Dealing With Changes

  • By Moira McDougall
  • 14 Mar, 2016

How does one navigate change gracefully?

Dealing Gracefully With Changes
Dealing Gracefully With Changes
I have come to ask myself this question after a particularly challenging 12 months. I had always assumed that my life would tick along quite nicely once I reached my fifties, and I am constantly amazed at how many challenges I continue to face.

Of course, we could be truly optimistic, and call these challenges ‘opportunities’ – opportunities for growth, for learning new things, for overcoming adversity. Forward movement also proves to us that we are alive, that we are capable of thought and action.

Life changes affect us in different ways. At the time, it may seem that we would never recover from the enormity of the event, our thoughts and feelings about what has transpired and how we were affected. With some time and space to reflect, there is always something lost, something gained.

When I left my previous job after 7 ½ years I could not imagine life outside of the confines of that institution. While I missed my close friends there, I soon came to value the diverse and broad thinking business community that makes up ‘the rest of the workers’. I ‘lost’ the security of a permanent position in a dead end job, yet gained the freedom to express myself and be valued for my work and aspirations.

My close relationships have not escaped the change cycles either. Perhaps we are more prepared for ages and stages related changes, yet sometimes those come sooner than expected. Dementia can rob us of years of communication with a close family member – it starts slowly yet transforms your loved one before your eyes. Younger family members may move in their own orbits, and over time those relationships also have the capacity to slide into nothingness if we don’t nurture and value them. People I thought would be with me forever are slipping away, consciously or unconsciously. Do you ever truly ‘lose’ those connections with Dear Ones?

People change. When large life events happen, we respond in our own unique ways. Sometimes this requires that we change perspective, we gain insight, we transform from the inside out. It is no surprise, then, that we may no longer ‘fit’ in our Love Relationships. That also happened to me. My partner and I separated. I ‘lost’ my best friend, my confidante, my lover. In turn, I ‘found’ my Inner Voice. I reconnected to my deepest beliefs and called on my inner reserves. I found that I really like Me.

Which brings me back to my original question - How does one navigate change gracefully – especially when you feel lost, insecure, alone, sad or downright angry?

I realised that I needed to ask for help, something that was so difficult for me to acknowledge. I called on trusted friends for inspiration and guidance. I worked to maintain great physical health. And I worked with a coach to change my mind-set. I am still navigating monumental changes. I am also learning to dance gracefully through all the areas of my life. It is a work in progress, full of changes, and now it feels more expectantly pleasing than daunting.

Do you recognise similar themes happening in your experience?

Self Manage Chronic Pain

By Moira McDougall 14 Feb, 2017

I recently visited an elderly woman in her home, in my community therapy role. So much had been happening in her world. During the weeks since my last visit she had experienced some serious health challenges, and her brother had died.

How could I be surprised that she had not managed to continue with the exercise and walking programme we had started?

She was tired, heartbroken and wracked with guilt, describing herself as “full of self-pity” because she was mourning the loss of her dear brother. This had also reminded her of the grief she experienced when her sister died a year previously.

I sat and listened with my Whole Heart.

 I was not there to offer solutions, to slap a band-aid over her aching heart, to make light of her feelings. I told her I believed it was good, right and proper to feel such acute loss and to express it. How else do we recover from our deep wounds?

She told me about her family, her ancestors who had migrated to New Zealand from an Eastern European country, just before the time of the Depression. She spoke of a grandfather who worked many menial jobs to provide for his family of seven children. Her parents also worked hard to raise her and her many siblings – a labour of love which she reflected on with great gratitude. She spoke of one of her sisters who had endured many trials and tribulations only to finally triumph – and she now lives overseas. She spoke with love of her own children – their successes and challenges.

In the telling, she called all of her Ancestors into that small lounge. I could feel them standing around her. I told her that I believed that talking about our Loved ones brings them close.

I can recognise the entrenched belief that being occupied fully, being accountable for every minute spent at the expense of any form of pure relaxation, has been ingrained in our psyches. No wonder, then, that this dear soul believed she was “full of self-pity” because her thoughts kept turning to those she loved dearly who were no longer here, in physical form. Because she could not do it for herself, I offered her the gift of my time, so that she could express what her heart was longing to share.

When it was time for me to leave, she hugged me tightly and thanked me for “just listening”. I feel I was the recipient of the greater gift. I heard her heart sing!

Do you feel taking time to grieve is selfish? Do you believe it is a form of self-pity?

I welcome your comments.

By Moira McDougall 12 Jan, 2017

You are going to win! With these words spurring me on, how could I not be a winner!

This morning I set out on my morning run, and it was hot already. Along the way, I passed and greeted a mum on her early morning walk, pushing her two small children in their stroller. The older child called out to me as I passed them, “you are going to win!”. How could I not honour that proclamation? How could I even consider feeling tired or discouraged with those beautiful words ringing in my ears?

This set me thinking about the many times I feel discouraged, as if I am wading through sludge. I have a strong work ethic, and set myself tasks and deadlines. This works for me when I have a good idea about a desired outcome, because it keeps me on track and I can measure my progress. But what happens when I am not sure about what I want to pursue or produce?

I am marooned in indecision, in not knowing, what my ‘next step’ is. Do you experience this too?

Business and personal coaching works wonders in helping one to define a pathway, helping to break down goals into manageable steps, in order to reach the defined outcome. This supposes that one already KNOWS or at least has an idea of the desired outcome.

One beautiful practice I was invited to participate in, invited us each to choose a Word to define a theme to focus on through the new year ahead, and to choose four Supporting Words to cushion or supplement the Word.

I have chosen SURRENDER.

Nothing works easily when I am pushing uphill, trying to do it all alone. I am not giving up, just practising being present in the moment, experimenting with ‘flowing’ rather than being rigid.

My supporting words are Grace, Gratitude, Courage and Insight – all qualities I will need to call on and include in my daily living.

Which brings me back to the proclamation “You are going to win!” We are all winners when we focus on what inspires us, what gives us meaning, and practice living in the present moment. And when we have others cheering us on!

“You are going to win!” – how does that make YOU feel?

By Moira McDougall 02 Jan, 2017

I have a heavy heart moving into this new year. Endings and more endings, because I am grieving the loss of two people dear to me.

My sister Anne has dementia and she is sliding further into the space between here and there. While she is still physically present, I miss her intellect, her sharp wit, her full presence. She is my older sister. I have known her my whole life. I never imagined that I would not be with her ‘fully’. She was the drawcard for my move to live in Christchurch.

She always looked after my younger brother and I; we looked up to her and trusted her guidance. As the eldest child, she copped the authority of our parents, and she fought hard for her independence. She is super intelligent, and my brother and I had a hard time following after her at school. She chose her own path, and with her husband travelled to places I have only ever dreamt of.

Now, I call on all my parenting and therapy skills as I navigate our relationship. She can’t remember what she ate two minutes ago, or whether she has eaten at all. She can’t dress herself. Her spatial awareness is impaired – steps are a challenge, and she doesn’t recognise familiar objects. Loud noises and busyness upset her, and her tolerance levels are reduced. Soon, she will need to be placed into full time care, which seems like a jail sentence. Excepting, there is no parole to look forwards to.

My heart is breaking. How did her Soul choose this challenge in this Lifetime?


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