Thursday, June 14, 2012


"Let go or be dragged."  ~ Zen proverb

My life has been a whirlwind over the last couple of months.  Change has been creeping in, flowing in, and dropping in.  There have been whispers and shouts, gentle hints and bricks aimed squarely at my head.  The above quote has been a great help to me in the midst of so much change, a reminder to be diligent in holding all things loosely, for nothing truly belongs to me. 

The very notion of change can be threatening, as we worry about the unknown.  When I was  ultra conservative in my religious views, I did not welcome change.  I felt safe within my walls.  It was Us versus Them, and anything that threatened my viewpoint definitely fell into the latter category!   Alas, whether we embrace it or fear it, change comes.  

Now that I am in my 40s, I tend to be much more philosophical about change.  It is necessary.  It keeps me growing.  It makes life more interesting.  Marriage stagnates without change - just like government, and even the environment.  No one welcomes the forest fire, but it is necessary, clearing out the dead debris in favor of new life. 

As with grief, there are definite periods we experience when we are in times of change.  According to Dr. Elizabeth Harper Neeld, there are 4 basic stages in "the Terrain of Tough Transitions."  
1.  RESPONDING - At this initial stage of change, our emotions are basically haywire, as our      assumptive world disappears.
2.  REVIEWING - In this stage we tend to ask questions; join community; deal with anger; imagine possibilities, and assert that something must be different.
3.  REORGANIZING - Having survived thus far, our new identity begins to emerge:  New thinking, new behaviors, and yes - even new problems.  When in the Reorganizing phase of transition, we retrieve threads of purpose from "before," while jettisoning the outdated.
4.  RENEWING -  At this stage we are living life in "the new normal."  We have achieved creative outcomes with new ideas and vantage points.  We are reaching hope, continuing on to faith, and even creating joy.

Just like the Stages of Grief, the Terrain of Tough Transitions is messy.   It overlaps and doubles back at times.  This is because humans are complex, and we experience change on many levels.  Our personality, how we were raised, and our personal world view are just a few of the things which may impact how we respond to the changes in our life, whether we choose them or they are thrust upon us.

My recent changes have been positive.  One was anticipated:  a happy move to a better neighborhood.  This was tiring, but relatively simple.  The next change, a job offer, came as a total surprise to me.  Unexpected shift, even when it is good, can take significant adjusting.  This will be a positive transition for me, with many rich opportunities and benefits.  I will be in a teaching/mentoring position, working directly with students, which I love to do.  

Lately I have been meditating on how I can be of greater help to more people, and in came this totally unsolicited job offer.  Something inside of me knows that the Universe itself has opened this doorway, and it is time for me to walk through.  It will be a huge adjustment to me and my family, going from having mom home all the time to suddenly gone 8 hours a day.  In fact, my kids are the only reason I have tossed and turned about the opportunity.  It is now time for them to learn about change, too; that it is inevitable, but how we frame it can make all the difference.  

I am excited about the lessons that will come with my new job.  Not the lessons that I will teach, but the lessons that I will learn.  And that, gentle reader, is what change is all about.  

"Not in their goals, but in their transitions, are people great."  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I am indebted to Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD, for her tremendous book Tough Transitions:  Navigating Your Way Through Difficult Times.

Prayer in times of change:
As I breathe in the winds of change, I give thanks for the One who has sent the wind.  I affirm that the Universe is wise and benevolent, wanting only my Highest Good.  I receive my Highest Good, in whatever form it may take.  I know that growth is always positive, and I desire to help others in their growth even as I embrace my own.  I thank God for the opportunities that await me with this change, and release these words into the Universal Mind, knowing that All is Well.  And so it is. 

~ Rev. Jan

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