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

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