Ritualize change to help make it softer, sweeter, and authentically connected.
I hope that you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend if you’re here in the U.S. with me. We laid low, went on lots of family walks, chose a paint color for our house (indigo! I love it!), and got some household projects done.
It’s the beginning of the school year for my seven year old, which means adjusting to a new schedule, sweaters in the evenings, and enjoying the last days of perfect picnic weather. It’s transition time.
When I found out I was pregnant with my now 9 month old daughter, Sailor, I found myself crying in my car in the parking lot of Anthropologie to my best friend on the phone. It’s not that my husband and I weren’t trying to have another baby, we were, but it also meant a loss of my current life. A life with my family of three, a life where we could travel with ease, a life where I could go to business conferences (read: networking parties) and make connections and learn new things without worrying about my family, a life where I rode around on my scooter daily, a life where I could dedicate a ton of my energy and time to my business if and when I felt like it.
It felt huge. And hard. And . . . I felt incredibly guilty that my immediate reaction wasn’t pure joy and gratitude, especially after we’d been trying to get pregnant for years.
Have you ever had that feeling?
Most of my life I’ve moved through change with speed and, what felt like, dexterity. Always loving the next adventure.
But, as I’ve had more experiences of changes that are really significant, I’ve found that if I slow down enough to feel what’s happening, it’s a multi-faceted emotional experience: grief for what’s being lost, excitement for what’s next, and apprehension and hope for how it will all turn out.
With reflection on these transitions, I’ve learned a few things about how to ritualize change to help make it softer, sweeter, and authentically connected.
No more fast and furious so that I don’t have to feel. I realize that’s what I was really doing before – and it doesn’t work, it just gets stored somewhere in your body or psyche if there was an emotional charge that got bulldozed. You’ll find yourself aching for moments passed, unable to be present in the now.
First, bring mindfulness to the change.
Write about it in your journal, talk about it with a friend, or just sit with it in nature, allowing it to be what it is, without trying to make it good or bad. Just the awareness that change is happening and that you’re life is going to be different can make it feel better, because we’re not avoiding it, resisting it, or pretending it isn’t happening.
Second, allow yourself to grieve what’s being lost.
So often we don’t want to admit that there’s some sadness to the loss of what has been: our singledom when we get married, our family of two when we have our first kid, our ease of a steady paycheck when we start our own business, our security and community when we move, our barefoot freedom when the season transitions to fall.
The truth is, nothing will ever be as it was, for better or worse. Acknowledging that and experiencing all the feels around that is important to a clean start. Now, I’m not encouraging wallowing. Wallowing isn’t healthy. A fire ceremony to release the past, a good cry, and a heart-centered commitment to loving yourself through it is the best route I’ve found.
Celebrate the past and the future at the same time. Reflect on how great things were, and dream about how amazing things are going to be. You are the connection of these two realities – they live within you, and you are the way in which they are assimilated.
That may mean a dinner festivity with friends, a spa day by yourself, or a dance party with your kids. Whatever allows you to really embody the joy of both, not making one better than the other – do that.
Change is inevitable, we might as well get good at it, while remaining authentic in our emotions and reality (meaning don’t stuff it deep deep down and hope the ache never surfaces.)
For me this meant acknowledging the huge change it was going to be to have another baby, grieving the loss of our sweet family of three dynamic, our triangle, and then celebrating how good that was, while also envisioning how great our family square would be.
And it is, it’s great. I couldn’t have imagined then how happy I would be to skip the business conferences, travel with less ease – but more giggles, and focus my energy on guiding a new human in this world.
The next time you have a big (or little) transition, try this. The change from summer to fall is a great time to practice, it’s not usually super emotionally charged (unless you’ve been living in the movie Grease), but there is a major difference between summer living with barefeet and alfresco dining to autumn leaves and baking bread. See how you can: bring your awareness to the change, grieve the loss of the summer, and celebrate them both.
With so much love,