Change is Nature’s Way

Milkweed seedpod…

Seed pods fly unfettered       creation cruising aloft        seeking common ground

Change is the definition of nature. Poets offer creative change themes and often use nature metaphors. Few words were needed in my Japanese-inspired haiku to capture “change.” Give it a try — you may surprise yourself with your simple change-of-pace experience.

Why do we rebel so much when changes occur? Transitioning is constant throughout the lifespan. Children cascade into transitioning from one developmental stage to the next. Each child transition ripples into parents’ own transitioning in how to relate to these budding change-makers. Many parents (and some kids) resist making transitions. People cling to their present status because of fears. Parents want to protect children from unknown dangers. Let’s face it – our parental fearful parts of our personalities want protection for us too! Loss of “the way things were” can trap us and prevent inner peace. But our survival demands change. Consider how our breath changes from inhale to a brief pause, and onward to exhale with brief pausing before the change-cycle repeats.

Many change lessons are available in the garden. I’m savoring autumn days when plants are winding down productivity while planning their legacies. Wafting seeds make sure new sprouts will flourish into more Rose-of-Sharon trees next year. I gave away multiple little Rose-of-Sharon start-ups. Yet, I find more fledgling entrepreneurs under lush raspberry bush foliage. Some plants and people are more prolific than others in their transitioning growth.

Consultant William Bridges described transition as a psychological time that involves both inner redirection and self-redefinition. Bridges’ three stages of transition include: an ending, a neutral zone or in-between state, and new beginnings. My version of transitioning is a recycling process. I find that transitioning cycles are ongoing. I favor using the verb, transitioning, as well-lived years require ongoing mental/physical movement…well, changes.

  • Initial transitioning involves saying good-bye to what you are losing. What ends in leaving a school/job/career/relationship? Belonging and ability needs may go unmet initially. Befriending what is ending in your life includes finding what you might keep.
  • The muddling-middle of transitioning is where confusion and angst may pile up. Your body may feel tense. You may experience vulnerability when you are “lost-in-a-maze” of feelings and unmet needs. Your energy may plummet. This is a clue for you to tend to yourself with great care.
  • Personality rewiring carries possibilities. Bridges advised: “Things go slowly for a time and nothing seems to happen—until suddenly…the branch blossoms…when the endings and the time of fallow neutrality are finished…we can launch ourselves anew, changed and renewed by the deconstruction…[of] outlooks of the old life phase.”

With COVID numbers beginning to recede, we are transitioning (AGAIN).

Pearls of Peace (PoP) quiz:

20. What changes are needed in your life post-COVID?

21. What will help you make transitioning moves?  

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

2 comments

  1. Jan—I am in awe of your interweaving of the seasons in nature and our own transitions and “re-weaving”.
    I’m house -bound for awhile and looking back on the “chapters “ of my life, making your thoughts especially timely
    and helpful. I’m in the chapter of “Life Review” described by Erik Erickson. Thanks for your reflections.
    Nancy

    Like

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