Tag Archives: women’s transition

RBGs Invitation

RIP RBG. You left us at an unprecedented moment. We have a global pandemic, an increasingly dour economic outlook, deepening societal unrest, and a stark reminder that democracy is not a spectator sport.

Within all of that, I see you gazing in my direction with your slight frame, your tilted head, and knowing smile. You are imploring me to recognize something under the surface that no obituary or review of your jurisprudence captures. It is an invitation to see something important and to act.

Can you imagine what RBG is imploring us to see?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg courtesy of the LA Times

Continue reading

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)

 

*************************************************************************

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.

**************************************************************************

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)

 

*****************************************************************

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

*****************************************************************

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.

 

 

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

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

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.

 

Leaving and Leading

By this time – many years into solid research on transitioning – one might imagine that I’ve learned all there is to know about the topic.  I was reminded after my recent trip to San Francisco of how untrue this line of thinking really is.  I am happy to report that I returned from California dry-eyed and excited. For those who missed Remarkable Choices, I spent three-weeks in San Francisco this summer on a writing vacation. My goal was to work unimpeded on my second book. I am happy to report that by the time I checked in for my return flight, I had an entire manuscript drafted, from introduction to final chapter.

That said, the new manuscript isn’t the entire story. The trip yielded something even more special, a broader perspective on my work. This expansion starts in a place with which we are all familiar, a decision to leave.

Early Morning View

We leave all sorts of things. We leave in big and small ways. We leave family gatherings and political rallies and baseball games. We leave marriages and employers and friendships. We leave one opportunity for another more promising one. We leave anger and guilt and self-doubt for hope.

When do we leave ourselves?

Another Cafe, Pine St, San Francisco, CA

What a question, right?

San Francisco brought this question to light for me.

An Approach

Those who know me personally know that I am a process wonk. Therefore it shouldn’t surprise anyone that process was on my mind as I readied myself for the trip. Ok, it wasn’t until I was on the airplane heading west that I created a plan. But it was an important step.

Would I follow the same writing process I used with my first book? Or try something new? In the intervening years since my first book was published, a friend gave me a great book that talked about a radically different approach to story development than the one I had used earlier.  I toyed with adopting it but I was hesitant. The last thing I wanted to do was waste my time fooling around with something that would be unproductive. But what about taking a creative risk? What might be possible under that scenario?

I settled on the unproven new approach. The process had three basic steps: to create a one page description of the book’s theme; to develop a detailed chapter outline; and then, and only then, to write chapters.

In spite of my hesitation, the new process proved to be surprisingly useful.

Chinatown, San Francisco, CA

 

A Broader View of My Work

After nearly seven years writing, advocating and teaching about transition, it was very humbling to sit down and attempt to articulate a one page theme. I spent days on this. I edited and re-edited. I walked the hills of San Francisco when I got stuck. I started to get concerned that it was taking too much time. How would I make progress if I spent all my time on the earliest step?  Here is what emerged from my inelegant labors:

My work is about choice or the difficulty many of us have – including me – in making significant choices or major life decisions.  I was – after all – introduced to transition thanks to a personal calamity that left me struggling with a choice of what to do next.

By focusing on choice, I realized that transition is not an end in-and-of itself.  Transition is a process that enables growth. Our own growth. Nothing requires us to transition. It is a choice we make. We choose to grow.

We encounter many many invitations for growth over the course of our lives. Oddly, we ignore most of them. In fact, we live in a growth-phobic society. Our social norms teach us to look the other way, tamp down or create distractions when faced with an opportunity to grow. These norms leave us busy – sometimes exhausted – but no further from a growth perspective.

Once we recognize the opportunity for growth and the capacity for growth that transition offers, we learn that the secret sauce lies in ‘how we respond’ to all of this. Our progress forward relies heavily on our ability to rewire our response to a transition’s trigger or the barriers and emotions that accompany them.

Triggers or the circumstances that lead us to choose growth vary widely. Divorce, death, job loss, marriage, the birth of another child, gender re-assignment surgery or a recognition that something isn’t quite right. Transition doesn’t concern itself with differences among triggers. The common denominator in all of this is a shift, a shift in what holds value and meaning to us. The shift occurs when we re-examine our assumptions about who we are and how we make meaning in the world.

On a practical level growth is simple: we need to turn up the volume on those things that hold value and meaning to us. These things can be anything on the planet as long as they engage us at the core. By giving voice to these things that matter to us, we allow ourselves to see the path forward in an entirely new way. With this as a ballast, all of a sudden options that were hidden from us come into full view.

What About Leaving and Leading?

When most of us think about transition, we think it involves leaving something. Leaving a professional identity or a marriage or a dysfunctional familial relationship. San Francisco taught me that this departure thinking is incorrect.

Transition and growth are about leading with who we are….ourselves…in all the circumstances of our lives. Not just at work. Not only on the playground or in the kitchen or with a sibling or a dear friend. Leading with you. Your beliefs. Everywhere. Even if this involves a struggle to recalibrate who we are thanks to a previously unrecognized departure from ourselves.

This type of leading may involve leaving but it doesn’t have too.

I remember one very funny exchange I had with the CEO of a women’s fashion house that asked me to talk at their annual meeting. “Will they all leave?’ asked the CEO in a concerned tone when he learned that the my topic would be transition. I replied, “If I do my job correctly, they will bring more of who they are to the job. The exact opposite of leaving.”

If we decouple leading with leaving, transition and growth become universally available.  Through this lens, transition cannot get waylaid by the mortgage or a un-supportive boss or an overbearing family.

We get to decide how we show up every day. You don’t need to leave to lead in this way.

The converse isn’t as kind. You can leave – repeatedly – and never make a dent in transition nor growth. You will miss all of the benefits of transition and growth if you leave something but do not use your departure as an opportunity to bring up the volume on those things that hold value or meaning to you.

Leaving is often hard. Imagine if it yields nothing related to our own growth….

Leading Forward

Transition has allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined. I now operate with a connectedness to who I am that I never knew was missing and yet I can honestly say that it completes me like nothing else ever has. It is an awakening that makes me feel as if I am breathing from every pore on my body. Energetic. Joyful. Free.

May you see opportunities to add who you are to every moment that you are alive. May you respond to the invitation for growth with an open heart and begin a remarkable journey whose destination while unknown is irreplaceable. May you realize that you can have all these things by simply leading with who you are. Today.

 

**************************************************************************

Want to talk ‘live’ about transition and growth? There are two ways you can join me for informal chats. For those in and around Boston, join me at a free drop-in series In Transition at the Winchester Public Library on the second Thursday of every month from 7-8:30 pm. Free coffee and refreshments are served. Our kick off for this season is Thursday, September 11th! Hope to see you there.

For those unable to join in person, watch for my inaugural podcast, Destination Unknown, starting this fall. Will you join me to talk about your transition? I am scheduling guests now for twelve-minute appearances. Email me if you are interested. I’d love to add your voice to our conversation. linda@womenandtransition.com.

***************************************************************************

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.

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

It struck me this morning as I reviewed my shopping list for tomorrow’s feast that I’ve learned a thing or two about Thanksgiving.  It isn’t hidden in my special recipe for Bourbon Sweet Potatoes.  Nor is it found in the holiday meal preparation guide that I’ve read and re-read in the Food Section of the New York Times. It is found in the work that I do everyday, work that more and more looks and feels like a ‘how to’ guide for navigating the emotions our lives.

Tomorrow when you reach across the table to pass the cranberry sauce, I hope you keep in mind two important perspectives from our work together in transition. Continue reading

Reframing Our Decisions

This morning as I was walking our dog I found a painted rock by the side of the road. It had an inscription that read, Think Outside the Box.  The unexpected treasure is a part of our town’s kindness project. Up until this chance encounter I didn’t really ‘get’ the program. Now, I have a different opinion. I smiled brightly when I found the rock. The inscription felt as if it was meant only for me. Yes, outside the box is a place I inhabit comfortably. I’ve been amazed at the goodness I’ve met there. What awaits you outside of the box? Continue reading