This past Sunday at church was Graduation Sunday. I was sitting next to my son Jordan, who’s graduating in 6 days, and had my arm around him. I rubbed his shoulders, looped my arm through his – and he uncharacteristically tolerated it all. The woman in the pew behind us leaned forward and said, “You’re making me miss my son.”

It hit me. A VERY BIG change is knocking on my door. After 32 years of having kids at home and in school – my youngest is graduating from high school. No more carpools, lunches to pack, parent nights to attend, sports events to watch or need to call the school if he’s going to miss class.

My son is graduating, but that’s not really the change…. He’s taking a gap year, and moving out of town to work. For the first time in 32 years, it’ll just be me and the Hottie. Will we still like each other? (I certainly think so, we have while we had kids in the house…) Will we get bored with it being just the two of us? (I can’t imagine it, but who knows, this is a CHANGE….)  Will I still cook almost every night? NO. That one I can answer definitively! 😊

In what other ways might my life change that I can’t even imagine?

I’ve stood in front of thousands of people and waved my hands in the air like I just won the lottery to illustrate my excitement about having an empty nest … but truth be told, I’m a little scared…even though I know it’s a good thing.

Lots of changes are good – the end of school signals the start of summer, and I was always happy when summer arrived and our schedule eased up. I’m happy my son is graduating and moving forward in life. My mom always said, “The only thing worse than your child graduating and leaving home, is your child NOT graduating and leaving home.” She was a very wise woman.

Some changes are harder – like for the group of state government employees I spoke to last week who are going through a process called ‘Transformation’ where they are ‘transforming’ the whole system – combining departments, streamlining processes….and eliminating jobs.

That kind of change can be stressful. For some people, all change is stressful. So how do we deal with change?

Here are 6 things I’ve been relying on heavily these past few weeks!  

1 – BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF – Another one of my mom’s favorite sayings was, “Beyond a healthy discipline, be gentle with yourself.” Times of change and stress are times when you also need to practice self-care – get more sleep, be in nature, try not to rush – be KIND to yourself.

2 – SURRENDER –  In the Serenity Prayer the first line asks for the serenity to accept the things you cannot CHANGE. Some change you have no choice about. So accept the CHANGES and look FORWARD, not back.

3 – CELEBRATE THE GOOD – There’s always a bright side, a silver lining, something good to come out of even something that feels ‘bad.’ So focus on that thing and celebrate what’s good about the CHANGE.

4 – SET NEW GOALS – When times change, you’ve got to change with them. Now that things are CHANGING – what are your new priorities?

5 – CONNECT WITH FRIENDS – CHANGE is a time when you might need a little extra support. I’m willing to bet you’re happy to give support when your friends need it, well now’s your time to receive more support. Don’t cut yourself off because you’re feeling nervous or scared about the future – REACH OUT and connect with those that love and support you.

And last but not least…

6 – LIGHTEN UP! 😊 I love a process called WORST CASE SCENARIO. You think of the upcoming CHANGE and then go totally 13-year-old-drama-queen-crazy about it. Imagine the very worst thing that could happen. If your department is going through ‘transformation’ what’s the worst that could happen?   You could lose your job, lose everything, have to join the circus, learn to ride an elephant, steal peanuts to eat, be a stowaway on the railcar…. You get the point! You’ll survive it – perhaps even thrive!

Change can be scary. Often imagining the unknown and what ‘could’ happen is far worse that what really does happen.   Remember 90% of your happiness is NOT based on your circumstances, so even when circumstances CHANGE, you CAN continue to be happy!