Transitions come in all shapes and sizes. I even found a website which lists 365 different words for ‘transition’. But the kinds I mean are those times of flux when the world seems to have changed irrevocably. There’s confusion. Old patterns and habits no longer work and there’s nothing (yet) to replace them.
After a delicious holiday in May in our brand-new A-van, illness hit us. John ended up in hospital for a week and I took far too long to recover from a chest infection. Energy levels plummeted. Tasks of daily living took their toll. Then, my children began to talk about celebrating my significant birthday later this year.
‘So, this is what old age feels like,’ I thought sadly. ‘I don’t like it! What has happened to my momentum?’
My computer rusted away on my desk. Mounds of papers, books and rubbish did a pretty good job of covering it. The door of the study remained closed, except when I opened it, averted my eyes, and threw in more junk.
Years ago, I deliberately chose to ‘rest’ the computer when I wanted a new perspective on my writing. For two or three months, I worked in different spaces and used pencil and paper. But first I covered the computer with a pretty cloth to remind me it was temporarily out of bounds. The desk and the room were tidy. When I got back to the computer, everything was new again. Fresh. Exciting.
A neglected computer is different. A writer who has given up writing presents a pitiful picture.
In the middle of the slough, the idea of transition didn’t occur to me. Then it gradually dawned. This was one of life’s ways of moving a person along, and not necessarily into old age in a rocking chair. I still haven’t worked out what the future will look like, but that’s okay, too.
Some ways to cope with change and transitions
- Be gentle with, and nurturing of, yourself.
- Recognise change is inevitable and can feel very uncomfortable, especially when we feel we do not have control.
- Acknowledge that feelings of depression and anxiety are normal during transitions.
- Maintain old routines as much as possible.
- Practice self-care activities like deep breathing, exercise, reading and listening to music.
- Talk with people who can help make sense of the changes.
- Remind yourself about previous painful transitions and the strengths that helped you through them.
- Manage expectations, your own and others, about what is required of you. Give yourself time to work out your new roles while maintaining old ones.
- Maintain important relationships in person and on social media (if that’s what you do).
- Talk with others about your hopes, needs, concerns for the future.
- Reflect on the changes. Perhaps start or maintain a diary or journal in which to explore.
So, here I am, back again at a tidy desk and a forgiving computer after several long months in what seemed like a wilderness. This afternoon, I’m loving the warmth inside while I watch the rain beat down on the newly pruned roses and write, with hindsight, about transitions.
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