Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making Life Changes

by Donna L. Watkins

When I met my sweet husband in 1976, I was working for IBM in Atlanta in the Sales Training Center. He came for a series of classes and swept me off my feet.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Baby Bunny In The Woods
That was no easy task since I had always said I would never marry. Regardless, our first date was in November and we were married by April of the following year. Don't you love making 180 degree turns in life?

Randal was more career-oriented than I. My life choices were generally made from the heart, rather than from the mind or any structure of climbing corporate ladders. So, I decided I would be the one to move since I had lived in various states and Randal had lived in Oklahoma all his life.

Looking back it seems it was much easier to make life changes in younger years. Do you find that so? I have always enjoyed change to the point where I will rearrange drawers or cabinets just for a different look, not to mention furniture. When I discovered I was pregnant, my brain couldn't quite comprehend the amount of change that would bring, and having a tendency towards perfectionism, I knew I would insist on being an at-home mom. I was raised with a mom at home so to me it was right, although I also knew I was a high achiever and would need some kind of work to keep my brain stimulated and my administrative skills challenged.

Things I became involved in turned into a home business and being into natural foods, I also started food co-ops where ever we moved, so I flowed along creating our lifestyle around home and family, which included home schooling. Many choices, decisions and change of directions ... and then ... it was all over. Benjamin was grown and had moved out of state and we filled the empty moments with a new business venture of transferring our business from retail to an online environment. We stayed busy since we didn't know how to adapt to life without Ben. He was an ADHD profile so life was always high energy and challenging with his brilliant mind keeping us on our toes. It was good to have the challenge of The Herbs Place online development and then created Healthy Pet Corner as an outlet for our love of pets.

Being on a roll with major lifestyle changes, we made a move further north out of the heat of Alabama as we'd often talked about, and settled in Virginia. The area around Charlottesville is lovely and bucolic in many ways. A sense of true beauty for the soul rests upon me any time I drive anywhere. Although we down-sized greatly, I love my home, and we've worked hard to have what friends call a "lush garden" focused on attracting birds and wildlife.

My visual views are surrounded by beauty most of the year, but for 5 months, when the leaves are gone, we view a shopping center that's yards behind our home. Worse than that we're in a wooded community of 4400 homes and we've been battling for years to save the deer, which some homeowners want killed because they can't grow hostas, daylilies and rose bushes. It appears a decision is imminent on the deer kill, even though surveys have showed there's no overpopulation, disease, accidents, or any valid reason.

My Daddy used to say, "Let it roll of you like water off a duck's back." I've seen ducks dive and come back up with water just disappearing from their backs. It's such a fascinating thing to see and I've certainly wished my Faith level trusted God more and what I could do in such situations a lot less. But my Daddy also knew that I was high-strung and a high achiever and if there was something to be done or accomplished, I was in the heat of the battle working away.

That went well in my younger years ... with some health issues aggravated by stress, it doesn't work well. My husband's a duck. Not a drop of water on his back. Don't we generally marry the opposites? God gives us the half we're missing so we can both work towards middle ground. I'm definitely a dog in the rivers of life. I get saturated with whatever I'm wading in, and although I come out desperate to shake it all off, I still end up wet, dripping and bedraggled over issues I am passionate about.

As my body has slowed down with arthritis, I didn't have the resilience I once had, I misplaced the strong confidence I once carried around, and settled into this rut of a lovely place with wonderful neighbors and a husband happy with what he's involved in. But no matter how much you try to convince yourself that life is okay, to "be content with such things as you have," it doesn't work when it goes against your purpose and passions of life that God placed within. God created us uniquely and we're not from a mold.

I ask myself, 'If I can't have what I want, can I learn to be challenged by what I have?' High achievers have high expectations of themselves. It's part of their toolkit for God's plan in their lives, but it's often misunderstood as lack of contentment, or misused in being performance driven for self-esteem.

I'm naturally wired to plan, organize and administrate. I see details, so it's harder for me to ignore the environment around me. It all jumps and squirms in front of me begging for attention and some kind of order that aligns with my own values and desires. I realized the health issues were a result of my lifestyle choices. I may mental process it as okay not to live out my purpose, but inwardly, physiologically, my body is portraying the truth.

I've been reading, How Much Is Enough? Harness the Power of Your Money Story - And Change Your Life, by Pamela York Klainer. It's a book about money, but I thought I might get other direction from it since our lives tend to revolve around money decisions. In it she mentions:

"A big part of happiness is a sense of "fit" between you and the world around you. If you don't have that sense of fit, you're probably not happy and need to consider a change - even if a legion of others would give a lot to be where you are, and even if you hear voices in the background telling you you're an ungrateful wretch." Hang On To Passion!

God places desire in our hearts and when it stays steady and doesn't move no matter how much you pray to be somebody different, you've got the wrong prayer and wrong focus on life. Most of us don't trust our emotions or intuitions or dreams. If you've been a mom and wife for a long period of time, you're used to sacrificing and after awhile, it's a behavior pattern rather than a need. Sometimes people get into those roles because they need to be needed, but then do not feel appreciated no matter how much they do. Anybody there? If you're dissatisfied with what you do, you may not be doing what God's called you to do. Many times we have the answer at our fingertips but we won't consider the options.

It's never too late to change. Klainer, who began indoor rock climbing at 50, has this to say:

"You can't launch and hold on at the same time. You can easily get to the top of a beginner climbing wall keeping three points of contact with the wall at all times and stretching the other hand or foot until you grasp the next hold ... there will come a point at which you have to let go of two or even three points of contact with the wall. For an instant, it's like being poised in thin air. Then, counter to the pull of gravity, you thrust your body upward or sideways to grab the next set of holds ... You have to plot your course, and come up with a reasonable plan. Then, when you're ready, you have to let go of what you know - move counter to the pull of all the built-up expectations that hold you where you are - and go for it ... The goal is not to avoid falling, but to master how to fall and recover without hurting yourself."

If we get stuck in a life situation or health problem because we haven't recovered from a fall, it doesn't have to be lifelong. We can always recreate our life and begin afresh. It doesn't seem that way since it's easy to box ourselves up and see no way out even though the windows and doors are not locked around us. They may appear to be, but God always has a window of fresh air and hope for all who look to Him. Within us we know what we must do, but, like me, maybe you feel like you're not worth the trouble. Why should I expect to live out my passion and purpose if it means too much change, not only for me, but for others. It affects our husbands and sometimes other family members, but high achievers can also become overly responsible people, expecting so much more of themselves than anybody or God could ever want.

Whether it's age, health problems, loss, or grieving about the past, we don't have to slow down as we age. We don't have to let go of dreams, desires and passions for life. It's only the devil who would agree with that because his job is to discourage us and prevent us from being all that God placed within us to be. God is always saying, "Come!" There's more ahead. You're future is not bleak. The choice is yours!

"The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." — Victor Frankl: was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist

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