At a time of year I always associate with new beginnings, this year I’m feeling the annual Labour Day transition more profoundly than ever.
This is the Labour Day that my partner-in-adventure-and-all-things-domestic and I officially become empty nesters. I’m sure this would have been tough under any circumstance, but the fact that it’s come a year earlier than we anticipated has thrown me a bit off kilter.
For starters, I can’t seem to get a handle on how much food to buy – or which items. The other day I found myself a little overwhelmed (seriously) at the grocery store when I saw the tower of “Bunny Noodles” on sale, and then just as I was reaching for a box realized I may never need to buy Annie’s mac and cheese again, because my youngest child and pickiest eater, who depended on cereal and that prepared pasta as his main source of sustenance for most of his life, may never live at home again.
You see; our Number Three has headed off to complete Grades 12 and 13 in Europe. Knowing him, there’s a good chance he’ll remain overseas, or find somewhere even further flung to land. His aversion to trying new things is apparently limited only to food. When it comes to anything else – sports, making new friends, adventures and yes, leaving the safety net of his hometown and family – his appetite for the unknown appears boundless.
Now there’s a kid who knows how to manage a transition. He jumps in with both feet and just flies. Me, I’m left behind in a prickly limbo space.
That’s the thing about transitions. They can be incredibly uncomfortable. Especially for a control freak who feels most at ease with all her chickens in the coop. Transitions are that space between what is known and manageable and the unknowable, unpredictable future. Thankfully, yoga has taught me a thing or two about how to tackle a transition and have faith that if I give in to it, it will deliver me safely from one state (or pose) to another.
In traditional Ashtanga yoga, and most modern variety flow classes, there is a sequence of linked movements that help you transition from one pose to another. The first few years I practiced yoga I rushed through these transition sequences – they are challenging!
Gradually, I came to appreciate that the transition is the journey that the cliché phrase urges us to “enjoy.”
Breaking down the transitioning yoga sequence, slowing it down and being mindful of every movement brings me into the present and allows me to absorb where I’ve been and be ready for whatever surprise pose is coming next.
While yoga transitions follow a set pattern that you can learn and practice, real life transitions are unpredictable. The common thread is that transitions always usher a move from one state of being to another. Taking on a new job, moving house, changing your relationship status or losing someone you love are just some of the bigger life transitions most of us experience. Some are generally happy and celebratory, others are more difficult, but all of them represent a vital condition of our human lives – constant change and progression.
Yoga has taught me to respect these powerful segues by forcing my busy mind and body to honour exactly where I’m at; to stop second-guessing everything that’s come before (for example all those imperfect parenting moments) and stop stressing about all the things that could go wrong in the future. In other words, to just sit with where I’m at and just be.
It’s harder than it sounds, especially when your teenage kid is 8,000 km away in a foreign country at a new school and his luggage doesn’t arrive for four days (thanks Air Canada) and all he has is the clothes he wore on the plane and, thankfully, the toothbrush that you snuck into his carry-on at the last moment despite his protestations.
Okay, so I’m not exactly there on the “just be” and “control the controllables” yet, but it’s a process. And as I face this very challenging transition, I am writing this blog in an attempt to force myself to recognize exactly where I’m at and remind myself that one day, my semi-grown children will return to the coop looking for a free place to stay and a home-cooked meal.