Sometimes Change Can Be Good

Sep 14, 2022
Sierra Dinges

Sometimes Change Can Be Good

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher stated, “Change is the only constant in life.” While this may be true, it does not make the process of change any easier. I, like many others, thrive on consistency, routine, and knowing the expected. Change can create feelings of anxiety, loss of control, and a general sense of feeling overwhelmed. Some life events can be more stressful than others, particularly: moving, starting a new job or career, and growing a family. I just happened to make all three of those changes at the same time. At the end of May, I clicked my heels three times and said farewell to my hometown of Kansas City and relocated to Denver, Colorado to start my doctoral program and to live closer to family as we expect our first baby. I wanted these changes, and they have been incredibly positive experiences, but this does not mean they were easy. This is when I really leaned on what I had spent the past few years learning from Mister Rogers.

Slowing Down

Fred often talked about the importance of slowing down, productive rest, and accepting help. Being a type-A busy body, the concept of slowing down has always been difficult for me. But after a quick medical scare from all of the change, I was on doctor’s orders to rest and to relax, not just for me but for the health and safety of my baby. It felt impossible, as we were moving in just a few days. There was still packing to be done, cleaning, and all the last-minute items before not just moving- moving states. This was my opportunity to practice these gifts. I had to slow my mind and body down, allow myself to physically rest, and accept help from others with the moving process.

episode 1681, Mister Rogers talks about moving fast and slow and uses his control box to move the trolley at different speeds. Like the trolley, we can move fast and slow in our lives. Sometimes we have to use our own “control box” to evaluate what speed we need to move at. During this time, I needed to slow down. Did things get packed the way I wanted? No. Did everything make it to our new home? Yes. In that moment, I had to let go of the idea of control over the little things and do what was best for my body and mind, and what was best for the little baby inside of me. While it was difficult for me in the moment to let go and accept help, I am so thankful I did and am even more grateful for all the wonderful help we had to get us to our new destination.

Loving Ourselves as We Are
Fred’s idea of loving ourselves “exactly as we are” is easy for me when examining other people but it can be quite difficult to apply to myself. As a certified yoga instructor, I often find myself battling my inner ego when I am a student and not a teacher. After joining a new studio, a new challenge regarding change arose as I attempted to do “tree pose” (balancing on one foot). I have done this pose more times than I can count, but now that I was pregnant with quite the noticeable baby bump (and added weight), my center of gravity was not what it used to be and I proceeded to lose my balance, over and over again. I started to feel frustrated and disappointed in myself.

I then made the connection to a couple instances when Fred also struggled with “failure” and the process of loving ourselves even in moments of struggle. For example, when he was attempting to set up a
tent and struggled to put it together. Or when he attempted to hula hoop but was unable to keep the hula hoop spinning around his waist. Rather than taking his frustration out in a physical way or using self-deprecating talk, Fred slowed down, tried several different ways to find success, and ultimately made peace with it being “good enough” for now. Our journey of loving and accepting ourselves is much like the process of setting up a tent or learning to hula hoop. Difficulties and things not going as planned are a part of life. The process may not look how we expect it or end how we envisioned, but by persevering and honoring that we are doing the best we can is an integral part of what makes the journey possible.

Anything Mentionable is Manageable
As I fell out of tree pose once again, I felt tears of self-doubt and inadequacy well up in my eyes. Not only was I wrestling with these emotions, but I was also feeling guilt. Pregnancy has not been the easiest journey for me, and while I am so grateful and joyful for this experience and gift of such a beautiful journey, I also struggle with loving my changing body. I thought to myself: How could I feel this way when I know so many people long for the experience I am having? Does feeling this way already make me a bad mother? Will I pass along these feelings to my child? How do I stop feeling this way? That’s when I remembered one of the many lessons Mister Rogers had taught me when I was a little girl, watching him from his television Neighborhood-feelings that are mentionable are manageable.

No good was going to come from pushing my feelings down or berating myself for experiencing my emotions. There are no “good” or “bad” feelings. Instead, I took the time to feel the intensity of the emotions and try to discover why I was feeling this way and what I could do to resolve those feelings. I took a few notes from Fred and how he practiced emotional regulation. I spent time in nature, read for inspiration, took time to embrace the “white space,” encouraged myself with positive affirmations, and relied on my support system to talk to. I wish I could say I have made peace with those emotions and all the others that have emerged since then. But I can say that to acknowledge multiple feelings, accept them without judgment, and express them in a productive way is all part of embracing the endeavor of change.

Changes in life are like seasons. Even though it is not always comfortable, each “season” brings opportunities for new growth. Sometimes the change is blooming like the cherry blossoms on a tree. Sometimes the change involves loss like the autumn leaves shedding. Each season reminds us that nothing in life is stagnant. Change can be good, and it can be scary. Change can be beautiful, and it can be challenging. Change can be all these things and more, just like all of us. Fred taught me that by taking the time to slow down, accept our feelings as they are, and embrace the season that we are in, we open ourselves up to growth and to expand in the beautiful neighborhood around us.

Sierra Dinges is part of our Educators’ Neighborhood learning community (Cohort 2020-21, Inquiry Educator, 2021-22). Connect with her here.

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