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Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.       –Saint Augustine

I lost my favorite bracelet.

It was one of those leather cord bracelets, its two ends attached to a horizontal sterling silver cross. I love traditional items created in non-traditional ways, and this one made me happy, even though I’m not particularly religious.  Whenever I would find myself in a pensive or anxious moment, I would instinctively rub the slight curve in the cross, as if it was going to grant some wish. It reminded me to have faith.

And then, it was gone.

When on vacation in the Bahamas a few months ago, I lost one half of my favorite pair of earrings. Just vanished, no longer with me. It seems silly to mourn a thing, but I’ve become particular with my belongings. I’ve made a pact with myself to only keep things I love in my life. So, it makes it more difficult (and disappointing—such a big word) when the things you love don’t stay around.

I suppose these are life lessons. You love, but you also have to be willing to let go.

In this season of miracles, I’ve been thinking a lot about faith. Mainly, how can you trust life to work out in your favor? And, how do you craft a life of meaning, a life that fits and feels true?

The wisest part of me keeps hearing, Allow yourself to be led.

Though it has been clear I need to make some significant changes, I’ve been reluctant to act. But sometimes life has other plans. For all the things I don’t actively act on, something falls away.

It started with my clothing. Almost every top—blouse, sweater, T-shirt—has emerged with a hole. Some eaten by moths (who have waged a closet battle I am not winning), but most have simply come apart at the seams. Literally.

When, before venturing out in the final snowstorm of the season, I tried to pull on my tattered but still warm boots, but my foot wouldn’t fit in the right one. These almost 10-year old boots had become my go-to in seriously inclement weather. I tried to pull harder to force my heel to take its rightful place in the boot, and I felt something pull. I looked down and saw the leather on the side of the boot had split from its seam.

As I put on my favorite dress for big client meetings last week, I heard the unmistakable sound of fabric ripping. It didn’t just tear, but ripped apart completely, beginning at the seam just at the underarm and fraying into the body of the dress.

Even my sheets have joined in. A pillow case ripped in my hands as I tried to rejoin it with its pillow mate after the laundry. And the fitted sheet suddenly looked woefully thin in the bottom half, as if its days were numbered.

They were.

This is perhaps a result of all the times I opened my closet in the morning, desperate to find an outfit for the day, and thought, Nothing in here feels like me anymore.

Or, perhaps of something that is trying to be born within me. I’m a believer in signs, and I believe life speaks to us, if only we would listen to what it has to say. If nothing feels like me anymore, then maybe it’s time to get rid of it all. It could be time to start anew.

For years I felt like life was like a sweater a few sizes too small—it just didn’t fit. Maybe this is life speaking to me. Maybe it’s a messenger calling to the deepest part of me to stop living the way I think I should, and to start listening to the longing of things I’d hidden away long ago. Maybe I’ve crammed life so full with situations and people and ideas it’s now time to clean the proverbial closet.

Maybe it’s time to believe in possibility again.

I’d forgotten about my bracelet. You lose things, you feel sorry about them, and then you find the space to move on without them. One morning, I arrived at work late because I’d had an appointment, and I came back to the office feeling unsettled. I walked into the office, fully living in my head, not noticing anyone or anything. I was lost in my thoughts as I sat down at my desk.

My heart skipped a beat. The bracelet was on my keyboard. My co-worker found it in a conference room and returned it to me, whole and unscathed. I was elated.

And then a couple of weeks later, I lost it again.

I think there are no accidents in life. Losing it again was a test of my devotion. If this, my symbol of faith, had been lost again, then what did that mean?

Mabye I think too much. Maybe it’s the past disappointments that keep things dreamed of long ago at bay. Maybe this is a moment to believe the unknown of days ahead may hold the possibility of not being disappointed again.

But, my faith is certain of a few things. The sun will rise and the sun will set every day. If I’m lucky, I will regularly be witness to both, occasionally in the same day, and they will look as magical as they actually are. Even after the most brutal winter spring still arrives, with its fresh blooms and warmer days, and I will feel at home on the earth again.

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Maybe if I can believe in those occurrences, miracles all, then I can believe in my ability to dream a life beyond anything that currently seems possible.

And so I wait, in faith.

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I’ve been contemplating all the ways a person can make a life.  And, how so many of those scenarios can seem so right to an outsider, but feel so wrong to the person living the life.

I have been feeling off center the last few weeks—months even, if I’m being really honest—and it’s clear I need to make some changes.  For a person used to change and changing, this feels uncharacteristically unsettling.  Perhaps because this time around, I’m not just going with the flow and changing with circumstances, but looking at a life of my dreams.  For the first time, I’m looking at what I want—what I really, really, really want, deep in the core of my soul—which is not as easy as it sounds.

Following your heart isn’t easy when you can’t hear what it really wants.

Someone recently said to me that you get to choose the people and things and circumstances that are in your life.  This is a simple concept, but it made me think.  How much of what’s currently in my life chose me, rather than the other way around?  Do I really get to design my life?

Maybe it’s time to try.

This week a friend of mine invited me, along with a group of mutual friends, to an event at an ice skating rink in Central Park.  Though I grew up roller skating, I’d never been ice skating before.  (Cold weather and icy conditions are not my thing.)  But, I’m doing my best to say yes to new experiences these days.

Once I arrived at the rink, I was trepidatious about actually skating.  I’m saying yes to new experiences, but that doesn’t mean I jump in head first.  Cautious by nature, I usually have to study something before I try it, suss it out to get my bearings.

My friend wasn’t having it.  She went into coach mode, reassuring me that she’d taught others how to skate, and they flourished.

So I said, okay.

As I took my first (very tentative) strokes, she held my hand.  As I held on for dear life to the wall while I crawled along the rink, she held my hand.  When I needed a break and stopped at the rink’s edge, she held my hand.  And when I felt confident enough to try it again, she held my hand.  As I got better and started taking more assertive strides, she pulled me farther away from the wall, telling me it was okay to leave behind its safety—all the while, holding my hand.

As I set about redesigning my life, this reminds me of all the times I embarked on a new journey—and felt completely on my own.

Maybe throughout the difficult times in our lives, all we really need is someone to hold our hand and be with us throughout the scary parts.  To say, no matter what happens, even if you fall, I got you.  I got you.  Those words are like magic. Maybe they are the salvation through the jungle of uncertainty.

When you feel unsure, unsettled and unsteady this week, I hope you find support and an open hand to hold.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

 

Change can be hard.

But change is necessary, and often wholly out of our control.  So, we have to go with it in the hope it will lead us to a place better than where we started.

This week, my office moved to a different part of town.  Change affects everyone differently, but this took us seriously out of our comfort zone.  For the most part, everyone was uncomfortable, unsettled and exhausted.

One day, drowning in work, I was sitting at my desk plowing through to make my deadlines.  Suddenly, there was  flurry of activity around me.  People were pointing towards the windows, scurrying to get their camera phones.  I looked up, then around to the window to see what was capturing everyone’s attention.

Out of the window was the most heavenly light.  The sun was setting, and magic hour had arrived.

Turns out, we’re all light chasers.

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Magic is transformative.  Let it change you.

xo, with goodness and grace.

This week’s change of season was precipitated by a wave of changes in the lives of people around me.

One of my colleagues got engaged.  Over the last few months, she’s been trying to convert a very reluctant me to join the world of online dating, telling me tales of her friends who met their mates online.  Now she has her own happy-ending case study to prove her point.

Another co-worker worked her last day, off to start a new life with her fiancé in a new city.  We’d developed the kind of friendship where we could just look at each other and know what the other was thinking.  She offered a sense of belonging when I’d gotten used to not feeling part of the whole.  I already miss her.

My favorite manager at my favorite restaurant responded to an email of mine with the news that he’s moving on to another job in another restaurant.  He was a big reason why I’ve become a regular—often bringing my favorite drink before I’d ordered, remembering my love of truffles, and laughing in conversations where we caught up on each other’s lives.  All of it made the delicious food taste even better. I will continue to go, but I already know that something will be missing.

As for me, nothing dramatic happened.  (Though, I did buy— and wear—a pair of skinny jeans for the first time in my life.  And I looked good in them.  I suppose if there was ever a life-altering moment, that would be one.)

But, I feel that something is shifting in me.  Somehow I know I’m not at the crossroads any longer.  My footsteps are traveling down a new path, though I cannot see where the road is leading just yet.  As I wait for that shift to manifest itself in my life, I remain present and focused on following the joy.

First Fallen Leaf

Change is in the air.  I’m just going with it, with love in my heart, as I wait to see what’s on the other side.

Sometimes there are events that thrust you into a new way of being, that shake you to your core, that move you out of one state of mind and into another.

For me, it all started with the steam pipe explosion.

I can remember that day like it was yesterday. I was about to leave the office, but I’d sat down to talk to my friend Jen as sometimes I did before I left. This was during my workaholic phase, before I’d officially recognized that there was more to life than work. We’d worked many late nights, and we would order dinner and commiserate about what had gone on that day. Sometimes I would lament  the fact that I had to cancel yet another dinner plan because I had to finish something at work.

On this particular day, I was getting myself out of the office at a reasonable hour. I’d shut down my computer and had my favorite Kate Spade red and pink striped satchel in hand, ready to walk out the door. But on my way out, I started a conversation and sat down on a chair just outside of Jen’s cubicle, and we began to chit chat about whatever we needed to talk about at the end of that day.

Later, Jen would tell me that she knew something was wrong just by the look on my face.

I remember it had rained heavily earlier on that steamy July morning, the kind of rain that seems as if it will never end.  The kind that feels like thick bands of water are shooting down as if there was a leak in the sky.  The kind feels abnormal somehow. But then it stopped and the sun came out and life went on as it normally does.

We heard a loud noise outside, which at first sounded like thunder, though the sound went on longer than thunder normally does. It wasn’t immediately alarming, because of the heavy thunderstorm earlier. But I was facing the window, and suddenly I saw a massive plume of smoke billow upward from the street below.

At that moment—and for the people who were not near a window, I still don’t know how they knew to move—everyone ran for the exit.

This being New York, where no matter how far we are from September 11, 2001 it still remains in the collective consciousness of every day, so that was the thing that instantly sprang to mind. Some act of terror must have occurred at Grand Central Station, just across the street from our office.

We ran down 10 flights of stairs, hysterically at first. Some people were literally pushed down the stairs, and then we all realized that if we had any chance of getting out of the building we needed to take care of each other. We began to move in orderly, but speedy fashion.

As we got to the bottom of the stairs, someone shouted, “The doors won’t open!”

You don’t know panic until you’ve heard that.

My friend Judy turned to me and begged to use my cell phone so she could call her boyfriend. “No, no, no,” I remember saying. “We aren’t doing that. We’re going to focus on getting out of here.”

I momentarily wondered if that made me a bad person and if I would later regret my words.

Thankfully after finding another exit, there was a set of doors that did open. Jen, Judy and I reached it at the same time. Unexpectedly, and completely out of character, I had a paralyzing moment of fear of what was outside. “I don’t know what to do,” I said. Suddenly I wasn’t sure if we were safer inside or outside. Jen took a beat and then said, “Just go!”

I cannot remember details of what the street looked like when we finally emerged, except for the thought that it looked like the aftermath of an incident in a war zone.  We later learned that there was not an act of terror; there had been a steam pipe explosion across the street from our office building, probably triggered by the heavy rain earlier in the day.

It didn’t lessen the intensity of what we’d just been through.

I look back on that experience and marvel at how this one event changed me. I was changed in ways that were uncomfortable and life altering.

Loud noises began to unsettle me, where they hadn’t bothered me before.  I met a friend for breakfast the next morning, and the fire alarm went off in the restaurant. No one moved or seemed concerned, which I found disconcerting. My friend showed up a few minutes after I got settled, complained about our table and had us moved. Then she grew annoyed because her coffee hadn’t come fast enough.

I sat there, trying to act normal though it felt like my frayed nerves were hanging out of my body, while I wondered if I should keep this person in my life.

Trauma brought me a startling and heightened clarity to what was important.

I also had far less tolerance for unkindness and rudeness. I became impatient with other people’s impatience and with their hysterical need for everything to be done immediately, particularly at work. It was a major catalyst that led me leave that job a few months later for one that afforded me a better quality of life, though I still struggled (and continue to, even now) over how to let work go once I left the office for the day.

At the same time, it was the beginning of a series of events that would shape my adult life, many that I still feel in the aftermath of today. Like the family crisis that following year. And the job, and the job after that, that seemed to continually force me to face the question of who I wanted to show up as in the world and where I really belonged.

Those events were all triggers in getting me to this point in my life. These were the events that fully ushered me into adulthood.  The numbers on the birthday cards may confirm that you are an adult, but life pushes you into the lifestage through its changes, only when it is ready.

Change can be good.

A few weeks after the steam pipe explosion, I was having a conversation with Judy, and I mentioned something about that day. I said that something would happen and would take me back to that day. That I felt a bit scarred by the whole thing.

“But, Dena,” she said. “It’s over.”

It was time to move on to our new normal.

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