This morning as part of my morning practice, I pulled an oracle card with the message “Embrace the in-between”. That card is so relevant as I am in the midst of yet another transition. As of September 26, I am handing over the reins of a national member-based non-profit I founded on December 7, 2020. It has truly been a labor of love.
Within the last six months I received a strong message that I was done. I shared with my Board in early May at our monthly meeting that as of the end of September I was finished leading the organization. We brainstormed some names of capable women to take over and also decided that a Co-Chair model was a good way to move forward. It also embodies the quality of collaboration which is one of the feminine leadership qualities we speak and teach about at Female Wave of Change’s Women Leading in Change Program and in our programming and monthly gatherings of Female Wave of Change Canada.
I’m happy to report that two extremely capable and gifted women came forward and agreed to take over the leadership. I was over-joyed as I poured a lot of my heart and energy into growing the organization and didn’t want to have to close it down.
Having been through many personal and professional transitions in my life and having coached, written about, and facilitated workshops and retreats on navigating life transitions, I am still learning. The biggest lesson for me right now is learning to embrace the “in-between”; the phase between where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing and the future business, career, life of my dreams.
There is a tendency to rush through this phase as it is filled with uncertainty and often feels uncomfortable. Yet this is the phase where you have the opportunity to create your new reality. How can we embrace the “in-between” in a way that will support us in moving toward that new life, career or business?
Here are a few insights from my own journey:
- Embracing change is an inside job.
- Identify what you need to let go of in your life, career, business, or relationship you are transitioning from. If it was a well-paying position, I invite you to let go of the status, the financial security, and the identity associated with that position. Here are some strategies to support you in “letting go” – https://pamela-thompson.com/letting-go-its-easier-said-than-done/
- The next step is to identify the lessons learned. A helpful exercise is to write down what you do not want; for example, in a future position such as: working 50 plus hours a week on a regular basis, working without a team to support you … then flip these and write down what you do want.
- Focus on how you want to feel in that new position, relationship, life … . Try using the stem I choose the end result (from William Whitecloud’s work) of a life of freedom and adventure; one where I awaken each day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart so happy and grateful to be living a life of joy, connection, fulfillment, prosperity, and abundance.
- Journaling as part of your morning practice is helpful, without any expectation. Set an alarm for 15 minutes and put pen to paper and notice what you notice. I’ve found by doing this it opens up my creativity. An excellent resource is Cynthia Gregory’s Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery.
- Spend time in nature on a regular basis. Having daily walks by the ocean or to a nearby park is so therapeutic. Notice the beauty that surrounds you. Take a few moments to sit on a park bench and look up at the amazing trees. Nature is calming and grounds us. It helps us to slow down and to not think so much.
- Get clear on your passions is helpful in this “in-between” phase. A useful exercise is:
My unique Strengths and Talents
- Draw a chart with two columns. In the first column, write down all the things that you are good at, or things that come easily and naturally to you. They could be things such as athletics, mathematics, writing, whatever you feel fits.
- In the second column, write down the things you enjoy doing. They could include being in nature, teaching others, using your body, playing piano….
If you feel challenged by this, think back to what you enjoyed doing as a child.
Insights and Observations on My unique Strengths and Talents
- Now look at both lists and circle the items that are similar or identical. Then review the circled items. Go inside and get in touch with the feeling each one evokes inside you. Does it excite you? Does it have little or no effect on you?
- Rate each item on a scale from 1 to 10 according to the level of passion you have around it (1 being “no interest at all” and 10 being “red hot”).
I encourage you to finish this exercise. Sharing your findings with others has additional impact as you may gain insights and support from them.
Keep in mind that even though you are good at something it doesn’t mean that you are passionate about it.
- I urge you to not rush in this phase or listen to others and what they say you should be doing. Practice going inside and asking yourself, what do I really desire?
There is so much to be learned from the “in-between” phase of a transition.
I welcome your shares below based on what you have found helpful to embrace the “in-between” when you are in a personal or professional transition. It is valuable to learn from one another and to realize we are not alone.
 Card from Colleen Baron-Reid’s Spirit Animal oracle deck
 excerpted from pages 108 & 109 of “Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women”
“I invite you to join me on the journey back in time where I share key life transitions and lessons learned along the way. It is my hope that you will glean some new insights, better understand yourself and others, and realize you are not alone.”(The Exploits of Minerva: Reflections of a Sixty-Something Woman, p. 4 – https://pamela-thompson.com/books)
Minerva is a playful and sensitive woman in her mid-sixties. She believes that life is an adventure to be lived to the fullest and lives her life according to that mantra. Minerva has experienced numerous life transitions including divorce, finding the love of her life, burnout, living and working on five continents … . She learns valuable lessons and gains support from her women’s circle that she meets with every two weeks. The five women in the Circle have been supporting each other through a variety of life transitions for over two decades. They share their raw and real stories in this part-memoir, part self-help guide.
To help you reflect on your own journey and those of other women in your life, I’ve created a series of questions. They are intended for discussion in a book club. That said you may also use them to learn more about yourself and other women in your life who are similar to the characters in this story.
Potential Book Club Questions:
- What characteristics draw you to Minerva, if any?
- Which experience or experiences of Minerva do you most relate to and why?
- What is Minerva’s main struggle? What does she have to learn to overcome and deal with internally?
- Of the other women in the Women’s Circle, which ones are you drawn to and why?
- Do you feel you have a better understanding of certain life transitions after reading this book? If so, which ones and why?
- Reading “The Exploits of Minerva” has … ?
- Would you recommend this book to others? If yes, who and why?
I welcome your comments and responses to these questions below.
For some time, I have questioned whether we can truly manage change whether it be in our personal, or our professional lives.
I would like to propose that instead of “managing change” we explore a new way of thinking about change. Managing something to me means we have control over it. Do we really have control when something comes at us out of the blue or is imposed on us such as when we get laid off or when our partner says they no longer love us?
What if you made friends with change and talked about embracing change rather than managing it? What might that look and feel like?
I have developed a 5-step Art of Change Framework underpinned by the belief that embracing change is a creative process that opens us up to new possibilities and based on the metaphor that life is a dance.
This framework includes a process where you explore how you typically respond to change and why, and then receive tools and a framework to guide you on your transition journey.
The Art of Change Framework is underpinned by evidence from neuroscience, organizational development, the health-promoting and healing benefits of the arts, and eastern psychology. It is also based on my own journey and work with consulting and coaching clients on 5 continents for over 30 years.
In this process I draw on the work of William Bridges, an organizational theorist. He differentiates between a life change and a life transition. He says that a change is external and situational; something that is tangible that we can see such as a separation agreement or a pink slip. Whereas a transition, is the internal psychological work we do to reorient and readjust ourselves to the new external reality.
Many people make the change but don’t do the transition work. This often results in them repeating the same patterns in their lives and remaining unhappy and unfulfilled. An example is someone who always goes after positions for the money without taking the time between jobs to identify their passions and their core values. Or a woman or man who marries three, four or five times, often choosing a spouse that looks similar to the previous one, and after the honeymoon phase revisiting the same issues as the previous relationships and remaining unhappy and unfulfilled or moving on to the next one. This is because they haven’t taken the time between relationships to find out who they are and what they truly value in a relationship.
We are physiologically hard-wired to fear change. Our amygdala (part of our brain) is continually scanning our environments for things that are different; things that might be perceived as a change. When it perceives a threat, it causes our body to release stress hormones that put us into fight, flight or freeze. In none of these modes are we in a position to make thoughtful decisions.
When we fear change, we tend to resist it and that has negative impacts on our bodies, our minds, our relationships, our workplaces and our bottom lines. If you’d like to learn more about the negative impacts of resisting change and the 5-step Art of Change Framework visit https://pamela-thompson.com.
I welcome your comments below. Do you believe we can manage change?
 Bridges, William, TRANSITIONS Making Sense of Life’s Changes, 2004.
About four years ago a friend told me about a weekend training which was the “way in” to being part of a new Women’s Circle that was forming locally. Being curious and relatively new to the area, I thought this might be a way to make new women friends. I eagerly signed up and on entering the room felt welcome and in the company of like-minded women. The facilitator began the workshop by creating a safe space for us all; one of confidentiality and respect.
At the end of the weekend, we were asked if we wanted for form a new Circle and I jumped in without hesitation. Little did I know the journey I was about to embark on!
After being part of a Women’s Circle I am a changed person. I now am more in touch with my feelings and have learned to trust my intuition and share my thoughts with others in the Circle and beyond. I have experienced each woman growing, stepping into who she is, and creating the life she desires from the inside-out. We have supported several women through separation and divorce, one has retired, and another is contemplating retirement. Women have tapped into their creativity. One is composing music and has started playing regularly at a spiritual center. Another is drawing beautiful mandalas and has recently been asked what price she would ask for them. We now plan social events from time to time to share playful and fun times together. I look forward to our bi-weekly meetings and being in a circle of women who truly love and respect me; women who I know will always share their truths and perspectives if I ask.
Jean Shinoda Bolen in her book The Millionth Circle – How to Change Ourselves and The World, beautifully articulates the power of a Women’s Circle and how to create and maintain one. Dr. Bolen “provides tools and inspiration for women to create new circles or deepen and transform existing circles into vehicles of societal and psychospiritual change.”
Based on my own experience I decided the context for my new book The Exploits of Minerva would be a Woman’s Circle with six women who have been supporting one another in a Circle for more than two decades through a variety of life transitions. Stay tuned for the launch coming soon!
I encourage you to check out Dr. Bolen’s book and google Women’s Circles if you’re interested in learning more. If you have experienced the power of a Women’s Circle, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below.
During the pandemic many of us had the opportunity to reflect on our lives and our work. Many realized their work was not meaningful. The loss of some family and friends put us in touch with our own mortality. Many of us realized the importance of “seizing the day” and living in the present moment. You may have decided to start that new business you’d been thinking about for a few years or leave the partner you’ve been with as you realized you were settling. In order to move forward as result of such reflections we need to reinvent ourselves.
What do I mean by “reinvention”? To me, reinvention involves letting go of beliefs, behaviors and fears that are no longer serving us and opening to new possibilities such as living the life of your dreams, starting that business of your dreams, and having the relationship of your dreams.
Based on my own journey and work as a consultant and coach over the past three decades I have discovered that reinventing yourself requires four key ingredients or elements:
- Mindset – Having what Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset”; believing that you have the capacity to reinvent yourself is key. Being flexible and optimistic are also valuable qualities.
- Support – Having support from family and friends is important.
- Tools and Processes – To help you understand how you respond to change and why, and how to embrace rather than resist change (e.g., my 5-step “Art of Change Framework”)
- Self-care – Having healthy habits such as eating well, exercising regularly, getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, spending time in nature help to reduce stress and in turn boost resilience.
How do you develop a “growth mindset” if you’ve noticed that you tend to dwell on challenges and tend to be pessimistic and a bit rigid in stressful situations (which is common for us all)?
Stay tuned for future posts. I’d love to hear some strategies you’ve found helpful to overcome challenges and be more open and optimistic when faced with the opportunity to reinvent yourself. I welcome your thoughts and comments below.
What if you could reinvent yourself and live the life of your dreams?
What if you could leave your corporate job and start a business based on what makes your soul sing?
About six months ago I started hearing people use the words “I want to reinvent myself” or “I have reinvented myself.” I got curious and did some research on “reinvention”. I also reflected on my own life and realized how many times I have reinvented myself.
I’d like to share a true story of someone I know who reinvented themselves. Their name has been changed for confidentiality.
I met Donna at a Newcomer’s Club shortly after I moved to Victoria about five years ago. Donna shared that she had moved to Victoria with her husband and within six months of arriving, her husband, the love of her life, died of cancer. She realized she was dealing with a number of life transitions and signed up and attended a one-day retreat I did on “Embracing Life Transitions”. She left with more insight into how she responds to change and why, including a 5-step “Art of Change Framework”, and an action plan for moving forward.
Recently Donna shared with me that she is no longer the woman she was when her husband Ben died. She revealed that he was an extreme extrovert and she lived life “on his coat tails”. She reflected that when she got married, she was quiet and lacking in confidence; and that her confidence built being with Ben, and she counted on him for support.
Since Ben’s death, Donna began to work on herself and getting in shape. She acknowledged that over the past few years, she has felt like a single woman who is finding her new self. When she meets new people, she is Donna only, and that has impacted who she is and how she acts.
Donna and Ben sailed for more than thirty years. Ben was the captain. Donna assisted as crew. Since Ben’s death Donna decided she wanted to learn to be captain, and after a number of sailing courses she now not only captains her boat but participates in local races.
Recently, Donna revealed to me that she is no longer the woman she was when Ben was alive. She has reinvented herself and is now “Lady D”. She even christened her sailboat “Lady D”!
How did Donna reinvent herself and what does it take to let go of fear and reinvent yourself?
Stay tuned for the next installment!
Do you relate to Donna? Have you reinvented yourself? What is the biggest lesson you learned from doing so? I welcome your thoughts and comments below.