Tag Archives: retirement

Welcoming Enough

Do you have enough?  In my house, this question is playing on a non-stop loop. Enough paper towel? Enough soup? Enough frozen vegetables? Enough pasta? With two teenagers, a four-year-old-puppy named Apollo, and a husband who is an electrical engineer with prepper tendencies, you can imagine how often we’ve discussed enough.

It took me a while to realize that the safety in enough – that my husband continues to seek in the Costco check out line – will never be available there. The lens of transition helped me find it in a different place.  One that may surprise you….

Hopeful signs of spring

First, a little background

Transition has not given me the answer to ‘enough.’ It has, however, taught me a very simple truth; we are all here to grow. Growth is like motherhood and apple pie. Of course, we grow.

But growth is trickier than it appears. True growth, the kind that can deliver exponential value in our lives, requires a willingness to partake. In a word, it requires choice.

When we enter adulthood – at 18 or 22 or later  – we establish our expectations and definition for ourselves based upon inputs that are external to us. Our families. Our religious affiliations. The communities where we live. Where we go to school.  What we choose to do for work or for play. Together these constitute our personal eco-system, a space within which construct who we are.

Social norms encourage us to celebrate this space once we arrive. We are feted. There are accolades.

Life invites us to grow beyond this space – an  invitation that compels us to leave the comfort zone where we’ve come to know ourselves.

When we accept this invitation, we detach from the confines of our earlier identity and replace it with a set of self-defined beliefs.  We renew our expectations and definition for who we are.

It is a shift. A transition. One that is enlivening and expansive and freeing.  Best selling author Julie Cameron described this shift by saying, “We become more able to articulate our own boundaries, dreams and authentic goals. Our personal flexibility increases and our malleability to the whims of others decreases. We experience a heightened sense of autonomy and possibility.”

Our growth – the growth we experience when we shift away from the initial assumptions about who we are – is transformational. Through it we choose to let others see us. All of us. In the fullness of who we are.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t everyone grow?

Sadly, society conditions us to misread invitations to grow, a misperception that can leave unclaimed the incredible potential that resides in each of us.

How does this relate to Enough?

I believe this crisis is letting us glimpse in many individuals the gifts of transformational growth. These gifts are woven throughout our response – in reaching out a helping hand to a neighbor or connecting with a long-silenced friend by phone. Our response seems to be drawing on who we are in new ways.  There is new connection and gratitude and creativity and other traits we often leave hidden in the normal course.

Maybe the unintended consequence of this crisis will be realized in our desire to not defer these essential qualities any longer. If we choose growth, real transformational growth, the gifts available to us and those around us are many and unparalleled, like joy and peace and freedom and hope. Said Cameron of the value of growth,  “the process leads us to acquire and eventually acknowledge our connection to an inner power that has the ability to transform our outer world.”

In the uncertain days ahead, I hope that you recognize that there may be enormous gifts unclaimed by you.  They lie in your willingness to live by the fullness of who you are.

Trust it. Cultivate it. Explore it. Embrace it. It alone can provide true ballast in uncertain times.

May you and yours be safe and well throughout this crisis. May you be reminded of the incredible gifts that you alone possess and that the world cannot live without. Maybe now is the time to recognize that your potential is saying a simple word, enough.

 

Please take one more minute to read my note below about those on the front lines of our crisis. I hope you join me in sending them our thoughts and prayers as we make our way forward together.

Warmest wishes,                                                                                                                Linda R.  (linda@WomenAndTransition.com and @LindaARossetti)

 

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Thank you to all of the incredible folks on the front lines of this crisis – our healthcare providers, first responders, in-home care providers, store clerks and many others. A special shout out to my brother-in-law, Henry, who is coordinating the COVID-19 response at Elmhurst, one of New York City’s largest public hospitals located in Queens, NY. I am inspired by Henry’s and his staff’s incredible dedication and selflessness as they care for everyone, including the most vulnerable, with dignity and respect.  Henry, you set an incredible standard! May love and good will surround you and those for whom you care.

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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.

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.

 

 

The Power of Our Responses

How do you respond in the normal course? Are you empathetic? Resourceful? Singularly-focused? Kind? I’ve been stuck on this topic for weeks, ever since I heard a piece on NPR that talked about the impact of a single person’s response.  The story offered a rare glimpse into something we do effortlessly – instinctively – everyday. We respond. Transition has taught me something very important about responding. Through its lens, I now recognize that we choose how we respond in every moment, in every situation. Taken together, our responses represent an opportunity to telegraph to the world the fullness of who we are. How do you choose to respond?

A little light for the season!

The piece that started all this was NPR’s coverage of Plague, a podcast that explores the Catholic Church’s role in the AIDS epidemic. One of the earliest episodes features a story about Karen Helfenstein, a Sister of Charity nun in New York City in the 1980s.

In an important moment, Sister Karen responded. Genuinely. Differently. Expansively.

Her simple choice changed a community and its very history.

Sister Karen served as VP of Mission for St Vincent’s Hospital, a Greenwich Village institution that cared for the sick and dying throughout the early decades of the AIDS crisis.  Early on ACT UP, an advocacy group, staged a protest in the Emergency Department (ED) of the hospital. The protesters were furious over what they believed to be the hospital’s poor treatment of those suffering and of those who loved them. The protest got a little out of hand. Somewhere along the way protestors defaced a statue of Jesus Christ by affixing condoms to it.

Law enforcement was called. The protest turned ugly.

The act of affixing condoms on Christ was a flashpoint for both sides. To the gay community, the act symbolized their outrage over the Catholic Church’s stance against the distribution of condoms even though condoms were widely recognized as an important tool in preventing the spread of AIDS.  On the other side, few could envision a more egregious act than to deface the embodiment of Christ, let alone with condoms.

Sister Karen was charged with responding to the event on behalf of the hospital.

Many around her wanted the hospital to press charges against the protestors. These voices were incensed. Indignant.

It all hung on her response.

Instead of feeding off the crowd’s fury, she responded differently. Sister Karen invited community members – who at the time were ostracized by many in society – to talk with her about what happened and, more importantly, why it happened.

She held their hands as they described their pain. She listened as they talked about their fear and disbelief tied to a demon that was ravaging their community. Patients and their lovers drew parallels for Sister Karen between these feelings and how it felt as they walked through the doors of St Vincent’s to seek care.

Sister Karen’s – different, genuine, expansive – response started St Vincent’s on a path that years later established it as the standard-of-care for treating AIDS patients and their families.

Instead of anchoring on an image of a defaced Christ, Sister Karen’s response helped St Vincent’s create another new image: one that held the hand of the sick;  staged an infinite variety of birthday parties and last meals; and even created a new annual Holiday tradition, a visit from Drag Santa.

St. Vincent’s is gone now. Bull-dozed to make way for the neighborhood’s progress. But the response of Sister Karen lives on in the hearts and minds of those whom St Vincent’s touched.

The choices we have in front of us daily may not seem so highly-charged. But make no mistake, they all can be as influential. Our responses matter. Our willingness to bring who we are to the choice of how to respond has an unimaginable power.

This season I encourage you to bring your awareness to how you respond and to recognize the innumerable choices you face everyday related to responding. Without such reflection, we all risk leaving untapped the enormous potential that is resident within each of us.

I wish for you and those you love great peace and moments of joy this Holiday Season. Thank you for walking next to me as I continue to explore transition and as I embrace its invaluable gifts.

Warmest wishes for a safe and happy Holiday Season,

Linda R.

linda@WomenAndTransition.com

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

Choices and Teddy Bears, December 20, 2017

Leading with Gratitude, December 21, 2011

A Gift for You This Holiday Season, December 12, 2013

Simple Gifts…, December 24, 2015

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Copyright © 2019 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Seeing You

Who sees you? You. Your essence. Your truth. I was reminded of being seen’s power during a recent exchange with my daughter.  She was introduced to being seen – only to have it taken away from her. Abruptly. Unexpectedly. The before and after contrast made me think about our last blog, A New Twist on Being Seen, and our willingness to let others see us.  Tell me, does anyone see you? Continue reading

Reaching

“It is unrealistic.” said my son to his long-time pediatrician. She was asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He’s fourteen. She reminded him that at last year’s physical he said, “I want to be a professional basketball player.”  I like her because she stops to ask him these questions. In spite of the cloying requirements of insurers that beg her to quickly move on, she lingers. Listens. Before saying anything more, he looked at me as if to say, ‘Should I tell her?’ Then he added calmly… 

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

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Rethinking Failure

Failure. failure. FAILURE. What pops into your mind when you hear the word?  Is it a failed relationship? Or a job offer that never materialized? Or a mortgage that was never approved? Or a marriage that ended badly? Or maybe failure has migrated its profile to become a trait that showed up one day and lingered.  Last week a rare coffee break with a dear friend got me thinking about failure in an entirely new light. It helped me see that failure may not be any of the things I listed above or the many more that we all could add to the list.  What if we have failure all wrong? Continue reading

Words We Cannot Say

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I’d explore a concept we don’t talk much about. Love. What comes to mind when you hear the word? Hallmark, Amazon and 1-800-flowers would hope that cupids and red roses and chocolate are somewhere in the mix. A recent story I read compelled me to look at love differently, from an honest and often hidden perspective. It centers on how we express love in the normal course. Can name a few ways that you do?  A pic from one of the ways I express love – talking about my fav topic transition – is below.
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Embracing an Unknown Destination

When was the last time you took a new step? Sounds like a funny question, doesn’t it? New steps can take many forms.  Yours might be tied to finally having a long-dreaded conversation about ending your relationship with your spouse or partner. Or yours might be finally registering for that course to help you begin to track your career in a new direction. Or, like me, yours might be tied to having a long overdue conversation with my 85-year-old mother about her continuing loss of function and skyrocketing care needs. While these may sound like vastly different scenarios, transition has taught me that they are all versions of the same theme. Each requires us to begin.  To take a new step.  To act by relying on a set of beliefs that are tied to who we are and how we make meaning in the world. Each one asks us to head in a direction whose outcome is uncertain. To embrace an unknown or unknowable destination.

This journey – into the unknown – fascinates me. My knowledge of transition has helped me walk in this direction. I’ve benefited greatly from it thus far and still consider myself a traveler. One thing I know for sure. We greatly misunderstand transition as a society. In fact, we’re socialized to head in the opposite direction when we face uncertainty. This detour can be costly to us and to those who rely upon us.

My work is all about dispelling this confusion around transition and helping people live the lives they only imagine. To support my work, today I introduce my new podcast, Destination Unknown: a field guide. Its sole purpose is to dispel the mystery surrounding transition so that all of us – no matter the particulars – can take the first step, and then another one, successfully.

Destination Unknown: a field guide (Available on iTunes)

Destination Unknown: a field guide (available on iTunes) is designed with you in mind. It features 15-minute power conversations between yours truly and those navigating all manner of transition.  Our first episode features Leona, a 50 ish year old career enthusiast who decided to head in another direction.  Leona talks about how difficult it was to make the decision and  how she did it.

Here is a sneak peek at the 1st episode:

  • What if my prevailing thought it, “I cannot do this!?”
  • What can you expect if you find yourself at a crossroads? Maybe you have an idea of what could be ahead but not much more than that?
  • What are the murkiest parts of the journey?
  • Are there patterns to be aware of that can help redirect my energy in positive and important ways?

If you’ve ever felt nauseated, discombobulated, or panicked about a new step, you’ll find something important in our first episode.

Why is this podcast different?

I know what you are saying, ‘not another podcast!’  Destination Unknown: a field guide is a resource for everyone in or considering transition. It will introduce you to the scary parts of the movie before you find yourself in a theater all alone. For anyone who has seen the Exorcist or Nightmare on Elm St,  remember that once you are familiar with the really scary scenes, you experience the movie differently.  You see new things. You access new parts of the plot that you overlooked in your earlier panic.  So too, transition. Learn how to navigate it successfully with Destination Unknown: a field guide.

I hope you’ll join us. Please take a moment to subscribe to Destination Unknown: a field guide on iTunes  and tell someone you know who might benefit from its message.

For those wondering about my 2019 imagined possibility test, I’ve made it two days so far. Even so, I am improving. I catch myself when negative thoughts hop into my head. I cannot say that I have made much more progress than that. I haven’t given up. I continue undaunted. Beginning a new step each day.

May you always be drawn to journeys that can lead you in a stronger, more beautiful direction and may you always find the courage to take the next step.

Thank you for your unending support of my journey.

Linda R. (linda@womenandtransition.com)

 

Copyright © 2019 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

 

Finding Light….

How could it be December 24th? This post was originally on the docket for the slower moving days immediately after Thanksgiving. Remember those? Here we are with all of that in the rear view mirror. Suffice it to say that I couldn’t let the day go by without sharing a story of an incredible gift, one that reminded me of the love and possibility that is resident in all of us.

The gift didn’t come in a box nor was it from anyone I knew well. Its simplicity and depth reminded me of the powerful impact we can all make in each other’s lives.

a little background

Just before Thanksgiving I ran a workshop at an agency that serves homeless and at-risk youth. This agency is one of my favorite places to do my work. My visits there remind me of the universal nature of transition. I am always humbled by the courage of the youth who join me. Many are there following a significant choice, a choice to leave somewhere and accept the uncertainty of the street and all that goes along with it.

The workshop that day was focused on barriers. Like so many of us, the youth could quickly articulate the barriers they faced. Theirs ranged from tangible things such as a lack of a certification – like a GED – to more intangible things such as a belief in themselves or the courage to make a scary choice. We drew a fake wall with large paper and wrote the barriers on circular cut outs meant to resemble boulders. Once the wall was created, we worked to re-frame it. We played games to help us reconstruct our response to the barriers. In total, we learned that barriers in one form or another are always present. The key to navigating transition is changing our response to barriers so that we can continue to move forward in light of the barrier’s presence.

the gift

After the session I was standing in the hallway outside the classroom. A young man who attended the session approached me. He thanked me for the morning and asked me for the title of my book. “I am going to ask for it for Christmas.” He said. He told me that the organization bought one holiday gift for each registered youth.

I wanted to remind him that there were so many other gifts that could be useful to him. My book wouldn’t keep the heat on nor would it ensure that he landed a decent job.

I learned from our quick conversation that his interest in my book was more like a thank you note than anything else. A gift he could give. Freely. Joyfully.

Now, more than one month later, I remain moved by his willingness to extend himself to someone else at a time when the demands on him personally were so immense.

why it matters

I hope that my kind friend thought the better of submitting my book’s name to the holiday wish list at the organization. Even so, his gift to me withstands.

May the season and the year to follow remind us all that we each have so much to give simply by being who we are. We make choices every minute of every day. Each moment represents an opportunity to bring forward the unique and incredible gifts that each of us alone possesses.

Perhaps the greatest irony of this season is that the simple act of bringing ourselves forward is all anyone else needs.

Thank you for walking with me through another year of transition. I am humbled by how much I’ve learned from the presence of each of you. Thank you for your gifts to me.

Warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and a great start to 2019!

The long anticipated launch of my podcast, Destination Unknown, will debut the first week of January. Stay Tuned!

Linda R.

linda@womenandtransition.com



Holiday posts from the past: Take a moment to read a few inspiring posts from Novofemina’s archives!

Choices and Teddy Bears

Knowing Ourselves

Simple Gifts 

A Gift For You This Holiday

Copyright © 2018 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Cancer: Driven to Distraction

She is fighting back tears. Something is the matter. Her adult daughter is spinning around the lobby trying to architect some semblance of normalcy.  I learn from a few abbreviated sentences that the day’s plans have changed. I was there to accompany one of my dearest friends for her final chemo treatment. The infusion has been postponed. Her body isn’t ready. It needs a little more time. She apologizes to me for coming so far, for nothing. I am amazed at this positioning and am now even happier that I came.  I drive her home. She exhales in the car. It is in our conversation there that I am given a huge gift. My task is simple. To try to understand it. Continue reading