When You Want to Change

This has likely been posted on this blog before, but it seemed appropriate to share again.

We all, from time to time, reach points in our lives where something needs to change. A job, a living situation, a relationship, even something as seemingly small as how we style our hair.

A human life is an ongoing process of change, learning, and growth. We aren’t always completely aware of those things happening, but they always are. Change isn’t easy, though. It can seem overwhelming or frightening. Sometimes we hesitate to make a change, and it can be difficult to decide whether a change is really the right thing to do, or if we should just maintain the status quo. But if you feel strongly drawn to change something, it probably needs to be changed.

Deciding whether to make a change isn’t easy. Emotions and “what ifs” can interfere. If you’re facing a change and struggling to decide whether to follow through on it, talking to a friend or loved one might help. They might be able to give you a different, maybe objective, perspective on the situation, and talking might help you see how to make the change and consider the potential results, or the pros and cons.

You might also find benefit in making a written list of pros and cons, or writing or journaling about what your desired results would be if you made the change. You might also write about what you think that change would look like, how you would go about making it, and why you think it’s necessary. If you’re facing a major change, such as a job change or a move to another house or location, breaking the task into small, manageable steps can help lessen the fear or feeling of being overwhelmed.

When you’re considering making a change, or you’re faced with one due to external circumstances, many times changing can bring you a great deal of benefit. But it’s also all right to choose not to make the change. Ultimately, whether you change or maintain your current situation, it’s your choice based on what you feel is best for you.

Life is an ongoing process of growth and learning, and sometimes regression and forgetting.

Impact

NOTE: I have previously posted this on this blog.

In my previous life chapter, prior to moving to Massachusetts, I worked in special education. Teaching (including substituting and working as a teacher’s aide) was my career for the better part of sixteen years, with a year or so detour as I tried to find my footing.

Many of us have a teacher who stands out in our memories as someone who had a profound impact on us. I have more than one: my kindergarten teacher, who realized I loved writing stories and allowed me to do so as part of my reading instruction; the tenth grade English teacher who further encouraged my writing; my college advisor, who recognized my awkwardness with others and tried to help me correct it.

I never thought I was one of those impactful teachers, though. I just did my job, enjoyed my students, and did the best I could to help them get where they needed to go.

One of the memories that stands out most strongly for me was when I left my longest-term position, as special education teacher at a very small rural school in Maine. Some of my students made great gains while I worked with them, and I celebrated those while never really giving myself credit. As far as I was concerned, the kids were the ones who got there. I just helped a little.

(Sometimes we minimize ourselves far too much. It’s definitely one of my flaws…)

Because the school was so small, I was the only special education teacher there, and I had the same students throughout, with some changes as some went on to high school and others entered kindergarten or moved into the district. I became close to some of the students and their families, though “close” is a relative term because professionalism.

But on my last day there, the mother of one boy with whom I’d worked from my first day came to me in tears, put her arms around me, and said, “You have made a difference.”

Those are words we all should remember, whenever we look back at the people we’ve encountered in our lives. No matter what our role was with each other, no matter how much time has passed, we all make a difference in the lives of those with whom we become involved. And we all need to recognize how powerful that difference can be.

FEAR!

For the past month, I’ve been going through a lot of changes. There are so many things about me that aren’t horrible, but aren’t helpful. Things I would love to change, because changing them would give me a better life.

The biggest one of those is fear. I’m afraid of almost everything. Today I’m leaving for the Rites of Spring Pagan festival in western Massachusetts, and I’m afraid I won’t get to know anyone there. I’m afraid I’ll feel silly like I did last year. I’m afraid my partner, who is also going, will ignore me the entire time.

Irrational fears. Though the fear of feeling silly isn’t so irrational. I actually did feel that way last year, but that was also tied to fear. I was afraid other people would think I was silly or stupid, so I just didn’t do anything. I didn’t participate in the rituals or the singing (I didn’t even know the songs, though everyone else there seemed to), and I didn’t really talk to many people. Which was unfortunate, because they’re nice people and would have accepted me if I’d been willing to be accepted.

I’m learning to let go of those fears a little more every day. Fear keeps you from truly living. You just exist day to day, doing the things you know are safe and won’t cause problems, and you don’t risk anything. But not risking means not trying, and not trying means you’re stuck where you are. Not necessarily the way someone wants to live, but sometimes fear seems stronger than you, and you don’t know how to fight.

I’m learning to fight. And I’m going to Rites of Spring despite the fear, and keeping an open mind (unlike last year, I admit) that it will be better this year, and that I won’t be as afraid.

Which reminds me… since I’ll be at Rites of Spring, there won’t be a blog post on Saturday. Next Wednesday, hopefully I’ll be able to tell you how Rites was!

Family Conflict

I feel very sad when I see people who are living happy lives and in happy relationships encounter opposition and even hatred from their family. Unfortunately, it seems to happen a lot.

Obviously different people have different beliefs. They’ve been brought up in certain religions and/or cultures that have strong, ingrained outlooks on things like marriage, same-sex relationships, sexual orientations, genders, and so on. For some people, overcoming those beliefs is difficult. This might be because they don’t understand other points of view. It might also be because they just plain don’t want to overcome those beliefs.

When beliefs interfere with family, though, something is wrong. And it probably isn’t the person who’s happy in a same-sex relationship, or a polyamorous one. It probably isn’t the person who’s just come out as transgender. The “something wrong” is that rigid beliefs are causing family members to turn against one of their own.

I’ve always taught my kids that the one thing I want for them more than anything else is that they be happy and safe. If that means they’re gay, or trans, or polyamorous, or whatever, that’s fine with me. Even if I don’t understand how they’re identifying themselves, I can see whether they’re happy and confident, and that’s what matters most to me. I don’t have to understand. I can just love and trust them, and let them be happy.

I know too many people whose families don’t think that way, and sometimes I just want to gather them all up and tell them I’ll be their family. It’s okay to believe what you believe. It’s okay to believe what you’ve been taught. But I can’t see how it could ever be okay to completely turn against your child, or parent, or sibling, or whoever, because their happiness means they aren’t living by your beliefs.

Overcoming Doubt

About a week ago, I underwent my witchcraft initiation ritual. Since I’m a solitary practitioner, I wrote the ritual, and enlisted my mentor’s assistance as my witness. This wasn’t necessarily the best idea. Having him there caused me to feel very self-conscious and worried about doing things wrong. Even though I’m a solitary practitioner and I wrote the ritual, which means there *is* no “wrong.”

I find that sort of thinking cropping up in a lot of areas of my life. Even as a very young child, I hesitated to do things unless I was almost one hundred percent certain I could do them right. I usually knew the answers to teachers’ questions in school, but I wouldn’t raise my hand if I wasn’t positive.

A few years ago, a friend who knew I wanted a hobby gave me a bass guitar and told me to figure out how to play it. I’m not the world’s best musician, but I do love music, and I’m a fairly decent singer. But I was afraid to sing in front of him, let alone fumble around with the bass, because he was a musician with decades of experience on his own and playing in bands, and I was afraid I would mess it up and embarrass myself in front of him.

Other things that I’ve wanted to learn or try, I haven’t done, because I doubt whether I would be able to do it right—or, sometimes, at all.

It’s human nature to have some doubts sometimes. But when the doubts interfere with doing things you want to do, things you love or at least love the idea of, it’s time to make some changes in how you think. That’s something I’m working on, and something I’m reasonably certain I can do right.

Parenting–and Being–Adults

When one’s children become adults, and go from living in the same house and leaving dirty dishes everywhere to having their own home, at least part of the time, it’s an adjustment on both sides.

The now-adult child is trying to find their footing on their own. Going to college or moving on to a career. Living alone or with roommates or partners instead of parents. They might not want much contact with their parents; they are, after all, adults now. They don’t need to be parented, or at least have the perception that they don’t. Or maybe they still do feel like they need their parents, and they want to keep their distance so they don’t lean on their parents too much or don’t get too homesick. Even if they don’t talk to their parents often, though, they often miss them.

Assuming there are no younger children at home, the parents are dealing with suddenly having a much quieter house and a lot more time on their hands. Whether or not younger children are still living at home, the parents miss the child who has moved out. And they may mourn or regret all the things they wish they’d done with that child when they were young, because now there’s no longer a chance.

Much of the time, parents and children love each other. Family bonds can be very strong, and those bonds are tested when circumstances change. Not having daily contact with each other can lead to feeling disconnected. And sometimes it’s harder than one might expect to be away from the home you’ve had all your life, or to have someone no longer in your home.

This is a time to lean on others. To let friends and other family members help you get through this transition. It’s a time to find activities or social outlets where you can meet people and fill the time you now have on your hands.

Most importantly, it’s a time to remember that you’re family and you love each other, and distance and lack of contact won’t change that.