Last night was my last class, officially, teaching at the karate school I’ve been at for nearly five years. It is a necessary step that had to happen for the health of my heart and mind. I’ll be taking the next month completely out of that world to reset my perspective and see where my love and energy really belongs. Perhaps I will return, refreshed. Perhaps the universe has other plans for me.
This is the way of the orbiting dance of life.
Even when a move feels like the right one to take, it can be difficult. What we leave behind can often open up holes of melancholy and bittersweet sadness in our chest.
So this is for you; those who are leaving, those who’ve been left. If you are in one of the hundreds of delicate transitions that come with the years of breathing, take heart.
And leave heart.
I leave behind pieces of myself
In every heart that I have loved.
So that I may live a thousand different lives
And share their journey in a million different moments.
I spread toes in broken sand
and sing with the breath of black loam forests.
Blaze in pursuit of sunsets and stretch,
reborn to every dawn
I leave behind pieces of myself
So that every pulse
in every heart of my heart
Is a star in the sky,
I leave behind pieces of myself
In every heart that I have loved
So that I may touch the world with their hands
See the world through their eyes,
Beg them lay still when they need rest
And filter and fiber their blood as they race
down dusty borders of earth and sky
I aid the fire and fever as they fall to love
and mend softly the wounds suffered there after
I leave behind pieces of myself,
In every heart I have loved
So that I may live a thousand lives
Be born and grow old,
Laugh out joy
Cry through despair
So if I am far away from you now,
By streets or by stars.
Know that I am not gone.
I am stitched into your heart
A patch of peace, when the weary world shouts too loud
Gentle readers, today I’m writing to you from a house full of tile breaking, wood tearing, abhorrent hammer striking, and general disarray. The bassets are petrified, the cats have taken to hover beneath beds and cower behind me on an already ‘cozy’ chair.
Times of transition are like hurricanes. Confusing, loud, messy and intense. There is uncertainty and a sense of powerlessness that directly affects our peace and sanctuary. Some of us deal with the changes with decidedly more grace than others. Some are rocked off their foundations, never to be the same again.
The point is that no one is safe from change. And why the hell would you want to be?
Change is the great motivator. It is the one unequivocal trait of the progression of human life. Without it we are stagnant lumps. Change breeds invention and new ideas, it sparks, hopefully, encompassing understanding and empathy. Compassion even.
What happens though, when we have too much change? When we are in a constant state of upheaval. When everything in life is a transition?
It is proven that children who suffer chronic instability (experiencing transitions so often that instability becomes their norm) can suffer from toxic stress.
Toxic stress increases the risks of several physical and social problems including but not limited to increased risk for cancer and diabetes, heart, lung, and liver disease, increased risk for smoking, drug abuse, suicide, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, domestic violence and depression.
While a normal amount of stress can be good (it stimulates healthy growth, promotes resilience, and helps us to learn coping mechanisms), constant stress and insecurity in our lives actually causes the body great physical and psychological harm.
The effects are more pronounced in children but adults are not immune. Just ask the millions of people living with high blood pressure, depression, cardiac disease etc. We are in over our heads.
So how do we balance the change and transition? How do we grow and push our boundaries without breaking apart our safety net?
Balance seems a cop-out idea. Of course balance (*eye roll*). That’s like asking “how do I lose weight” and some smart ass saying “Just diet”.
True…but too general. Diets, like balance, are not a one size fits all idea. What is balanced for me is way too much for someone else. One man’s half-dozen donuts with no metabolic detriment is my sure-fire step towards acquiring the diabetes.
How do we find our balance? How do we find the right amount of change? I think the answer lies in retaining sanctuary in our lives. Now I’m not talking humpy-backed bell swingers walled up inside the cathedral, sanctuary. I’m speaking of it on a more personal and sometimes mental level.
Are you safe in your own mind? Do you have a place to go, in your brain, where you can let go, remember to breathe, where your shoulders can drop away from your ears and you can feel at peace? Or is it all hell-fire and disaster, 24/7 from the moment you wake from stress-induced nightmares to the moment you’re knocking yourself out with Nyquil just to escape?
We all need peace. We all need change. How much of each is dependent on who you are.
One person may be content taking 15 credit hours, while raising a family of six and working part time for the PTA. Another may be perfectly happy chiming into an online forum on bee-keeping once a week and counting her reading in hours not minutes. One person may be at home living from a suitcase, jet-setting to all parts of the world for a story and a perspective never gleaned. Another may never leave their childhood hometown and yet still maintain contentment in the smaller world around them.
I’m not here to tell you how much change to accept. I’m here to tell you to accept some change. Pursue some change. But if you find that all you do is change, and you can’t recognize yourself or the people you love anymore, then it’s time to come back home.
Use that one word…what is it? Shoot, I’m not very good at this word, though I’m learning to let my lips form it’s simple monosyllabic music…it’s… NO. The word is NO. If you’re genteel you may even tack on a “Thank You” at the end.
NO is a great place to start. No I do not want to go to that party. No, I do not want to volunteer sixteen hours a week when I’m barely getting my chapters written. No I don’t have time to bake seventy-two cupcakes for the basket-weaving club…would you take a donation instead?
Conversely…don’t forget your YES button in the gleeful mania of refusing. Yes, I would love to meet you for coffee, it’s been too long! YES I would love to take a weekend class in basket weaving. YES, it would be an honor to help out for five hours a week. YES, I’ll go to Italy with you, tall-dark-and-handsome stranger…(*guffaw* still waiting for that one to come around).
You know you best. If you aren’t sleeping. if you’ve bitten your nails to the nubs and can feel the bonds of your family life deteriorating. If you’ve sacrificed what you’ve loved to do what you “should” for too long, then its time to take a long hard look at your hurricane and find a graceful exit from the storm.
If you’re still in a dead end job because you’re too afraid to throw caution to the winds of the hurricane blowing outside, do yourself and everyone who loves you a favor and chase that storm. Live a little for gods sake, we only go get so much time! Don’t waste it wishing for something better, when you are perfectly capable of hunting down the something better and taking it back to your sanctuary.
Now I’m going to go see how the holes in my walls are fairing and make myself a quiet cup of tea whilst in the eye of the drywall free hurricane. Ductwork is fascinating.