4 “R’s” For September Settling (aka Getting a Grip)

The carefree days of summer are gone – sipping iced tea on the deck, putzing around the garden, riding bikes to the farmers market and savouring late night conversations around the mesmerizing fire. I already miss summers’ sights and sounds – children’s laughter in back yards, birds chirping while flitting amongst the tree branches, and the feeling of sun-kissed warmth on my upturned face.

On my walk this morning, I breathed in crisp air, my cooled lungs reminding me that the season is changing. A squawk overhead called me to look up and marvel at the perfect “V” shape of Canadian geese, flying in formation to warmer climates.

As September disappears, it’s hard to let go of the pace and peace I knew; yet there’s an urgency to be more productive, to find routine again. I long to linger over summer memories and also want to reach forward. I anticipate. I fear. I hesitate, unsure. I swing back and forth. My brain scrambled with overwhelm, I’m scattered and confused. Then my brain switches to Swiss cheese, motivation and organization falling through the holes.

These are the phrases I’ve heard recently, listening to friends who’ve returned from home leave or moved into home assignment:

“I don’t know where to start – 3 friends have left this summer.”

“It hasn’t been a month since we settled our son at university. I’m excited for him but my heart aches with the reminder of his empty chair at the table. I can’t seem to get beyond the sadness, yet have 2 other children at home.”

“I’m mixed up… in chaos… loss … confusion. I’m exhausted already… what is here for me?”

We’re all in transition: whether settling back into routine with children going back to school, trying to navigate a cross cultural relocation (Helpful links: http://expatfamilyresiliencecoach.com/culture-stress/ and http://expatfamilyresiliencecoach.com/cultural-clashes-and-how-to-handle-them/), or letting go the loss of friends or an young adult child who have moved. Here are four “R’s” that will allow you to breathe, get a grip and recalibrate:

1. Remember – Take time to mentally file and celebrate summer experiences and feelings. Sometimes our brain is frantic to hold on and NOT move forward because its’ afraid memories will disappear forever.

What are the highlights of your summer – wonderful and challenging?
Relive them in your mind, paying them honour and celebration.
What made them memorable? Who were you being and what were you doing?

2. Ruminate – Means “to think deeply about… ponder”. Our thoughts in transition tend to keep ricocheting off the walls of our brain, like clothes in a dryer without a ‘finish’ button! Their churning robs us of energy, sleep and peace of mind. Our challenge is that we don’t look at them objectively. That’s what I’m suggesting – ruminate on them. Press the stop button and take a look at your thoughts, one by one. Write them down if that helps.

How do they look written down? Heavy? Surreal? Maybe funny?
What’s the lie? The truth?
What beliefs are you adopting because of this thought?
Do you choose to embrace it or let it go? If letting it go, what will replace it?

3. Review and Renew –

– Relationships and Roles – Write down the names of those you’re in relationship with. Include family/ house help/ friends/ acquaintances/ God- Higher Power/ relatives – close and distant/ colleagues at work. Prioritize who’s most important.

Is it time to let go or change up a relationship? Look for a new one?
How do I show this person is priority in my life? What connects us?
What is my role in the relationship? Is this what I desire?
How do I want to proceed with love and joy in each relationship?

– Responsibilities – Take a look at those things – work, home, community – that you’re responsible for.

Which are you putting pressure on yourself to fulfill when in reality it’s best to let it go?
What time management strategies will help you complete these with greater ease?
Which perspective empowers for purpose in responsibilities you know are a “must”?

– Routines and Rituals – Routines help us know what’s important and allow us to get things done without thinking too deeply. They help families cope with stress and keep things stable and secure. They give order. Rituals are routines with deep meaning and they help strengthen beliefs and values – both personally and in a family.

What routines/rituals are important for you/your family? Acknowledge and reaffirm them.
What new routines would serve you well in this season?
How can you make them a part of daily/weekly/monthly routine?
Is it time to let go of a routine or ritual that is outdated or no longer serving an important purpose?

4. Reset– When thoughts, behaviours and/or feelings aren’t serving you or those around you with love, you can press an inner RESET button. You don’t have to keep going the way you are. I’d be a mess without a reset button in my life! It reminds me that grace, love and forgiveness are a gift given me by God and those I love.

When do you want to hit the reset button?
What’s the ‘plan of action’ for doing that?
Once you have this established, you can move into it with confidence and courage.

For most of us, September (not January) is the time for setting new intentions because it’s when we re-engage in life, work and contribution. I encourage you to breathe, take an afternoon or weekend to ponder, assess and plan. It will mean moving forward with purpose as you navigate the transitions you’re immersed in. Get a grip. Hang on tight. Live globally with strength.

Becky Signature 2



Helps for relocation transition:

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