Tuesday, September 23, 2014

If You Think You're Stuck With A Perpetual Job Description, Think Again - A Personal Journey

I have been shedding. 

Like a tree losing its leaves, a snake shaking off its skin, a caterpillar cocooned before its new life begins, I am preparing for a new phase and a Jewish new year. 

My shedding has taken place completely inside my head. 

I am not dropping leaves. You wouldn't know it from my skin and I haven't been spinning a cocoon.

There are no visible clues. 

My mind, however has been working furiously to get to this point. 

You see, I had been comfortably attached to my roles as wife of the Head of School and as serial caregiver to my husband and sons for many, many years…….

We came to the USA 14 yeas ago, for my husband to be head of a large community day school. For the first eight years that we lived here, as an expat spouse, I had no right to work. So I volunteered my time in the school my husband ran and my children attended.  

During that time-span, I also wore my caregiver's hat and responded, repeatedly to my family's multiple health challenges.

Now, thank goodness my family is doing great. All  three sons are healthy and thriving and starring in their new phases of life.

My husband stepped down as Head of School over a year ago, and is thoroughly and happily  immersed in his new educational consultancy.

I have lost my supporting roles. 

But I have been holding on to their familiarity.

By their nature these roles filled almost every waking moment of my days. They filled every conversation, every phone call and every evening.

My identity was bound up with them, much like your career, family, relationships,  community involvement and leadership are bound up with yours.

However uncomfortable the role or job or situation you are currently in, it's what you know. It's comfy and it's familiar. 

I am used to being on hyper alert, waiting  for a member of my family to be sick.

I am used to hearing about school crises and politics and grievances.

I let go of them physically many months ago. 

Emotionally, mentally and spiritually I am only truly letting go of them now.

It's been hard work.

As I walk through the park, leaves meander down in front of me. The trees are cycling through their year. They know they have to release their  foliage in order to make way for new buds in the spring.

They know that losing their leaves, is not the end of life. It does not indicate darkness or emptiness or death of their trunks. It is the only way to make space for their branches' next phase of life.

And in between autumn and spring is a winter -a time for contemplation, for cocooning and resting. 

A time for stilling of the heart and slowing the pace of life.

 A time for letting new life germinate, morph and take shape.

And that is what comes between shedding and new opportunities in our lives. 

However, losing what you know without having a next step is frightening and threatening. 

There are many unknowns.

We have to shrug off the old before we can accept the new. It 's uncomfortable, like having a pebble in your shoe you can't shake off. 

It's also exciting, energizing and empowering.

Perspective is everything.

As a leaf flutters in front of you, you can perceive it as dying or dancing.

It's your choice. 

And it has been mine.

For months, in my internal conversation, I have railed and fought these changes. 

Now I understand, it's part of the shedding process.

And  I am ready to dance.  My mind is open and excited for the next phase. 

I have shed the old and I'm open to the new. I am ready to nurture new buds, slip out of some of my defining roles and grow new wings.  

At this time of introspection and change, as the Jewish new year
and Autumn approach, what do you need or want to shed? 

What are you used to, but is no longer of use to you? 

What are you clinging on to that is stopping you from moving forward?  

Take some time over the next few weeks to consider what is warming your heart and nurturing your soul and what no longer feeds you.

Wishing all of you celebrating Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) a very sweet, loving and peaceful new year. 

Thank you to all of you, who visit Brainstorm often. I am so grateful for your on-going readership, feedback and support. 

May the change in season grant you all many opportunities for reflection and renewal. 


You May Also Enjoy:

A Year in Review -Check Your GPS

Apologizing: Valuing Your Relationships More Than Your Ego

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  1. Great post, Gilly!! It certainly is hard to step out of our comfort zone to shed the old things/roles. I love your analogy with the tree shedding it's leaves....I guess we have to let go to regrow! Also, I loved the analogy of whether the fluttering leaves are dancing or dying: I constantly need to coach myself on the perspective of dancing leaves, keeping the "glass half full" mentality. Oh the power of positive thinking!! I am thrilled to hear that your family is doing well, and I hope you and yours had a peaceful, restful New Year. Sending love and hugs!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your lovely comment!

  3. Thanks for your lovely comment Marie. Shedding is a work in progress and it is certainly not comfortable. Sometimes it's hard to see the positives of new opportunities when you are enmeshed in comfy, well worn situations. But the only way to see them is to take that first step away from what's familiar. The second and third step are then leading you towards the new opportunity. It's in the spaces between the steps that I think the greatest challenges lie.…..Do you agree? Much love to you too.Gx