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Challenge and Change
by Patricia Woods on 

I was visiting with my 94 year old aunt and cousins a few weekends ago.  My aunt who still lives independently never ceases to amaze me.

She is an active member of the senior center and over the years has enjoyed zumba, chair yoga, crocheting, luncheons, and socializing with friends. Within the past fifteen years she has learned to use the computer, email, continues to cook daily, enjoys trying out new recipes, reads, relaxes with old movies, and her favorite - visits from friends and family.

She had a major setback days before her 90th birthday Ė a fall which required surgery and Hurricane Sandy. She had to take a step back for over a year, worked hard in physical therapy, lived with her daughter, and waited for her house to be rehabbed. She came back, no longer driving, but in her home, living independently. Her dream.
During our visit, my cousins and I were talking about our lives and life changes. The phrase that popped up and has stayed with me was challenge and change. I realized I thrive on challenge and change. I had recognized many years ago that I have always enjoyed variety; trying new activities, new jobs, meeting new people. I am at my best when there is variety in my life. Challenge and change felt like my mantra!!

Itís also the place where people come to work with me. They have been doing a lot of talking about the job, the relationship, the Ö but have continued to run in place. They recognize now is the time to move and seek support, clarity, the plan, accountability.   They desire movement. Itís about choices, taking the first step, facing fear. Itís about gaining satisfaction in their lives, itís moving away from STUCK.

I tended to be the cousin who took the challenges, made the changes, and crossed the lines. At times it didnít really feel like a choice, it felt more like survival. It was a recognition that I could continue to do the same and be unhappy or explore the change. I spent thousands of hours in the stuck place before moving on to take the challenge.  

 And it wasnít always a straight line. There are often many twists and turns as you navigate the path, feeling your way to satisfaction. But without taking those twists and turns you would still be at the starting block. And each turn gives me more information about my map. Itís not to say that some of the turns took me to dead ends, but itís also about recognizing you wonít know that until you get moving. And when you hit a dead end, develop Plan B.

Many might look at that as failure. I look at that as receiving more information about the path. Further clarification and definition, new options, renewed belief in what you want.  

 My aunt encountered many twists and turns in her path. Loss, betrayal, good times, hard times. And what I have come to learn in my journey is that what matters is what we do with what life brings us. Do we continue to grow with it, do we continue to be who we are with it, do we take the information and use it wisely, or do we close up and give up?  

 Dreams donít die.

Itís never easy but I have come to realize that in my life movement is essential. Not just any movement but movement in the right direction.  

One step at a time.  

Sometimes that one step is the sweet spot and sometimes that step lets me know to try another route.

Ideas for the New Month 

  As we close the month of September Iíd like to introduce an easy to use idea. This monthís theme has been movement Ė are we going in the right direction, are we keeping our dreams alive, are we just running in place.     As I think about the end of September and the change of seasons, the word auspicious comes to mind. This word was often used during my yoga training and I loved it. It was used to mark special days. In its usage with dates, it means opportune, favorable, a good time to begin something. This can be an auspicious time of the month for you to move forward on the changes you wish to bring into your life.  

Try using the last days of the current month and the first days of the new month as an opportunity to start anew.  In the last days of the month review your actions.  
 ∑        What goals had you chosen to work on this past month?
 ∑        What action did you take during the month?
 ∑        Did this action advance your goal?  

After answering those questions, think about these questions in the first days of the new month.  
 ∑        Where are you now in your movement toward your goal?
∑        What do you want to accomplish now?
∑        What are the next steps to achieve that?

Use a dedicated notebook or a computer file so that you can continually review your progress.
  ∑        Block time in your calendar for this activity each month. Let it become a ritual that you enjoy.
∑        Think about friends who are working towards a goal and consider meeting/talking with them to share your movement, plans.
 Remember to reinforce where you want to go, not where you currently are.
 ∑        Celebrate your movement!!

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