So, it’s the end of the summer. In some ways, this feels more like a new year than January 1st. Kids go back to school. Vacations end. Days get colder. One day this week, we’ll find ourselves dancing around the bleachers at Rydell High singing “Summer Nights”
It’s another transition. More change. The only thing we can count on, right? As much as we might wish it would stop, it doesn’t.
Even in a single day, transitions are constant. We transition from different mind-sets into other mind-sets. From being a mom into being a business owner. From leading a seminar into writing a difficult contract. From computer-nerd into organic gardener. Personally, I have to shift back and forth between “creative-songwriter-chick” and record label owner. (Not to mention writing a blog here and there.) These are huge daily transitions.
It’s tempting to slump into sadness or regret during transitions. Your inner-curmudgeon will always say, “But I like it here! Why do we have to go?” I’ve already gotten several emails from friends over the weekend, and the word “anxious” peppered the text. (Even if you’re not a teacher or student, summer into fall tends to bring up old patterns.)
Dog Treats Again
At the beach this past week, I met a dog named Luke. Luke is a boxer/pit-bull mix, which makes him look tough. He’s not tough. He spent most of his time rolling on his back in the wet sand and romping happily in the water. Every evening Luke’s dad would pull Luke’s leash away from the shore to head back up to the house. Luke would quietly sit down hard and lean his upper body towards the water. “You’re going back to the house? No thanks. I’ll just stay here.” His dad yanked on the leash, and Luke just pulled harder toward the ocean and plant his butt deeper into the sand. It was the same every night. If this were my dog, I would simply shift the situation by saying, “You want a treat?” My dog’s ears would perk. She’d say, “A treat? Well, of course I want a treat! Where is it?”
Focus? Somewhere new.
Here are 14 Ways to make transition easier. They aren’t exactly treats, but they might help you recognize where you’re tugging on the leash and resisting the inevitable. And they might help you shift your focus to the good stuff that’s coming.
1. Acknowledge the transition and the feelings associated with it.
No need to make a big huge thing of your feelings and the melancholy. Just acknowledge that change is making you a little more vulnerable. Awareness is a powerful first step.
2. Have a purging ceremony.
I returned home from a week at the beach on Saturday night. On Sunday, rather than march around trying to figure out my to-do’s, my upcoming travel arrangements, etc, I cleaned house. I got rid of stuff. I had a ceremony of sorts. I let go and purged the excess.
Clean your closets. Get organized. Create order. Clean out your file cabinets. Any kind of letting go is symbolic. It’s a ceremony that says, “Out with the old. In with the new.”
3. Read this post from Liz Strauss.
Liz is one of my favorite bloggers. This post was my introduction to her writing. It’s great to read what other writers do to make their transitions into creativity.
4. Take a break between activities.
In daily routines, if you’re changing roles a lot, take a small break in between the activities. Sit down with a cup of tea. Listen to a song. Review your index cards. Have a moment of silence. Say a little prayer.
5. Watch when you distract.
Be aware of fear showing up as denial showing up as unproductive and unconscious distracting activities. A brief list: watching TV, flipping through magazines, biting your nails, gossiping, eating the whole bag of Oreos, calling friends to complain about how hard your life is, checking emails obsessively.
6. Watch your thoughts.
Be very conscious of your thoughts and how you talk to other people. Transitional times require self-care. Self-care has to include watching how you talk to yourself. Create a mantra or affirmation that you can say when you find yourself slipping into dread or overwhelm. Say it often. Focus on all the good that will happen in this shift.
Mind-mapping is a great technique for creative minds trying to organize lots of thoughts and activities.
8. Make it a habit.
If you’re challenged by shifts in your daily activities, try scheduling exact times for a few of them. Lots of bloggers talk about how they have to schedule exact times for their writing. So do songwriters and novelists. If you schedule the time, then you create a habit. When you create a habit, the part of you that needs to show up will do so more easily. For instance, your creative self gets more relaxed with showing up for that creative time.
9. Do scales.
Before I write songs, I pick up the guitar, I turn on the metronome, and I do scales. It is the very best transition-into-songwriting activity I have found. It lets my left-brain have a little bit more control as it focuses on the metronome, while the right brain loves to feel the neck of the guitar and the strings. It is my ritual. Do your scales. Find a ritual that formally begins your scheduled activity.
I know of no better grounding activity than writing. Write in your journal. Write an entry called “14 Ways to Make Transition Easier” and come up with your own ways. It’ll be you talking to you, and will provide some great insights. Just writing this blog helps me create clarity for my own transitions this month. Writing requires that you organize your thoughts and allows you to think clearly. Things aren’t as scary when we can see them with clarity.
11. Plan for change.
I facilitate retreats for women. My favorite retreat is “Setting Intent for the New Year.” Each person who comes to that retreat typically says, “I usually rush right into the new year without pausing to reflect. I’m here because I want to do it differently this year.” They have planned for change. They know that transitions can be fertile times. If you know you have some big transitions in your future, schedule your time wisely. Work in some intent-time, or some writing time, or some relaxing time. Or come to my next retreat!
12. Make space for beauty.
If my life fell apart and I lost everything, I could probably live in a yurt and eat root vegetables while I figured out a next step. (Hell, I lived in an apartment above a dry cleaner when I was first gigging.) But I know I’d have to have a vase of flowers by the yert, and maybe a candle. I need to have beauty in my world.
When you’re feeling vulnerable during a transitional time, bring home an orchid, or a bunch of daisies. Or light some candles at night and add peace to your environment. If you’re traveling constantly, then you are in on-going stressful change. Splurge on a fantastic room, even if it stretches your purse strings. (I do this occasionally on the road, and it makes such a difference. Oh, how I love the Heavenly Bed.)
13. Go to your center.
Imagine that you’re deep under water. You can see the surface of the water and all of its changes and activities and moods. Down deep, you don’t hear all the noise or experience any weather shifts. It’s the same thing at the center of your being. There’s a very still place that doesn’t alter in the face of life’s changes. It’s there. Take some breaths and know it’s there. Go to that still space underwater and see all of these shifts for what they are. Surface changes in your story. Don’t lose your center.
14. Choose differently.
They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
. . -Andy Warhol
It may seem like changes are happening to you. Shift that preposition. Make changes happen by you. Be proactive: choose to be the one who is changing. Choose to change how you look at this transition. Choose to be different and set the intent that your life is always getting better.