Freedom to Change – 3 Simple Steps
Friday night, used to be Hobby Lobby night. Sort of my own little “happy hour” so to speak 😉. But It NEVER FAILED I would get caught up looking at all the pretties and then accidentally end up on that aisle. Oh, you know what aisle I’m talking about, the one with all those signs, like – “Always Kiss Me Goodnight,” “Wear cute pajamas to bed you never know when you’ll meet the man of your dreams,” or my personal favorite “Together is a wonderful place to be.” Ugh!
My head falling backwards, limp, I’d mouth the words, “GIVE ME A BREAK!” while pantomiming the gag reflex. I’m certain there’s surveillance footage of me prancing up and down that aisle talking to myself, spouting salty quips with “air-quotes,” in retort to each sappy sign. Reason number 1,154 why I can never run for public office.
I know there is a season for everything and I was in a season of hopelessness. Still tender from grief – I missed my old married self, reluctant to change. I mean, come on! There’s only so much change a gal can take! All I wanted was for everything left in my life to stay exactly the same…including, me.
“For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven…”
But here’s the funny thing about CHANGE – it can be both a noun or an adjective, good and bad, anticipated and feared. Change can take you on a well charted journey or it can take you by surprise, it can be the reason for the wind in your sails or come suddenly on the heels of a life altering event.
But, one thing is for certain, change is inevitable. So, I believe there are two ways to handle it:
- You can wax your board and ride the waves
- You can let it drag you down the road of life kicking and screaming.
It took a while for me to figure out how to untether my life- boat that had me anchored in the port of hopelessness far too long.
The loss of my husband came at the same time I was becoming an empty-nester, I was lost and overwhelmed on so many levels.
Maybe you are reading this today, ready for change, but you have been in a rut for so long you don’t know how to get back up and running. I never profess to have all the answers but if I can encourage you by sharing what I found helpful, it warms my heart! Bringing purpose to my pain and joy to the void I once felt.
Since we are close to ringing in another New Year, I thought what a perfect time to share my three- step approach to transitioning out of a rut and creating the change that puts you in forward motion!
Step 1: Look Outward (concentrate on people, places, and things around you. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have focus on what you do have.
I often write about the early days of widowhood, how my bed became my best friend. I would come home from work and go straight to bed. Wasting my weekends motionless on the couch.
Two years later, I was still stuck in that same routine. The days had turned into weeks which had turned into years. Constantly numb, mindlessly going through the same motions over and over day in and day out. it seemed I had lost the ability to embrace change and the desire to participate in life.
Surprisingly, one day I woke up and no longer felt comfort between the walls of isolation. Having turned down so many invitations, my phone was now silent and I had become detached from the people I loved. In some strange way it was a relief to be sensing emotion again. I was lonely, but this time, I was lonely for my family and friends whom I had distanced myself from. Maybe it meant my heart was salvageable and I might even be able to give and receive love once again as I reconnected with my “tribe.”
For the next 90 days I vowed to say “yes” to every invitation (provided it was not immoral, illegal, or involve swimwear of ANY type).
Looking outward, away from self, I began to notice my surroundings. I would sit down to a meal and close my eyes, chewing slowly, savoring the flavors while trying to detect each ingredient in every bite.
Oh, how amazing it was to feel the warm sun on my cheeks, and smell the rain coming in as it moved across the field behind my house. Sunsets were breathtaking. Colors appeared vibrant and music danced in my soul once again. I tapped into my senses as if I were experiencing flavors, aromas, textures, and beauty for the first time.
But, the one thing I changed that made the most impact on my journey back to civilization was a very simple, “yes.”
I finally said yes to a Friday night dinner invitation from a sweet friend. Although I knew I’d be exhausted, and the fine folks at Hobby Lobby would miss me terribly, I reluctantly agreed to meet her after work.
She had lost her husband too, so during the course of the evening we laughed, we cried, we giggled, we reminisced, and fed our bodies as well as our empty souls. It was that night when I realized I DID need community, I DID need to make some changes, and I needed to take the first step.
It was nice having something to look forward to on Friday nights. She understood my tender heart because hers was tender too. Some nights we guzzled pots of coffee while sharing our new hopes and dreams with great animation, and other nights we sat teary eyed quietly nibbling our salads, in silent reflection.
Now that I was looking away from self and noticing the world and everyone in it, I began thanking God, once again, for the many blessings I have and asked Him to reveal the work that is still left to be done….by, ME! Yes, it was time, change was on the horizon. And I was ready.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Step 2: Look ahead (Make a list of the things you’ve always wanted to do but never took the time)
Making a list of “Fabulous Firsts and Face my Fears,” allowed me to get excited for the future. Some of the things on my list were:
*Get my motorcycle license *Change a tire
*Learn to play harmonica *Try yoga
*take a cooking class *Write a book
*take a painting class *Change out a sprinkler head
*Public speaking *Learn calligraphy
*travel *Start a blog for widows
*Go to dinner alone *Volunteer
*Make a double crust pie *Roast coffee-beans
*Learn to dance *Organize my closet
I won’t bore you with my whole list but you get the idea. Then you must always work toward checking things off the list or adding to it. This one simple trick will keep you moving in forward motion, and it’s a lot of fun too!
It never fails when I step out of my comfort zone, I meet new and interesting people. Making a list of things I want to try takes my focus off of the past and keeps me excited for the days to come.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Now that you are
- Looking away from self
- Looking towards the future with anticipation by making your list.
It’s time for the third and final step… bringing others along.
Step 3 – Look for others
After my friend and I were up and running; meeting for dinner, going to movies, shopping…we heard about a sweet friend whose marriage of 42 years had ended, abruptly.
We asked her to join us for dinner one Friday night. The first outing was awkward because we saw that same broken, hurt, lost look in her eyes that we were all too familiar with. The evening was a success and the three of us became instant friends. Just like that our little party of two became a party of three!
Since that night we celebrate special occasions, play games, travel, laugh, entertain, giggle and spit! But most importantly we love including others whenever possible. Our little group is growing 😊
Now you see how one simple “yes” changed the trajectory of three broken lives, and counting…
Have you ever noticed the other aisle in Hobby Lobby? You know, the one that has the other signs like – “She believed she could so she did,” “Never quit your daydream,” or my favorite “Adventure Awaits!”
These days I give myself permission to cherish what I had yesterday, be thankful for what I have today, and get excited for the possibilities of tomorrow.
“Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.”
Question- What one thing would you love to change in your life?