Transitions: They are backseat passengers, not drivers

NOTE: This post is all about transition and how bumpy they can be. All the transitions in my life meant this original post did not get posted as scheduled, so I am taking the liberty of doubling up here! Today’s post covers both parenting/education and thoughts on life’s purpose. Part of managing transitions is acceptance, and I’ve accepted I was over-scheduled last week. Stay with me for a longer than usual post, please, and I hope you find a little acceptance and grace with whatever transitions you face!

Phew - we got kids off out the door, off to school, off to college.

Now what?

In the schools I taught in, we took deliberate care to work through the first six weeks of school slowly - building community, learning routines, getting to know each other. The transition can be hard. It's uneven in the classroom, and it's bumpy at home.

Be aware of this universal fact about transitions. Know that once the kids are out the door, there is new work to be done and moving through this transition with acceptance and compassion (for others AND yourself) is key to getting this transition to smooth out into new routines.

Transitions are passengers, not drivers. I like to imagine that transition like someone who jumps into your car, seeking to be the driver or navigator. You've got to listen to hear what she is trying to tell you. You've also got to put that chick in the backseat.  You are driving, making decisions about the direction and speed. You can listen and learn, but the transition does not need to drive. 

September is like the new year for me. I love everything about the fall. From new calendar pages and pens to the sweaters and jeans that have been in hibernation in my Maryland closet since March. I loved setting up classrooms and creating spaces ready for new friends, new adventures, new learning. This is the first fall in decades there was no official "back to school" for me. No classroom, no kids moving out and into dorms, no move into a new apartment for my college senior. The rhythm and structure that comes as August winds down, and we transition to fall has shifted for me.

Memories of the rhythm of the school year transition have been rekindled for me as I’ve visited many schools over the past few weeks. The requisite shopping and digging out school items from home and classroom. Planning lots of breaks and outdoor time with my students, as we savor the last bits of summer sunshine.  Rejoicing over Pizza Fridays at home because after a week in the classroom, there was no fixing dinner. Knowing that by day seven, my students and I would have our collaborative "rules" set up and that in the classroom and at home, by the start of week three, most of us would feel like the honeymoon had worn off and some would be tired and cranky. And by weeks four to six, we'd find our rhythm, and this transition was neatly buckled in the back seat.

Each experience and transition teaches us something. If we are patient, we can take it all in as chunks. It requires some stillness and presence to notice what each experience has to offer. When we try to do it all at once, it's a hot mess. 

 I’m guilty of this and now it’s to get myself in check.

With all the travel I've been doing I've let lots of things slide. Just ask my hub how many pairs of shoes I have abandoned around the house - far more than the number of meals I've prepared this month. Every room in our house seems to be in transition because I haven't been still enough to get things in order. The pace of life has left me sapped and drained, even if the actual work I do while traveling is immensely fulfilling and rewarding. I've let the comings and goings ride in the front seat and heck, they've taken the wheel, but it's time to put these transitions in the backseat.

I know I am craving the transition to shorter and cooler days, new starts, new goals, and the ability to be more present and content in my own head and in my work.  And possibly to put my shoes away and make a nice meal.

I'm taking control of the transitions. I'm choosing to put myself back in the  driver's seat, and the transitions can ride along in the back.

For those with kids transitioning to school, I urge you to think about how you handle transitions.

  • Do you cling to things (ideas, habits, thoughts( when they are shifting?

  • Where/what can you let go of and simply be with the changes as they unfold?

  • What’s working and what’s good right now?

For those who get concerned about what will be in this transition, consider this:

  • Can you remember how you worked through transitions in the past?

  • Can you recall that the angst of the transition doesn't last, especially when you can work on routines and rituals that anchor you?

  • What’s working and what’s good right now?

  • What can you control and where do you need to exercise a bit of grace and patience?

Here's the thing – life is a series of transitions. When we can see them coming as they approach (um, September ALWAYS follows August!), we can greet them and welcome them along with for the ride.  Then put those transitions in the back seat – they can join you, but they certainly cannot drive your car not monopolize the conversation or even control the playlist. You are in charge of the choices you make, the attitude you bring to the transition and the effort you put into taking care of yourself and all the others.

Here are my hopes for you in whatever transition you face:

  • I hope you choose to be present and appreciate the newness and learning in transitions.

  • I hope that you can, in small or big ways to let go of what happened before and be open to new knowledge and routines.

  • I hope that while you are super-busy taking care of all the things and people, you can carve out some time to take care of yourself in all the transitions of life.

Let me know how it’s going for you and if you think coaching will help you manage those transitions, remember I offer complimentary Discovery Calls to see if we’re a good fit!