Two tips for rolling with change into a new season (or when your best friend, creative partner, and daughter moves 570 miles away).
After an unplanned summer sabbatical, I’m back at my five am writing desk. Hot water (just one cup before the coffee) to my right, cat draped across my left arm, weighing it down, begging for attention. This is how I left my writing, the website, and all creative endeavors three months ago. That’s when my daughter and son-in-law were finally able to complete the Visa process and get him moved out of the UK to the USA. Because of the pandemic, it’d been a good year and half since they last saw each other.
What a blessing to have him and my daughter at home–so much family time mixed with job hunting, car shopping, house hunting, moving. And a puppy. Can’t forget the puppy. I was mostly a bystander, cheerleader, sometimes a mentor, and a puppy sitter. I watched on as these two high school sweethearts–now twenty-somethings–assembled a life while running at full speed. Preparation really is 90% of success. Seven years of a long distance relationship had certainly given them time to prepare for their new life (and for my daughter to save up plenty of fun household items packed nicely into a few dozen, or more, boxes).
Running Toward Change at Full Speed
Last weekend, they moved out, and I found myself truly alone for the first time in my life. My daughter had been with me through two moves, a divorce, and two jobs. We had written five books together, built Cryptid World, attended conferences, and traveled the country in a little VW Jetta. All I could think was, “How am I going to survive this change?”
Transmission went out on the Jetta a few weeks before the move. I said goodbye and reluctantly bought a new car. My son-in-law watched on as I went through the whole purchasing process. The next week, even though he still only had his learner’s permit, he and my daughter bought a car. They needed it because on the heels of a new car, came a new job…570 miles away! And they had two weeks to plan a move. One week was spent apartment shopping and the next packing and moving. Then, poof! It happened. They left on August 26th. I made a quick trip out to Iowa last weekend to take a few needed items (and to see the new place and experience a few more minutes of life with them) before traveling back home to my now quiet and clutter free space.
Sometimes, in life, change strikes so swiftly and deeply that it sucks the capacity to think, let alone create, right out of the mind. Emotions clog the brain and disrupt every avenue of life. Last week, while the kids were apartment hunting, I only wanted to use my 5 am writing time to clean and organize closets. What’s up with that? But I’m a former grief counselor, I know what’s happening–restless and emotional, my body and brain couldn’t handle sitting at the writing desk. They welcomed the physical decluttering (when mental decluttering wasn’t possible). And that’s okay, as long I wasn’t using the task to ignore the pain. So, I cried, not because I was getting rid of never-used belongings but over the memories attached: The purse I bought on our trip to NYC. The sun hat purchased for research in the desert. A bathing suit for Florida where we attended a writer’s conference. Item after item, my daughter’s presence was infused into almost everything.
Simple Tips For Surviving Change
There is a trick to surviving change. I know this because six years ago, I successfully navigated a divorce. By success, I mean I’m still standing. My life is no worse for the wear. And I think I’m a better person now than I was before. My life still looks different than I had dreamed or intended. But that’s part of the loss that occurs with major emotional changes. I’ll always wish things had been a little bit different, but my life is richer and fuller because of internal changes that allow me to see the world (and my life) a little bit differently.
“Life is a succession of moments. To LIVE each one is to succeed.” This means we shouldn’t deny or try to stop change, but live through it!
You survive change–any change–by acknowledging that it is happening and visualizing what the landscape will look like when the storm passes. The outlook needs to be positive. You must visualize the good. It’s okay to anticipate the hardship, but see yourself overcoming it!
Walk through the pain, the sorrow, the chaos, the uncertainty, the fear. How’s the saying go: “If you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” I’d like to add to that. Don’t hold on, expecting your strength to hold you. Anchor the rope in friends, family, a counselor, God. Then tie the knot.
Do not, under any circumstances, sweep your feelings–or the truth of a situation–under the rug. It has nowhere to go and will wait right there for you.
Tell yourself the truth, feel the pain associated with change, and visualize what your “new normal” is going to look like. This will carry you through the storm. And on the other side, the brain will declutter, and the capacity to create, retain, and recall will return. The chaos, stress, and emotions will diffuse. Then you can let go of the rope.
Nothing will ever be the same, but that’s not always a bad thing.
P. S. I did not get rid of the purse, beach hat, or swim suit. Never throw away important items (or do anything you might regret) when you feel emotional.
Remember: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” –Alexander Graham Bell.
If you like this post, you might also like “Back in the Groove.”
Thanks for reading!