Transitions – how do you manage them?

Experiencing transitions or rusting away?

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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12 thoughts on “Transitions – how do you manage them?

    • Such luxury to be able to work at home sometimes, Jane-Heloise. Glad you enjoyed it. Here’s to rich, productive futures.

  1. I”m sorry you’ve both been ill; but I”m sure you will get back full health and energy (at least what you had) and enjoy more A-van holidays, and make space for transitional times too. I’ve been through a similar period; not losing what I had, but being shaken up with family stresses and a back injury. But physical things are healing and family is blossoming, and I’ve moved house, and all is well. I refuse to think that ageing means losing what you have. It’s just that what you have changes, and what you expect, perhaps, changes too.

    • Sorry I missed this comment when your first sent it, Christina. Yours is a lovely, comforting, affirming message. I guess that is what transition periods do, – help us to recognise changes and to accept them. But the learning does not come easily, even as I age. I keep wanting to do it gracefully, but perhaps that’s not to be.

      I’m sad to hear you have been having a difficult time, but glad that all is now well for you.

  2. And may you both enjoy your significant birthday! All birthdays are significant, it’s just a celebration of the day your were born, the gift of your life on earth, and another year is just another year.

    • It isn’t until November, Christina, and it will be a lovely celebration, with my large and still growing family. Thank you for reminding me about celebration.

  3. Maureen. So glad you are back!
    And if you ever work out what your future looks like – pass it along, we could all do with insight like that my love!!
    You and John will be fine, you have such beautiful people in your lives, family and friends, who will always be there for you both.xx
    AND may I say, I wish I had visited when your study might have looked just a tad like what mine looks like all the time!
    God bless xx

    • Yes, it is good to be back, although a bit shaky still. John and I are very blessed with so many, such good people like you and Peter, our children, grandchildren and friends who love and care about us. We will be okay, as you say.

      I just kept the door of my study closed so no one saw it. I pretended there was a big, hairy monster who would gobble me up if I opened the door more than a crack.

      Enjoy the last bit of your holiday. Mxx

  4. Thank you Maureen – a help to so many of us. And a fabulous reminder that we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS. We need to BE fior self and others. Good luck on this journey of transition – may the spirits of all the wise women BE with you together with your loved ones and friends. (PS managed to open your blog on my IPad). Elizabeth B

    • Thank you for your encouragement, Elizabeth. I love the idea of being a human being, not a human doing, although I often wonder why l forget so often. I think one of the messages that comes from any transition is that it is time to be still. To simply…be. Thank you for your good wishes and support.

  5. Take care and TRY to enjoy whatever life throws at you.
    Know that you are dearly and greatly loved by many in this ever transitioning world. Love RosieXX

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