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