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GRADUATIONS EQUAL TRANSITIONS

Graduations … wow. It’s that time of the year again. No, not Christmas. Not that yet. It’s that time for endings. Curious timing for an ending when you think about it – essentially in the middle of the calendar year. The real issue is less about the ending. It’s more about the transitions both students and their families must process before the start of the next school year.

Most of us remember the heart-palpitating excitement, increasing frenetic energy, and wide-eyed thrill of the final bell ringing out the current school year. We’ve forgotten the impact of those transitions. In spite of how ready we felt for the next phase, a low current of fear coursed through our veins as to what was next.

The fear of the unknown.

For us now as parents, we face a similar but different kind of fear. One not so much about kids, although that does exist, rather more about ourselves. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Graduations

Eighth-grade “promotions” were deemed important to note the imminent start of high school. High school graduations signaled permanently-changed family dynamics. One little darling left the nest, siblings, and the comforts of home. Chores and responsibilities were left to be reshuffled. College graduations are more the mental game for us parents, shocked that our offspring are allegedly prepared to take responsibility to begin the rest of their lives. 

Likely, we are more shocked that we could be old enough to have children going to and/or graduating from college. (We can cover weddings and grandchildren in a future blog. I’m not quite there yet. This educational transition stuff is enough topic for one post!)

I Get You

This year, 2018, my husband and I face several of these blessed events. Our “baby” graduates from high school; our next “angel” graduates from college; and our eldest “brat” marries between winter holidays. My mother has lovingly suggested I take up drinking more Red Red Wine  (original version) … too bad I’m not much of a drinker.

In addition, we’ve put our house on the market to downsize. Talk about change! I’ve run to hide and share this experience with you, all while I finish the second book in that trilogy – yes, finally. (Fear not! Book 3 will not take as long!) … But I digress.

Spending too much time mourning the loss of your little pumpkin? Think you’re woefully inadequate now that they’re gone? Consider something more healing and forward thinking.

In fact, let me empower all parents.

Consider Yourselves

What did you want to be when you grew up? Do you still have “little ones” at home? Do you realize your role will change quickly? Ponder the possibilities. What does your kids’ post-secondary education picture look like for you? Determine what steps (if any) you need to take now to begin this major life transition. If you’re an empty nester and hadn’t considered a vocation beyond chief family cook and bottle washer, NOW is the time! If you’ve been petrified about this day for years but chiseling away at preparations, NOW is the time to take the next step!

Be like the amazing children you’ve raised: graduate. Transition. NOW is the time!

P. S. The above-mentioned transitions delayed this blog’s updates. My plan is to show up about once a month now. Of course, after I Cry Me A River (original version) and mourn at least one day (but not more than two) that my role as a parent has changed now … forever.

FATE? YES! COINCIDENCE? NO!

Coincidence or fate? Ever hear the phrase “everything happens for a reason”? Personally? I’m a passionate believer. Too many things have happened in my life for this to be anything but the truth. This concept appears in my book G.A.S.P. too.

Indulge me a moment.

SCENARIO 1

One of my daughters loved high school so much; she couldn’t even stomach talking about graduating, let alone college hunting. As she tearfully departed for that first day of her senior year, I prayed for an eye-opener.

Aware of a newly hired principal, I never expected relief on this front. Since Management 101 dictates learning about one’s new environment prior to making changes, I knew my daughter was about to enjoy “running” the school – as all seniors do. Thankfully, the new principal never took that class. FATE.

More on this in a moment.

SCENARIO 2

For weeks, life’s hectic timetable had controlled my novel writing schedule. I’d grumbled more than a few times, much to the chagrin of my family, about my frustrations. On one overloaded day, it was no different.

Headed westbound to drive the afternoon school carpool, I sat patiently at a major intersection’s red light. The freeway overpass hustled into action as the light turned green; traffic proceeded as usual. What wasn’t usual was the sedan making a left turn on red off the exit ramp, into three-lanes of oncoming traffic with the green light. I was in the far right lane when she hit me head-on. FATE.

I’ll circle back to this, too.

alaska-gold-nuggets-in-a-gold-panning-pan-bgk6fy

SCENARIO 3

My husband and I attended a wrap-up dinner the last night of a national catering conference. Informative sessions were over, and it was time to socialize and network. All attendees looked forward to this final event, as it reflected the flavors and fun of the hosting city. Quirky Portland, Oregon was ready to share why IFC show Portlandia, “Put a Bird On It.”  http://www.ifc.com/shows/portlandia

“My Semester-at-Sea experience led me to lifetime contacts around the country,” a young caterer shared, as we continued our bus ride conversation on the coat check line.

“So, who lives farthest from Atlanta (where he’s based) that you’re still in touch with?” I asked.

“One of my closest friends from that semester is a gold miner in Alaska—”

“Sorry to interrupt, but did you say a gold miner? In Alaska?”

“Yes! Crazy, right? Why?” He noticed the very shocked look on my face.

“The opening scene in my first novel happens in Alaska. Gold mining plays a big role in it as well.” FATE.

BRING IT FULL CIRCLE

Fate versus coincidence isn’t a new concept in books either. In Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, fictional Professor Robert Langdon shared with one of his classes that “connections may be invisible … but they are always there.” Time to come full circle with my above-mentioned scenarios and exemplify destiny’s evident existence.

The new high school principal had so ignored the basic 101 class that my daughter’s tearful morning departure made an about-face by day’s end. She was on a mission after that to graduate and move on! At first saddened by the way this four-year experience would end, I saw Fate’s gift answering my prayers.

That head-on collision was Fate heeding my desire to finish my book. I needed a cleared calendar to recover from the accident (I’m healthy again) and find another car (mine was totaled). Her “gift” provided enough time to also finish G.A.S.P.

Regarding the catering conference: I needed to leave Arizona to attend it in Portland, Oregon to meet a young professional from Atlanta, Georgia to find a genuine Alaskan gold miner to authenticate storylines in G.A.S.P. as well as for books 2 and 3.

That’s FATE people!

P.S. G.A.S.P. main characters, Julie and Dane, are two ordinary people who cross paths after decades apart. They embark on an adventure that changes their lives forever. Fate or coincidence? Read G.A.S.P. and you decide. Let me know your thoughts, and I may use them in book #2 AND include you in my acknowledgements.

TRANSITIONS INEVITABLE DAILY

They forgot to tell us about transitions. In fact, there are actually three things in life that are inevitable: death, taxes and change (a.k.a. transitions), not two. As our kids return to school, those inevitable’s are really clear. Disagree? Now you’re only kidding yourself. I know. I’m making you think. Ponder a few thoughts with me.

DEATH

Usually, (illness aside) death isn’t pinned to a specific date — unless you’re a parent of a first-year preschooler or a high school/college freshman. Then, the date is, exact. However, unexpected are the feelings that arise.

Here’s an example. When my three-year-old first went to preschool, I was so excited to have even a small window of time to myself (2.5 hours!) regularly (twice weekly). While my husband and I stood proudly by Mrs. Ranier’s classroom door, our daughter gleefully swept in ready for the morning’s activities. She didn’t even turn to wave! Meanwhile, two other sets of parents were attempting to pry their little darlings’ hands off them. Those poor babies clung desperately to life as they’d known it for three “whole” years.

Bet you’re trying to figure out if I’m referring to the parents or the toddlers? Well, according to child psychologists, either and/or both! https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/separation-anxiety  That’s for a different blog. Meanwhile, here’s my point: I wasn’t certain if my daughter was just very confident and ready to take on the world, or if I was the worst mother from whom she couldn’t escape fast enough! With wistful smiles, Mrs. Ranier bid us adios, and we opted to keep our adult coffee date.

I walked to my car (we drove separately so my husband could leave our date for work), closed the door, turned it on, blasted the a/c, and sobbed. Yep. That first day, she’d barely attended an introductory hour, and I sobbed as if this was forever.

The truth? I was right … and wrong. Of COURSE she hadn’t disappeared. However, the untainted and uncorrupted soul I’d known for three years was. She was, actually, entering an environment she’d be in for the next 19 years: school. You do realize those places are filled with other kids, experiences, and information outside of you, right?! We’ll cover going to college in a moment.

change arrows

TAXES

We pay emotional ones every time our bundles of joy walk out the door for a first anything. Sports tryouts, musical auditions, final exams, new schools. Get the idea? We aren’t experiencing them ourselves; we’ve had our turn. Our compassion meters run high — quite taxing.

TRANSITIONS

Now this is important to attempt to grasp, folks: CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. It’s the one constant you can count on every single day of your life. When we headed to college with our firstborn, I was woefully unprepared for the impending parental evolution. (Remind me to take this one up with my mom!) The tsunami of feelings when we left her there was off the charts!

So, my youngest leaves our nest in just two years. Am I finally prepared? I’ll get back to you on this; I’m not there yet. The “empty nest” is regularly touted as awesome (i.e. sex in every room of the house, faraway travel, and laundry cut by at least a third).

School transitions are a challenge for all of us. Desperate to have my despair validated, I’ve looked them up. http://patch.com/new-jersey/springfield/bp–permission-to-grieve-when-your-children-go-away-to-college.  My intense despondency has been mocked. “Maybe you need help through modern medicine or wine!” I’d felt more prepared for the joys than the sorrows of less responsibility; remaining teens getting their driver’s licenses (= freedom to not drive them around); and mind space to think about new things for myself. But I seemed to need permission to grieve — even just from myself! Legitimately, I was transitioning from the mom of three to two and now just one. How I’ve shepherded all these years was over!

MOVING ON

Sure, I’m moving on, and, in the future, I may share the day we dropped each of them off at college. (I do still have one to go.) My analogy is horrifying, hilarious, and accurate. If you want me to share sooner rather than later, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See? Transitions are certain. The good news though? We’re not alone pondering them.