How to Make it Through Transition Seasons
The other night, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. It was sudden, crashing to consciousness in such a way that I knew I’d be awake for a while.
This happens to me from time to time. For no apparent reason, I’ll wake up in the night. At first, I’m annoyed, but then I settle back into the quiet. Sometimes I grab my journal. Often my best thoughts and insights come through at this time.
This last time I woke up at 3:30 a.m., I got the distinct prompt to write in my journal so I rolled over and started writing.
I have been in a particular season of upheaval in my life. It seems as if all the major areas— work, family, relationships, home, you name it — are undergoing some sort of shift or ending. They are (mostly) all shifts toward something new and good but this middle part, the turnover, is sad and tiring as much as it is hopeful and exciting.
It’s a jumble of emotions. I have a long list of things to do, fears to face, and good-byes to say. People and places are being tugged away from me across the landscape of the life I once knew as stable, familiar, predictable.
I’ve been trying to find a good way to view this season. I need some sort of foothold to ground me. I always need that kind of thing. Usually, if I listen long enough, a phrase or image will arise in the midst of a season. It will present itself to me as a kind of rudder or propeller, showing me what there is to learn, here.
I didn’t have that yet for this transition time.
As I started freewriting through my emotions, though, I suddenly remembered that, a few weeks ago, we had snow in April.
Things get mixed up in the middle space.
I live in Canada. April in Canada is like a grab-bag of weather. You get some hot, sunny days, a bunch of rain, some cool days and the occasional ice or snow storm.
The other week we got a big snow dump, even though flowers were blooming in the garden. I looked out the window at the daffodils in my backyard, their yellow heads bent over the white snow. I wanted to tell them to just hang on because it would all melt soon. The snow was just temporary. Winter was handing the baton over to spring and, in the middle, the weather gets mixed up sometimes.
That’s exactly what this season of my life has felt like. There are new things blooming, opportunities are opening up, and yet there is heartache and good-byes mixed in.
There is snow on my daffodils, in essence.
Beauty is connected to resilience.
Nature will teach you how to act through the seasons of your life. It will teach you the rhythms.
The other day, I was feeling the weight of grief. I went out into the sun and puttered around my backyard. This is my way of meditating. I sit still and look at the plants. Sometimes I feel the texture of their leaves. I smell the new blooms. I look at all the tiny details of the flowers and shapes and I marvel at how they push, resilient, out of the soil.
The garden still bloomed even though it was draped with snow only a few weeks ago. There have been threats of frost the past few nights, but the daffodils still stand, the earth still grows beauty. The flowers are delicate and yet tough, weathering the cold and the rain and the hot sun to live in their quiet beauty.
That’s what I want at this particular juncture in my life. I want to feel it all, and yet stay connected to beauty. Not to dismiss the pain, but to process it, to enfold it into my story and my life and allow it to deepen my character and my perspective.
Grief leads you to a deeper stream.
Grief is like a portal to another place. It will show you things you could not access otherwise. It leads you to a deeper stream. It will unlock a whole new part of the human experience, found only by those who have experienced loss.
It can be a tender place. It can also be excruciating. Many people, understandably so, want to numb these feelings. They back away from the depths because it feels like it could swallow you, or you might never find the bottom again. We reach for grounding things when we feel unmoored. We try to fill the gaping caverns with something so the grief doesn’t feel so endless.
I’m thinking, these days, about how to move through grief and good-byes in the healthiest way. Of course, I don’t want to dwell in pain or punish myself for the sake of feeling grief. I also don’t want to skip over it, numb it out or shove it away.
You can walk through grief and feel joy and pain and neutrality all tied up together. This isn’t wrong. The way you feel isn’t wrong. Grief is difficult to navigate. It will often surprise you with reverberations or punches of memory and feeling. It will ebb and flow. It is painful and tender. Some days it is barely perceptible and other days it screams in your ears.
I’ve found myself drawn to simple things of substance in this time. I sit in the garden and examine the flowers. I pull mint from one of the beds and make tea out of it. I watch the steam rising from the tea get carried off in the wind. I talked to a friend for hours the other night, laughing till I cried. And that’s okay because I also cried out of an overflow of sadness while I was on the phone with my boyfriend.
I’m gently allowing myself to embrace paradox. I’m trying to notice more, to appreciate, to reflect. I am happy when I am happy and sad when I am sad.
Snow on the daffodils.
It’s all mixed up together.