Life Transitions, Day 14: Expiry

Life Transitions, Day 14: Expiry

There he was. Still on the hospital bed. Lifeless.

There was no way for a teenager to process what had just happened. But along with sadness came an odd sense of relief, too.

Something hadn’t sunk in just yet. But it was about to.

This is Life Transitions. Welcome to day 14.

Life Transitions Series

Life Transitions, Day 1 (Introduction)
Life Transitions, Day 2: Resistance
Life Transitions, Day 3: Jobs & Careers
Life Transitions, Day 4: Location
Life Transitions, Day 5: Relationships
Life Transitions, Day 6: When the Sandcastle Crumbles
Life Transitions, Day 7: Recovery
Life Transitions, Day 8: Pivots
Life Transitions, Day 9: Injury
Life Transitions, Day 10: Illness
Life Transitions, Day 11: Disaster
Life Transitions, Day 12: Upheaval
Life Transitions, Day 13: Age

Expiry Related Life Transitions

In this instance, expiry means death.

And death-related transitions occur when someone you know – typically a loved one – passes.

The “ultimate” transition is when you expire. And while I will give that some space a little later, it’s clearly a different kind of transition. One where “life” is no longer. Thus, it’s not a life transition at all.

An expiry related life transitions occurs when someone you know passes.

When your pet, friend, family member, or loved one expires, it’s normal to go through a range of reactions and emotions – shock, grief, numbness, sadness, anger, and more.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong in terms of how you react to, or how you process, death. Only, I do feel it’s important to feel whatever you’re feeling to the fullest without trying to numb and medicate it (more on that later).

Generally, in western cultures, when someone expires, we mourn. But in eastern cultures, it’s not unusual to celebrate.

Both are entirely valid ways of honoring a person or pet you dearly loved.

Although I’ve addressed this issue in an earlier story, some even say “I will never get over this.”

Death can be challenging to fathom. Maybe even impossible. Because it challenges the very thing we are – which is alive.

How to Handle Expiry Related Life Transitions

They say there are five stages of grief (which are 1) denial and isolation, 2) anger, 3) bargaining 4) depression, 5) acceptance), which can play out in any order, and move between one another.

Some say there are additional stages to grief. Some even say it’s a lifelong process.

Gaining an understanding of the various emotions you’re feeling as you’re feeling them is the most important part. Getting caught up in stages, or the “process” as it’s supposed to unfold, so far as I’m concerned, is less important.

And let’s be honest – grief doesn’t just rear its head when someone you know has passed. Sometimes, you can grieve over other events too, be it a breakup or the loss of a job.

What I find most useful is to sit with your emotions, allow them to play out, and to make it okay that you’re feeling whatever you’re feeling.

I have lost several friends and family members through the years – one of the most notable being my father.

And I know, all too well, the impact this had on my family. I felt it important to move forward, and though it was difficult, I began to find the strength to walk through a deep, dark valley of emotions to get to the other side.

But some of us never do. Because it’s too difficult. Too painful. And we don’t want to be reminded or to acknowledge what happened.

I don’t have easy answers. All I have are some thoughts.

Mourn Fully

If anyone has ever said to you “don’t cry”, or “be strong”, then they are robbing you of an important opportunity to grieve and to mourn fully.

What happens when you don’t mourn in the moment?

The energy gets stored in your body. And then it’s liable to arise in the least expected moments.

This isn’t to suggest you should force yourself to cry if you can’t cry. Don’t try to feel something if you’re feeling numb. There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t react the same way others react.

So, the only thing to do is feel whatever it is you’re feeling fully. Instead of running from it, acknowledge it, and love it.

Because whatever you’re feeling can’t be found anywhere else. It can only be found in you. It’s not someone else’s to deal with. It’s your own.

Identify What You Have Yet to Process

Think about all the “I wish I would have said…” thoughts running around in your mind.

First, recognize that it’s not too late to express these thoughts. Because these thoughts are your own. They are not with the deceased. Which means there is always an opportunity to express yourself and to become complete with whatever happened.

For instance, you can write a letter. By doing so, you can process all your feelings and emotions, and say all the things you wished you would have said when your loved one was still alive.

I have done this exercise myself.

You can also imagine the loved one in your mind and see yourself talking to them. Sharing all the things that have been on your mind. All the things you wish you would have said.

You can’t find completion with anyone else. You can only create it for yourself. And it’s possible to do intentionally.

The Ultimate Transition

The ultimate transition is when each of us move on from this world to… whatever lies beyond death.

Although I’m sure I will find those who disagree, there is more than a preponderance of evidence to suggest that something indeed lies beyond this physical realm.

There are few (if any) religious or spiritual beliefs that don’t hold to the idea of an afterlife of some kind.

Remembering that many of these traditions and belief systems have been passed down through millennia, we can either throw the baby out with the bathwater or begin to embrace the wisdom of the ages.

Ask anyone who has recalled a near-death or clinical death experience, and inevitably they report moving towards a “bright light.”

We also know that there are those who claim to communicate with spirits, and have a massive following because of their ability to communicate spiritual truths.

Some even say they remember their past lives.

All I have done here is offer a surface level view of the evidence. You can easily go much deeper into the points mentioned, and even identify more.

Either way, this is the transition that’s waiting for us at the end of our time. But it’s not a life transition, at least not in the sense that we call our bodies life. It’s something else. Something more.

Expiry, Final Thoughts

Expiration can happen at a micro and macro level. The micro is you shedding a piece of yourself, moving into a new season, or embracing new life circumstances. Macro is when a pet or loved one passes.

Death can be challenging. We can mourn. We can celebrate. We can even do both. Whatever feelings arise, it’s only our job to acknowledge and love them. No need to try to fix or survive them.

I didn’t want this to sound like a how-to guide, which is why I haven’t offered a huge list of suggestions on how to handle expiry. We will handle it as we will. But if we can resolve it in the moment, we carry less of the burden with us.

I don’t know whether time is the great healer. But we always recover from transitions to varying degrees. The question is – how much of it are you willing to face?

Unless you have questions that need answering, the Life Transitions series is about to reach a conclusion. Let me know if there’s anything I missed.

Leave a comment below.

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Life Transitions, Day 5: Relationships

Life Transitions, Day 5: Relationships

In that moment, I had felt something I had never felt before.

Love? Yes. But it was so much more than that.

It was the first time I thought to myself, “I want to be married.”

Such a thought had never occurred to me before, and, I had never expected it to surface from my heart.

This is Life Transitions. Welcome to day five.

Life Transitions Progression

If you need to be brought up to speed, here are the quick links to each story in the series:

Life Transitions, Day 1 (Introduction)
Life Transitions, Day 2: Resistance
Life Transitions, Day 3: Jobs & Careers
Life Transitions, Day 4: Location

Relationship Transitions

The world of relationships is not a race.

Many people feel a sense of pride or shame about the number of “conquests” they have or haven’t had. Others feel proud to have:

  • Stayed single their whole life
  • Stayed in one relationship their whole life
  • Kept jumping from one relationship to another their whole life.

So, it’s important to understand that how we feel about relationships is how we feel about them. Our beliefs are our own, and they’re unlikely to be unanimously supported by our friends, family, peers, or otherwise.

Transitions in relationships can be traumatic, and we often underplay how significant they are for the sake of outward appearances.

American Psychological Association says 40 to 50% of marriages end in divorce. So, the sad cliché of “you’ve got about a 50/50 chance of making it” holds some water.

All relationships are for a season or a reason, and while it can be hard to accept the impermanence of some relationships, it is healthy to do so, just as it’s healthy to accept that change is the only constant we can rely on in life.

Peering into the Mirror of Relationships

You attract what you are. At first glance, this sounds like a woo-woo, Law of Attraction, “things will happen because you want them to happen” statement. But it isn’t.

As applied to relationships, we are always peering into a mirror. Seeing ourselves reflected in the ones we love as well as the ones we hate (which are often one and the same).

If there’s something we dislike in another, it’s because we dislike that quality (or “fault”) in ourselves.

If there’s something we like in another, it’s because we also possess that quality (though it can easily go unrecognized).

We live in a world of contrast, and while it may seem backwards, the people who do best in relationships tend to be those who love themselves fully. Those who first loved being single before committing to more.

Those who didn’t love being single, and were always in search of the next relationship, often ended up addicted to their partner because they were trying to fill a void, they felt couldn’t fill themselves.

The truth is this type of “void” is easily healed through meditation and the acknowledgement of past pain. It may take days, weeks, or even months. But considering how long one has held such torment (usually from childhood), it’s a drop in the bucket.

When people say, “there’s a lesson in every relationship”, this is true. But this statement is often said with a sense of resentment, when it should be said with a sense of wonderment (isn’t it amazing that we get to experience so many things in this curious world of ours?).

The deeper you dig into spiritual and religious texts, the more you discover that mirrors are a running theme. Because what we see on the outside always reflects what’s going on inside.

How to Handle Relational Transitions

We all approach relationships differently.

I identify with Phoebe Buffay from Friends. A quirky, spiritual lady who likes to play guitar. None of her relationships lasted longer than three months.

I’m a quirky, spiritual guy who loves to play guitar. And most of my relationships haven’t lasted more than three months.

The reason I bring that up, is so you understand I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about relationships. But I do know what has worked for me, and in my deep dives (hundreds of books, countless articles, podcasts, and videos) as well as my experiences, I’ve come across wisdom from the ages.

Here are some tips on how to handle relational transitions:

  • Give yourself permission. Feel how you feel. Don’t try to change it. Don’t try to fix it. Acknowledge it. Love it. Sit with it. Cry it out if you need to. Give yourself permission to mourn fully – otherwise, you will store the pain somewhere in your body, and it will come up again at the least opportune moment. You will carry it into future relationships, where it may not have any business being.
  • Express yourself. Journal. Draw. Paint. Write a song. Express yourself creatively. Allow things to come through you. Although this is not a time to force creativity out of yourself, some of the most beautiful works of the ages were borne out of heartache.
  • Accept. As I shared earlier in the series, one transition can easily lead into another. Breaking up, for example, might mean moving. And two major changes one after another can feel like total chaos. Accept yourself. Accept that it may take time to heal. But as much as possible, be present with yourself. Your pain will not last forever.

Relationships, Final Thoughts

When a relationship falls apart, the temptation will always be to run to other addictions – shopping, eating, drinking, partying, social media, and so on.

Don’t judge yourself for turning to any of these vices. At the same time, if you can, recognize the inner child that’s screaming out at you, begging for your attention.

Sit with it. Be with it. Acknowledge it. Love it. You don’t need to change, fix, or survive any of it. Things only surface to be released. Whenever you feel heartache, you are staring down an opportunity to surrender what arises.

What are your thoughts on relationships? How have you handled relational transitions?

I look forward to sharing more about life transitions, and if you have any questions that need answering, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Leave a comment below.

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Life Transitions, Day 4: Location

Life Transitions, Day 4: Location

It was new. It was exciting. It was everything I’d hoped for, and a great deal more.

I’d visited Vancouver twice before deciding to move to Abbotsford, just 70km outside of the city.

But when I finally arrived, and saw everything that was available, my mind was blown.

This is Life Transitions. Welcome to day four.

Life Transitions Progression

If you’d like to follow along, here’s what we’ve covered so far

Life Transitions, Day 1 (Introduction)
Life Transitions, Day 2: Resistance
Life Transitions, Day 3: Jobs & Careers

Locational Transitions

Most if not all of us will experience locational transitions in our lives.

Whether it’s moving overseas or picking out a new coffeehouse because your favorite one closed down.

Census.gov says people will move 11.7 times in their lifetime.

Not sure what that 0.7 means. Maybe you croak while making your final move?

(Excuse my morbid sense of humor – but I think you’ll agree it helps to have one when it comes to major life transitions).

Changing locations is generally on the spectrum of exciting to scary and many shades in between.

And even though this is somewhat backwards, changes in life are generally what prompt us to move.

We lose a spouse. Lose a job. Find a new opportunity.

These are the types of events that have us chasing new horizons literally.

What’s critical to understand is that one major life change every few years can already be a significant blow to your mental health. Two or three major changes in the span of a few months can prove even more stressful.

That’s why I said it’s “somewhat backwards.”

How Long Does the “Honeymoon” Last?

From science and experience, I can say that your feelings of excitement or fear of a new location will subside around the nine- to 12-month mark. In some cases, it may be even less, at a about six to nine months.

This can be both a curse and a blessing.

Because if you’re excited about your new locale, those rose-colored glasses are going to come off within a year. Which can be a curse.

But if you’re fearful of your new hometown, your sense of security should increase in a year or less. And that can be a blessing.

We could compare it to the “honeymoon” period every in-love couple has – which on average lasts about two to three years. Beyond that, it’s a matter of finding common interests and working on communication.

(This is a gross assessment of the facts, and relationships can thrive given the right actions, but on average, this is what we see.)

But you might still be worried about those six to 12 months. Here’s what I would suggest.

How to Handle Locational Transitions

Here are some tips on how you can get acclimated to your new environment while enjoying the experience:

  • Embrace a spirit of adventure. This is the same advice I’ve given to friends who asked me whether they’d ever meet someone. It might seem trite. But give it a try. Bombarding your senses with more new things might seem like the last thing to do for your mental health, but I would argue that finding a new self in a new environment can be quite liberating and exciting.
  • Find something you like about your new locale. You may not like everything about the new town you’ve arrived at. Find something you can latch onto. It might be the food, the weather, the people, or otherwise. If you can identify at least one positive thing about living in a new place, that thought will stay with you.
  • Find a friend. Nothing is “solid” until you’ve found a friend you can talk to. And I’m not talking about running back to your old friends and telling them your stories of woe, though it doesn’t hurt to stay in touch with your old network. I’m talking about finding at least one person locally you can talk to and process new information with.

Does Location Matter? – The Truth

Some will say location is everything. You’ve got to be the right person, at the right time, in the right place, to snag the right opportunities and take life by the horns.

Others say location doesn’t matter as much as it used to. You’ve got the internet. Social media. You can connect to anyone you want at any time. All the tools are right at your fingertips.

Since we are in the era of a worldwide pandemic, we must embrace the latter. But in general, I am more of the opinion that location does matter.

I’m not 100% on one side and 0% on the other. It’s more of an 80/20 split.

When I lived in Calgary, I used to say that you need a home base anyway, and what difference is it going to make if I’m going to be traveling around as a musician, anyway?

As I spent many months and even years never traveling outside of Calgary… No wonder I remember all the times I did travel so vividly.

If I had resisted moving to Abbotsford, then I would not be exposed to such beautiful scenery, amazing temperate weather (if you like rain – I do), and incredible food (I’m a foodie, so that’s a big one).

I’d had plenty of time to explore what was available in Calgary and area. And I will always have fond memories of that experience. But I was ready for more too.

I can’t say much in terms of career opportunities in Vancouver because I’ve been working from home since 2016. Still, I’ve met some acquaintances and colleagues I never would have had I not moved. So, there’s probably something there too.

Sure, you can sell products, courses, memberships, masterminds, and live events over the internet.

But if you really want to sell yourself… if want to make a vital connection, sell your business to venture capitalists, strike up a long-term partnership… Here’s the bottom line. You’ve got to see people face to face. There’s no substitute for it.

Location, Final Thoughts

When moving from one place to another, give yourself plenty of grace and time to adapt.

After all, it’s usually on the heels of a separate life transition that we find ourselves moving to a new city.

How many times have you moved? How do you handle locational transitions?

I look forward to sharing more on the topic of life transitions, and if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them too.

Please leave a comment below.

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Life Transitions, Day 1

Life Transitions, Day 1

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be publishing on the topic of life transitions.

This topic is already gaining some momentum, and in the coming months and years, I predict that it’s only going to grow in relevance.

Not just because of the pandemic, but also because of changes in age, relationships, living conditions, careers, and other areas.

In the area of careers, many people have already lost their job. Many more will lose their jobs because of technological advancements, artificial intelligence, machines, and so on.

Musicians have had to put gigging mostly on hold for the duration of the pandemic and ensuing lock-downs.

We’ve all been affected in one way or another, and many of us are already in the process of rethinking our work.

So, the question is…

How do we navigate the coming changes powerfully?

In this edition of Life Transitions, I would like to share some of the biggest life transitions I’ve gone through.

Some of the Biggest Life Transitions I’ve Gone Through

If I shared every transition I’ve gone through, we’d be here all day. So, I handpicked 11 examples.

I may even elaborate on some of these transitions in future editions of Life Transitions.

  • I was born in Canada. But when I was five, my family moved to Japan. I’m not sure if culture shock is something that registered with a five-year-old, but I do know it was sad and scary for me.
  • Several years later, in Japan, we survived the Great Hanshin earthquake.
  • When I was 13, my dad got into a motorcycle accident. He was in a coma for 10 days before he passed.
  • Shortly after, we ended up moving back to Canada, and for me, this was a bigger transition than moving from Canada to Japan. I had to get acclimated to the culture and language in a hurry, and with a diminishing sense of self because of my father’s death.
  • When I was 15, I learned the thrill of performance for the first time. My friend and I went and performed a rap at a youth camp talent show. It felt exhilarating.
  • Because of that, I ended up picking up the guitar at 17 and became a musician.
  • After getting my college certificate, I started teaching guitar and bought a home. I moved in with my best friend and business partner. We set up a home office, studio, and rehearsal space in the coming months.
  • In 2008, I had an anxiety attack, which had a lot to do with ongoing migraine headaches and a total lack of sleep. I spent the next four to five months recovering.
  • In 2012, I invested roughly $60,000 into a business I thought would make me a millionaire. The business ended up tanking by the end of 2015. No one was willing to put any more money into it.
  • I ended up selling my house in 2012, and from that point on, I moved from basement to basement in Calgary.
  • Last year, I created location independence for myself and became a digital nomad.

What Are Some of the Biggest Life Transitions You’ve Gone Through?

What are some things you’ve gone through? How have you been coping with change? Have you been able to deal with it powerfully?

You’re welcome to leave a comment with your thoughts below.

I look forward to sharing more about Life Transitions, and if there’s anything specific you’d like me to cover, you’re welcome to leave a comment as well.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.

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