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Sharon Randall: Three stages of change

Writer

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

Moving is not for sissies. And that is what I am. I try to avoid things that can cause me pain, especially things that require heavy lifting or hospitalization.

Ask my sister and brother. They call me “Sissy,” and not just because I’m their sister.

But even a sissy has to move on occasion, physically and emotionally, to a new home, a new job, a new relationship or a whole new stage of life.

It’s called change.

I’ve made all sorts of changes in my time. Maybe you have, too. They all seem to unfold in three stages:

• The first stage of change is letting go. It’s hard. Especially letting go of something or someone you love. But one day you realize that you can’t keep holding on to whatever is holding you back. It belongs in the past, not the present. So you give thanks for the gift that it has been. Then you take a deep breath, open your hands and your heart and simply set it free.

I did that for months, every time I winced with pain going up or down the stairs. My old house in Pacific Grove, Calif., was built nearly 100 years ago, with two staircases between the first and second floors, and a ladder to the third-floor loft.

I know those stairs better than I know the lines on my face. I used to jog up and down them with a baby in one arm and a basket of laundry in the other.

But lately, my knees have been yelling, “Enough already!”

I like my knees. They’ve served me well. I’d like them to keep serving me for as long as I need them. So I made an incredibly difficult decision to say goodbye to those stairs, and to the house I have loved almost forever.

• The second stage of change is moving forward. You take a giant leap or baby step away from what was, and plant your feet firmly in the here and now.

More than hard, it’s entirely exhausting. But you pack up all your memories, the treasures you can’t part with, and take them to a new place.

That’s what we did last week. “We” means me, my husband and a crew of very strong men who are our new best friends and seem to like heavy lifting a whole lot more than we do.

The move was a team effort. The crew did all the work, and my husband and I did our best to keep out of their way.

We took most of what we own (and got rid of the rest) from the old house and moved 20 miles to Carmel Valley. The new place is half as big as the old one, with a thousand times the view.

View means a lot to me. I don’t climb mountains much any more. But I still like to look at them. The new place has lots of mountains. They remind me of the Blue Ridge, where I grew up, and make me feel at home. And there are no streetlights, so at night, the sky rains stars.

Best of all, it has no stairs.

• The third and final stage of change is finding joy. For a few days after we moved, I kept searching for things I couldn’t find. Getting ready one morning for an appointment, I needed to wash my hair, but couldn’t find a hair dryer. Ditto for the pants I wanted to wear. And where were my favorite black flats?

I knew all those things were probably in one of a dozen boxes in our garage.

But which box?

So I went to that appointment with dirty hair, in sweat pants and running shoes, with socks I stole from my husband’s drawer because I couldn’t find my own.

I’m glad you couldn’t see me.

We keep opening boxes. It’s like Christmas without the shopping. Meanwhile, we are surely finding joy.

It’s the joy of living in the present, the joy of welcoming family and friends to our new home and the joy of delighting in simple things.

We’re especially thankful for the joy of knowing that moving was the right decision.

Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll find my favorite black flats.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

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