Peace in the Process
Today we are talking about transition. Its defined as the ‘process of changing from one state to another,’ or, as I like to call it, that uncomfortable thing I don’t want to deal with but have to when I’m adulting.
If Grade Twelve English taught me anything, it’s that change is inevitable (except from a vending machine). Some of the change that happens in our lives is exciting. Some of it is uncomfortable, or so devastating that it’s hard to understand how it doesn’t leave a physical mark, as you sure can feel it.
Being in the process of transition can be hard. To know that things are changing, that we are moving from one place to the next but are yet where we want to be.
One thing life has taught me is that often we want to get ‘there.’ We tell ourselves things will be settled when I have that job. I’ll be better after I get that promotion, get marriage, have kids – the list goes on. But sometimes I think ‘there’ is a mythical destination, at least this side of heaven. As the age-old adage goes, the journey is more important than the destination.
Sometimes the most exciting change can still be the most bewildering. I remember coming home from the hospital with my three-day old second daughter, my COVID lockdown baby who hadn’t met her big sister yet. My four-year-old daughter fawned over her new baby sister for a time, before asking me to watch her dance. This is an intense process that requires full attention and constant eye contact – nothing less will be accepted. But I had my newborn squirming next to me and my eyes kept being drawn to her. I felt instantly guilty that my eldest, who’d had four years of full attention, now had to share it. I was overwhelmed. How was I going to do this;mother two children, when I only have the capacity to look at one thing at a time? As we do as women, as mothers, my heart expanded with love as did my capacity, and I learned one day at a time.
But as I went down the rabbit hole of mothering two girls, on the back of an intense year when my beloved sister had gone to heaven months earlier, something I learnt was that self-care is essential. It’s always essential, but especially when life is in transition – any transition – its crucial in that chasm! Living in that space in between is hard, and we have to care for ourselves in the process.
Newsflash: self-care is more than having a bath with candles and wine at the end of the day. If that sort of pampering makes you feel good, you do you boo. But as a woman I believe it goes deeper. It’s about prioritising yourself every day. Not taking care of your partner, your kids, your friends, colleagues, house, your cousin’s pool cleaner’s dog trainer’s uncle, everyone before you. Please stop treating yourself like you’re at the bottom of the food chain. Us mighty women – we are nurturers. God created us that way. We are protectors, creators, curators. But how are we going to do any of these things – to the best of our ability, no less – if we don’t prioritise ourselves?
There is an inspirational quote (or a meme? This millennial gets confused about the difference) doing the rounds on social media:
Create a life that you don’t need a vacation from.
I don’t whole heartedly agree with this because holidays are awesome. But I like the general premise of deliberately curating a life that doesn’t exhaust you, but rather fills you up – one that has self-care built into it.
I believe in holistic self-care. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I’ve made a list of things that I’veimplemented to take care of myself during the tension that can come with transition:
This means moving my body daily. In whatever form this takes for you, whether you’re a gym junkie or a wander around the block sort of person, it doesn’t matter. Movement naturally releases endorphins which calms the mind and nervous system. I like running in the eerie early morning mist, blaring some 90s and noughties R&B while I pound the pavement for a few kilometres. Then I walk back home listening to a podcast that speaks to my mind.
As someone who is overstimulated by too much noise and chaos, this sets me up for the day before I go home to the wonderful onslaught of a thousand questions from my kids. Physical care also includes feeding my body healthy food that will provide me with energy and mental clarity. A glass of wine at night and piece of chocolate also helps, though doing this in moderation is tricky. Apparentlythere are people who can open a block of top deck chocolate and not finish it all at once – who knew?
What are you feeding your mind, your heart, which is the wellspring of your life (Proverbs 4:23)? Be careful not to go down the scroll hole – and if you do, make sure the people you are following on your socials encourage you, rather than stirring up a competitive spirit which robs you of joy. I apply this to my music, my podcasts, my books and my shows. My vivid imagination and busy mind need to be fed good things, not things that make my thoughts spiral. I am trying to steward a rich and restful inner world, sometimes to counteract that whirlwind that is happening in the outer world.
To steal a great line from Yoga with Adriene on YouTube: find what feels good. What brings you moments of happiness, snippets of joy and levity? For me its finding moments of laughter in the mundane with my husband. It’s a good coffee or wine with a friend where we can share about life candidly. It’s a good book where I escape into the character’s world. It’s a journal session on a crisp blank sheet of paper, where I can writethe overflow of my thoughts, or pen a new poem.
Care for that eternal part of ourselves that willdwell in eternity one day; this one is foundational. When I am connected with my Creator God, being intentional about fostering my relationship with Him; that is when I am at my best. When I am close to Him, staring at his face, the other details of life have a habit of fading away. I get this through prayer, through worship, through reading my bible, through walks in nature. Find the unique way your spirit connects with His Spirit. He made us all different. Peace, to me, is Jesus asleep in the boat during the storm (Mark 4:38).
The storm was still swirling around him, but he could be at rest through it all because of the deep knowledge of who His father was, and who He belonged to. That is peace in the process – being found in our father even when the storms of life are swirling.
By no means do I always get it right. It’s a process of trial and error. But I keep trying, as I am worthy of it. Wherever you are at today, whatever transition is happening in your life.
I hope this speaks to you. Find unique ways to care for yourself and love yourself to give you peace in the process. You are doing well, and you can keep going. You’ve got this.
Rachel Mthembu is a beliver, a wife, a mother to two Queens in the making and a professional writer. To stay connected, youou can follow her on Instagram.