Metamorphosis

Whispers from my Wallpaper

Metamorphosis

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On my very white, unpainted wall behind my desk top computer, surrounding my children’s elementary school art, rests taped rectangles and squares in myriad colors of inspirational and motivational words, phrases and quotes that resonate with me in a deep, personal, spiritually uplifting way. It is my wallpaper. It greets me every morning and whispers to me throughout my day.

Call it a mid-life crisis, or whatever crazy notion you can relate it to but I started thinking about all of these whispers of hope and empowerment that greet me every day and how I could start living the words, how could I start making all of these magical streams of consciousness apply to my life? Maybe it is the change of seasons affecting me but I had a need to transform, to change, a shedding of old skin, a metamorphosis. This need for change really started back in 2012 when so much of my life seemed to be at a precipice. I wanted to redesign my life, adapt it to the changes that were taking place all around me and within me.  So how was I going to start my metamorphosis and keep my spirits up and feel like I could move in a forward motion?

A few months ago I made up my mind to set out to metamorphose myself. I began with my wallpaper whispers yes, but I also asked myself some tough questions:

1)      What makes me come alive?

2)      What are the obstacles holding me back?

3)      What are the possibilities?

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering because it is familiar.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

When I first read the above words I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was one thing to know deep inside that I was unhappy but it was another thing entirely to see that someone had actually articulated the exact reason why I was staying unhappy. For many years I hated myself for feeling what I assumed was helpless unhappiness and yet when I read this quote I was comforted to realize that if my feelings were on paper then I was not alone in how I felt.

What would it take for me to break free of whatever “suffering” I was going through? What changes needed to take place in order for me to stop suffering?

The season of winter is a good example of using time to create a metamorphosis; to create a cocoon. Winter is hard. It keeps us coiled up like a snake trying to stay warm, to horde food and wood for those harsh, cold days ahead. Winter is lifeless on the outside and it’s quiet. Winter brings its own kind of suffering that we acclimate ourselves to. We hunker down, dig in and wait for it to end. However, winter is also reflective and it rejuvenates us and makes us contemplative if we allow ourselves to be. How can we use this down time to our advantage? We need some kind of cocoon we can hide in, contemplate in, and transform in so that when we emerge we will be a shiny, new person.

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“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”

Thank you so much Mr. Henri Bergson. You have given me my banner, my high flying metamorphosis flag to anchor in the ground of my new soil in which I can sow and grow. I allowed these words to whisper to me, wash over and through me and to push me.

I wanted to choose to courageously change and exist and find meaning to my life. I know I am changing all the time just by existing, every day that I am allowed to get up and start anew. My body ages; that is my significant outward change. However, a consequence to change is the development of maturity. If I never learn anything then my maturity is stunted but I know I am learning every day so therefore I am maturing not only in my body but in my mind. As my mind matures so does my creativity, my courage, my perspective, my authenticity, my perseverance, my gratitude, and my spirituality. This is true for you too, no matter what kind of change you are seeking. I realized that if I expand a bit further on this thought then the thought becomes like a road map for change and helps me set a course for whatever my mind can dream up.

On March 20, 2013 at 7:45am the spring equinox occurred. Not much to see in the way of a seasonal occurrence; most northern states ushered in the new season with snow. Winter prefers its suffering; it is afraid of the rejection by the masses to yield itself to the warmth and the longer sunshine filled days and the hope that spring brings, but it knows its time is coming to an end. While the darkness of winter grips us in its quiet, lifeless hold, the promise of spring creates a natural metamorphosis that takes place inside the earth, the trees, inside human beings. There is a co-evolution going on as we begin to emerge from winter to spring. According to www.morning-earth.org, “Co-evolution is the process in which species slowly transform together toward a mutual fit. Evolution is mutual, and it takes place in communities or groups.”

We are all familiar with the caterpillar that changes into a beautiful butterfly through the scientific process of metamorphosis. Similarly our own lives mimic nature in so many ways. One way is in how we are collectively ready to let go of the “suffering” of winter and step into the individualism and the welcoming hope of spring. We successfully adapt to the change of seasons. We are ready for our renewal, ready to blossom like the flowers.

I wanted to bloom like never before; I wanted to take a leap of faith. I was tired of watching my life from the side lines and not risking getting fully involved. I had reached a saturation point with my fear, my unhappiness, my negative frame of mind and my idleness.

Author and researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky refers to our saturation point as our set point. In her book the “How of Happiness” she talks at length about her research which suggests that we all have a happiness set point. No matter how happy we are we will level out to our set point; the happiness high doesn’t last forever. I took this idea and flipped it around, realizing that I had reached my unhappiness, my loneliness and my negative frame of mind set point.

Each of us must take a leap of faith to courageously walk into the new season of our lives full of hope and strength and energy to make the most of ourselves, for ourselves and for the world while the world starts to feel open and full of promise.

What did your winter metamorphosis yield? Are you ready to answer the tough questions? Are you ready to finally say YES or NO and declare your own happiness? Will you hold on to familiar suffering for fear of the unknown happiness you could have by letting go? Will you choose your natural, evolutionary right to change and see what you are made of, where will your journey take you…..will you take a leap of faith? Journey on……

lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

Are you really ready for the new year?

When December 1st hits I feel like every tick of the clock is amplified because with the end of the month comes the end of the year, perhaps the end of a decade or a century. Every day ends, every month ends but the end of December is somehow more significant. Conversely the monumental end of the month of December also brings the enormous beginning of a fresh and hopeful new year, a renewed commitment to old and new goals and old and new resolutions.

Resolutions are in the air. What are resolutions anyway? Promises we try to make to ourselves to do something different or better than ever before. Isn’t that the premise of change?

Whether graduating from school, going off to college, switching career paths, dieting or turning a new age, the word “change” is the main ingredient. For most of us change is very scary and hard to start; goals are hard to set. If we are lucky enough to get started on a change, on obtaining an elusive goal, it is even harder to continue and see it through. For some of us change is exciting, exhilarating. The path toward success with any type of change is our perspective about the change and our attitude throughout the change. The idea of “different” has most of us envious of those who accomplish their changes, meeting their goals and/or running for the hills when thought about in terms of ourselves.

Amy Wrzesniewski, a researcher at Yale University, came up with the term “job crafting” for individuals who completely enjoyed their jobs but they were also making little changes that made their job more enjoyable. In terms of life changes at this time of year I suggest “life crafting”. To put it simply, doing small things, taking baby steps to make your life more rewarding. People can change but at what cost? Change is a shift in identity. We can play with our identities and imagine many possibilities for our lives. Think about someone you know who has made a change, big or small. How did that person seem to behave through the change and as a result of changing? How did you feel in your reaction to that persons change? Now, think about yourself as you are today and in one year from today. If everything about the changes you want to make has gone as well as could be hoped for…

1-      What would the person you hoped to become look like?

2-      What would the changed life feel like?

3-      What is something small that you can do right now to take steps toward that better, resolute, changed life?

Making resolutions, promises to ourselves to change what we don’t like or increase power to what is already working is vital to our well-being. In support for our natural desire to change Robert –Biswas Diener says, “Goals are future-oriented benchmarks that help us organize our behavior. By establishing goals, both large and small, we establish a gauge for success, a guide for making decisions, and a target to move toward. In the absence of goals we tend to flounder.”

According to Jeremy McCarthy of psychologyofwellbeing.com, there are 10 strategies for accomplishing change, goals, and greatness.

1-      Know that change is possible.

2-      Know that change is not easy.

3-      Keep your eye on the prize BUT know that there will be hurdles to overcome.

4-      Don’t focus only on the goal, the change or only on the hurdles. Find a balance of foucs.

5-      Want the changes you seek. For example, “What would make me want to lose weight? “What would make me want to do more exercises? “What would make me want to stick to my goals for change?

6-      What is the smallest, easiest step to take that you know you can’t fail? For example if writing a book is one of your goals, try writing one sentence per day and before you know it you’ll have the makings of your book. It’s a step that there can be no excuses attached to.

7-      Recognize that there will be setbacks and plan for them. For example, IF I want to go to the gym to exercise after work and a colleague asks me to go to happy hour after work THEN I will either meet up with that colleague after my work out or get up early the next morning to go to the gym.

8-      Strengthen your will power. This can be done through meditation or personal challenges to test your resilience.

9-      Dig in and keep going. Persevere. Work hard to achieve your end result.

10-   Know when to let goals go. Sometimes, but rarely, will you realize that the path you are taking toward your change, toward your goal is not the right path. Be flexible enough to recognize that signs of a bad plan and be open enough to change course, change the plan but not give up on the idea of where you want to go.

In this new year that is fast approaching I wish you strength, perseverance and open mindedness toward your changes, your goals and your resolutions. Happy New Year!!!