This week marks my one year anniversary of living in Hawaii. What I love best about it here is how beautiful it is, but what I value most is how much I have learned about myself. In a departure from my usual theme of artful style I’m going to share what has helped me navigate this major life transition, one that is far from complete as we will be leaving Hawaii next year. Challenges have a way of calling on us to grow the most, and growing is one of the things that makes us more beautiful.
When I left my life in California I was advised that it would take a year to feel comfortable in my new surroundings. I scoffed at the notion which, of course, turned out to be true. I’ve kept a journal and can look back over the process of adjusting to a new life. I found an unlikely source of support just beneath the surface of the ocean – the underwater realm of my mermaid sisters. I had to actually be in the water to receive their guidance, and there were many days I waded in just so we could communicate.
I recorded all their advice in my journal and and am thinking of incorporating them into a new book called Mermaid Messages: My Year Underwater. The mermaids always remind me to stay fluid in my thinking, so we will see what unfolds. Meanwhile, back on land, here are a few observations based on my experiences. If you find your world rocked by change and are trying to adjust I hope you find them helpful.
- You might not recognize yourself when the competent adult you’ve been disappears, leaving behind an insecure version of your former self. Turns out this is not permanent. What a relief!
- Becoming adaptable and flexible is the ultimate goal but you can’t push yourself into it. It is something you relax into, one baby step at a time.
- Respect your own rhythms. If you can’t cope with the challenges at night, try again in the morning.
- Don’t try and do too much in one day. Rest or zone out when you can.
- No matter how uncomfortable or overwhelmed you feel, notice that moment to moment you are really okay. Reassure yourself and don’t let your mind run away with the strangeness of it all.
- It’s possible that something that bothers you in your environment will soon fade into the background and become less noticeable. The brain is incredibly plastic and adaptable.
- Appreciate every unique experience even if it is only 5 minutes out of an otherwise crummy day. Brand new is fleeting and wondrous. Savor it in small bites.
- Find ways to do things that are absorbing and create flow. Painting and writing saved me, but I wisely lowered my expectations. I did simple watercolors of clouds and used a tiny journal app on my iPhone. Think crayons or easy, pleasurable crafts. Notice the things that depress you: too much TV, wine, sugar, Facebook…gently cut back and look to other things to provide a combination of flow and relief.
- If you love to read, keep a really good book going at all times. You will need a positive way to escape!
- Seek support beyond your immediate family and friends. The mermaids helped me see ways that I could change and look at things differently. For spiritual support Anne Lamott’s book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers was invaluable. I’ve asked for help in many small ways instead of one big one and was always reassured when it arrived.
- I’m sure you know someone that has it much harder than you. Offer them support any way that you can.
- Unless there is an important decision to be made, try not to think too far beyond the moment you are in.
- It takes time to adjust to any change. But you will. Over time it gets easier, because you learn it is just part of the process on the way to feeling comfortable again.
One of the benefits of leaving is the divine pleasure of returning. I had a wonderful time in California last month madly rushing around doing a season’s worth of image consulting. Below is my client Marilyn, 86 years young, stopping by for a make-up update and scenes of me happily shopping before I returned to the land of aloha.
I’ll close with the mermaids’ favorite song: Row Row Row Your Boat…gently down the stream…merrily merrily merrily merrily…life is but a dream. Thanks for sharing this journey with me.