Yielding To Change

by Jen Slayden on · 38 comments

Recently there was a street makeover in my town where 5th street loops around to Madi­son Ave. Just to clar­ify, I’m not talk­ing about the streets in New York City, where change is trendy. I’m talk­ing about small-town Mon­tana, where change freaks peo­ple out way more than a bear in their backyard!

The road used to be one-way and escorted you, unapolo­get­i­cally, around another block before being able to yield and merge over a bridge above the river. The recon­struc­tion was to allow for less traf­fic around the Uni­ver­sity area, and to save maybe five sec­onds. You know, sav­ing time is REALLY impor­tant when you live in our state. Because we all need those extra five sec­onds to go catch dinner!

THE STOP SIGNS

As I drove my son home from high school rack­ing my brain to remem­ber the how to praise your teen and have effec­tive lis­ten­ing skills advice I had read some­where and some­time, I wasn’t pay­ing atten­tion to the newly recon­fig­ured street. About 20 feet from the new traf­fic light I came back from the land of MOM and real­ized I was about to miss the new turn. I slammed on my brakes, and snapped my left-hand blinker on hur­riedly as I became aware that this street I had dri­ven on for over twenty years was transformed!

The whole inci­dent did a few things: 

  • I was forced to stop and real­ize how haz­ardous life is when I am not mind­ful to the signs of change.
     
  • It made me real­ize how unaware I become when I am multi-tasking, and how easy it is to act out of habit, not even rec­og­niz­ing IMPORTANT changes that have taken place.
     
  • My son talked. Even if he was just back-seat dri­ving and freak­ing out because I almost plowed us into the curb. Okay, so I let go of my effec­tive lis­ten­ing for a few minutes…..but I did get a very lively con­ver­sa­tion started!

Ben­jamin Franklin declared that “noth­ing can be said to be cer­tain except death and taxes.” I  pro­pose we add “change” and “road con­struc­tion” to the phrase!  Some changes are tragic, some pos­i­tive, some unhealthy. Some are quick and unex­pected. Some we don’t even real­ize because we are on auto­matic pilot and are not being mind­ful.  Some we can’t con­trol and are just plain annoy­ing. Yet oth­ers we can con­trol. YES!

Now we are talking….

THE YIELD SIGN

My approach is becom­ing (I say becom­ing because it is a process) more aware of the changes I can con­trol and the ones I need to under­stand that I can­not, or should not, try to con­trol. Once that dis­tinc­tion is made it feels so much eas­ier to yield to change.

As a mother, I can­not con­trol that changes are hap­pen­ing to my chil­dren almost daily. Try as I might to put books on their heads, bind their feet to stop grow­ing (my twelve year old daugh­ter is a size 11 woman’s shoe!) or erase the many years of pen­cil marks in hall­way that gauge their height, I have to allow for the con­struc­tion of an adult to be built– both phys­i­cally and emotionally.

I can embrace the changes I see in them as their roadmap of life starts to unfold. I can bask in the antic­i­pa­tion and scenery of what lies ahead. I can pay atten­tion to signs, and pro­vide fog lights to lead them into the unclear areas of change. I can model pos­i­tive atti­tude for them so they can go forth and be the change THEY want to see in the world.

THE DIVIDED HIGHWAY

Change brings about inter­est­ing inter­sec­tions in our lives, as friends and rela­tion­ships expand or hit  dead ends. Many of my friends have gone through sep­a­ra­tions and divorce. The expla­na­tions usu­ally have a neg­a­tive attached, even if they believed it was a pos­i­tive choice. “He changed.”

Change in a part­ner or friend can be a divid­ing high­way on life’s jour­ney. For me, I am find­ing as I age I want to only nur­ture and main­tain the rela­tion­ships in my life that are authen­tic, open, and mutu­ally respect­ful. As a result, the friend­ships I now have in my life are like upgrad­ing my very-first col­lege car, worth much less than the $500 it was pur­chased, for a Pink Cadil­lac! Yes. Pink. Because it stands out from all the other pickup trucks and Subaru’s dri­ving around my town.

Even more impor­tant, though, is that I find myself in a place of accep­tance. I would never expect or want some­one to change on my account. If there is too much divi­sion in mind­set I assume that a friend­ship will only go so far. And as I age, that is okay. Accep­tance and bound­aries cre­ate the path­way to more time spent on rela­tion­ships that mat­ter. It also allows for dif­fer­ent lev­els of friend­ships from all walks of life.

TURN AND CURVE

Change brings us on a jour­ney that has many inter­est­ing turns, curves, and twists. Embrac­ing life and change in your chil­dren, your friend­ships and social cir­cles will truly allow for an enrich­ing and excit­ing trip through life.

So take a deep breath with me, and keep your eye on the signs. The change of life’s scenery is beau­ti­ful, whether you live in New York City or a small town in Mon­tana. You can be in the dri­vers seat with the changes that are healthy to con­trol. And when the road gets bumpy and life’s changes shake you up, you learn that there is a les­son. That in those try­ing times, you get in the pas­sen­gers seat, buckle up, pray, love, and  yield to change, know­ing that this too, shall pass.


by Jen Slay­den

Jen Slay­den finds her har­mony in West­ern Mon­tana with her hus­band Mark, their three kids, and an out­door lov­ing black lab named Cody. Stop by and check out her life in music, words, and edu­ca­tion at Find Your Har­mony.
Jen Slayden
View all posts by Jen Slay­den

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike King October 4, 2011 at 8:09 am

Interesting perspective here Jen. I’m sure everyone has a story of a time or two when they were not paying any attention to the signs while driving and its gets them into a risky or dangerous situation. I know I have, mine is usually after an adreneline pumping sports game or something, the worst time for me to be driving as I don’t pay attention much.

In fact, I commute to work because I find it a lot easier to stay connected to my surroundings and “the signs” when I’m in them directly, breathing the air, feeling the wind on my face. I think the same goes for life, when you are engaged more in what you want, it is a lot easier to stay attentive to the signs that you might otherwise pass up. Thanks for perspective in your article!
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Jen October 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Hi Mike,
Yes, I hear you about after a workout (or for me it is sometimes a gig) and not being totally “there” while driving!

How do you commute? It sounds like a bike ride by the way you describe it. I guess that is why I try to bike and I am addicted to running. When the world is going by in slow motion, I can pay better attention and appreciate all the elements! And sometimes, that means a snow storm in my region!!

Great point about being engaged more in what you want…..
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jenna Swartz October 4, 2011 at 9:58 am

Love the analogy and intent here!
I hit a phase not long ago where I experienced just what you describe above. When I don’t pay attention, I’m reactionary and more volatile. I’ve spent a significant amount of time these past months reminding myself to be present, especially with my family. It’s truly remarkable how much better the conversations with my teen and tween feel when I’m available to them and watching the “signs”. I’m more patient, calmer and a better parent. Love this piece!

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Jen October 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm

“I’m reactionary and more volatile.” SAME HERE, my friend. Thank you for sharing that. What an excellent observation about not being fully in the moment.
We can all learn from that…and it is especially important as parents, too!

Love to have you here, Jenna! xo
In Harmony,
Jen
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rob white October 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

Indeed, Jen… Long live change! Sometimes those detours are wonderful blessings to snap us out of our Mechanical nature. We do ourselves a great favor whenever we manage to shut down the robot part of our brain. We stop reacting like a mechanical robots and realize that we are resourceful beyond measure. It is an opportunity to be shocked awake and think “Wait! I’ve just come upon another incredible understanding that will never betray me: I am resourceful beyond measure!
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Jen October 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm

What a great quote that is Rob……”I am resourceful beyond measure!” Do I sense a blog post coming?

Shutting down that part of our brain….I sometimes wish I had a button to do that, but practicing mindfulness and awareness is a good first step!
Thanks so much for your comment, Rob.
In Harmony,
Jen
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sheila October 4, 2011 at 10:59 am

Yes, I’ve learned a lot will pass. I remember when my kids were all teens and tweens. My gosh I thought I wouldn’t make it through. Seemed like my who life was under construction. I know when I made the choice to slow down and pay attention, many things fell into place. *ahhhh* feels great!
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Jen October 4, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Hi Sheila,
I think in some ways our lives are under construction until we are 6 feet under:) But sometimes there are stop signs, yields, merging, etc. Sounds like you have now entered the Pedestrian Path….. a little slower and a beautiful walk!

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, friend!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jennifer Shryock October 4, 2011 at 11:53 am

It’s those changes we can’t control that throw me. Sometimes they simply suck. Bad things happen. And yet, after grieving what’s lost, I try to assess the new and make every. single. possible. effort. to adapt. A closet optimist, I hope to find the hidden gifts within the sorrows. Or maybe, like Rumplestiltskin, to spin them into something valuable. You’re so right, it really helps to pay attention! Thank you.
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Jen October 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Oh Jennifer,
Your secret is out! I know you are a closer optimist, and it IS so very YOU to find the hidden gifts inside the sorrows. I have no doubt you will spin all your adversity into something valuable…..
Thank you Rumplestiltskin:) And thank you for your honesty…
xo
In Harmony,
Jen
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Be Rowland October 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Great post Jen, I enjoyed reading it. I especially liked your phrase ‘inter­est­ing inter­sec­tions’ in respect of change. A nice way to look at it … makes it sound like each change in our life is filled with possibilities….which it is…but I liked the way you said it :)

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Jen October 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Thank you so much!

I find myself saying that sometimes with my children in the midst of discussing a topic: INTERESTING…..
They think I am being sarcastic, but I really mean just that….looking at different points of view, and from outside the confines of my own mind challenges me to look at change, and possibilities!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
IN Harmony,
Jen
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Justin | Mazzastick October 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I am learning to embrace change as well because as you said it is always constant. Without change though life would become dull and boring and to me that is worse than change.
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Jen October 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I agree, Justin. Life would be like watching reruns of your least favorite show over and over and over…..TORTURE:)

PS…I will have to check out weird October….sounds intriguing!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Alex Aguilar October 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Change is what drives the human race forward. The most successful among us are those who can predict changes and quickly adapt to them. Entrepreneurs, titans of business and finance, even the highest paid actors are constantly reinventing themselves and their businesses to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.

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Jen October 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

So very true, Alex. Thanks for keeping with my theme of “driving” in your comment:)
I do believe people are genetically wired somewhat to how quickly they can adapt to change. Of course, in conjunction with the environment that they grow up in.

What a great month to think about reinventing ourselves…between the autumn changes to the fun of Halloween….donning masks and becoming someone else!
Thanks so much for stopping by.
In Harmony,
jen
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David Stevens October 4, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Great story Jen with truth as your passenger,
I felt as though I was in the car with you. Curve balls, u turns, detours, under constructions…..we all get them and have to deal with them. Thank you.
be good to yourself
David
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Jen October 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm

And thank YOU David, for coming along for the wacky ride!

I really appreciate your support and comment!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Carol Evanger October 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Jen, you crack me up. I made myself take the new road just so I’d be familar with it when I have to drive it in the dark. It’s disconcerting! Yield. I have to slow down and be cautious with my tween. I find I say no more than yes for no good reason. I think my poufy lip affliction is a sign I for me to slow down that I totally missed. And if you ever need to to transport kids……………………..just let me know.

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Jen October 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Yes:) You know what I mean, don’t you? Not only have I missed that (*&#($ turn ONCE, but several times! You would think that I would “GET IT!”

It just is another reminder of how hard-wired we can become in our routines.
Thank you, friend. You are a wonderful soul and are doing a great job:)
In Harmony,
Jen
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Celestine October 5, 2011 at 6:40 am

I made myself take the new road just so I’d be familar with it when I have to drive it in the dark. It’s disconcerting!I made myself take the new road just so I’d be familar with it when I have to drive it in the dark..
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Girly October 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

Honestly, I hate changes. I hate leaving my life and starting over. But 3 years ago, I changed my city, I left my friends and all that was for a boy. It was amazing but after we broke up I had to return But all that experience made me realize that each change is one new invigorating experience.:)
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Jen October 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I like that line: “each change is one new invigorating experience!”
Indeed, it is. Perhaps that will help you make friends a little more with change. I know it helps me.
THanks so much for stopping by.
In Harmony,.
Jen
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Girly October 6, 2011 at 12:29 am

Jen, I really believe that all this experience made me more “colorful” person, getting to know more people with their habits and even different cultures. It is indeed enriching and invigorating. And keeps you stay positive:)
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Jody - Fit at 53 October 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Change in my workouts – easy! Change in real life – harder for me because I can be a creature of habit outside the gym. You are right, there is a lesson in everything & change is good especially if we know we are in a rut.. lots to learn every day!

great post!
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Jen October 5, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Hi Jody,
So true! We are creatures of habit! Even when I am on a run, I tend to head to my favorite “trails” or loops. I have been exploring new areas lately, and that makes me more aware. For one thing….autumn brings many bears into the lower areas, many of the places I run. (I wasn’t kidding about bears in backyards on my post). So I have to constantly be alert and watching, not sucked into my ipod or distracted.

I am trying to break out of my cocoon of habit a little bit in all areas of my life. Not always easy, but necessary!
Thanks for stopping by.
In Harmony,
jen
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Debbie @ Happy Maker October 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Great post Jen. Change is good and makes us grow and become who and what we are suppose to be. My children have grown up now and I love it. I am not needed in the same way and this I like.

We do have to pay attention to those detours and if we can’t control them we learn to manover them. There will alway be change and that is a good think. Like the movie Ground Hog Day (Ibeleive that was the one) I wouldn’t want to keep living the same day over and over again.

Thank for sharing you road repairs and rerouting with us. Loved it.
Debbie
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Jen October 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Hi Debbie!

I have watched Groundhog Day many times! Great reference to what life would be like.
BORING (Yawn!)

I’m glad you are enjoying the freedom of being needed in DIFFERENT ways by your grown children. I know the time will come lightening quick for me as well, so for now I still maneuver the changes in my life in my mini-van, chock full of very noisy tween/teens!
Have a beautiful week!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Galen Pearl October 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

What an entertaining (those teens!) post about turning an everyday event into a great life reflection. Since my word of the year this year is Yield, I especially liked this post! As for those kids, I have said before that I think of children as God’s 12 step program for control addicts. Thanks to my kids I am a recovering control freak!
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Jen October 5, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Hi Galen!
How awesome it is that your word this year is YIELD! What a great word to anchor you into wisdom and self-reflection!

God’s 12 step program. YES! So true. I think I just joined your recovery club:)
Thanks so much for adding to the discussion! I appreciate you being here, Galen.
In Harmony,
Jen
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Tim October 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hi Jen:

Nice article and some humorous and insightful observations, too. My life has gone through a lot of change in recent years…loss of job and a parent and friends who have moved and drifted away. My life has honestly felt in upheaval for a number of years now and I’m amazed when others’ lives appear constant. I sometimes observe how bent out of shape people can get when change occurs, even at a small level.

I think the key thing is to sort of expect and embrace change and like you said, keep an eye out for it. I’m not sure if change is bad or good, it’s just change. Thanks for sharing your insights here!
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Jen October 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Hey Tim,
First of all, much sympathy to you for the losses that have occurred. It is hard when the BIG ONES pile up simultaneously. My thoughts are with you.

I have been equally surprised sometimes thinking that everyone around me has dealt with change better than I ever would. But then I started to see through some of those facades, and realized that sometimes people are displaying different than they are feeling. Everyone deals with change, loss, upheaval….some are just more open about the subject.

I like your take on not making it out to be good or bad. It is so easy to categorize, and I know that is not always a healthy approach to change.

Thank you for your comment, I sure appreciate it!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Andrew Walker October 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm

You’ve shared a really interesting story there! Very nice one I have to say! Thanks a lot!
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Chris Barba October 6, 2011 at 9:25 am

Love how you wrote this Jen!

In the road of life there are certainly going to be a lot of change. Weather it be new signs or rocky terrains, life will continue to provide an evolving journey.

One thing I think is absolutely crucial to keep in mind is that when you find yourself on those bumpy roads or boring stretches with dull scenery – those are things you cannot change. What you can affect is the conversations you have in the car, the people your with, the attitude you have, the station on the radio, etc.

Life’s about the journey not the destination!

Wonderful post Jen.
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Jen October 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm

So many good visuals here, Chris!
The car ride….I especially like the radio stations! That could be a complete blog, huh? Changing the channel….choosing good music…letting go of the static!

I love what you shared! Thanks for stopping by, Chris!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Betsy at Zen Mama October 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

Beautifully written Jen! Reminds me of a post I wrote exactly a year ago, “When Life Gives You Road Closed Signs”. I especially love yield. When we try to control anything in our life, esp. our kids, we have a big shock when we finally realize that there’s not much we can control expect ourselves and our reactions.
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Jen October 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Betsy,
I totally remember that awesome post! I will have to go back and read again, it would be a nice piggyback to this post. Maybe you could repost?

You are so right. I am learning to be better about judging my reaction based on previous reactions, and changing the unhealthy ones. It sure takes a lot of mindfulness…just like driving:)

Thanks so much for adding your thoughts and insights, Betsy.
Have a wonderful week!
In Harmony,
Jen
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