Everything in moderation, they say. That’s fine for potato chips or ice cream. But what about change? Should we just take little bites of change? Is it any better when it doesn’t disrupt a substantial part of our lives? Is it ok if it just happens in little tiny snippets? Moderation.
When I was young, I hated change. I wanted everything to stay the same. I loved being little, I loved being a kid. I didn’t want to grow up. I liked my friends, my neighborhood, my house just fine the way it was. But I will never forget the first time we moved. I was just about five years old and the vivid memory still haunts me. I was sitting on the top step of the stairs in our house with my Mother and I cried so hard asking “WHY!?” I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, having any other neighbors or riding my bike anywhere but on our fun street. I loved the sidewalk that led to our back door. I loved our shaded back yard. I loved our deck that was so high up. I loved our woods, the paths we made as a family and the little evergreen trees my Father planted. I loved my room and our little table in our small quaint kitchen. I loved our finished basement and all the parties we would have down there. I loved it all and I just couldn’t bear to leave. After a while, I adjusted and after moving three more times before graduating high school, I realized moving was just a fluid part of life. Home was wherever my heart was and good memories would always stay with me.
When college was on the horizon, I was petrified of going to a big school, of leaving home by myself, of having to make new friends and essentially starting over. I was having panic attacks and anxiety just thinking about this monumental change in my life. For someone who didn’t like change, happiness suddenly became a heavier motivator for me. I became stronger and more confident as I began to realize who I really was. I inevitably changed undergrad colleges three times. I guess I decided somewhere along the line that feeling unsatisfied had a more tremendous effect than giving up a little routine. During my time at my third and final college, I explored different majors, friends and even where I would hang out on campus. I commuted back and forth every day, was still very close with my sister, family, best friend and boyfriend at home which I think gave me grounding and a feeling of safety in order to make these other changes in my life. One day, I was sitting in a new common area on campus and noticed flashing words on a small monitor across the room. “Interviews for Walt Disney World College Program….” I think that was really the beginning of the end for my change-anxiety. I jumped at this opportunity, was accepted into the WDW College Program, off I went and that shy, scared-of-change little girl disappeared. I met amazing people and had an incredible experience that changed my life forever.
From then on, variety was my middle name. I had many cars, apartments, jobs, boyfriends and dream career ideas. I realized I was ok to make changes when I knew my soul was fed. I was determined to find harmony and clarity in my life and along the way, I found my prince charming, I was very close to my family and I had the best friend a girl could ask for. And yet, even more amazing changes were on their way; Marriage, a Masters Degree, owning my own house and becoming a parent. Those became my constants; my reliables; my core. The things that need to stay stable so I am able to shake things up in other areas of my life. These days, change can range from small to CRAZY for me. I rearrange the furniture. I change my clothing style, my hair style, my cars, I even change up the way I drive home just to switch it up a little. When I pump gas, I don’t like to control where the gallons or dollars land. How fun it is to let randomness have a say. When I look at the clock, I see common numbers; 1:11, 2:22, etc. I like to think a higher being is shouting “Pay attention Patti! This moment will be gone in 3, 2, 1….!!!” And then there is work…but that’s another blog post for another time.
Change for me now is a way for me to have some control. There is so much of my life that I realize is out of my control; change in which my input just doesn’t matter. My children are now the ages I was when I was so afraid of change. I watch them as they struggle with or try to control change. It makes me smile when they ask me if they can rearrange their rooms, they draw up floor plans of how they would like it to look. (Of course, my son just asked me today if he could make a baseball field in his room. I’m thinking…NO.) They dabble with new hair styles, make different clothing choices and even go to different bus stops just to switch it up a little. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t seem so easy for them either at times. My younger son does not always do so well with change. He has a hard time with seasons; going from sneakers to Keens, pants to shorts, long sleeve to short sleeve and of course, vice versa with the switch back to colder weather. My older son likes his hair just the way it is right now and getting him to get a haircut just to neaten it up a little takes a small bit of a miracle.
What I have learned is that change is a given. Time will still keep ticking and this world will be different this minute than the last; even if the batteries in the clock wear out, change will still occur. I have learned to never say never because time makes me change, experiences make me think differently and as much as I like to think I have control just because I initiate change in my life does not mean I do. My children are not babies anymore and the lack of their need to be with me every moment is bittersweet. I can only hope they get the same opportunities to explore and learn about themselves and life as I was able to do. I wish them lives filled with love and their own “reliables” so they feel supported and safe when they are ready to try new things and explore.
Tomorrow is their last day of school. They have learned new skills, new games, new words, new songs and life lessons. They are different little people than they were when they started this school year. I challenge their strength every day to embrace change in a positive way just as they do for me. As this school year comes to an end, they are very excited about summer, about camp, vacation, friends and the prospect of new teachers and events for the next school year. I am so happy for them and love being a part of their excitement and a new chapter in their lives. And yet, as I sit here and ponder the thought of how much I encourage change in myself, my children and others in my life, I am still that scared little girl on the top step crying out “WHY!?” I wonder why can’t I hold on to these precious moments just a bit longer. I am selfishly wanting to stop time for just a little while. But instead, I will take a deep breath and appreciate each little change bit by bit and try to enjoy every nugget, because after all….everything in moderation.