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Leaving the Old Behind

Leaving the Old Behind

Last week, I started a series on transitions. These concepts are based on Dr. William Bridges’s ideas. This week, I will continue the series.

  1. Dismantling: When our lives are defined by the circumstances, such as a career or marriage, we establish certain habits. During my full time working days, I had a certain morning routine that had been perfected for optimum time management. The day after I retired started the same way, except that I wasn’t going anywhere. A sense of emptiness came over me. Thankfully, I had a big project lined up at home, so I treated it like work and kept going. Eventually, I created a new morning routine that was better aligned my new life.

    If you are going through a big life change, consider how your old habits might contribute to the resistance you may feel.

  2. Disidentification: In our culture, most of us identify ourselves with our work. I’ve had many clients express dismay about losing their identity after retirement. I too had the same issue for a while. One day I was an Assistant Vice President at a university, the next day who? One of my clients said “Today I turned in my papers. I’m no longer an attorney. I don’t know who I am.” And another, “I used to be an accountant, I don’t want to be just a grandma.”

    Dr. Bridges puts it this way: “Clearly, the old identity stands in the way of transition – and of transformation and self renewal.”

    A big life change is a good time to discover who we are as a person outside of our old circumstances. A good support structure, such as a close family member or a friend, or better yet an objective observer such as a coach would be very helpful in this situation.

    May your transitions be smooth.


Change v. Transition

Change v. Transition

I am fascinated by how people deal with big life changes. One of the best books I have read about dealing with life changes is “Transitions” by Dr. William Bridges. I decided to create a series of posts to share his ideas and how I reacted to one of my big changes, retirement, in light of those ideas. I regularly post these on Linked In and on my Facebook group called OK (fellow) Boomer! 

“The new growth cannot take root on the ground still covered with the old habits, outlooks, and attitudes because endings are the clearing process.” William Bridges, PhD

  1. The above quote is from Dr. Bridges’s book “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes”.  His three step process for dealing with change begins with endings. In coach training program, I learned the importance of “completion.” This is a tool to help a person end something specific by taking notice of what the experience has taught them. It could be the past year, a project, a marriage, a career… I don’t mean to equate a career or a marriage to a simple project, however anything that is ending deserves us to take notice instead of just trying to move on, which is what we humans are inclined to do.
  2. Dr. Bridges then goes deeper and divides the ending process into its components. The first of these is disengagement. As I was reflecting on this word, disengagement, and how I managed transitions in my own life, I realized that I had almost instinctively disengaged from my job even before I announced my retirement. I fully believe this helped make my retirement much easier than if I had just stopped working on any given day. 

Change is what happens to us: a retirement, a divorce, a company merger, becoming an empty nester etc. Transition is how we deal with that change internally. If we take the necessary steps to complete “what was”, “what is” will find fertile ground not resistance.

Have you noticed how you deal with change? Our past is a good indicator of our future inclination, unless we become aware of how helpful/unhelpful our old behaviors were.


Hopeful for 2024

Hopeful for 2024

Here we are at the end of another year. For me, this year went very fast and very slow at the same time. It was definitely one of the most challenging one of my 64 years. There was a point, a low point, when I didn’t really know if I would live to see this day. I am eternally grateful that I did.

Looking back, I know that this whole year is filled with cancerous tumors and despair, as well as renewed resolve and strength and hope. I was diagnosed in March, but I know it had already started way before. Between March and July, the person looking at me in the mirror did not resemble me, neither in looks nor in feelings. I was like a skeleton, having lost 25 pounds. I was bald. I was so weak that I needed to sit down to shower. The hardest part was the feeling that I had lost myself, and not knowing if I could find me again.

After my third round of chemotherapy, I started to feel stronger again. I started driving and walking the half mile to the pharmacy even if I had to stop half way to catch my breath. Hope that I was on my way back to life started spreading inside me, as well as gratitude for it. I started gaining weight and other than baldness, I was becoming me once more.

Baldness is difficult to accept. I remember how sad and angry my mother was when she lost her hair to chemo. It may have contributed to her giving up the fight and succumbing to cancer. I was not going to give up. Each time I caught a glimpse of my bald self in the mirror, I forced a smile to out maneuver the woes that were waiting in the wings. Eventually, smiles came easier followed by acceptance and love.

Before cancer, I was a daily walker as well as a Pilates devotee. My oncologist acknowledged that my previously strong body was one of the reasons why I was able to bounce back so well. Even though I didn’t have the strength to do either during the worst months, even a half mile walk was enough encouragement to get me back to exercising and finding me.

Now, within a short few months, I am almost back to “normal”. I say almost, because there may still be cancer in my body. Different tests produce conflicting results. But, I know what cancer feels like, and I don’t feel like I have cancer. I have hope that I am done with it.

Best of all, I am ending the year on a VERY high note. Next week, I am going to Greece to celebrate my youngest daughter’s wedding. I will have all my loved ones with me to ring in the New Year with good health, hope and a whole lot of love.

I wish the same for you. May your New Year bring good health, hope and a whole lot of love.


Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

I recently finished The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A very interesting and profound story. A sentence that one of the characters utters is a guide not only for the protagonist, but to all of us. “You don’t have to understand life, you just have to live it.” Mrs. Elm

I sometimes allow my mind to take over with its endless chatter while I just sit there wasting my minutes away. It’s like a social media feed going on in my head. Jumping from topic to topic, trying to make sense of world events and conversations with people. As a mindfulness practitioner and certified teacher, I know I’m not supposed to judge myself for this but, sometimes I do anyway.

One thing is for sure: there is no fix for this situation, because nothing is broken. I am a human being. My mind has evolved as everyone else’s, to engage in this chatter in order to protect me. This ancient urge still follows all of us. It is the most common excuse people give for not meditating. “I can’t quiet my mind” they say. Well, neither can I nor anyone else for that matter. Our minds have a mind of their own. Judging ourselves, as I sometimes do, is the hurtful part.

Our job is not to quiet our mind. It is to become aware of all the chatter. You then get to choose whether you want to relive those events in your mind or live the current moment that is unfolding. We are responsible for living our lives the way we see fit.  Sometimes, it is just better to understand life than to do laundry. As long as that choice is made in awareness and not mindlessly.

Most of the time though, I choose to live the moment and get a rush of good feeling because of it. I get rewarded with perhaps an opportunity for an amazing photo of the Chicago River (above), or a sparkling kitchen sink, or clean socks to wear, or what have you. 

Wishing you many rushes of good feelings and much love




American Psychoanalyst Allen Wheelis wrote: “Of two equally true accounts of the same life, the one we choose will depend upon the consequences we desire, the future we want to create.”

In my last post, I mentioned I was getting my last biopsy. I am happy to announce that the results showed no cancer. So I’m done! At least that’s what I thought at first. One doctor still recommended I get this high dose specialized Chemo drug as a prophylaxis, in case my disease returns and affects my central nervous system. After talking it over with two additional oncologists, and finding out I have 7-12% chance of relapse and no appreciable preventive efficacy of this drug (less than 2% difference between taking the drug and not), I decided I will opt out of injecting more powerful toxins into my body. 

The consequence I desire, of course, is to be healthy and have hair for my daughter’s wedding in December. While at first I thought wanting to have my own hair was vanity, my doctor reminded me that it’s actually a quality of life issue. I’ll go with that.

The future I want to create is a healthy one filled with the love of my family and friends and the joy of my grandchildren. It includes the continued success of my two companies, both of which  are built with love and on the premise of helping people. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this disease will not come back, but the numbers seem to be on my side.

Life is a series of choices, isn’t it? I am at peace with my choice. Actually, come to think of it, I am at peace with all the big choices I made in life. How about you? Are your choices aligned with the consequences you desire, and the future you want to create? If you want to talk about it, I’m here to listen.

Much love