As the new year approaches, I have been doing a lot of reflecting and thinking especially about change. Being open to change has always been important to me, something I have taken pride in. I have watched my mother be so incredibly rigid and unyielding when it comes to any change in her routine, in her life, and I realize that change becomes more daunting as we age. I want to learn from her choices, to grow past them when they don’t work for me. Isn’t that the idea? That we try to do better than the generation before us?

With all of my determination to be versatile and open to change, I had to be honest when I took a good hard look at myself. I have always been very much a routine person- I like the order that routine brings to my life. I think this is true of many musicians, as repetition is so important to our success. However, I can see that I, too, am getting a bit rigid. I catch myself always putting my mat down in the same spot in yoga class, I have a routine that I follow at the beginning and end of each day. I eat the same breakfast most days, and on and on. Not only that, but what gave me pause was that I realized it bothered me when things rocked my routine. So not the direction I want to go.

I have been through some big changes. When I came to Birmingham I was ending a fifteen year marriage, moving to a new city, a new job. It was tough, but in the long run it lead me to a wonderfully happy and fulfilling life. If I hadn’t been open to change, I would still be living a life marked by the sadness of events that happened in the past. Though change was terrifying, it was also liberating. It showed me that I was strong, that I could build something beautiful from the ashes of sorrow. How did I let that courage get complacent?

My life now is peaceful for the most part. There are many stresses and challenges, but I feel stable, loved, supported, and- the dreaded word- comfortable. I think that I have been too comfortable, and maybe that is the root of the problem. It’s time to shake things up, time to push myself past my comfort zone and grow some more. Time to try some new things.

I did this last January- I changed my lifestyle and eating habits in a huge way and lost the fifty pounds I had gained after breaking my ankle and going through some tough times. It was invigorating to see myself change back into the healthy and fit person that I like to be. I was turning fifty and didn’t want to head into the new decade feeling sluggish and slow. I know it is in me to keep changing- I just have to be vigilant, have to shake things up more often.

So, what now? I have the Christmas holiday to come up with a game plan. I’m going to work toward finishing the book I am writing about my mentor and get it to the publisher. I’ll start by sending an excerpt from the book to my professional journal. I am going to try some new foods over the holiday. As an introvert, I am going to do my best to be open to attending some of the many parties we have been invited to. And, I’m going to plunk my yoga mat down in a different place tomorrow evening.

Sometimes just being open to making one little change can make all of the difference. And that one little change can lead to so many good things. I know that a big key to my quality of life as I age will be holding on with a death grip to change. Not to be afraid of it, but to treasure it, and to remember that when I feel that twinge of fear from being out of my comfort zone, that I am simply expanding the boundaries of my life, making it better, more alive. And that is the best present I can give myself.

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