Lately, the topic of change seems to be all around me. Colleagues changing jobs, friends changing romantic partners, populations demanding changes in government, friends and family changing the course of their lives.
I used to fear change. I felt most comfortable settling into a space in time, getting to know myself within that space and then staying there for as long as humanly possible. This would often result in my falling into a rut. Feeling suffocatingly trapped in a routine that was not enforcing positive outcomes and most of all, not allowing for any personal evolution. Of course, while this was taking place, I never perceived it as such. It just felt like life. That’s what I thought life is supposed to feel like. NOT THE CASE!
Unfortunately, realizing and finding oneself in a rut can feel even scarier than living in one and being unaware of how powerfully positive the potential of change can be.
Three years ago I was in a major rut, suffocatingly trapped, stuck, the whole 9 yards. I had finished all my courses for a masters in Creative Art Therapy and was working solely on my thesis for a period of 9 months. I no longer had a set structure in place of classes, lectures, projects and internships, telling me what to do each day. I no longer interacted academically and creatively with fellow students. Close friends moved away to pursue positive evolutions of their own. Change was taking place all around me but I was stuck, refusing to change and flow with the tide of the time. I did not get a job as I felt I needed to focus solely on my thesis work. I did not give myself the space to become involved in any hobbies or activities which I might have felt passionate about. The reality of my student loan debt settled in and the fear took over. I felt tired all the time and lacked a lust for life.
Then on March 17th 2010 I went on a hike with a friend in Cold Spring, NY. I now have a title for that day. I refer to that experience appropriately as The Hike, as it truly was the beginning of my positive evolution.
Being up on the mountain that day, feeling the cold air against my face, fighting my out of shape legs to keep climbing, literally hearing the silence, appreciating the silence, reading mountain maps, spotting hawks circling above, and truly being surrounded by nature. My senses came back to life. I was noticing every little thing that moved and hearing everything from big trees swaying in the wind to small mountain creature scurrying about. I was in awe.
After The Hike, I was thirsty for more stimulation. Something was stirred deep down inside of me and I felt compelled to welcome change into my life.
So I went on as many hikes and trips out of manhattan as I could manage. I started looking for a job. I started volunteering again as I had once done with passionate dedication, and I met new friends through volunteering. I focused even more on finishing my thesis and looked forward to the work instead of dreading it. I finished my 9 month thesis baby and graduated from my masters program. I became more physically active, devoting time to gym and dance classes. I began reading about environmentalism and learned feverishly about the dangers our planet was and still is facing. I changed my lifestyle and now follow a completely plant based diet. I read The Story of Stuff and found the benefits of minimalism and clearing out the physical clutter from my life. I stopped shopping so much and wasting money. I gave away many of my belongings that were keeping me tethered to an unappealing past and no longer serving me in a positive way. I devised a long term budget plan to pay off my student loans. I found a job that challenges me. I started writing and blogging. I sleep more, feel more, love more and I am more awake than I ever could have imagined.
All the changes I made were done in small, baby steps. What The Minimalists refer to in their post, Changes in the Rearview. These small, slow changes were all done over the last year and a half and I will never stop adding changes in order to improve my life. By improving myself, I am now able to give so much more to others.
A reader commented on my post Creature on the Mountain and asked a very important question. “what do you do when the puddle is an ocean and there is no shore in sight?”. This question is in reference to puddles being obstacles we will all inevitably run into in our lives and that by mindfully navigating the puddles we can and will emerge victorious. My hope is that this new post today will shed some light on how small changes can bring about positive change over time. And finally to remember that while reaching the shore may be the ultimate “goal”, it is in the process of reaching shore that we will learn the most about ourselves.
Comments are cool and most welcome.