Here’s a draft chapter from my new book….
Sometimes, however, understanding where we are in our inner cycle – and therefore how to interpret the signals our bodies are sending us – can be a little trickier.
It is often the case that we find ourselves one step behind our inner rhythm, only realising that were were in winter or spring after the season has already passed. This can be frustrating, especially for those of us who like to be one step ahead in all aspects of life.
The tendency in these cases is to sprint forward, try and get ahead of the curve. And in the rush to do so, we miss the vital and important periods of transition. The breaths between the season. The pauses between the inhale and exhale. The dawn and the dusk.
I write this chapter in the midst of one such transition, the full weight of which I only allowed myself to feel today, after finally stopping the endless pursuit of next-ness and just being with myself for a short time.
While seasonally I find myself at the peak of summer marked by a heatwave that shrivels the leaves of gum trees and melts the tar of bitumen roads, internally I am approaching a winter – menstruation.
I can feel the weight of what needs to be released this bleed, it has been building ever-so slowly in the same gentle but omnipresent way that the uterine lining that awaits its shedding has been expanding – cell by tiny cell.
A mere week and a half ago we moved house, a transition that in itself is significant and meaningful and deserving of a ritual and reflection that warrants its magnitude. And yet I find myself not only grieving and letting go of place – a place where my baby was born and where I committed to make a go of this, more spiritual work.
I find myself also engulfed in sadness as an even more significant cycle – the same cycle that birthed and gave lifeforce to my daughter – comes to an end. Just weeks before the move, we finally ended our breastfeeding relationship. One that had lasted nearly 22 months in total. A relationship that we had both come to rely on for a sense of closeness and to reconnect after big emotional outbursts on either side.
It is not so much the end of the physical contact, as I still get plenty of this on a daily basis, that is causing my heart to hurt, but what this transition represents.
Such is the way that transitions are felt and experienced. It is what they represent – not what they are – that is important.
The painful joy that is the growing up of my daughter. The bittersweet reflection that every day she needs me less. The deep grief of parenting – which cannot be escaped or fixed, but needs, as all our feelings do, to be acknowledged as being there.
The move, it seems, has provided enough chaos for me to see and feel this simultaneous transition happening in my relationship with my daughter in all its messy, emotional glory. In the same week, she has started sleeping in a bed and wearing nappies less and less.
Change. Ceaseless. Pervasive. Inevitable.
Transitions are a struggle for me, as I hope and imagine they are for others, for a few reasons. First, we like knowing where we stand – where our two feet are going to land as we move. Transitions can be chaotic. They can bring about landslides of emotion, designed to help us navigate our way throug, and they can disorient us in relation to the goals we thought we were working toward.
If anyone who has poor vision will attest to, it’s similar to driving down a dusty country road just as dusk transitions to night. Our eyes struggle to make sense of the landscape and it can take some time to sense our bodies and minds in these spaces.
Part of me loves the chaos, the excitement of this disorientation. Whenever I move house or country I almost romanticize the part of it where we get to sit around eating pizza on the floor amidst the chaos of boxes. The other part of me, loathes it and I push myself very hard to circumnavigate transitions in the quickest possible timeframe to as to avoid – yes, you guessed it, any discomfort.
Second, we’ve been taught to work to outcomes – whereas with transition, the outcome is often unclear. We have a sense of what is ahead, but we don’t know what we have to go through to get there. The great unknowing of how thick the forest will be that we have to traverse can cause a great deal of anxiety. And so we tend to deal with it, as we do with most other things, by pretending nothing has changed and doubling down on our efforts to get to the original destination.
I am being asked to move by this tidal wave of emotion – and yet I don’t know if I can trust the direction it’s taking me in.
And lastly and perhaps most potently, transitions require us to let go of things that were once dear. In my case, the sadness and grief that I’m feeling relates to the unwillingness to let go – the attachment to what was.
The attachment to the women who moved to my last home – 36 weeks pregnant on the cusp of a monumental transition herself, perhaps what is being grieved now is also the grieving (now that I have the space to do so) of my maiden self. My pre-mother self. Perhaps, within this, a realisation of a loneliness only now felt. The loneliness of being a modern mama – bereft of her tribe and also a solopreneur lacking the comfort of an office and a team.
The attachment to having a method to soothe my baby and my own aching heart on days when the relentlessness of motherhood made me quiver and sob.
The attachment to the former career-woman who had ambitions and goals that were not realised.
All of these things, felt, processed, released or integrated during transitions.
Transitions can be as minute as the five minutes before we wake up or the train ride home from work. They can be as monumental as moving house or finishing a cycle of birth and attachment.
They serve an important purpose that we cannot rush over in our bid to get to the good parts. They are the space for reflection, the space for opening and allowing. A portal to feeling truth and seeing things with clarity – and in this way, perhaps the most potent part of our inner and outer cycles.
We can, in these transitions, witness our attachment to fair weather. Our avoidance of discomfort. Our preference for smooth sailing. And we can question on which beliefs these preferences have been built. In this way, transitions offer us another pathway to healing, to integration and to reverence for the glorious and sometimes chaotic dance that is life.
Just as we observe the days getting cooler at the end of summer and we notice internally our anxiety rising, we can also find within us the part of ourselves that hungers for the cool days of winter where can cosy up by the fire, a big pot of hearty stew in hand.
Transitions, by their very nature, have the energy of both seasons. The old and the new. It is this that makes them so very chaotic and disordered. But just as the frost starts to settle in winter and the last of the long days dissipates with the sun disappearing over the horizon, we too can notice a tipping point within ourselves.
The point where we realise that summer is over – that our bodies and minds needs restoration and relaxation. If we can stay with our bodies and honour what needs to be released in transition, we are better able to let go of our need to control and relax ever so slightly more into the ebb and flow of our lives.
The point where we see the joy in our babies growing up and finding their independence. The point where we make new friends in our new homes. The point where we finally find the courage to leave our job or pursue that creative exploit.
As if by working through the chaos – holding each fragment up to the light and assessing whether it remains true for us – we are able to find the path forward. The night vision through the dusk.
It feels hard to make space in the chaos, and yet space is what allows us to mine the wisdom from our transition periods. It is OK to grieve the end of seasons. In fact, it is essential. It is what stops the accumulation of energy and emotions that can weigh us down.
And so today, I’m sitting in the chaos – knowing that clarity awaits. I’m honouring this transition through ritual and reflection – marking this time in my life so that I am really here to witness and remember it.
I hope that you make the space to do the same – no matter what transition you find yourself in.
I’ve been having a lot of calls this week with women who are feeling called to work one-one as part of the Awaken coaching program,. If you would like to chat about whether working in this way would support your intention to better care for and nourish yourself, book your Awaken discovery call here. There are three and six months options available for $287 a month – and just a few places left beginning February. It’d be a pleasure to connect with you xx