Good Transitions: Why You Need Them
What are good transitions? After all, aren’t all life transitions usually negative?
I found myself thinking about this last week as I held my newborn granddaughter and my 3-year-old grandson. This was the first time they had met since one lives in Illinois and the other, like me, in Ohio. I see my grandson nearly every day since right now he lives with us along with his mama. And while I met my granddaughter just hours after she was born, and held her then, this moment of holding both of them made me realize something.
I was in the midst of a good transition.
I was GiGi, blessed with the sweetness of two grandbabies and their warm snuggles. But I was also feeling something new, and the word that came to me was matriarchical. As if I was becoming aware that I new responsibilities, a new role which somehow extended beyond simply grandparenting.
I’m still trying to process this.
I also became aware of the other transitions happening in the same room with my daughters and son-in-laws.
One younger daughter Molly is now an aunt. Her 3-year-old son Benjamin is now a cousin. My other daughter Megan and her husband are now parents to Emerson. These are all good transitions.
Taking my good transition to my journal.
Later I mused in my journal:
It is all working itself out. And I am witness to these transitions–new parenting, new aunt-ing, new cousin-ing. I think it’s been a long line of transitions for me, too, from active parenting, to a parent of adults, to a parent with son-in-laws (letting my daughters go, in a different way), to grandparenting while still parenting, and now a matriarch. Did I just write that? Wow. I did. The old, wise women. How do I live this now? Breathe, shed a few tears for whatever reason, and keep breathing, forgiving, loving, and writing.
In her book Writing Through Transitions, Leia Francisco reminds us that transitions can be either negative or positive, or a mixture of both. In essence, they can feel bittersweet.
And she defines transitions as those changes which can affect our roles, our relationships, situations, or beliefs. So even transitions we would label as “good” can have an impact on us.
Why is this important to note? Why worry or even try to assign a value like good or bad to our transitions?
Well, I don’t know if we should. But what I do think is that the negative life changes (like loss, divorce, empty nest, job loss, medical illnesses) get the most press and attention in our lives. They often are the ones that demand so much of our time, energy, and attention because of the stress, fear, and anxiety that often come with them. And when we’ve worked through them, we take a deep breath, and wait for the next negative change to happen.
Good transitions have value, and add sweetness to the often bitter things life hands us.
So here are a few reasons why I think we should pause for a moment and think on our good transitions.
- Good transitions are still transitions. And, like I was noticing, there can be a change in what once was. One of the most significant transitions in my life was when I married. Suddenly there were two of us living in my tiny apartment. Yet, the wedding and marriage had been looked forward to with great joy.
- Good transitions still hold the same three transition stages. There is something we need to let go because the old way is no longer. We are no longer just a mom, we’re now an aunt. What does that mean? Then we move into the in-between stage where we’re still uncertain roles are still being defined, like me with my matriarchal shift, or my daughter with midnight feedings and an ever-changing newborn’s schedule. But if we’re open to exploring ourselves and our emotions in the two previous phases, we eventually can move into accepting a new way where we feel more comfortable with what is and who we are in this new beginning.
- Good transitions give us an opportunity to practice navigating the transition process in a more positive way. And this practice (because this is all practice) can also help us when the time comes to navigate the not-so-good life transitions.
A simple way to practice good transitions.
Think about a good transition in your life. Maybe it was landing your dream job, becoming a new spouse, or you transitioned to a healthier way of living. Then think about how, despite these great things happening in your life, there was still a time of getting adjusted to your new office, responsibilities, living arrangements, or not thinking of yourself as unhealthy.
See if you can further reflect on the three stages mentioned above, and how they manifested in your good transition. When did you have to let go of? How did you navigate the ups and downs of the in-between stage? When did you realize you were psychologically accepting your new role, or situation? What supports (like friends or music, or writing) helped you?
Lastly, is there any wisdom you can glean from this good transition that can help you with a present life transition? Often the transition wisdom comes long after accepting the new way, though not always. What have you learned about yourself looking back that could add value to your life now?
Good transitions reinforce gratitude.
Good transitions remind us to be grateful, even while we’re trying to redefine our roles and situations in new ways. And every moment we pause for a moment to express gratitude whether in our journals, to a Higher Power, or to another person, we grow. We bloom, we stretch, we feel good.
Gratitude is the alleluia to existence. ~ Joan Chittister
And I can’t think of any better reason to appreciate the good transitions in life than this.
Ginny Taylor is a life transition mentor at Women of Wonder where she guides women in life-changing transitions towards their new beginning.
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