“Be the change you want to see in the world”–Gandhi

The only constant is consistent change; everything else is a variable. Paraphrasing Heraclitus with my 21st century modification.   The world is forever changing. Each of us as individuals are forever changing. Change can come from external factors beyond our control or from personal choices and decision we make, or simply from the fact that we are alive and living in an ever-changing world.

Change forces us to transform and grow whether we want to or not. How we perceive and handle change determines our present, our future.

What type off change that occurs plays a role too

Some types of change affect us personally. Others affect the world collectively. Some do both. The world, humans, has always been asked to adapt to change that leads to re-evaluation of all we previously knew as fact and new ways of being. As the world changes, as our experiences change, we have no choice except to adapt and evolve. Or dwindle and perish.

There is scientific and technological change

Once the world was believed to be flat. Today we scoff at the notion that this was even a hypothesis let alone considered fact. When I was growing up a Sony Walkman, an 8-track player, or a party line on your rotary phone was a big deal. My son grew up with the resources of the world at his fingertips all from a Smartphone.  Words and definitions of words change. Once I was talking to my son about LPs and the first albums I bought. He asked what an album was. When I explained it, he said—oh you mean vinyl; it’s called vinyl now.

There is change that is beyond our control; change caused by external factors

Covid is an example of this. Covid changed both our collective world that we share with all and our personal worlds. It permanently changed the way we live, the way we view health, the way we interact. Masks are now mandated when we go leave the house for something as simple as going to the store to buy groceries. Social distancing is the new norm. Schools are meeting on Zoom instead of in classrooms. Ditto for business meetings. Family gatherings have been limited. Travel is restricted. The list is endless.

There is good change–the kind that makes us want to shout “Top of the world, Ma” like Citizen Kane

This is welcomed change–the birth of child, a promotion or a new job, a move to a new city, a long-awaited vacation.  This is change we have been working toward, orchestrated and anticipated that  we are grateful when it occurs.  This is change that makes us bubble up with joy.

And there is bad change–the kind that slaps us upside the head and kicks us to the curb

This type of change alters everything we once perceived as truth, as stability, as certainty in our personal individual world.  It often is unexpected, painful, and even devastating. I want to talk about this variety of change and how to cope while navigating the means with which to finding a new normal. Or at least how I am trying to do this.

For me the inciting incident for what is now my current new normal was sparked on December 30, 2018. It is what I call the whammy. This was the day I found my ex, who had remained my best friend post-divorce, dead. He died from a heart attack in his home.  Last time I saw him alive was Christmas Day. We always spent holidays together. 

Christmas was a great day. We talked about how proud we were of our son who had just graduated college in May and was now teaching English to middle schoolers in Gwangju. We laughed that we should’ve expected that he would end up across the globe as his first word was airplane.  We made plans to go visit him and wondered what to do with our collective pets. My ex even wanted to take them with.

His unexpected and sudden death hit me like a tsunami, tornado, and typhon all at once. My grief was unpalatable. Not to mention unbearable.

The double whammy came a year later when I had a stroke.  That rocked my world like an earthquake. It also made take a pause, a step back and say—okay my world just changed AGAIN—how do I deal with it?

Count your blessings even if you can’t find them

Nowadays everyone is preaching gratitude. Easy to do when your life is blooming tulips and roses and everything is churning along fine. But what about when your life has been turned upside down? Riddled with tragedy, trauma, sorrow, and grief as my life had been?

Then the gratitude mantra isn’t so easy.  At least it wasn’t for me. How was I supposed to be grateful and find blessings in trauma and grief?  I still have to force myself to do it at times. I have learned that it is the small things that end up giving me hope that end up be being blessings. That is where I find gratitude. 

A kiss from my dog for no other reason than the fact that she loves me and is happy to be around me. A kind note from my son who is now across the pond in Scotland in grad school saying he was just writing to say thanks for being his mom. A stranger who nods hello when I pass him on the street.  Those are things I find gratitude in. and the fact that I survived a stroke and am alive.  My life is different now, but hey—I am alive.

In his article Playing the Hand You’re Dealt George Baum explains how to adapt and even find gratitude in all life situations.

One step forward; two steps back

I had to learn to walk again both literally and figuratively, which was neither fun nor easy.  Progress was made only to hit a wall if not a roadblock.  Many times I wanted to surrender and quit. Many times the pain and fear became too great.  Things would get better and I thought—Yeah I’ve got this—only for it to fall apart and I was back at  perhaps not square one but at the very least square two again. 

By now we lived in the world of Covid and everything for the most part was conducted virtually, including medical care.  I felt isolated, despondent, and frustrated.  Alone.

I was about to chuck it all and give up. Surrender and quit. Until a friend gave me a simple yet profound and most helpful suggestion. She said— break it down into small segments that you can accomplish despite the setbacks and there will be setbacks. It may feel like you are moving backwards in your healing progress, but in reality you are gradually moving forward. She suggested I follow what she called the tasks of threes.

Tasks in threes

They don’t have to be grand tasks. They can be as simple as get out of bed; brush your teeth; eat breakfast.  That was how it started for me—getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and eating breakfast.  I discovered she was right. By grouping them in threes you have manageable tasks you can accomplish.  Then you check those off the list and start on the next three tasks.  Eventually the tasks increase in difficulty.

Everyday I took one step forward and two steps back. Every day I did at least one set of task of threes. Soon my task of three elevated from get out of bed, brush your teeth, eat breakfast to take a walk, do some yoga or Tai Chi again, write even if it is just one page.

I still do one set of the series of my personal tasks in three daily. That particular task of three is: Get up and move, Stay in the present moment, meditate. The specific daily meditation I do is to sit under the giant pepper tree in my front yard and merely be with the tree. I call it breathing with trees, which I outline in my recent Daily Practice post how to do.

Starting anew

Soon the one step forward two steps back became step by step by step…. Forward,, toward, forward.  I felt like the Winter Warlock from one of my fave childhood Christmas shows Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I was coming out of the deep freeze that had encompassed me spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Eventually one of my three tasks was to relaunch what had been Law of Integrity (LOI).  To adapt it to the changes that had occurred in my life and to try to retain the good from LOI while addressing the bad that had occurred to me in my life personally.  To evolve and maybe try to turn the bad into something new and good.

Hence SpirareLife and this first SpirareLife blog entry. The Daily Practice pages explain simple exercises one can do to regain focus. The Healing with Acronyms page turns existing words into an acronym that forms a sentence to either enhance the positivity of the word or transform the negativity of the word into a sentence composed of positive words, For example HATE can be transformed into Healing All Together Eventually.

I want to share my continuing journey and the tools that I have found and continue to find along the way to my healing in search of my new normal in the hope that it may help others with their personal journeys on their way to the new normal for them. I also want to provide a venue for others to share their stories through guest blog entries.  So if you are interested I am here and my blog is open to you and your stories.



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