Months before my retirement from school nursing, I sought counsel from my friend Jennifer. She’d retired from teaching and had a couple of years on that journey into her next chapter. She’d found her way from taking those first awkward steps to arriving at her new life. I shared with her my plans that included developing my life coaching business at the same time as my writing business. I’m sure she could hear the ‘striving’ in my voice, as I described my detailed plans for completing the tasks to set up two different endeavors. Eventually, I asked her what advice she had for me.
In her quiet and thoughtful way, she responded, “Let this new chapter in your life flow organically.”
That was such a contrast to my automatic-goal-directed-way of doing things that it gave me pause. Later, after I finished those final days of work and attempted the plans I’d made, my energy was zapped and I only had interest for writing. I didn’t foresee how tired I would be, how I needed time to rest before moving forward. Jennifer’s advice came to me many times during those months of transition. What happened in that flow of life was not like anything I’d planned; it was not what I’d envisioned for that new chapter.
Similarly, I have been stepping into a new chapter over the past few months since my separation from my husband. Again, I sought out wise counsel from women who’d been down this path before; I returned to Jennifer, my personal sage, for advice.
We met at Foster’s restaurant for an early dinner and ended up sitting on the porch through a thunderstorm while they. were closing inside. From her experience of separation and divorce she had this advice:
“My mantra became Cultivate Pleasure.” She had to find new ways to bring joy into her life while going through those tough days.
I’ve considered her wisdom and how to balance my current stress with finding ways to enjoy life; How do I harvest joy while walking this difficult path?
I think about my yearly solo journeys and what I’ve learned about what pleases me during those days. Each morning, I pray that God will bless me and the people in my path. Then I watch for who will show up as I go about my day, letting it flow organically. I don’t plan who those people will be, I just wait to see. Now it occurs to me that I will benefit from letting these days unfold in the same way.
As I describe in the first chapter of my memoir, during my initial journey to Sedona, I found that by letting go of a planned schedule I was able to travel freely ‘as the Spirit led.’ Instead of an itinerary, I was led by my energy and free to move about in the space of unplanned time. I did things that brought me joy– like driving down country roads just to see where they led. How I enjoyed finding a pasture of horses grazing while the slanting sunlight shone on the red rocks.
Now, I feel lucky to have a friend like Jennifer, who has known me for years and has provided the right word for me at critical times. Putting her two pieces of advice together, I feel I have help with letting go and flowing in this river of life. I’m aware of the necessity of nurturing myself, finding ways to Cultivate Pleasure; This is the opposite of striving– it’s aimed at thriving as much as possible during this time that is not what I envisioned.
How about you?
How can you let go and let your life flow organically?
How can you Cultivate Pleasure in your life?
My Memoir is Available in Paperback and Ebook