Change is in the air in my hometown. Even though it’s come late this year, downtown Bend is sporting new apparel that had been stashed in her autumn closet.
Acrobatic geese are debating the merits of flying further south for the winter.
And two of the Three Sisters, standing nude across Mirror Pond, are anticipating their winter wardrobe, mostly in whites. Which usually arrives sometime in the fall.
I love the changes that trumpet in this time of year. Leaves spiraling golden, burgundy, russet. Temperatures dropping. Smell of wood smoke in the air. Digging out hand-knitted scarves. And boots. And fingerless gloves.
But not all change is welcome. Of my friends and acquaintances within the central Oregon cancer community, I can’t think of a single one who eagerly anticipated joining the cancer club.
If you had asked Hubby and me in advance, “Do you hope to go through financial setbacks in your middle years? After you’ve done everything right to set yourself up well for retirement?” Yeah, I don’t think so.
Of my lovely widowed friends, not a single one of them wanted to change their status from *married* to *widowed.*
Change can be hard. And overwhelming.
But if change is a natural part of life, then how can we learn to successfully manage it? Here are 4 tips Hubby and I learned along the way:
1. View change as a new adventure. Ask yourself, What can I learn through this hard thing? How will I allow this to forge me into a stronger, kinder, more compassionate person? Hubby and I wouldn’t have chosen the cancer journey, but once we were on it, we wouldn’t have chosen anything different. Our lives were enriched, not just by the hard lessons learned, but also by the numerous people we met along the way and grew to love — people we would otherwise not have known.
2. View change as opportunity to re-evaluate. Two of our cancer team members were/are good nutrition and increased physical activity. It’s not that we lived a sedentary life on the couch before cancer. But cancer definitely compelled us to get outdoors on a regular basis after investing in sturdy hiking boots, snow-shoes, hydration packs. It motivated us to increase our intake of fruits and veggies, whole grains and legumes, healthy fats and sugars. And the healthful lifestyle changes increased our quality of life while going through adversity.
3. View change as opportunity for connection. We humans were created to need each other. Those who have traveled where you are today can assist you along your journey. And when you are strengthened, you can support someone else coming after you. Don’t try to go it alone; look for opportunity to build community.
4. Chronicle the journey. Writing down your thoughts—hopes, lessons learned, discouragements—can be therapeutic. By keeping a journal, I figure I’ve saved Hubby thousands of dollars in psychotherapy costs through the years.
If you’ve just gone through a major change in your life—especially a change you didn’t want—what can you do today as part of determining to live successfully through it?
Capture your ideas. Create a checklist. And then start checking things off as you risk making connections within community, making changes to your lifestyle and re-thinking your perspective.
Mitch Albom has this to say about change:
All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.
In my quest for autumn color, I captured one more sign that change is coming to central Oregon. This. This knitting and crocheting of winter wear for the local statues, even bicycle racks, that stand open to the elements. Because Bend is caring like that.
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