Thursday, May 19, 2011

Neutral Zone

I'm sure I've written about William Bridges' book Transitions here before. It was a textbook I read years ago for a class called "Counseling the Adult in Transition".  Life itself is a mess of transitions, so Bridges' work makes sense to me. According to Bridges, there are major events in our lives that can force us into transition (the loss of a loved one, a new job, major illness, etc), eventually requiring us to adjust to or create a new reality for ourselves. For example: When my mom passed away recently, there was no way that I could go on with life pretending that she was alive. Thus, I am in the process of structuring and understanding a new self-identity, that of someone with no living parents (my dad passed in 2007).
In my soon-to-be former office,

This process of creating/finding our new identity can feel a lot like being lost in the woods. Bridges calls it "The Neutral Zone", and I am in the dead center of it right now. I am doing well -- there are exciting things happening in my life -- but it all contributes to a huge period of adjustment.  Next week I leave a teaching position that I've held for four years.  As I write this I've got a pretty good idea of where I'll be working in the fall, although I never consider it a done deal until I receive the job contract. Also, this past semester I completed the last of my PhD coursework, which is a major milestone, but it is also an academic ending.  From here on I will take on the role of researcher as I work through my dissertation.

Physically the stress I've experienced has taken its toll. I am 10+ pounds lighter than I was just a few months ago. The good news is that I am able to wear shirts that have not fit me in ages, but all of my pants are two waist sizes too big. As a Crohnie I'm used to being "slim", but I prefer not to be "skinny".  In my head, slim = fit, while skinny = sick, and sick is a road I prefer less traveled.  Being someone who lives with a chronic illness, I need to be more health-conscious.

One positive change I've made is to learn more about meditation, something I've dabbled in for most of my adult life but never maintained. Earlier this week I had what felt like a breakthrough session, where I was able to calm myself and clear my head of thought. It seemed like it could be the start of something useful, as long as I continue to practice.  Next on my list is to add more exercise and reduce my intake of processed foods.  We'll see how that goes.  Baby steps.  My point, if there is one, is that stressful or even devastating life events can sometimes initiate positive change.  My hope is that I will create opportunities for myself that result in a better, healthier me.

Thank you for reading!

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