I am on the bridge!!

1998-105I am on the bridge!

Life in transition has four phases of holding on (mourning losses), letting go, taking on, and then finally moving on.

I was stuck in the ‘letting go’ part for a long time and then when I was finally free of all that I started to wonder what could be next. So I sat still for a little while. It was almost as if the ‘letting go’ had become a world of its own accord as it had become my normality and even my identity for a while.

Well it has finally gone and I am taking on new things getting ready for the road ahead.

I am on my way from ‘over here’ getting ready for ‘over there’.

Feeling my feelings

BCR_2002_050At the beginning of 2014, at the tail end of a period of reflection, I was beginning to have a vision for my future. It was a defining moment. After my marriage collapse I had spent quite some time mourning the past, yet fearing the future. To come to the place of a bright vision for my future was a fantastic place to be. The downside was I was still trapped in the mud of the financial process of my marital settlement. I could not move on to the vision that I had. From that point, I was no longer trapped in the past, I was trapped in the quagmire of an unpleasant present.

That was frightening and demoralizing. Two mini-epiphanies pulled me out of my dark hole. The first was a suggestion from a friend to re-frame the processes of the marital settlement as steps towards my bright envisioned future. Clunk! An obvious self-esteem boosting solution once I could see that. The second was sage advice from my mother. She told me I needed to face what had to be done, write down the tasks to get it done, get started on the first, keep going, get through it, then – and only then – when all done – begin living that life I was dreaming.

Facing all that had to be done was extremely painful and overwhelming, but I did face it. I wrote it all down into a horrifying long-list, subdivided into categories, tasks, and sub-tasks. Slowly, task by task, I moved through the list and got the job done. When I wrote the list, I had no idea at the time that it would take another fifteen months to complete, all the time dragging myself through mud. The going was tough and slow.

Sadly, I also did not know at the time that I would lose my dear mother along the way.

I did not know for ten of those fifteen months, I would be flitting between the two worlds of the marital settlement process, and caring for my mother in her last phase of life. Two entirely different and emotionally intense worlds, yet both were worlds where I had to put my emotions aside in order to cope. In order to survive and get through that last fifteen months of the marital settlement, which required my logical thinking brain, I had to put aside my feelings of grief at the loss of my marriage, and feelings of anger and resentment at being stuck in the process of settlement. In order to care for my mother and provide for her an environment to live her last days in peace and happiness, I had to put aside my own distress that I was losing her. I had to put aside my own grief, for her well-being.

Four huge changes have taken place in my life over the past few months: the selling of the business, the end of the marital settlement process, the final separation from my husband, and the death of my mother. Friends and loved ones were concerned that with all that, when I found myself alone, I would emotionally collapse. What would I do with myself? How would I cope?

I must admit, I too had moments of concern. Over the past fifteen months, when emotions surfaced, I would actively blunt them or push them aside. I would tell them to go away until I had time to deal with them. I was afraid that when things became quiet they would return and would overwhelm me. I was also afraid the opposite may happen, that I was so used to burying my emotions, I would become a frozen wasteland devoid of feeling.

I have not collapsed. I have not become overwhelmed. I am coping. In fact, at times I have been bubbling with excitement and anticipation at approaching blue skies and exciting adventures ahead. However …

I am feeling my feelings – all of them. Instead of pushing them aside I am embracing them and I am at peace that I am at last able to allow myself that space to feel them. ___________________________________________________________________

This is the first post in a series of posts I am writing on feeling my feelings.

Life around the corner

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”               from Kindness, poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

ID-10052519.digitalartLife around the corner (that corner that I got to after I got out of the mud and went a little way down the path and found a bend in the road and I took it) is sunny and warm; with blue skies, green grass and kind friendly people having fun.

This has surprised me because they are the same people who were there before, when I was stuck in the mud, yet for some reason I failed to see their kindness, I did not notice their friendliness and I most certainly had no time to join in their fun.

OR …

Is it that I am acting more with kindness and friendliness to those people and they are responding to my warmth and opening their hearts. We are laughing, having fun together.

It wasn’t that I didn’t chat before, or I that I was unkind, or unfriendly; it was just that when I was in the mud I had to keep going or I would get stuck. I had to keep going and going and had no time for idle chit-chat. I could not extend a hand to help others because that may have pulled me under and make me sink. I had to protect myself from the storm clouds above, from the driving wind blowing in my face, and the mud below and ahead of me.  I was so busy protecting myself and looking down at the mud that I did not notice the people and their situations and their faces. Those people are people – just like me. Sometimes they have been in mud of their own, and sometimes not.

Now the road is clear and I am looking up at their faces.

I can hear their stories – of the young gentleman at the firm where I had my car serviced who did not like the atmosphere at his previous job; of the lady from whom I bought my new kitchen pots who has a husband who is unwell; and the twice-divorced receptionist at my lawyers with a 30 year old son whom she adores, yet is lonely living on her own.

I can see their friendliness – the doctor’s receptionist embracing yet joking about their new computer program; my hair-dresser encouraging me in a new style for my hair; the sales-lady in the department store offering colour suggestions for my clothes.

I can feel their kindness – of that same sales-lady taking me around the store to find some matching accessories; of the manager of the department store allowing me to take my time with my purchases and then escorting me down the lift (elevator) as it was a bit spooky being the only one left in a huge department store 45 minutes after closing time!

These are interactions I am having with people in my everyday life as I now have an everyday life. I am now doing everyday things – an annual doctor’s check (six months overdue), hair-cut (four months overdue), car service (two years overdue, so low was its priority), buying new pots instead of putting up with old ones with no handles, luxuriating in buying new clothes rather than wearing the same clothes day in and day out for four years; and attending to my own legal affairs after years and years of attending to joint affairs.

In life around the corner, I have time for everyday life and within that everyday life I have found kindness and friendliness. It is all around me, everywhere I look, flowing from the crucibles of human life stories, pouring forth for me to drink and quench my thirst.

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Image.courtesy[digitalart]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

spring into summer

ID-100128413.africa

After over three and a half years of looking towards spring with hope and optimism while still trudging through the mud of a cold bleak winter, I feel that winter is finally over. Spring is here. Summer is on its way. More importantly, the trudging is finally over. There is now a spring in my step. This is a warm bright place to be and I am singing.

I have therefore changed the name of my blog from ‘Almost Spring’  to ‘Spring into Summer’. I am no longer looking towards spring, I am in spring and I am bouncing.

I have altered the tagline from ‘transforming my life from we to me’  to ‘finding my voice and speaking my truth’. I have also revised the information in the pages and sidebar. I feel that these changes more correctly reflect where I am in my life.

Spring is a season, not only for new beginnings, but also for shaking off the winter blues and getting ready for the warm summers ahead. I see this time in my life as one in which to spring-clean or tidy up my old world, letting go of anything that does not serve me well; as well as planting seeds ready for their bloom in the summer to come. I see it as an exciting time of trying out new things, as well as planning and readying myself for the vision I have for a wonderful future, a vision of living true to my own beliefs.

The planning stage for that vision is finding my voice and speaking my truth.

My journey continues. I hope that you will join me on the path ahead.

 

 

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Image courtesy of [africa] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Back to normal

ID-10014718.SalvatoreVuonoIt has been ten months now since I first had the sad news about my mother’s illness and for the next eight months I had been flying back and forth to care for her, alternating each two weeks with my sister. Since her death, I have been playing catch-up with people I had not seen for a while, and spending more time with my children. This week, I have finally come down to earth and am at home, and will be home now for a while.

Over the ten month period, when I wasn’t caring for my mother in the world over there, I was still dealing with a lot in my world over here, so much that the ground actually moved. The business was sold, the marital property settlement contract was signed and, over the last three months, the processes of that settlement have finally taken place. All those big grey clouds weighing me down – it seems to me as if they lifted together. So there have been huge changes in my life and now I can finally breathe again. As I sit here in reflection alone at my desk I realize that I am now in a totally different space since I last took breath.

I began to think back how it was before that frantic ten months began and I realized of course that life was not ‘normal’ for me then, although I was clinging on to a sense of normality by bravely following a structured routine. I have done that quite a lot over the last three and a half years since my husband left me, propping myself up with routine to instill a sense of normality.

So I need to go back further, much further, before I was in a normal space.

By “normal”, I mean having those aspects of life that are dear to you (family, friends, work, career, hobbies, community) and you devote a certain amount of time to each whether as part of your daily, weekly or monthly routine. Then there is the annual cycle of either school or work year, interspersed with festive occasions such as Christmas and taking an annual holiday. That to me is normal.

I thought back to before my husband left me, and yes there was a kind-of stability and a sort-of annual routine but the marital split came on the back of a previously unsettling three -year period in the business … and before that my husband getting sued for standing up for Tasmania’s forests (described previously) … and before that my son’s cancer diagnosis … and before that the four year ‘save-the-forests’ campaign … and before that the older children moving out of home … and before that renovating properties … and before that …

In fact when I thought carefully, I realized that it has been sixteen years since I have had real normal, a steady routine, without some crisis or catastrophe or issue to deal with on the side of my life, without something beyond normal life requiring my attention.

It has been sixteen years since I have had that luxury of sitting down and doing a jigsaw puzzle. I used to do one every year. I have not done one for years. I think that is a sign for my return to real normal. That I now consider that there truly is nothing pressing for me to do, and I have the time to sit down and do a jigsaw puzzle.

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Image courtesy of [SalvatoreVuono] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo challenge # 5 – safe in port

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
John A Shedd

DSCN2008I have come to the last post in my series on new chapters in my life which brings me up to the present time and my current ‘new beginnings’.

A new chapter in life often begins by being in transition, a period between the old and new.
That transition involves letting go of the old life, restructuring, then moving on to the new.

Even though it has been over three and a half years since the ending of my marriage of 37 years, it is only three months past our marital financial settlement, and only three weeks since our house has legally become my home. Continue reading

Photo challenge # 4 – Community activism

1998-004New chapters in life generally have phases. Letting go of the old life. A transition tug between old and new. Then moving onto the new.

Sometimes it does not happen like that.

Such was the day when they began logging the valley opposite to where we lived. I was thrust into this next era which spanned ten years, eight with intense pressure. Family life was put aside as we moved into a world of politics, fighting for justice, defending free speech and questioning our own sanity. Continue reading