Manage episode 300912173 series 2724384
Ch-ch-ch-changes! In part-two we step off the beaten path and into the unknown. Maybe by choice, maybe not. Either way, we have all we need to reinvent ourselves. We just need to get creative.
Music by Terry Hughes
Picture this. It's May, the very end of the year at a busy middle school. Everyone is ready for summer but the 8th graders are acting especially weird. They're getting in trouble for silly reasons and sometimes acting completely out of character. I've learned over time that 8th graders can act a little strange in that last month because they’re preparing for a huge change. They have no idea what life will look like next year, which of their friends will still be in their lives or what academic, social and even emotional challenges high school will bring. They’re at that place, in the words of Shel Silverstein, where the sidewalk ends.
Life gives us moments like these again and again, chances to step off the beaten path and into the unknown. What does it take to make that leap? How can we make it easier? What are some little things we can do to support ourselves and the ones we love through the process of reinventing ourselves?
This is Shame Piñata. I’m Colleen Thomas. Welcome to Shame Piñata where we talk about creating rites of passage for real-life transitions.
This is part 2 of a 3-part series we’re calling, “Do You Need a Ceremony”. In part 1 we focused on honoring important personal moments, the kind there are no party decorations for - and really, the kind we might not even think about honoring. Moments that run the gamut from a huge loss like losing a beloved pet, to joyful moments like paying off our student loans. The idea is that if it’s an important moment to us, it’s important to celebrate it or mark it in some way. Today we’re going to talk about how ritual can help us reinvent ourselves.
Sometimes it can feel like it’s time for a change. And sometimes we grow without even realizing it. And other times we don’t even know we need to change until we get out of our routine and when we return to it, we realize it doesn’t fit us anymore. Has that happened to you? These are the kinds of changes we’ll be talking about today as well as the many intuitive ways we already demarcate change and growth in our lives.
So first, how do we know when we’re going through a change? Of course, sometimes it’s quite obvious. Like when everything is going great and suddenly it all falls apart. Big changes can happen like that, suddenly, and with little warning. These can be super unsettling, disorienting, and upsetting. When a change happens - especially if it’s a big change that takes our focus, it can be easy to lose touch with the things that ground us and keep us calm.
Sometimes we might not notice that things are ticking along and we’re silently coming to a moment of meaningful change as a person. It might feel like we don’t easily fit into a role we’ve always held or like no understands what’s really going for us. We might notice new feelings like feeling frustrated or annoyed or even more tired than usual. We might notice we’re feeling kind of trapped or unappreciated.
The reality that we’re constantly growing and changing goes somewhat against the way we typically think and plan. For example, we live our lives as if we’re all set and nothing will really change from this point forward. We anticipate life stages and probably expect that we are likely to move though them just like our parents did, but in the day to day, things can feel pretty stable. So the fact that we’re always growing and changing kind of works against the comfort of the known, the stability of the familiar. We’re probably eventually going to get tired of this exact job or the unique culture of this company. We may decide to change our major at a very inconvenient time. Maybe by the time we’ve saved enough to buy our dream home, we’ve met someone who wants to travel the world instead of settle down.
One night years ago, I cooked a wonderful fish dinner and after cleaning up, I stepped outside to take out the trash. Upon returning to the apartment I was surprised to realize the entire place smelled like fish. I hadn’t noticed it during the time I was cooking and eating but after being in the the fresh air for a few minutes it was obvious to me. This became a metaphor in my life for the value of taking a break from my regular routine in order to make sure it was still working well.
When changes happen that I don’t want, two of the most helpful practices I’ve learned to do are to be in flow and to say thank you. There’s something about trusting the flow and showing that trust by saying the words "thank you" that transforms my experience. This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes by Meister Eckhart. “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Another way to approach change is through the meme, “When something changes in your life, just yell ‘plot twist!’ and keep going”. I try to remember that one too because… I’m really not in control. As much as I want to be, as much as I feel like I need to be, and as much as I OK I want to be. I’m not - and that’s hard.
We'll be right back.
Thanks so much for joining us today! Just a heads up that if you're in a life transition right now and would like some support, you can work with me to have a custom ceremony built just for you. Go to shamepinata.com to learn more.
Changes can actually be helpful in that they invite us to reinvent ourselves. For example, we might change our diet if we are diagnosed with an illness. That’s just a small example.
Here’s a list of times when I might choose to re-invent myself:
- after a loss
- when my life is changing in a way I can't control
- when I see a change coming
- when an old chapter is closing or a new chapter is starting
- when I just feel like I’m becoming a new person
- when I want to get unstuck
- when I really want to change an old habit or mindset
- when I notice that hard feelings are getting in my way
- or when I feel inspired to become a better or a different person
There are ways that we intuitively reinvent ourselves in life by using intentional actions. For example, cutting our hair, changing up our personal style, moving to a new place, reaching out to new people, trying something new, even walking a different way to work, anything to honor the way we're changing.
In addition to these intuitive methods for changing it up, we can go a little deeper if we want. Here are a few examples:
If I see a change coming, I can use ritual to ground on a daily basis - ground into the things that give me strength and help me be me in the flow and be able to say thank you so that I am able to navigate the change with as much resilience (and grace if I can muster it) as possible. Perhaps lighting a candle each morning. Taking 10 minutes of the day to do a breathing practice. Dancing to one song everyday and full-out expressing myself as much as I can for those 5 minutes.
When I’m starting a new chapter in life, I can weave the sacred into that experience in several practical ways, from creating a personalized playlist of songs to cheer myself on and hold the hard feelings, to bringing my friends and loved ones around to circle up with me and vision what my life could be like.
When it’s time to get unstuck, ceremony might help me to simulate the stuckness. Maybe a friend can hold my arm another friend can hold my foot and act as stand-ins for the things that are holding me in place. I might dialogue with them and talk about the limitations I feel and find in my body to be ready to make the change and break out of their grasp. Or perhaps it's a different direction. Perhaps my body might indicate a need to surrender to these forces until an a-ha moment arises and I see things in a different way. This kind of thing can also work when a bunch of bad feelings are in my way.
You’re seeing a pattern here right? Rituals are physical acts that we do that have a greater significance than just the act itself and they are effective because they tap into our subconscious mind. Sometimes physical actions can just be straightforward physical actions like drinking a cup of coffee. We want coffee. We drink coffee. End of story. But we might also take a sip of our Grandmother’s favorite coffee on Samhain to honor our continuing connection to her through the veil, remembering what it felt like to sit in her kitchen as a child smelling the coffee brewing. The cool thing is that anything we do in life we can do with intention. In ritual space, simple acts can be profound.
Let's move on to a real life example of using ritual to reinvent oneself. I will actually give you two. These are ceremonies I've spoken of before, so I will add links in the show notes so you can hear the full story on each one.
The first one is from the time when I was preparing to get married. I knew, in that way we can know ourselves so well, that despite my best efforts, I was going to have a tendency to hold the wedding in a lopsided way. I was going to want the fairy tale as the main event, not the commitment and the day to day struggle, the active noun of love. (Mr. Rogers says love is an active noun, like struggle). I was going to focus on the dress and the fairy tale and ever after... you know, the things girls get socialized into wanting. Now, I've been a feminist for many years and I know that the archetype of the bride was going to run deep and would pull out all the little girl stuff in me. So I decided to consciously counterbalance that pull by committing to myself first.
I designed a self-commitment, or self-marriage, ceremony which I held about three months before the wedding. As I said, there's a much longer story here and you can hear it on the episode called "My Self-Marriage Story". But I will tell you here that the ceremony was a profound moment of reinventing myself as I was about to get swooped up into a bunch of old stuff I didn't believe anymore. It allowed me to reinvent myself so that I was in a calm, grounded place, resourced within myself before I made that commitment with another person. And the vows I made to myself in that ceremony are still relevant to me every day.
The second example is from another moment in time when I felt called to reinvent myself. I had been at a job for too long and the day finally came for me to leave. The trouble was that it was difficult to see where I was headed next because I had so many backlogged hard feelings from my time of stuckness. You can hear all about how I dislodged and released the old stuff in an interview I did on The Queer Spirit podcast. It's the last question host Nick Venegoni asked of me on the show and it's linked in the show notes.
I invite you to think and feel through all of these examples and ideas and match them up against any places in your heart in you that might be ready for a re-boot. You are an amazing, glowing, changing being. Celebrate it!
Our music is by Terry Hughes. Be sure to subscribe in your favorite player to make sure you're notified when new episodes are released. Learn more at shamepinata.com. I’m Colleen Thomas. Thanks for listening.