Are You Starting a New Life Chapter?

Are You Starting a New Life Chapter?

Are you starting a new life chapter? Starting a new chapter in your life is similar to writing a chapter in a book. Both require courage, creativity, commitment, an openness to learning and growing, and time. Let’s explore the similarities.

Courage

It takes courage to end one chapter in your life and begin a new one. Even if a life transition is one you have chosen, it still requires courage to take that next step into the unknown, toward that life, relationship, business of your dreams. 

A helpful framework to do this is the Art of Change Framework – https://pamela-thompson.com/how-to-navigate-change-from-the-inside-out-a-personal-journey/ In this framework, there are three phases: an Ending, a Neutral Zone, and a New Beginning. Each phase has work associated with it and if we don’t do the work, we often keep repeating the same patterns in our lives, remaining unhappy and unfulfilled or choosing the next relationship or job based on the wrong reasons (e.g. that are out of alignment with our core values). 

It also takes courage when starting to write a book. Which genre do I choose? What is my “why” for writing this book? What is my first step? It involves venturing into the unknown often without a clear plan and trusting that everything will work out. 

Creativity

The work associated with the second phase of the Art of Change Framework is envisioning that life, relationship, work of your dreams. This is a time for creativity. 

Likewise, when writing a book, as authors we depend on creative ideas surfacing. There are techniques we can use to enhance those possibilities such as creating a sacred space where we write and leaving “bread crumbs”[1] after each session so that we have a place to start when we next begin to write, instead of staring at a blank page. 

Commitment

We need to be committed when we enter the New Beginning phase of a life transition to create a plan for moving forward toward that new life, relationship, business of our dreams. 

Similarly, when writing a book, we need to allocate a certain amount of time each week to write, block that time off and follow through. It is also helpful; for example, to set a goal of writing 1,000 words each time we sit down to write. Some authors also find it beneficial to designate a certain amount of time to each writing session. 

Openness to Learning and Growing

When starting a new chapter in our lives and writing a new chapter in a book, it is important to be open to learning and growing. Both processes require that we learn and grow. Similar, to a butterfly moving through the various stages from larva to chrysalis to beautiful, winged creature, we as humans transform through the process of embarking on or writing a new chapter. 

Time

It takes time to move through the transition journey process and it takes time to write a book. Part of the process involves transforming, and healing, and we cannot force that process. That said we can commit to taking the time to write that next book or navigate that life transition. 

Where are you in your transition journey? Are you writing a book or navigating a new life transition? I welcome your thoughts and questions below. 

A dear friend of mine, Anita Adams –  https://joyfulinspiredliving.com,  has recently launched a new book “Whispers of the Soul”. In it she vulnerably shares her experience of a major transition, from founding and leading a national non-profit in the film industry in Canada for almost two decades, to shutting it down and becoming a leadership coach, podcast host, speaker and author. In her book, she eloquently shares her process and lessons learned and demonstrates courage, creativity, commitment, an openness to learning and growing and the recognition that it takes time to consciously move through a life transition. 

Praised by early reviewers (including myself) as a treasure trove of inspiration, “Whispers of the Soul” caters to both novices and seasoned seekers alike. With its blend of personal anecdotes, profound insights, and thought-provoking exercises, it’s sure to ignite your curiosity and fuel your journey of self-exploration. Learn more and get your copy here: https://joyfulinspiredliving.com/books.


[1] Writing tool recommended by Jennifer Louden – https://jenniferlouden.com/

The Value of Tapping into and Expressing Your Creative Side: Reflections on “Learning to Dance with Life”

The Value of Tapping into and Expressing Your Creative Side: Reflections on “Learning to Dance with Life”

I’ve claimed 2024 as my year of Playful Creativity. How about you? Do you have a word or phrase for this new year? 

In “Learning to Dance with Life”, I identified seven keys to what I call “Creative Living”. Seven keys to consciously cultivating improved health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace in your life. Who doesn’t want that? One of the seven keys is “Tap into and express your creative side.”

Why is creativity so important? 

  • When we consciously bring creativity into our lives it connects us with our inner child; that part of us that loves to laugh and comes from a place of wonder 
  • When we engage in creative pursuits such as singing, painting, dancing, gardening, writing, drawing, it is therapeutic. We can get lost in the creative process and at that time forget all the challenges facing the world or the stressful parts of our own lives, and instead focus on feeling light and passionate about what we are creating.
  • When we create, we are totally in the NOW[1]. That is the space when we can tap into our inner wisdom, and also feel a sense of freedom and awareness; appreciating all that we have, and all that we are. 
  • There is much data to support the health and healing benefits of the arts 
  • Now, more than ever, we need creative solutions to solve the complex issues facing us such as climate change and systemic racism.

What are some ways to tap into and express your creativity?

Here are a few examples from “Learning to Dance with Life”.

Sit down in a quiet place, free from distractions. Take a few deep breaths to relax and close your eyes for a couple of minutes if you feel comfortable doing so. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your responses to them. Write down the first thing that comes to mind without judging or editing it. 

  1. Do you consider yourself a creative person? If yes, why? If not, why not? 
  2. Are there any creative pursuits you enjoyed as a child but haven’t done for years? If so, what are they? 
  3. Are there some creative or artistic pursuits you would be interested in exploring/trying out? 
  4. Commit to either starting to integrate a childhood “passion” into your life or choose a new one such as “learning to play the piano” that perhaps you always wanted to do as a child but never had the opportunity to do. Identify the next steps for taking action to integrate a new or “old” creative or artistic pursuit into your life. It’s helpful to use a two-column table with “activity” heading one column and “timeline” the other. For example: 
  5. Activity: Explore online and via word-of-mouth “good” teachers offering piano lessons in my area. … Timeline: Start tomorrow (January 10, 2024)
  6. Activity: Begin piano lessons … Timeline: Start first lesson by January 29/24. 
  7. Support is important to many of us when starting something new and continuing with it. Enlist the support of a friend, colleague or family member to encourage and support you in your new endeavor or invite them to join you in doing it. 

 Observations and Insights from engaging in artistic/creative pursuits. 

  1. After you have engaged in a creative/artistic pursuit, go into your body and note how you feel. Does your body feel lighter? Do you have more energy? Is your mind quieter? 
  2. When you engage in a creative/artistic pursuit over time what changes if any do you notice in your body? Mind? Emotions? Relations? Life in general? 
  3. If you have been engaging in a creative/artistic pursuit with a friend, colleague or family member, what changes, if any, do you notice in them? 

The Importance of Play and Laughter

Creativity is connected to play and laughter. There is much evidence to support the importance of play and laughter in our daily lives. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play[2] has conducted research that shows that play is not only energizing and fun, but also important for human physical, emotional, cognitive development and intelligence. 

“Play activates the reward centers of the brain, floods the rest of the brain with feel-good chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin and triggers the release of powerful neural growth factors that promote learning and mental flexibility. It causes stress hormones to drop, mood to lift and has an energizing effect.” [3]

Integrating Play and Laughter into our lives

Playing imaginary and other games with my young grandchildren has been a fun and easy way to integrate play and laughter into my life. 

Here are a few other examples of how to integrate play and laughter into your life.

  • Identify and write down types of play activities you enjoyed and engaged in as a child. 
  • Reflect on how many of these activities you currently engage in as an adult and how often you engage in them. 
  • Rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how energized each of the above activities makes you feel – 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “full of energy”. 
  • Identify several play activities you would like to begin integrating into your life. Experiment and notice how they make you feel. 
  • Commit to engaging in some form of play or laughter on a daily basis. Ask friends and family for support (perhaps make it a family project to laugh and play at least once a day) and encourage play and laughter in their lives as well. 

I encourage you to try out some of the exercises shared and consciously integrate more creative pursuits and more play and laughter into your life.  And notice what you notice.

I welcome your thoughts and experiences below.


[1] Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, New World Library, 2004

[2] https://www.nifplay.org/

[3] https://www.newsweek.com/2023/07/28/do-you-play-enough-science-says-its-critical-your-health-well-being-1813808.html

How to Navigate Change from the Inside Out: A Personal Journey

How to Navigate Change from the Inside Out: A Personal Journey

What is the difference between a life change and a life transition? A life change is external and situational; something tangible such as a separation agreement or a “pink slip” when you lose a job. Whereas a life transition is internal and psychological. It is the internal work we do to reorient and readjust ourselves to our new external reality.[1]

Many of us do the life change but do not do what I call the “transition journey work”. When we only do the life change, we often keep repeating the same patterns in our lives and become frustrated and unfulfilled. An example is someone who consistently chooses new positions for the money without understanding and choosing based on their passions and what makes their soul sing. Another is someone who marries three, four or five times and after the initial honeymoon phase ends up in each relationship dealing with the same issues again and again and again, and either stays in the relationship and remains unhappy and unfulfilled or leaves and starts the process again.

The Benefits of doing the Internal Work

When we commit and take the time to do the internal psychological work and switch our beliefs and actions from resisting to embracing change, we no longer perceive change as a threat.

So how do you learn to embrace change and view it as a creative process that opens you up to new possibilities?

By understanding yourself and how you respond to change and why. And having a framework and tools to support you to navigate the journey.

The Art of Change Framework

Based on over 30 years of experience working with people and organizations in volatile environments including conflict zones, I created the “Art of Change Framework”. It is based on the metaphor “life is a dance” and underpinned by the belief that “embracing change is a creative process that opens us up to new possibilities.” Faced with yet another life transition, I decided to apply the “Art of Change Framework” to that transition and document the journey so I could share it with others.

On October 7, 2022, I had hip replacement surgery for my left hip. Due to osteoarthritis, I hardly had any cartilage left in it. That was the first major surgery I’d had.

My Transition Journey: Applying the “Art of Change Framework”

Step 1 – The first step in the “Art of Change Framework” is Shine the Light. This is where you explore how you respond to change and why.

Rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 in terms of how you typically respond to change “1” being “scares me to death” and “10” being “I thrive on it”. I rate myself as a “9” as I typically enjoy change and starting and experiencing new things. Perhaps you relate. The next activity is Rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 in terms of how you typically respond to a change that is imposed on you and that “comes out of the blue” such as when you receive a lay-off notice or when your partner says they no longer love you. I rate myself as a “6” on this scale.

Step 2 – Choose Your Dance – This is where you choose the transition you want to focus on, as it is preferable to focus on one transition at a time. The transition I’m choosing to focus on is my hip replacement surgery.

Step 3 – Feel the Rhythm and Learn the Steps – In this step you begin doing the work associated with where you are on your transition journey that includes: 1) an ending; 2) a neutral zone; and 3) a new beginning (adapted from the work of William Bridges). Each phase has work associated with it. The work associated with the ending is letting go and identifying lessons learned.

What did I have to let go of as part of my hip replacement surgery?

  • Fear I had about “going under the knife”
  • The emotions associated with grief; losing my once healthy hip, the one that had enabled me to run, jump, swim, hike … for all those years
  • The belief that I had somehow caused my hip cartilage to deteriorate based on all of the track and field, running, and jumping and other sports I have done since my youth
  • My independence as I had to let my partner and others support me during my recovery
  • The ability to do activities I regularly do such as yoga, walking in nature, swimming, hiking …
  • The belief that I’m getting old and as we age our health declines.

Step 4 – Practice, Practice, Practice – This step involves embracing change in your body and continuing to do the work associated with the phase of the transition journey you are in.

As part of the ending phase above, what lessons did I learn from the experience?

  • Patience; I had to learn that recuperating from this type of surgery takes time; at least three to six months
  • To reach out and ask for support
  • To receive and be okay depending on the physical and emotional support of others
  • What an amazing caregiver my partner Alan is
  • I am challenged to sit still and not be physically active
  • This provided me the opportunity to pause, reflect and take stock of my life and identify the many people and things I am grateful for
  • I received the insight that as it was my left hip that was replaced, it is representative of my feminine side. Perhaps my new hip will have “amped up” my feminine energy and help me to spend more time in flow and move forward more quickly and easily without driving and striving.

The neutral zone is the phase between the ending and the new beginning. The work of this phase is to get clear and envision the life, relationship, career of your dreams. It provides an opportunity to create and visualize what your new life will look and feel like. This can also be a fearful place as you have “taken the leap”, are entering unknown territory, and you’re not sure what’s on the other side or whether there is a net to catch you.

I could have chosen not to go on the surgical wait list about a year ago, but after encouragement from my partner I said yes.

What will my new life look like? I see myself:

  • playing with my grandkids, going up and down slides with them (including water slides), climbing on recreational equipment
  • kayaking with my Sweetie, going on motorcycle rides, and feeling comfortable on the back of Alan’s motorbike
  • awakening each day feeling whole, healthy and without pain
  • hiking and walking with friends and family on a regular basis
  • doing yoga three or more times a week
  • believing that life continues to be an adventure to be lived to the fullest

Step 5 – Share Your Dance with the World – In this step, due to the positive ways you respond to change, you inspire and are a positive role model for others.

In Conclusion

Applying the “Art of Change Framework” to my recent hip replacement experience reaffirmed for me that the 5-step “Art of Change Framework” and process takes you on a journey that transforms you from resisting and fearing change to moving through personal and professional transitions with greater ease, grace, and playfulness, resulting in increased clarity and confidence.

If the “Art of Change Framework” resonates for you, I encourage you to apply it to your own personal and professional transitions. I welcome your comments and questions below.


[1] Bridges, William, Transitions; Making Sense of Life’s Changes. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2004.

Letting Go – It’s Easier Said than Done!

Letting Go – It’s Easier Said than Done!

To make a life change, moving from one way of being and living to another, requires letting go. What do I mean? And why does it matter?

An example is when we are let go from a corporate position and are faced with the decision of whether to seek a new employer or start our own business. If we consciously choose to become an entrepreneur, our beliefs and emotions around the transition are quite different than if we are given a “pink slip” and are forced to leave a position. In either scenario, we need to let go of; for example, a regular paycheck, status (perhaps), “perks” such as a company car, an expense account …. If we consciously choose to leave, we may have some fear of the unknown and must deal with feelings of uncertainty. However, the emotions we have around the experience are different. In the case of being fired or “right-sized” we may feel anger, sadness, grief, as well as fear of the unknown.

I recall in the early 1990s when I started my first business. I had initially been lured away from a good government job to work with a management consulting group on a handshake. My father thought I was crazy to leave a good job with benefits, but the idea of consulting and being an entrepreneur was exciting. I recall my husband at the time had been encouraging me to strike out on my own for a few years. I noticed fear coming up in me and it took an offer from a consulting group to be the “carrot” that lured me away from a more stable position. That said, I was excited and energized about the new opportunity. In contrast, people I know who’ve been let go and forced to leave their jobs sometimes feel angry, victimized and low in energy. This can over time negatively impact their health, self-confidence, and their relationships with others.

So why is important for us to learn to let go when faced with a life transition be it chosen or imposed on us?

If we don’t learn to let go of certain emotions and beliefs, we may continue to repeat the same patterns in our lives and remain unhappy and unfulfilled. An example is if we keep choosing positions for the money rather than getting in touch with our passions and purpose and choosing positions in alignment with those passions and purpose.

Here are some proven strategies for “letting go”.

  • Identify and surface the emotions you have around a current or previous transition; for example, anger at a boss, a previous partner, a friend. The Feeling Wheel by Dr. Gloria Wilcox[1] is a useful tool to help you get in touch with and name your emotions.
  • Release those emotions from your body. When you think about a particular emotion notice any tension in your body and where it is located. It is often felt in your gut or your heart. Think of emotions associated with past hurts and transitions as “rocks in a backpack” and visualize and experience releasing them all from that backpack.
  • Forgive yourself and others. This is powerful and often keeps us stuck and holds us back from moving forward. A mindfulness tool that facilitates forgiveness (of self and others) is “Forgiveness Meditation”. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbHKCy4f6Dk for a process developed by Jack Kornfield, a psychologist trained in Eastern and Western Psychology.
  • Write a letter to your previous boss, partner, friend from a balanced and empathic perspective. There are always two sides to every story. Reflect on the lessons learned from that experience.
  • If you still have anger and strong emotions associated with a past relationship, it is therapeutic to write a letter to that person sharing how they wounded you and what the experience was like from your perspective and then to either burn it ceremoniously or tear it up into small pieces and at the same time commit to releasing the negative emotions associated with the relationship.

We all face a number of transitions throughout our lives. Learning how to let go is the key to moving forward and living a life of health, happiness, fulfillment, and inner peace.

I welcome your thoughts below on your experiences with “letting go” and strategies you have found helpful to “let go” of beliefs, emotions, feelings that are no longer serving you.


[1] https.//allthefeelz.app/feeling-wheel/

Why is Balancing Your Masculine and Feminine Important?

Why is Balancing Your Masculine and Feminine Important?

“We all have masculine and feminine within us, and when it’s all balanced it’s like accessing a super power.” (Alicia Keys)

What do we mean by “masculine” and “feminine” and why is balancing them important?

Much has been written about the sacred feminine (yin) and the sacred masculine (yang). Although each person possesses both masculine and feminine energies, usually one type is more developed or dominant. This dominant energy affects how you perceive yourself, others, your environments and how you interact with the world.

The qualities of each type of energy are outlined in the table below. *

Feminine Energy (Yin) BEING & GIVINGMasculine Energy (Yang) DOING & RECEIVING
  Creative  Linear & Logical
IntuitiveAnalytical
CollaborativeCompetitive
ReceptiveAssertive
EmotionalRational
PassionateDetermined
EmpatheticObjective
Allow for “flow”Goal-directed
  
  • Excerpted from “Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women” (2015) by Pamela Thompson, p. 84

When you live life feeling like you are on a hamster wheel and can’t get off, you are exhibiting many of the characteristics of masculine energy. It’s important to be aware of the qualities of each type of energy because being out of balance negatively impacts our bodies, our minds, our relationships and our work. For example, if we are constantly in our masculine energy, over time it leads to illness, lack of fulfillment, unhappiness, and restlessness. Whereas if we are dominated by our feminine energy, we become ill, resentful, needy and insecure.

It’s important to note that balancing yin and yang energies does not mean 50% yin and 50% yang. It means “learning to optimize your own unique mix so your happiness is maximized and your success enhanced.” (http://themichaelteaching.com/michael/applied-michael/masculine-feminine-duality/)

How can you find and create your own unique balance between your feminine and masculine energies? A good place to start is with an assessment.

Here’s an illuminating exercise:

At the end of the day, take some time to pause and reflect on your day. Create 2 lists. Put at the top of one list “Doing” and the other list “Being”. Without thinking too much, do a brain dump of all the things you’ve done in that day. This could include: planning with your team, chairing a meeting, doing a performance review … . Then write down all the things you would categorize as “being” such as: walking mindfully in nature, meditating, spending time focusing attentively on someone or something.

If it’s been an unusual day, take the time to also reflect on the previous day. 

Then create 2 other lists. Think about all your “Giving” behaviors that day. Examples include: making a meal for a sick friend, volunteering your time to assist others, listening to a friend’s tale of woe. .

Now think about all your “Receiving” behaviors for that day. Receiving behaviors include: treating yourself to a yoga class and being present during it, meditating for at least 10 minutes, reaching out for support when you needed it; such as “Sweetie, do you mind driving the kids to school today? I’ve got a lot on my plate.”, treating yourself to a bubble bath or massage.

Now look at your lists. What do you notice? Are you giving more than receiving and doing more than being?

Then take a few moments to go into your body and notice how you are feeling. Are you low in energy? Are you feeling resentful? Are you finding you have a “short fuse” and that you are reacting rather than taking some thoughtful time to respond to people at home and/or at work?

I invite you to do this exercise for a few days and notice what you notice. I welcome your reflections and insights below.

Stay tuned for the next installment to discover some tips and tools for balancing your masculine and feminine energy.