Shatter the Sameness

Must see collection at the Phoenix Art Museum. British born artist, Cornelia Parker, created the installation from the charred remains of a Texas Baptist church that was struck by lightning. Creativity and beauty inspired by “charred remains” is a lesson I can incorporate into my own life.

Parker, Cornelia. Mass (Colder Darker Matter). 1997. Burnt wood, wire, and string. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum.

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ~ Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein

Like many people, I am a creature of habit. That is, I was a creature of habit prior to last June. Before taking the leap into the unknown (that has since become my life) my daily routine was so consistent, that the movements of one weekday looked exactly like the next. Beginning with two snoozes of the sleep shattering alarm, then stepping through my re-traceable morning routine, on to my synonymous work schedule, followed by my familiar drive home and my repetitive evening rituals, I was caught in a cycle of sameness. Getting caught in the same loop (pun intended) is understandable; sameness is encouraged throughout many aspects and phases of our lives. Sometimes we need to shatter the sameness to discover our unique gifts. My wake up, work, and repeat routine gave me certainty, which is my preferred state of being, but my routine also turned me into a rote robot, mechanically stepping through my life. My predictable path gave me stability and robbed me of creativity. A change was needed.

Many changes have occurred in my life over the last four months since stepping off my predicable daily path. First, I had to move through the fear and regret of leaving stability. Or at least my belief in that concept. As most of us know, stability is just an illusion – if we capture it, it rarely lasts. Unexpected news can tear through our “stable” lives and leave us scattered. However transitory, my routine had become a series of carbon copy days that outlined what I needed to do in life, but not how to live. Next, I needed to rest, reflect, and restore. Focusing on those three overlooked “Rs” during the summer months gave me a mental and physical reboot. Recharged and redirected, I am now able to practice presence, listen to inner guidance, and explore other life paths. This exploration has encouraged me to invite more intention, purpose, and spontaneity into my life. Opening the door for these changes has also left plenty of room for uncertainty to step in, which sounds less terrifying now than it did four months ago. Through this journey, I have been reminded that the most memorable people, places, and sights are often those we discover when we take the side roads and take our time getting there.

Change your routine. Change your mindset. Change your life.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The one thing we can count on is change” or some variation thereof. As someone who worked in public education for many years, I know this truth. However, in this common context, this approach feels reactionary. Change is thrust upon us and we are expected to adapt, whether we agree or not, or whether we have a say in the situation or not. Being able to adapt to change is vital to the survival of all species, and we are certainly no exception. Rather, we are the exception. As humans, we have the ability to not only adapt to change that is thrust upon us, but we have the incredible ability to do more than react to our environments. Among other human gifts, we can set desired goals and then determine if our current way of living and thinking will get us there or not. If not, we can proactively change what isn’t working and embrace a new way. Those changes might require life or mind modifications and they might create discomfort and disruption, but if we keep moving forward, adjust when needed, and surround ourselves with positive influences, we can achieve the change we are seeking.

As I move through discomfort and move forward with of my own journey of change, I have discovered unexpected gains from this walk.

Here are a few recent highlights:  

What I’ve Changed What I’ve Gained
Saying hello to strangers, rather than focusing on my own running to-do lists or staying in my personal bubble A chance meeting in a coffee shop with a young college student who is pursuing a career in a similar field to a close friend of mine. A quick exchange of contact information gave her a contact and a viable job lead.
Saying “yes” to new experiences that are outside of my norm, rather than saying “I am too busy” -Attending a class on learning how to create a 10-inch-hide drum that will be given to a youth in the valley.
-The joy of making something with my hands and connecting with a caring community
Freeing myself up in the evening, rather than focusing solely on my classroom responsibilities -Finally signing up for the weeknight photography class that I have thought about for years.
Joining a group at my church and meeting a lady who just moved here from out of state
Giving up watching the news in the morning, and most evenings Learning something by watching a twenty-minute informative Ted Talk, or inspiring podcast
Making a commitment to moving and exercising Increased strength and overall improved mental outlook
Sharing my words with an audience outside of my classroom A creative outlet, rediscovered joy, and a connection to others
A willingness to step outside my certain and predictable career path Time to explore new professional opportunities
An overcommitted schedule -An ability to be present and be there for my loved ones
-Pockets of cherished time to work on my 50 Life Stories
-Applying to assist the elderly in my community
Releasing excessive stress and the physical ailments that follow
-More time for healthy meals

Some discoveries have been expected and others have appeared wrapped in surprise and disguise. I may not know what next week or next month will bring as I work on intentional life changes, but I am learning to embrace the uncertainty and even delight in the mystery of it. I also look forward to sharing the stories of others who have created their own intentional and inspiring changes.

Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

9 thoughts on “Shatter the Sameness

  1. VP

    Thank you for sharing your changes. I love reading your inspirational statements. Although I miss you terribly in the day to day, I am excited you are exploring new possibilities.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. leeseinaz

    I’m grateful that you (well, I guess both of us, really!) stepped out and started doing Thursday night since it’s meant that we met! Thanks for taking the time to get together today, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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