Three On-ramps to Choice

One thing is certain amidst the chaos in Washington and across the planet: you will need to choose sometime in this New Year, New Decade.  Transition has taught me the importance of making choices within a broader context. If we only focus on choosing between A and B, we can easily get distracted by choices that seem great but actually leave too much of our potential untapped. As I write that sentence, I hear in my mind the sock puppet from early pets.com commercials shouting, ‘the horror!’  The most important choices we can make have to do with our willingness to grow. Transition is the process we rely on to grow. Through it we gain access to unparalleled gifts.  They don’t come in a heart shaped box or wrapped in cellophane and ribbon. They are joy and peace and enlivenment and love.  How many of these words will describe your year, your decade?

First Encounter Beach, Eastham, MA

Last week I facilitated a discussion with an inspiring group of adult cancer survivors. Each had battled and won. Few knew that one of their battles wasn’t  over.  Choice. It was a fresh assault. One they would face all on their own.

Three voices have stayed with me long after our conversation about choice and transition and growth:

Gail couldn’t see choice.

She was agitated and intent on ‘getting herself back.’ Reaching with all her might to re-assemble, re-establish herself  ‘bc,’ before cancer. In her victory, she was learning to live with very real constraints, including unwelcome physical and cognitive side-effects from her treatment. Even though her constraints served as impediments to any immediate choices, Gail listened carefully as I reframed her options within the context of transition and growth. It was new for her to hear that the end wasn’t only regaining her physical functioning but that it was tied to her willingness to align her life with those things that held value and meaning to her.

Thomas wondered about choice.

He was a little farther down the post-recovery path than Gail. He had restored some physical functions that still hung in question for her. He was incredibly grateful for the new independence he had achieved. With that puff of wind in his sails, he had the space to be more thoughtful. He said, “I think about my life now like I am re-arranging my pantry shelves. I take a can and look at it. Do I want to put it back? Does it deserve space?”  Thomas went on, “I was always taught that pink was for girls and blue was for boys. Now I am thinking, ‘Is it?’ Does it have to be?”  His choices progressed to a new beginning; starting to question old assumptions, wondering how to factor them into his walk forward.

Alex was a believer in choice.

She was almost a decade into her recovery. She told us a powerful story that connected with everyone in the room. She said simply, “I transitioned.” After cancer gripped her, she was unable to continue working as a nurse. The physical demands of the job were too much. “I was angry and scared and felt forced into something new.” she said. “I took a turn I would never have considered, social work. Today, I barely connect to the me before my role as a social worker in adolescent health. It completes me. I am so thankful.”

Our discussion reminded me of something important: our readiness to choose is separate and apart from our need to understand transition. So many disruptions in life deposit us at an opportunity to choose. Some are life altering, like-surviving cancer, others are less so. All serve as invitations to grow. Those who choose transition, re-examine assumptions about ‘who we are’ and ‘how we make meaning in the world.’ We re-evaluate the cans we allow on our pantry shelves. The process serves as a ferry, it carries us safely through the requirements of growth. Growth can be costly. It takes courage and belief in ourselves.

I have learned one solid truth over the eight years I’ve worked in this field. Growth is the only way  – truly – to walk forward.  Is that a direction you are ready to choose?

Thank you for your kind words and continued support of my work. I hope that the New Year / New Decade is off to a wonderful start for you.  Since I missed the New Year’s holiday, here is a greeting for today – Valentine’s Day. It is taken from a poem entitled SONG that I recently discovered by the beat poet, Allen Ginsberg.

“The final wish is love.”

Linda Rossetti (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)

 

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If you have a few minutes more, here are a few Valentine’s posts from the Novofemina archive:

Valentine’s Day and Transition: a common link

Creativity’s Role in Transition

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Copyright © 2020 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

 

 

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