Life Transitions

For years, the trampoline has been a staple of our backyard. When my older son was in high school, it was a common occurrence to see a slew of kids in the backyard jumping on the trampoline.  After he went away to college, my younger son and his friends pretty much took over where he had left off.


The trampoline got so much mileage that we eventually had to buy a new one.  At the time, I thought it was kind of crazy for us to make another purchase.  You see, my son was turning 16 and only had a couple years left at home. However, the new trampoline got plenty of usage and the backyard again was filled with laughter.


My younger son is now 21 years old. In the last year or so, the trampoline hasn’t really seen much action.  However, a new family recently moved in next door. Once in awhile, I’ll get a knock on the door from a little one, asking if they can play on the trampoline.  I was more than happy to see it get used again.


My husband and I were talking one night when the conversation turned to the trampoline. I suggested that we offer to give the trampoline to our neighbors. My husband agreed and I broached the subject the next day with my neighbor. He seemed interested, but the trampoline stayed put in our yard.


Two weeks ago, my neighbor brought the topic up again.  He wondered if I was still game for giving away the trampoline.  I replied that if he could figure out how to get it over the fence in one piece, it was his.  With the help of my husband and two neighbors, it was hoisted over the fence and rolled into position in their backyard.  The whole neighborhood of kids was involved in the process.


For the next 6 straight hours, we heard kids screaming, laughing and generally having a great time while jumping around.  In fact, for the next 7 days we heard laughter emanating from that backyard.


It was my idea to give up the trampoline. I accepted the fact that my kids were growing up and it was time to move on.  However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel a twinge when it was finally gone. I most certainly did.  It made it more final and real that I no longer had young children.  Another part of my life had transitioned.


I felt it even more last night.  My older son called to say that he had proposed to his girlfriend.  As excited as I was for the two of them and as much as I love the girl, I felt that familiar twinge.  My family was changing whether I liked it or not.  Things would never be the same.


Whenever you go through a transition in life, you have a choice.  You can accept the new landscape, or you can fight and claw at the change.  Change is never easy.  We are all creatures of habit and strive to keep things status quo.  But the truth is that relationships, people, jobs and situations are always changing.  If you want to stay happy, you need to roll with the changes and embrace them. You must find ways to deal with and accept your new reality.


Tonight, I’m relaxing on my deck in my backyard, working on my computer. The kids next door are yelling, laughing and having fun on the trampoline. I could swear it sounds exactly like it did 10 years ago. You can’t imagine how much pleasure that’s giving me.




I was out shopping for clothes the other day, trying to get in the mood for Spring.  Let me rephrase that: I’m definitely in the mood for Spring— I’m just waiting for the weather to cooperate with my wishes.  Anyway, as I walked up to the counter, the young woman said to me, “Hi, how are you today”.


That in and of itself doesn’t seem so unusual.  However, by the tone of her voice, it was evident to me that she didn’t mean one word of what she had just mumbled. The words came out in a monotone and she didn’t look up from what she was doing. They were words she was obligated to share with me.  I spent the next five minutes trying to determine what exactly was going on with her.  Was this just her personality or was there something more to this?  As she handed me my receipt, she looked up. She then handed me the bag and proceeded to ask whether or not she had handed me my receipt.  I reminded her that she had just done that 10 seconds before she handed me the bag.


I asked her if she had a lot on her mind.  She shared that she was sorry, but she was trying to think about too many things at once.  She was embarrassed by her actions and wondered why she couldn’t do more than one thing at a time. She actually felt that she was deficient in this area when everyone else had this exceptional ability.  I reminded her that no one can focus on more than one thing and not have their performance suffer. She’s really not that different than any of us.


Women seem to take a lot of pride in being multi-taskers. I have clients that swear up and down that they’re great at juggling numerous things at once.  However, I beg to differ and so do the experts.  According to Professor Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT, multi-tasking definitely affects our mental clarity.  In a recent research study, he scanned volunteer’s heads while they performed certain tasks. He found that when they were given visual stimulants, only one or two stimulants activated a part of our brain.  This was proof that we couldn’t focus on more than one or two items at a time.  He discovered that when there are two similar tasks, they compete to utilize the same part of our brain.


The result of this multi-tasking is that the brain’s efficiency slows down.  And if that wasn’t enough, when we do two similar tasks, they found that it knocks an equivalent of 10 points off our IQ. They also found multi-tasking to have negative effects on our physical health. When you attempt to accomplish more numerous tasks at once, your body’s response is to release stress hormones. In other words, multi-tasking translates into you being more stressed, taking longer to accomplish your tasks and lowering the quality of your work.  None of that appeals to me and I’m betting it doesn’t to you either.


In essence, your goal to accomplish as many tasks as possible while believing that you’re using your time efficiently has backfired on you. In the long run, practicing mindfulness and being fully in the present is a more effective, healthy way to live your life.


Facing the Fear

It all started five days ago. I was eating breakfast and I heard a rhythm of knocks at the door.  It stopped for a while, but it soon started up again.  Knock, knock, knock. I opened the door and looked around but I didn’t see anyone.  I went upstairs to focus on my work.


I wasn’t sitting at my desk for more than five minutes when I heard the rhythmic knocking again.  Knock, knock, knock, knock.  On and on it went until I ran back down the stairs and opened the door.  Again, I didn’t see anything and I closed the door.  I asked my husband later that day if he had heard that same sound emanating from the front door.  He too had wondered what the sound was and had opened the door to find nothing.


Finally, on the fourth day of knocking, my husband quietly walked out the side door and worked his way to the front of the house.  There, at the front door, was a Robin banging his head against the door’s brass kick plate, over and over again.


According to an expert on bird behaviors, this is about the time when they start feeling territorial.  They do their very best to keep other adult birds of the same sex outside of their territorial boundaries.  When a Robin notices its reflection in a window or mirror, it becomes agitated and raises its feathers and assumes dominant position.  Normally, that behavior is enough to make other robins leave their territory.


However, the “reflection” obviously also gets agitated and becomes equally dominant.  If the robin sees his reflection repeatedly, it becomes more and more agitated and aggressive.  The bird gets determined to drive the “other bird” away.


Apparently, my robin friend was quite aggravated with the nerve of the “brass plate” bird.  No matter how much he threw his weight (and head) at the bird, the “brass plate” bird continued to fight back.  Therefore, that bird felt obligated to come back to my front door over and over again to show the other bird who was boss.


But we know the truth.  The “brass plate” bird was only a reflection and didn’t truly exist.  However, for my friend the Robin, it was very, very real and threatening.  The bird’s response to the threat was the same ritualistic behavior every time, which, as we know, was not bringing him the outcome that he wanted.


What do you fear in life? It’s possible that you have fears that are keeping you from moving forward.  Like our friend the Robin, your usual way of dealing with these threats are based on past behavior.  Do you have a coping pattern of pulling the covers over your head or do you persevere and face whatever’s in front of you?  Chances are, you repeat this ritualistic behavior over and over.  It’s very possible that your fear is about as real as that birds reflection in the brass kick plate.


Your success on moving forward in life is dependent upon your ability to see the fear for what it truly is— only a reflection of your past negative experiences.  Your success on moving forward is dependent upon your ability to change your patterns and find a new way to approach the fear.


Only then will you stop banging your head against the brass kick plate.

Letting Go of Baggage

Years ago, I worked at an organization with a good friend.  Throughout the relationship, I had always been supportive of her family and her career. Since my company had identified her to move up in the organization, my boss included her in a meeting to discuss my yearly review.  I didn’t see this as any threat and had no problem with the decision to include her.  Frankly, no one knew my work better.


However, I hadn’t been in the meeting for even five minutes before I began to sense a shift in her behavior.  When the supervisor made some false accusations toward me, my eyes immediately searched my friend. I expected her support— what I got was more accusations. The two became a tag team of attack while I was left confused, hurt and angry.  All I kept thinking in my head was, “what the heck is happening here”.


Being attacked by my supervisor was disappointing and confusing, but being attacked by my friend was just devastating for me.  I walked out dazed, hurt and angry.  I couldn’t imagine why someone I thought I knew so well would act so out of character.


I’m sure each one of you has been in this same place.  Someone lets you down and hurts you so deeply that you have difficulty dealing with the emotions and letting go of the anger.  Some of you might still be carrying around baggage from years ago.  If so, heed my tips for forgiving and moving on in life.


Identify the feelings and loss in your life

When my incident occurred, I had difficulty articulating my feelings.  I knew I was hurt and angry, but I couldn’t make sense past that thought. As time went on, it became clearer to me what I had lost and why the situation had been so painful.  It was helpful for me to put these thoughts down on paper and talk to close friends about the situation.


Allow yourself time to grieve

This is an important time in the process of forgiveness. Many women feel uncomfortable expressing negative emotions. During this time, allow yourself the opportunity to feel any emotions that seem natural for the situation.  Don’t stuff the emotions down because this will only make it difficult to complete the process of forgiveness.


Try to see the situation outside your own pain

Easier said than done right?  When you’re angry and in pain, you have difficulty seeing anything but what’s happening to you. However, when you get to the point where you can envision what that other person is actually feeling, you will move closer to finding the path to forgiveness.


Look for what the situation has taught you in life

No matter how bad the situation, there’s always a lesson somewhere. What have you learned from the experience? What did you not realize until the situation occurred?  Find some bit of information that helps you gain perspective in life.


Forgive while not expecting anything in return

When you forgive someone, you let go of the idea of revenge and move on.  It doesn’t mean you put yourself in a position that allows that individual to hurt you again— it just means you’ve made a decision in your heart to forgive them for their actions.  YOU decide that you’re tired of holding on to the anger and hurt and their subsequent affect on your quality of life.  Once you forgive and let go, you get to enjoy healthier relationships, less stress and anxiety and greater psychological well-being.


Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to finally unpack that suitcase and deal with some unfinished business.

Birthday Lessons

It’s my birthday tomorrow. Thanks to Facebook, it isn’t a secret that it’s my birthday.  It’s normal protocol for people to ask what you’re doing to celebrate this special day.  I feel obligated to tell them something much more interesting than my reality— I’m going out to dinner with good friends.


Actually, my day stacks up like this: at 8:00, I’ll probably go to the gym and work out for an hour.  By 10:30, I have an appointment to take Biscuit and Joey, my two cats, to the Vet for a check-up.  This in itself should be an exciting experience.  The last time I attempted this trip, deep guttural sounds emanated from the back seat and scared the heck out of me. By 12:00, I have a friend taking me to lunch, and then I have an actual work appointment at 2:00. As you can see, my birthday promises to be one thrilling day.


But guess what? If I truly wanted my day to be any different than that, I would have planned it differently.  Anyway, as I contemplate another year on earth, let me share with you what I’ve learned.


Just when I think I have life all figured out, something happens to prove me wrong.

Somehow I thought that by the time I got to this age, I would have a good handle on everything.  I definitely understand myself better than when I was in my 20’s or 30’s, and what I need in my life to be happy.  However, I’m still pleasantly surprised when I learn something about people or life that I hadn’t encountered yet.  Maybe that’s possible because I leave my heart and mind open to learning.  I’m constantly searching for the answer and I’m always open to seeing another way to look at things.


“Things” matter less to me— my friends and family have become much more important.

My husband gave me a beautiful present for my birthday. I won’t deny that I enjoyed that experience, however, I didn’t need it to be happy.  The card made me happy (I’m totally serious). Being remembered made me happy.  Having both of my sons call me today and sing the whole “Happy Birthday” song definitely made me happy.  Going out to lunch with my good friend made me happy.  When you get to that point in your life, you’re at a very good place.


I no longer live my life with expectations of “how it’s supposed to or should be”.

I didn’t EXPECT a present from my husband.  Actually, I was quite surprised when I saw a box on my desk. That’s what made the present so enjoyable.  I didn’t expect my kids to call me.  I had a pretty good idea that they would remember, they usually do (sometimes with prodding).  However, if one of them had forgotten, I wouldn’t have been upset.  I wouldn’t have wondered why I wasn’t important or why this stuff happens to me.  The only thought in my head would be “I’m sure they’re pretty busy today”— and I would leave it at that.  Once you start expecting things, you become unhappy. You put yourself in a position to be very disappointed.


For the first time in my life, I have absolutely no baggage.

I’m being completely honest here— no baggage. If I asked my family, they would totally agree. I’m referring to all that unresolved relationship and experience stuff that you carry around.  Letting go of your baggage takes dedication and hard work, but it’s more than worth it. For the first time, you will experience a feeling of freedom.  I recommend it for anyone that’s struggling with moving forward in her life.


I look forward to sharing my “revelations” about life next year at this same time.