Why is it that just when life seems to be rockin’ along like a stroll down a country lane in the spring sunshine…blammo! …the necessity for unexpected change breaks your reverie, rears its grisly head, and declares, “We can’t have you getting too comfortable now, can we?!” And in the background a snicker crescendos to an evil laugh. You turn around with thoughts of slapping the culprit, but alas, no one is there to blame. The bomb has dropped, and you must deal with it. Know what I mean?

Having occupied the Earth for more than a few years, I now realize the best reaction is an eyeroll and a heartfelt “You have to be kidding!” before flipping the brain’s “on” switch to focus on the best way to deal with the matter at hand by getting present. Usually one day, sometimes one hour, or even one minute at a time. Life certainly is easier when I remember to do that.

Fortunately, much wiser souls than I – some living, some not – have addressed this issue of the oft-dreaded state of unwelcome change and offered darn good suggestions for nearly any situation, no matter how impossible the occasion may seem. Should there be time to step back and take a clear look at what has appeared in front of you, either physically, mentally, or both, by all means, do your best to identify its reality.

Often in this column, I’ve mentioned the importance of practicing daily meditation, and you can bank on seeing it in the future. So here we go again… because it works. Either practicing guided meditation or even spending a few quiet moments for an *“’I’ exam” (going inside yourself and taking a gander at what’s there, even and especially things you’d rather not claim) will result in your understanding what exactly living more often in the present means and will increase your ability to do just that. When it comes to life changes, this “tool” is as invaluable as is a good handyman for fixing a leaky sink. Spending time in the past can bring up feelings of regret and guilt, while residing in the future for any length of time can wrap your mind in fear. Being here —in the now – allows you to use your mind to the best of its capacities. When a major change or the need for one drops into your life, i.e. that “blammo!”, keep your wits, and your wit, about you. Nothing like humor to lighten the load.

Having you believe that there is only past and future and that the present does not exist is the ego’s MO for setting you up to fail. Several years ago, a landmark birthday sneaked up on me. I didn’t feel nearly as old as that number sounded, and at first couldn’t figure out what had happened all those years in between the age I felt and the age I was. In my mind, that simply could not be, and for a short time, I refused to consider its reality.

A quote from writing workshop guru Natalie Goldberg finally motivated me to change my belief and move ahead.

“This is your life,” she said. “You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait.”

Initially when I heard that, I freaked. Thank goodness acceptance followed and my belief changed, bolstered by an insightful thought from sage storyteller and minimalist artist Brian Andreas, now Kai Skye.

“Everything changed, he said, “the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.”

For me, this rang true, and what a relief that was. The duo of those two pieces of advice got me out of do-nothing panic mode and into “Rock this change, girl!”

If you’re not familiar with the website flyingedna.com, take a peek. Like what you see? Then sign up for a daily free, usually short, story chock full of life wisdom, penned by either Kai or his equally astute wife Fia. Their worldview broadening missives are paired with his cool art to take you on a laptop journey to a land of wonder, imagination, and simple truths.

There’s a bit of my experience. As we focus on perceived negative change, let’s move on to advice from more of the experts.

Changing your mindset, bucking beliefs that you’ve clung to for years because they’ve served you in the past, can be a difficult task. Addictions are a good example, but one of a plethora of reasons 12-step groups are so popular. At least a few meetings end with the phrase: “It works if you work it.” The courageous folks who participate in them are determined to change lifelong behavior patterns that have not allowed them to live their best lives. Many succeed after identifying false self-beliefs that keep them stuck.

Says spiritual teacher, author, and activist Marianne Williamson, “Perhaps a lover or two rejected you, so now you think, ‘I have no luck in love; my partners leave me.’ But in fact… some people left you while others would have overcharged their credit cards to have tea with you in Timbuktu.”

Give yourself permission to change your beliefs, especially about yourself.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” This from 13th century poet and Sufi mystic Rumi.

And the following from the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Mankind has been aware of the need to change for centuries. It isn’t just you.

Beloved poet, novelist, essayist, and sustainability activist Wendell Berry, former Kentucky Poet Laureate, beautifully states the experience of standing on the springboard of change.

It may be that

when we no longer

know what to do,

we have come to\our real work

and when we no

longer know which way to go,

we have begun our real journey.

Go ahead, look change in the face, and dive on in. Likely the water will be just fine.


* My thanks for this terminology – “’I’ exam” to Jackie Brewer Van Dyke, author of Fixin’ to Get Nekkid: Stripping Down My Journey of Freedom and Recovery from Codependency.