the past, our memories, which are over and cannot be changed. We also have the future and our hopes for the future. But the only thing we can actually fully appreciate and influence is the ‘NOW’. A sense of ‘mindfulness’ is so useful in my everyday life. The ability to say to myself, ‘…I’m writing an article now and I’m loving the act of writing…’’
My hope is that people reading this article might find it useful. Our lives, every single person’s life, is a journey, we have so many choices about how we live our lives. For me it is so important to be adaptable and flexible. To appreciate and enjoy my time on this planet. To honour those around me and to be of service to others. I strongly recommend that we embrace our transition, see it as a positive, a new opportunity and a new direction. Walk boldly through the door that lies ahead – after all you never know quite what lies beyond……………
- I’ve changed the names of some of my ‘friends’ in this article to protect their privacy
- Mindfulness is a wonderful technique for more information drop me a line.
- I recently wrote an article on ‘Gratitude and Appreciation’ that you might enjoy.
- Gratitude and Appreciation