Practice Page: December 2015 Newsletter

Shifting Gears

Years ago when I learned to drive, our family car had a manual transmission. At sixteen, I felt doomed because that was the car I would use to take my driver’s test, in a town with many steep hills, where I would be required to parallel park.

Joy of joys, I passed the test and earned my driver’s license. However, I waited until we got a better car, one that shifted itself, before I drove.

Writing Practice

The notion of shifting gears remains vivid in my imagination because it presented such a huge challenge for me. I can still remember the dread and fear of approaching this maneuver. Behind the wheel or in life, shifting gears can require courage and focused practice.

As you think about ending one year and entering a new year, I thought it might be interesting to explore the possibility of shifting something in your own life.

• Make a short list of any associations you have to the word “shifting”.

My examples:  anticipation, dread, fear, stalling, making a change, smoothly, learning, practice, listening, feeling it, paying attention, making adjustments, heading in a new direction, choosing

• If you were going to “shift” anything in your life in 2016, what might be on that list?

My examples:  eliminate unsatisfying time-wasters, be more hands-on with finances, create new gatherings, identify a project for the year

• How would you “gear up” to have the smoothest transition possible?

My examples:  get enough sleep, wear comfortable shoes, take smaller steps, be more gentle with myself, spend time with supportive people, get a good haircut, remind myself of personal successes, make a list of what I learned from attempted transitions

• When have you shifted patterns in the past?

My examples: changed careers two times, resigned from jobs multiple times, moved to a different state, traveled in Europe, vacationed by myself, adopted healthy habits


If I could offer one inspiring and comforting thought, to return to again and again, as you approach the possibility or inevitability of change, it would be this one:

“… without stillness, without being present, we will get it wrong. We will miss the simple quiet opportunities for shifting the pattern.” -Wayne Muller

The words are calming and centering. They guide you to that quiet place at the center of your being—a place not ruled by fear. Removed from noise and chaos, you can hear your own knowing again. And remember who you are and what matters. You can choose with clarity and confidence, even though the outcome is uncertain. You can live true to who you are and who you are becoming.

My wish for all of us in the coming year is that we are more fully present in our own lives, ready to shift the patterns that seek our attention.

Laurie Mattila
© December 2015

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