Tag Archives: Women and Transition: Reinventing Work and Life

Suspending Expectations

I laughed out loud the other day as I read the NY Times article, Giving In to Letting Go.  The piece was all silliness about ditching beauty routines given that we are all sequestered in our living rooms. High heels, make-up, manicures, hair dye, underwear, accessorizing, and blow dryers…all took it on the chin. There was an important message threaded amidst all this casting off. What do we do when expectations – in whatever form – are suspended?

Photo by Alysa Bajenaru on Unsplash

The article tried to answer that question. There was one woman who couldn’t let go entirely.  She quipped, ‘I still wear my lipstick!’  Another reveled in the freedom away from straightening irons and beauty parlor chairs.  Still another shared that her beauty regime was how she enacted her blackness, a fundamental piece of her identity.

The identity reference was strong. It was like a punch in the nose. What about expectations and who they allow us to be?

Expectations stand at the core of transitioning. A transition starts when we choose to decouple from expectations set for us by others. By families, by communities, by professions, by lovers, by friends. It is a courageous act that isn’t so much a leap but a pivot. We turn away only to turn up the volume on what is uniquely our own. Our own voice. Our own truth. In transitioning, we don’t eschew all that has been. We learn to feather it into our new direction, one fueled by all that we are capable of becoming.  Those who love us cheer at this pivot, many others stand bewildered.

Transition isn’t easy. It includes loss or sadness or grief.  Something. After all, in it we step away from things that held us in place.  We may begin by bending the boundaries of what we always thought was acceptable – like not wearing lipstick or skipping the SPF 50 moisturizer. These early steps may lead to bigger ones. We may reconsider what it means to be successful. What it means to love, or be loved.

You might ask, ‘Who in their right mind would take on all of this?’

That answer is easy.

Those who go there recognize transition’s unparalleled gifts. The gifts start appearing right from the get go. There are improvements in our well-being and positivity; there are contributions to our longevity, there are newly reset thoughts about success.  From my perch, the most extraordinary gift of all is capacity. Transition builds in us the capacity to grow into our fullest self. For this alone, I view it as an essential process in life.  One too few explore.  Transition gives us the currency to see what is in there with us and to celebrate! (Hopi Elder).

See if you can find a moment in the days ahead to recognize how it feels to suspend an expectation.  Is there one part of your life – like a beauty routine – that it emanates from? Wonder what that is telling you.

This pandemic – for all its loss and hardship and devastation – is unknowingly offering us a glimpse at something important. Thanks to it, we can dip our toe into the waters of suspending expectations.

May health, safety and security blanket you and all those around you. And, may you gain confidence from your ability to recognize who is in there with you…and celebrate.

Stay safe and well.   Linda R. (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)

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.

 

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.

 

 

A new twist on being seen

What does it mean to you to be seen? At first glance, ‘being seen’ might make you think about your presence or absence at something important. Were you at the right meeting? The right party? The right moment? What you recognize as ‘being seen’ will differ from what I recognize. That said, I am not sure this type of ‘being seen’ really captures it. What if ‘being seen’ is being acknowledged or affirmed for who you really are? Or even better. What if being seen is really about our willingness to be seen? Not the person you are supposed to be at work or at home or at the PTA meeting….You. Your essence. Your truth. How visible are you? Are you willing to be seen?

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Making Choices Matter

Choice is such a whopper of a topic. Isn’t it? How would you describe your relationship with choice? Do you err on the side of safety or throw caution to the wind? I’ve been thinking a lot about choices this summer thanks to a chance conversation. It happened when I was talking with an adult daughter of a friend at a lawn party earlier in June. She was excited about an upcoming move to LA and the start of a new job at a large law firm there. She had been in the public defender’s office in Dallas for a few years and was ready for a change. I was so curious about her decision.  That’s when she said something powerful about choice that sent me reeling…. 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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My struggle with kindness

Do you practice kindness?  I know it sounds pretty odd but this whole kindness business is getting under my skin.  The reason is really simple. I’ve witnessed time and again an unintended consequence of kindness that I find damaging, particularly to women. Let me explain. Have you ever caught yourself resorting to kindness when you would rather rage at something or someone?  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for reckless confrontation. But this conflict – the intersection of kindness and authenticity – has me wondering.  Is kindness becoming a new modern day requirement, another expectation that is layered upon us like a cloak gently silencing our voices? Continue reading

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

Rethinking Enough

I was asked to make a 2019 wish on behalf of all the listeners of Feminine Foresight, a podcast for which I was recently interviewed.  My response was simple. I wished that we could all re-imagine ‘enough.’  Are you enough?  Maybe you haven’t thought about the question in quite that way before. Even so, I am fairly certain that you have experience with it or one of its popular cousins. Are you smart enough? Talented enough? Connected enough? Slim enough? Fit enough? Attractive enough? Kind enough? Driven enough? Supportive enough? Good enough? Happy enough? Tough enough? Successful enough? Present enough?  Loved enough? Loving enough? My personal favorite – in case you are wondering – hails from the good enough arena. Will I ever be good enough? Or more precisely, will my work ever be good enough? My interviewer’s question made me realize that I’ve had enough of all this. Have you ever wondered what might be awaiting for you on the other side of enough?

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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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