A few short years ago I was in a place in my life that was a transition. The hallway of this transition felt like my darkest hour.
My husband and I were getting ready to move across the country when he ended up in a hospital having his leg amputated. That was not the darkest hour. After his surgery, he had a near-death experience and no; that too, was not the darkest hour. I was in the middle of selling our home, packing up our belongings and literally had no place to live. Nope - that too was not my darkest hour.
So you are asking "for the love of God what was my darkest hour?"
It was being so overwhelmed of all that was coming at me where I was literally frozen with fear and indecision. I was, however, thankful my husband did not die. I was thankful our house was sold. I was thankful I was organized and could pack a home by myself.
But to feel the gratitude, now that was a stretch. The only thing I could feel was my energy collapsing, my vitality for life diminishing.
One morning I realized I wanted to be grateful for my life and to live with joy again. That is when I decided to get out a journal and start writing about everything I WAS grateful for in my life......
There are 2 things you may not think you would find in a hallway of darkness. Gratitude, and a way to express it which can be accomplished through journaling.
Did you know gratitude and journaling are “get out of the dark free cards”?
I know, I accept when you are really stuck you may not have the energy to actually write anything down. And don't even get me started on the fuzzy brain to look around and see anything to be thankful for. I would like to invite you to open your mind to a possibility; perhaps it is not as difficult as you may think.
A gratitude journal is a way to focus on positive actions in your life. Especially when you are feeling the positive train just left you standing at the station.
Your journal can be written in a lovely book, it can be an audio recording or typing on a device. If you don't like the sound of your voice or seeing yourself in a video then writing your gratitude moments is probably the better choice. If you like to do things on the go then using an app on your phone may be the ticket.
Choose the method which feels appropriate for you so you can remain engaged and committed.
This is your journey of joy so pick the one that makes your heart flutter with excitement.
You may be asking, but how exactly does keeping a gratitude journal help move me out of the hallway of no thanks?
I started by jotting down anything in the day I felt grateful for. My grateful list varied from having a dispenser for packing tape that worked properly to seeing my husband healing quickly after his surgery.
I decided I would journal before I went to bed each evening. This action was like a mind dump. Instead of laying my head down on the pillow to rehash what didn't work through the day, I was able to smile and see all the positive things I had experienced. I felt calmer and slept soundly.
My gratitude list grew. In the beginning, I would struggle to see 5 items to write down but soon I could have a page full of thankful moments. As my day unfolded I would find myself swapping a "what now?" to "now what!"...with positive curious anticipation of the opportunity to practice a moment of thanks.
Some evenings I would flip through the pages and I would read all my grateful moments. I could feel my energy brighten as I relived all those wonderful times.
I am able to read over past entries when I need a boost, to be able to see the many times I have been grateful.
I acknowledge situations can turn out better than expected. And when something didn't show up that I was anticipating, I had a record of something better that did!
One important thing I learned along the way was not to judge the length of the list. It did not matter if I could fill a page or only write down one thing. It was focusing on the feeling that was activated in me in the particular moment. The feeling was happiness, joy, and love.
I began to realize what was truly important in my life and what was not. It certainly prepared me for letting go, when I acknowledged areas in my life that were not working for my highest good. I knew when I released anything, something better came to fill the void.
And you know why I understood that?
Because I had written proof time and time again. That was so empowering!
What do you write in a gratitude journal if you are not seeing much to be thankful for?
Do you need a little jump start?
Let me shine a light in your dark hallway so you can see some grateful moments. Click on the button below to receive your jump start. There is no opt-in required.
I am happy to help!
I can't help pick out your new journal.
I can help you jump start what to write in it.
Until next time,
Your Guide Through Life Transitions
From the minute we bring a child home we are planning their future. And here it is the day you have been waiting for. What a ride! The day has arrived your little precious child is all grown up and heading off to his or her excellent adventure that perhaps requires secondary education.
An adventure that will probably cost about $30,000.00 or more per year.
Yikes! That will cause some nights of, did we plan enough to pay for it all? Will they actually study or will it be one expensive party year? Will they use that degree in the studies of:
• Politicizing Beyonce
• David Beckham
• Zombie Studies
• Simpsons and Philosophy
• Arguing With Judge Judy
• Harry Potter and The Age Of Illusion
• Star Trek
Yup, these are apparently degrees one can choose from says Google. So if you have an aspiring wizard, or they have argued with you since their first word which was NO in a language that sounded Klingon, they are certainly covered.
What an amazing time in both of your lives.
The transition from carefree child to child that has to make decisions based on an interest in the moment, to hope that there will be employment in 4 years.
No pressure there right?
The transition from cheerleading, hovering parent to “so you do understand that you will have to get up on your own and go to class all by yourself”. Right?
Perhaps you are saying, “been there done that and got the graduation picture to prove it”.
Our 34 year old son loved coding from a very young age. In fact he helped me design my first website when he was about 13. I was sure he was going to be the next Bill Gates. Nope, that was not happening. From the age of 4 to this day he is a Lego fanatic as creating and building was a passion of his. When the time to choose his secondary education, he chose College with a degree in Electronics Engineering. It was the best of both worlds and he still loves what he does.
My fondest memory is our daughter, who is 3 years younger than her brother debating with him if she could or could not read a chapter book. She was in Kindergarten at the time. Her hands firmly planted on her hips she won the debate with a “I can read words and chapter books are just a bunch of words.” She checked out her first library chapter book and her love of words took her to University graduating with a degree in English. Her career is helping others find their words to market their business. This journey was an interesting one of many career changes. One which lead her into the trades for over a year as a apprentice glazier. At the time she felt it was the hardest job as it was very physical and she learned a lot about herself and her “true grit”. However, her love of words kept calling until she answered it to follow her true passion.
Ah yes, life transitions no matter what, they alter our lives and our perceptions of ourselves, and how we view the world.
Think back over your situations that felt transitional.
Did you ever wonder why you chose to receive that particular degree or training…before you knew there was one on Harry Potter studies?
What felt right in that moment that this was the path for you?
Did you choose for yourself?
Did you choose out of family obligation? (or after a long line of Podiatrists the change to Zombie studies was made.)
What was the deciding factor?
Did the choice continue to satisfy you or after some years a change in studies or career happened?
Did you graduate with a degree or training to say "nope, I do not think this is for me"?
We are hard wired for certain experiences and learnings. It comes in our soul design of what will help us grow expand and fulfill our souls purpose, as it explores the human journey.
When a life transition comes into play having deep knowledge of our blueprint helps the navigation.
When making the decisions based on how we are designed, they can be made with a clarity, focus and confidence.
Yes, of course we still may want to change our minds about studying philosophy according to Homer Simpson to Politicizing Beyonce, but we will understand why learning each of those topics are of interest, and why it was required in being who we are designed to be.
It supports our decisions and we can release judgment of failure, and embrace the truth that at our core we are perhaps curious by nature. It may be that changing midway allows us to receive various world views that are important to our growth and how it relates to our contribution to the planet.
Understanding your soul blueprint will help you see the patterns of why you chose a particular path, how you are designed to make your decisions and where you will apply your unique abilities to fulfill your purpose.
Whether you have a small child just starting school, a young adult heading off to write their own adventure, or you are questioning the next chapter in your own life, having a guidebook will help along the way.
I am happy to help!
I can’t help you study for the Harry Potter exam.
I can help support you while you make choices “to boldly go where no man has gone before..."
Until next time,
Your Guide Through Life Transitions
Summer is over and everyone is getting back to schedules and routines. This year is a biggie as you may be having a child entering into the school system for the first time, or, it could prompt a walk down memory lane of past years.
The excitement of the shiny new backpack, lunch kit and outfit soon turns into crying and resistance…and that is just you! Your child may be having the easier time.
It is a huge life transition that first time we see out little precious child off to school. Having the anxiety of will they be ok? Who will they sit with at lunch? Will they make friends? Are they prepared enough to be without our help? (aka hovering) And if they have to take a school bus, well that is just a full blown parent meltdown right there.
Does any of this ring a bell? (No school bell pun intended.)
Well, let me tell you a true story about the resilience of a child, the strategy of a parent and the success during change.
Despite my helicopter parenting our child did manage to grow up and have a well adjusted life. Our son is now 34 years old. He has a great career, lovely partner and lots of friends. He is our first born and like most first borns a cautious child. Yes as a first time parent I hovered, I did enjoy seeing him play in the park but I was always on high alert for something that might harm him.
And then it became THAT DAY.
In our area they had just introduced Junior Kindergarten and so at the tender age of 5 he would be attending morning school. I was a stay at home mom which meant he did not have any daycare experience. I did go out and have babysitters however it was not all day every day. We began the introduction of school. The chats about how amazing school is, the fun and friends that would be experienced, all of this to alleviate my anxiety more than his.
Then the unspeakable happened.
Three weeks before the start of school he fell ill. I rushed him off to the hospital one morning, my husband remaining at home with our younger daughter. I stood in a sterile room with a young intern who announced our son had diabetes.
It felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. The room felt devoid of any oxygen and the voices seemed far away. My mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer several weeks earlier and I had just returned from spending time with her. I announced I can only deal with one disease at the time so no I don’t think I can do this. In that moment the Paediatric Endocrinologist entered took one look at the wild eyed woman and announced find this woman a seat and a cup of tea!
In that moment I began to breathe, I sat down, drank the tea and waited for my husband to arrive. It was quite the whirlwind of activity that day. Our son was admitted to hospital for about a week. In a blink of an eye we were to transition from being parents to become experts on diabetes, nutrition, psychology and every medical practice known to man. Well...it felt like that!
As we met in the Paediatrician’s office to discuss all things diabetes. She started to discuss schedules, routines and the importance of eating on time, preplanning outings and the list got longer and longer. My husband starts to laugh at which the Dr. says in a rather stern voice, “Mr Ptak, this is a very serious situation you know.” The chuckle gets louder as my hubby wraps his arm around me in a hug and replies “Ya Doc, meet the Queen of Routine, nothing in our house is about to change.”
Yes I am that woman. I love being organized and planning and schedules… lists, and routines, and colourful sticky notes everywhere till everyone around me is driven mad.
Yup, a truth bomb right there folks!
Well, our son came home and we did settle into a new norm. It was not without challenges, tears, frustration, bouts of overwhelm and waves of fear. But as time went on it did get easier and as I said earlier he did grow up and is healthy and happy.
The school year started and that first day was mixed emotions, happy, fear, anxiety, joy, excitement and it cycled to each one several times. Now remember it is only the morning school so from 9:00 till 11:30 and he was in the awesome care of a seasoned Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Cooper. We had met before hand to come up with a strategy that we could all agree upon and our main objective was kid first, diabetes second. It was in that moment in the hospital when our son asked was this forever and I replied “yes and you can control your diabetes it does not control you.” (in a more kid friendly way I recall.) It must have worked because he has always managed his diabetes in a balanced way (somewhat like a cautious first child he is) while not letting it stop him from having a full life..
I did not know then what I know now, but it is my stress pattern of being organized that helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life. The routines and schedules that I loved was actually helping me parent a diabetic child through one of his most difficult life transitions.
I could see it was helpful. It became my barometer as to how overwhelmed I was when I only wanted to make lists and organize stuff….the busy work so I could stuff down any emotions that were bubbling to the surface. When a situation that was not planned (or on the list) I could either go into a tailspin of trying to control it or allow it to unfold. Sometimes it flowed sometimes I held on so tight my hands hurt, either way I got new understanding from it. That new understanding helped propel me forward and take action.
We all have a pattern that we default to during stress time.
Stress can be sending a child off to school for the first time. It can be a parent deciding which lunch kit will be easier for them to manage. It can be standing in a room having the air sucked out of you as life altering news is delivered. It can be choosing which sticky notes will look best as you design and plan your month.
It is all about how we view stress, deal with it or choose to ignore it. The truth is that stress is there for a purpose. It will propel you into taking action and even not taking action. Which is still an action! Ponder that one for a while. (insert large smile)
I would invite you to ask yourself:
If you seem to have a “pattern” to your stress times in the questions you ask, and the behaviour in the response you may benefit from learning how stress helps you. How it motivates you, or, how it can prompt resistance that will create more opportunities for understanding your stress strategy.
I am happy to help!
I can’t help you pick out the coolest lunch bag.
I can help you understand your strategy pattern for stressful times.
Until next time,
Your Guide Through Life Transitions