For the past few months, the winds of change have been blowing from several directions here, and the storm is now brewing in a big way. By the time it’s over it will have picked us up — think Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz — and set us down in a new place.
The Physical Move
Like Dorothy, we’re moving house — picking up stakes and leaving Johannesburg, South Africa, for Denver, Colorado. We’re a blended-culture family: my husband was born and raised in SA and I’m American. Since we’ve been married we’ve lived in SA twice and the US once, and now we’re heading back to the States to be closer to my family, solve a pesky tax situation and be nearer to my son as he starts college in Colorado.
We’ve loved it here and still love it here. It’s a beautiful country with amazing people, we have deep personal connections, I love my work here, and my husband will still be working here frequently. Some of my now-favorite things to do are here: game-watching in the bush, listening to the bird sounds in my garden, smelling the veld after the rain, working with the faculty and learners at Masibambane College. It’s been a wonderful place to raise our children, and they’ve grown from little kids into young adults during our time here.
So I’m sad to leave but I’m also happy to be going back to my hometown after many years away. More than anything I’m looking forward to reconnecting with precious relationships there — my parents, brothers, nieces and nephew, friends — and spending time in the mountains again.
The Life-Stage Moves
Our physical move coincides with my son finishing high school and applying to U.S. colleges. For him, it’s an exciting — if also stressful — time of transitioning from boy to man, dependence to independence. He’s ready for this new phase and looking forward to it. He’s also looking forward to being able to study what he wants to, after a lifetime (well, for as long as he can remember) of studying many subjects he didn’t love and only a few that he did. I think he’s going to soar and really enjoy himself.
But as he takes off into that new life, the nest he leaves will become half-empty.
I love having him around all the time. He’s loving, funny, creative, energetic, incredibly people-smart and a truly great brother and son. Our shift will be to honor the space he occupies in our lives even when he isn’t physically in our space.
The Professional Move
Professionally, I’m making a shift of my own. For years I’ve been migrating toward working with teenagers, who I love and respect and who, as a group, struggle and suffer more than I think they ought. My wild, hairy, audacious, inspiring dream is that all children will survive adolescence with their wonderful inner sprit and strengths intact. Can you imagine the changes we could see in the world if a whole generation of children from around the globe could do that???
Already a train-the-trainer in applying the science of positive psychology and character strengths in a school setting, I am now deep into training to become a certified ‘family coach’ and will be able to work directly parents and teenagers who want deeper connections with each other. I think we would have done our jobs as adults and custodians of the planet if we could accomplish this. By the end of January I expect to be ready to offer coaching and workshops in Denver and/or online, and invite you to join me.
Holding Steady in the Winds of Change
So the winds, they are a blowin’. I’ve had moments (and longer) of feeling battered by the breezes, but like that rooster on the weather vane, I’m trying to choose the path of least resistance.
I admit that’s often hard to do. I’m an organizer and like to be in charge. I like things peaceful and calm. I’ve worked hard (along with the rest of my family) to create the nice life and home we have year, and hate giving it up. I can gather up memories of the past plus future plans and worries and freak out about the enormity of it all. Waah.
But every now and then, when I just relax and think about what’s happening at that very moment, things are actually pretty fantastic. I take stock of everything that’s good, and there is so much. I savor the presence of friends over a last cup of tea; listen to the birds in the garden; notice the blazing beauty of Jacranda blossoms against a blue November sky; absorb the sights, sounds and presence of my growing children; appreciate the maturity of my now-almost-man child submit his university applications; enjoy the taste of a gorgeous South African cabernet at sunset.
For me, enjoying the beauty of what’s around and finding things to be thankful for ground me in the moment. That’s how I’m weathering the winds of change. I’m imagining one of this big, sturdy masts on an old sailing ship plowing through a stormy sea. It will still be upright and strong when the winds die down.