It was the coldest day of the year. You know the kind – when the wind whips your hair around and the bone-chilling cold stings your face in spite of your efforts to dress for the weather. I unloaded my car into the tiny cabin in the woods, toting an armful of groceries in one arm while managing the dog leash of Paisley the Rhodesian Ridgeback in the other.
At the urging of friends, I was taking a few days to retreat into the woods to ritualize a major life transition - as in, the big and scary kind.
I got unpacked, changed into sweatpants, lit a fire and poured myself a glass of wine. I sat down on the cozy couch, and my mind started asking the questions - the loudest and most forceful of them being: “What did you just do?” On December 31, 2014, I jumped off of a very comfortable and well-furnished cliff to test my wings of self-employment.
Many asked, “Why would you give up a good job like that – isn’t that risky?” Why, yes – it was definitely risky. It’s the riskiest thing I have ever done. But I had to. I needed to. I wanted to. I worked in hospice, in a beautiful office, with kind coworkers and employees, and had worked my way to the assistant director’s role. I finally had an office with a window – a common metric some folks use to define success.
But when the topic of my resignation would arise, most looked at me like I needed someone to take my temperature, or check to see if I was oriented to time and place. Life has a way of moving ahead, whether you are on that train or standing there watching it pull away from the station. And for me, the desire to be on that train was driven by the knowledge that I had more that lived inside me – and that this nice, comfy, safe office environment was not going to be the place where I would be able to unpack that creativity and thrive.
Survive, yes. Thrive, no. I am a writer.
Down to my bones, the very creation of a booklet or a blog post or a newsletter fills me with excitement and anticipation. And while I have done my share of writing throughout my hospice years, there are more projects that live inside of me that I needed to breathe life into – that called my name, demanded my attention, and wouldn’t let up.
I needed flexibility. I needed space. I needed downtime to free the creativity from the oppressive, binding walls of 9 to 5 (or, 8 to 6:30 – it’s hospice, you know).
When my writer archetype was asking permission to come out, she was usually squashed by the heels of my manager archetype, who had a much more urgent list of “to-do” items that ruled the calendar.
Working with hospice patients – and later supervising hospice professionals who were making a difference at the bedside – were foundational for me as I listened for years to the calling.
And that calling, like a rejected child hanging her head low, waited patiently for me to listen. I had convinced myself that I was too scared to take the leap of faith. And then, the conundrum – I was also too scared to NOT take the leap of faith. My heart’s longing was to create change and to make a difference. Cliché, I know. The more I lived, the more I knew that contentment was an inside job, and the road to a fulfilled life was to pass on the goodwill.
For me, that means that the knowledge held inside was, well - inside. It doesn’t do much good unless I share it.
I have seen firsthand the results of a well-informed and supported hospice patient and family, and knowing what to expect in a very difficult life transition can transform the death experience for all involved. Sitting at the patient’s bedside as a hospice professional is sacred space. This experience prepared me to move outside of my comfort zone and unfurl the wings that were given to me, and reach others who would benefit from the information in the booklets.
What lights a fire in my soul? Reaching thousands of people, nationwide and beyond, who have questions about the end-of-life issues, and writing the booklets with intentional attention to the delivery of information in a soft, compassionate, and inviting manner. With the website, word of mouth, and the belief that this was a large part of my life’s purpose, my dream was launched and Wings of Change Publications was born.
There is something to be said about throwing caution to the wind to launch a dream. I trust that when you do the right thing, you will fly. You are a part of our flight! Thank you for being a part of our unfurling and for visiting our site. We have a lot of helpful ideas and articles in store for you! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn and sign up for our TEND newsletters and future blog posts.
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Our ultimate goal is to do just as you said: to help make a difficult process easier to comprehend. We use the metaphor of caterpillar to butterfly and other nature metaphors in our materials because most people can relate to nature in some way. Thank you so much for the feedback!
Thank you for sharing your comments about your clients who have benefitted from reading the materials! This is affirmation of our mission here at Wings of Change, and we love hearing that in little ways, the booklets make a difference! Many thanks for taking the time out of a busy schedule to send on the feedback.
The words are written so the reader is taken through the hospice experience from every vantage point.The booklet makes the difficult process easier to comprehend. It takes you through the transformation like the butterfly. Beautiful. Thank You!
Unfurled Wings really blessed me. I believe I am within months of experiencing the same type transition. I am amazed by the fierce pull to stay and go all at once. Thanks for sharing, leaping in 2017.
I just completed my reading of “The Nature of Grief: Healing and Honoring the Seasons of Loss.” This booklet offers so much hope to its intended readers and those who love them. It’s written in such gentle, loving-kindness for those who are grieving and for those who may choose to learn about the process of grief. As I read, I felt lifted and affirmed in my own grief and found many wonderful suggestions to honor my process of grieving. I also found beautiful inspirational statements that I can hold onto as grief is encountered. I especially will hold the quote from Elizabeth Lesser “Grief is love with no place to put it.” My own experience is that my heart has a huge hole in it that at times seems to want to take over my life. Now when I lose a sense of life and love, I’ll try to remember that it is my love talking to me and wanting to be given to me or to another. My thanks to Becky and Terri for giving us such a beautiful gift for life beyond loss.
This booklet is a beautiful guide to helping a loved one pass as kindly possible.Having lost my Mother to cancer, I know this booklet would have helped me be a better caregiver to my Mom before she died. The information and steps in this eloquent booklet truly capture how to cope and how to help the loved one who is dying. Comforting and being near are two of the most important things a caregiver can do.
The best part of this booklet is the part, “How Can I Comfort My Loved One.” These passages in Part One and Two are so simple, yet, the suggestions will ease the sadness of the Caregiver, and give he or she the courage to be with the patient until the end.
This booklet should be in every hospital and doctor’s office. Really, it is that good.
Thank YOU Kathy for your positive feedback and your shared experiences. Grief is an experience of many emotions, and our hope in writing The Nature of Grief is one of providing gentle support and knowledge that helps everyone’s healing process. There is life beyond loss, and part of that realization is recognizing the growth and movement that comes as a result of the grief we process. Our best to you!
Thank YOU for sharing! We tend to stay “in our heads” to analyze life changes, and neglect to acknowledge how important our heart’s message is as well. Both are important. Our feelings are a messenger to us, and when we listen, beautiful opportunities reveal themselves. Best wishes as you unfurl your capable and resilient wings!
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June 06, 2017
As an observer of transformation, I cheer those who are courageous enough to leap. I’ve listened to many of my bereavement clients who have used the “Butterfly” booklet. Throughout their hospice experience of watching their loved one decline, they were better able to understand what was happening and the booklet gave them ideas of how to be present. They would rave about how they continue to go back to the booklet (it’s important to go back so you can then go forward) to better “make meaning” of the hospice experience. It is part of their task to return to a new normal. I highly recommend this booklet and look forward to continuing learning from this blog. What a wonderful opportunity!