Nine Seconds

That is all it took.  Nine seconds.  My mother is critically ill.  In a period of nine seconds her heart performed in a pattern that catapulted her care in an entirely new direction.  Those nine seconds offered a framework from which to proceed.  Up until that moment there had been only isolated symptoms.  All concerning.  Independent.  Nothing to bind them together.   In that zone we were pursuing conclusions.  Some aggressive.  Ones we believed were supported by a data set.  Thanks to nine seconds, all wrong.   Nine seconds…..nine spectacular seconds. 

The nine seconds offered us a new framework with which to proceed.  It was incredibly useful in that we could then interpret symptoms differently.  This cycle in my mother’s care reminded me of the real value that I’ve gotten from my commitment to transition.   A framework.

In transition I’ve created a framework to help me understand transition.   The framework is comprised of three parts; a triggering event, a decision and the act of transitioning.   I’ve referred to it as transition’s anatomy.

William Bridges, author of Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, said in transition we break our connection with the setting in which we have come to know ourselves.  (Transitions, Bridges, pg 17)   The reality?  It can be downright scary to break the connection with the setting in which we’ve come to know ourselves. So much so that many avoid it.  In doing so people often stall, disengage or use change to avoid transition.  Anything to avoid that connection break.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  With knowledge or awareness about transition the break identified by Bridges isn’t all that scary.  There is a context that I can use to assemble the disparate parts.  It is invaluable.  It offers peace and energy amidst turmoil.

I remember the first day of my transition.  I was ready to begin two consulting projects that I had lined up.    It was as if I was heading off to the first day of school – pencils sharpened, bright eyes.  Ready to go.

I attempted to use my in home office but quickly retreated to the basement.  Why?  My then kindergartener and preschooler ruled the house – including every square inch beyond my office door.  The volume level sent me downstairs in hopes of getting beyond the squeals.  How would I make a phone call?   I sat perched on an old wooden bar stool.  My decrepit laundry table served as a makeshift desk.


Without a framework that moment was awful.  I felt as if I’d finally failed.  Completely.  Uncategorically.  After all I reasoned who would be relegated to the laundry room?

Transition’s framework offers me context with which to interpret those events differently.  Transition is a process that requires us to re-examine our assumptions about identity, capacity and values.  Some go through transition and simply reaffirm their assumptions.  Others use the opportunity to re-assess and make changes.  I am in the latter camp – unbeknownst to me that day in my laundry room.

Without a framework my fear is that too many women will misinterpret the emotions that accompany the earliest stages of transition.  Triggers come with all sorts of negative emotions – fear, uncertainty, isolation, anxiety, stress, guilt.    Imagine if a little knowledge and a good map could help women neutralize or reframe the negative emotions?  If left on their own too many women interpret such emotions as indicators of inadequacy or self-doubt.

In 1597 Francis Bacon, long credited as the author of the scientific method, said “ipsa scientia potestas est,”  or ‘knowledge itself is power.’

In the case of transition a framework alone provided me with unimaginable power – the power to work towards my heart’s greatest expression.

Not bad for nine seconds……

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