Change Keeps Happening

There is nothing permanent except change. ~Heraclitus

It is officially Fall now, and I love it! The cooler temperatures here in my hometown of Walla Walla encourage a bit more layering, scarves wrapped around necks, and cozying up to warm fires. (Have I mentioned that Fall is my favorite season?) The trees are works of art, rich colors dancing on limbs. Students are back with new classes, new material to learn. Vineyard harvest is in full swing here in wine country. Crews are working long hours to get the job done before the next phase of wine-making begins. And as the sun goes down earlier, our schedules shift a bit and we tend to head indoors earlier than a few weeks ago.

You may think of Fall as a time to settle in, relax a bit back into old routines. But the truth is that each year things are different. We will never be right here, right now, ever again. This year’s vineyard harvest will be different from the last. A long and interwoven list of environmental factors ensure that each harvest is unique. So it is in our own lives. Although many things are familiar, change keeps happening. We aren’t exactly who we were a year ago. That’s evidence of change.

When we recognize the persistent inevitability of change, does it increase or decrease our resistance to it?

Steps at Sundance

Some changes are easier than others to handle. Some changes are big and in your face and you know you’re in the thick of major transition, white-knuckled and sweaty. Other changes seem effortless and natural, so much so that we can overlook the reality that they, too, are verifiable changes. Big or small, easy or hard, it’s all change.

In my coaching practice, I work with people making conscious choices in their lives to improve their health and happiness. Together we develop strategies for creating desired change. (What do you want? How will you create it?) Some changes are small and simple (e.g. drink a glass of water first thing in the morning). Some changes seem huge (e.g. cure sugar cravings, run the Red Rock Relay, change careers). Clients tell me that the biggest changes happen on a much deeper level than they anticipated. We are used to having our symptoms treated. “I want to lose weight, so here’s specific advice on how to drop 20 pounds — in record time.” But what if we could figure out why I find myself in a position of having 20 extra pounds to begin with? What if I address the source of what I perceive as a problem, rather than continuing on a pattern of yo-yo dieting that leaves me feeling like a failure time and time again? What if I acknowledge the reasons why I have the cravings that I feed, the habits I haven’t broken, and why I have chosen to nourish some parts of my life and not others?

Part of my story is that I used to have frequent debilitating migraines. I was given various pain killers and migraine-specific medication, none of which significantly slowed the frequency of my headaches. It wasn’t until I saw a functional medicine doctor that we discovered I have delayed food allergies that were causing mayhem in my system. Migraines, fatigue, fertility issues, gut problems, etc. By going to the source of my migraines, we were able to create a change — I am now happily gluten-free — that improved my health and happiness. Trust me, it is delightful to wake up in the morning with a clear, pain-free head. But there’s more to the headache story for me. I was living with huge amounts of stress that I would barely acknowledge, pushing myself beyond reason to achieve more and more to feel valuable in the world, and I cut myself off from social support, isolating myself. To heal, I changed my diet… I also changed my relationships, work environment, and beliefs about where my value comes from. I learned how to nourish my body and my life. The change wasn’t always painless, but the results are priceless.

So, it’s Fall. As we layer our clothing, let’s consider our internal layers. As we spend more time indoors, let’s also spend more time inside ourselves. Let’s harvest the wisdom of the season. What do we know about the source of our happiness? How can we grow THAT? What do we notice about the changes of the past year? Have we acknowledged them?

Change keeps happening. We may find we enjoy change more, resist it less, when we experience it with centered self-awareness. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Be the change you wish to see in your own life. You have the answers. Go inside and find them. They are ripe for harvest.