2015 was a year of intense change. I had sold my nutrition and wellness center and was reveling in the delicious feeling of not having the responsibility of guiding a multi-faceted business. But as time progressed, I often felt lost: lost without a schedule, lost without the familiar push from adrenaline, and lost without the semblance of self-worth that came from daily accomplishment.
My intention was to rest awhile, and then get to work (aka, return to the comfort of accomplishment) creating what I thought would be my new thing – virtual nutrition consulting.
Life had other plans.
My husband and I went hiking for my birthday and when we descended from the mountains into cell range, my phone lit up with messages from my narcissistic mother, triggering the beginning of a transition. One that culminated in her passing a few months later, and one that allowed me to witness my mother’s abuse through adult eyes while having gained (via trauma healing), the strength to be with her in grace during her final days.
Shortly after selling my store, I shared with a friend that I was beginning a new chapter—she responded with “oh no, this is an entirely new book.” How right she was. My mother’s death breathed new possibility and led to a crazy dream that woke me up one late summer morning with absolute clarity, that my next step was a hard stop – sparking another transition… my “Year of No” sabbatical.
When you create space – patches of stillness in your day – miraculous occurrences present themselves. I was sitting outside at a local restaurant sipping tea, enjoying a warm afternoon breeze, blue skies, and conversation with a good friend. She asked how I was doing with the transition in my life. After pausing for a moment, I answered with “I’m in the space between what was and what will be.”
What happened next took our breath away. As I spoke those words, a white feather fell from the sky, gently dancing its way under the sun umbrella and landing directly in front of me. We both gasped and then agreed that the feather was a sign that I was exactly where I needed to be. Later I would learn that symbolically a white feather represents deep trust.
William Bridges, author of the book ‘Transitions, Making Sense of Life Changes’ says, “Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture.”
In the past, I fought ‘the space between.’ I re-arranged furniture (literally and figuratively), never pausing to take inventory of my feelings and emotions, or what it was that I desired. I had bought hook and line and sinker into the cultural narrative of ‘always strive for more.’ Pausing wasn’t comfortable and it certainly didn’t feel right.
My wise friend Barbara Huson, who I was sipping tea with the day the feather fell from the sky, says “there is value in the void.” As I have learned, the transitional void is a time of reflection, exploration and discovering what feels true to you.
It’s also a time of questions, without immediate answers.
I believe that transition begins when you start questioning your life, your existence, your career, your relationships. It begins when you hear yourself thinking “there must be more,” or “this no longer feels like me” or “who am I – really?”
Here are 10 Ideas for Embracing the Power of ‘The Space In Between’:
#1: Our culture does not support “not knowing.” Be forewarned…well-meaning humans will want to help you figure out your next step. Very few will encourage you to pause, without a timeline.
#2: You will bump up against your own inherited narrative—be mindful of derailing yourself.
#3: Be curious, put on your explorer hat and follow the thread of your emotions. Seek experiences outside of what’s normal for you.
#4: Go slow, honor your own timeline (as my neighbor says “find your pace of grace).
#5: Say “no” often. Ask, “what is it I want?”
#6: Adopt the one-half rule(s): Cut your to do list in half (or better yet, don’t have one), allow twice as much time for everything, and do half of what your used to doing.
#7: Cease multi-tasking (aka ‘stop the insanity’).
#8: Not knowing is uncomfortable (see #1) and pausing is powerful. As William Bridges said,
transition is the catalyst for ‘inner re-orientation and self re-definition.” In other words, intentional transition supports discovering the true you.
#9: Transition can begin from exactly the space and circumstances you are in now. Read 11 Unconventional Ideas for Taking Your Next Step in Life.
#10: There is no timeline with transition. I originally wrote this blog June 4th, 2019 thinking my transition was complete. Ah – not so. I now realize that my transition continues, but it’s different now..
I’ve discovered my personal rhythm and understand now how 40 years of living out of alignment with my soul, literally stole parts of me away. I’ve explored, tried experiences on for ‘size’ (taking my first ever solo-trip and experienced ‘me’ on the island of Tasmania), I’ve sifted, written, created, coached, mentored, cried, had fits of frustration, felt like a loser and a winner (all in the same day).
I’ve bumped up against my core issues of not feeling seen and heard (a side effect of trauma) and felt the full force of self-doubt, self-comparison and ‘not enough.’ Along the way my marriage fell apart…and then fell together again—another transition of endings and new beginnings.
With the support of coaches, therapists, good friends, and a growing devotion to my well-being, I’ve danced in the space in between for 5 years and counting. With each step I gain clarity – I feel more, I see more, I am aware and I’m awake.
When I began my sabbatical in September of 2015, I viewed this time as the path to what I would do next but soon learned… transition is not about doing—it is about becoming who you are.
Ubuntu (I am because we are)
Sabbatical andTransition Mentoring with Suzy Carroll.
With an emphasis on deconstructing social conditioning in support of flourishment; embracing ‘Sacred Selfishness’ (prioritizing self), calling in clarity and using transition as a process of reflection and remembering in support of ‘settling into self’ – while renewing, reweaving, and re-orienting to life with much more ease.
Click here to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call.
BOOK: Transitions: Making Sense of Life Changes by William Bridges.
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*This is the book my dear friend Barbara Huson suggested I read week three after selling my store. She called to ‘check in’ – I was vacuuming because it was something familiar in my new very unfamiliar territory. I devoured the information in two days and then realized, I was in fact sane…but in deep transition.
BOOK: Coming Into Your Own: A Woman’s Guide Through Life Transitions by Barbara Cecil.
Click here to view.
*This is a beautifully written book based on decades of work through a foundation she co-founded: Coming Into Your Own (CIYO) that has a worldwide reach. Her words weave a story full of gentleness, kindness and wisdom for using transition as the catalyst for deeper understanding and knowing of Self. Barbara Cecil and her sweet dog Koa are neighbors (as is Barbara Huson).