Open Or Closed To Change?

As I write this the house is shaking, the walls are rumbling and there is abounding general organized chaos.  We are having some home maintenance projects done.  Currently there are two men standing on scaffolding outside my bedroom window, chipping and drilling around our fireplace chimney and another drilling and chipping away at an outside former garage door which would lead to my office if we hadn't permanently shut it. 

Our chimney and furnace flues need repair.  It is a question of safety.  We do not want any chimney fires nor carbon monoxide problems.  We are also having an unused and probably never to be used outside door bricked in.  In fact, from the inside, the door is covered over by book shelves and cannot be opened. We also will be redoing our basement space so that it will be a usable family room and redoing our outside deck so that the new deck footprint makes sense to our use of the space and will repair damaged wood.  In addition I plan to paint the living room and dining room this winter. 

Whew.  A lot of delayed projects and planning.  I am trying to be organized and smart with how we go about this set-up.  Should I move all the books from the office to this corner or will I have to get into that corner before the project is complete?  Where do I put the items from our basement?  In the dining room or living room?  Will I be painting those rooms before that basement project is finished? If possible I am trying to prevent moving boxes over and over again.

As you see, we are going through changes to some of the rooms and features in our house.  Some are quite necessary like the chimney and furnace flues.  We do not want fires or poisoning.  Our door project is necessary since the door frame is starting to rot.  We will never use that as a door, so why not make it one continual wall of brick and never have to worry about rot again. Our basement redo and our deck redo will help us when the time comes to sell our home.  In the meantime, we can enjoy the extra rooms and the redone projects.  The repainting of the living and dining room are ways for me to freshen up the space without having to do a major redecoration.  In some ways it is not a necessity but rather a want.  Again, it will be a good feature for selling but also allow us to enjoy the current fruits of our labor. 

All this disruption makes me think about change; the reasons and how I handle it.  

Sometimes change is necessary for our safety and wellbeing. We have to change our diet or increase exercise because if we don't, inevitable diseases might happen.  Change happens too when situations occur outside our control. We may experience a family death or chronic illness and we just have to go on and figure out how to move forward and live into the new "normal".  

Other change takes place because our circumstances no longer require what we used to do. Once our children were old enough to chew and swallow food, we no longer needed to give them pureed food. If we had continued to do so, they most likely would've developed significant mouth and digestive problems.  Like our no longer used door.  If we kept the door, there was potential for all sorts of problems- rot of the surrounding door frame or critters living inside.

Change also takes place for growth and development. In my tennis game, if I want to improve my serve I will have to make some changes to my grip, my stance, my ball toss and my contact with the ball. With a good serve, I can develop into a halfway decent player but I must change some things that I currently do.  It is not a necessity.  Currently I play and have an enjoyable time but if I want to play at a different level I need to make some changes. 

In whatever circumstance of change I find myself, I still have an option if I will be open or closed to that change. I find that if it is a change that I initiated, e.g. painting the room, I am more likely to embrace it than a change I feel has been thrust upon me, e.g. fixing the chimney.  Which is rather silly when you think about it:  just because I didn't initiate or think of it on my own, doesn't mean that it won't be beneficial to me.  I can think of people who have had to change their diets from unhealthy eating to healthy.  Most times they will grumble as they go through it, but once it becomes a part of who they are, the general consensus is that they feel so much better. 

Of course, when change happens without any warning, it is extremely difficult to be open to it.  And it would be insensitive of me to say that we should be.  I really do not have any answer for the type of change that occurs through sudden death and loss.

But I am wondering if we learn to be good with change in other situations, when those sudden ones occur, we can draw upon the knowledge of what has worked in the past. 

Reminds me of the time as a child I attended a music convention with my mom.  One of the workshops included a time for singing through the newly arranged/composed choral works that were available for ordering. I remember being flabbergasted that once the director raised her hands all the attendees sang in their respective parts and it sounded great.  No stopping for correction or wrong notes.  I asked my mother how could everyone sound so good?  To which she replied, "But we are all professionals and can read music."  Those in attendance had never seen the music but they had the foundational elements of reading music and singing techniques so that they could get through a choral piece without too much difficulty. 

I do feel that most of the time our call to change is not an overt situation but rather a series of subtle, little moments which add up. If we can try to be open to change, we are more resilient to whatever comes our way.   All of us can practice developing resiliency in our daily lives.  It is a skill that can be developed which can help us when we are faced with various types of change.  In his book Resilience: A Change for the Better, Daryl R. Conner outlines five characteristics of resilient people. They are positive, focused, flexible, organized, and proactive.   I thought we might want to explore those five areas in the next couple of postings.

What about you? How are you with change in your life?   Are you embracing change or are you kicking and screaming wanting things the way they were? What types of changes are you experiencing?  A necessity?  A want or desire? A "have-to"?  A thrust-upon-you, didn't-ask-for-this type? Do you want to change?  

Before we go any further with exploring change and resiliency, think about your past- were you open or closed to change?