“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau

Birth. Growth. Life change. Personal transformation. Future possibilities. Opportunity. All of this comes with transition & change of some sort; trials and tribulations; joys and sorrows.

This month, I pondered on the graduation of my oldest child from high school, and the bittersweet emotion of seeing him transition from the young strong-willed boy he was into the wonderful compassionate successful young man I always hoped he become. I have been looking around me and pondering how life transitions and change can buoy us up, bring us down, invigorate us or paralyze us. In a very strange way, my own MS and seizure illness has provided my sons with a back-handed gift in their current lifetime – an opportunity to deal with crisis, constant change, and the ability to recognize the importance of family and what priorities truly are in life.

There are so many of us that look back at our past and lament on the “good times gone by”, unable to focus on the present moment for whatever reason. I had a friend in his mid-50’s who used to always say “Back in high schoool, I was a real jock…so I have always been into fitness.” Meanwhile, he lived with a weight problem and a significant cardiac problem…not willing to face that that those days in high school when he was a jock are long gone. He needed to look at where he was in the moment…and where he was heading in the future. His high school jock status was not helping his current weight and cardiac issue. But he could not see it – he could not face that he had changed with time. My response? “That was then. This is now! Who are you NOW?”

Embracing change is a skill that needs developing and daily practice.

Over the years, life changes. Our bodies change. (Oh Lordy, do our bodies change!!! If only we knew at age 25 what we know as we near age 50!! I mean, c’mon – wrinkles, acne AND a mustache for women in menopause???WTF??) We change emotionally and mentally too – our perspectives change, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better. Theoretically, we have learned from our lifetime of experiences and gotten wiser. (Well – the jury is still out on that one for some of us!) Those of us who deal with chronic illnesses such as MS face change on a daily, even hourly basis.

Tips to Embrace the beauty and Opportunity within Change and Transition:

1. Choose to see yourself fully in the present moment.

Look at yourself – really look at yourself. Open your eyes and heart, and see that you already have everything you need to be happy, loved, and fulfilled – no matter what is going on around you. Love and accept completely everything that you are. You are beautiful – no matter your age, weight, hair colour, or skin colour. Believe it, and most importantly, remind yourself often.

2. Choose to see new opportunities within change.

Open your mind and embrace the present moment, and look at whether it contains an obstacle or an opportunity in your perspective. Look beyond any obstacle you perceive, and find the opportunity on the other side. It may simply be an opportunity to learn something from a mistake – but recognize it as such! Be bold, be courageous, and make decisions that help you learn. Start as soon as possible to embrace any necessary changes – take the initiative where you can. It is your life, your responsibility, your power.

3. Choose to see that you have the power to manage how change affects you.

We’re often faced with personal change due to circumstances outside of our control, such as health issues, divorce, death, job loss and so on. Even though you may not be in control of what’s going on around you, you do have control over your reaction to any situation.  We are each responsible for our own actions and reactions, regardless of how other people may act or what is going on around us. Face each situation with your calm inner witness. Never accept another person’s reality as your own. Always believe that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.  Embrace the power of personal control in the face of change and transition. That personal power is the key tool to help you through it.

“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” -Honore de Balzac