Perspectives on Transitions as Transformation

As a life transitions coach, I’m intrigued by Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author, Eat, Pray, Love) new book, Committed, in which she explores the multiple meanings of marriage to people at different times and places in history.  She has a compelling reason for doing so, since, in order to live in the United States with the man she loves who is Brazilian, she must marry him.  However, since both she and her partner have gone through painful divorces, neither has wished to remarry.  Only the demands of the immigration laws of the U.S. make them consider that marriage for them is a necessity. 

            So here is Liz’ dilemma about this situation:  We must (due to legal requirements) get married.  However, we have concerns about whether marriage can sustain the loving connection that is the basis of our relationship.  She is now 15 years older than when she was first married.  This is a transition that tests all her conscious and unconscious assumptions of her individual and woman’s rights and desires against the background of societal/familial needs for order and continuity.  Is it OK to insist on love (not just security or being “well-matched”) as the foundation for one’s marriage?  Is it all right to love someone and want to live with him and yet not want/need to have children?  Can marriage sustain a woman being a working professional who loves what she does? 

            As I read this book, I thought to myself, “I wish I’d had coaching before I got married!”  I thought of all the questions and concerns I’d had about formal, societal commitment to another person.  I truly wish I’d been able to work with someone who could’ve guided me through a process of exploring what I really wanted in my life (my purpose) and what kind of person I wanted to be.  It would’ve been good-- for my whole life-- to have looked more fully at how marriage fit in with my own personal needs and vision.  Or how the structure of marriage might provide a catalyst for growth and development.  It would’ve been helpful to feel that I’d looked at different perspectives beforehand for such an important transition in my life-- and that of my husband-to-be, as well. 

            Recently, I wrote an article (“Purpose and Renewal in Life Transitions”) for a website dedicated to issues around transitions (www.FindYourFooting.com). In it, I came to the conclusion that“transitional periods can feel less chaotic and more valuable if they’re experienced as part of a natural flow towards self-renewal and living with purpose.  To stay fulfilled, resourced and balanced as you move forward in life, it’s vital to stay mindful of the powerful need and movement within yourself to unfold into your full potential.” 

            When you learn to approach transitions-- marriage, career, retirement, creative projects, etc.-- with the conscious intent to “unfold into your full potential,” something comes alive in you that makes the output of time, emotional concerns, and energy well worthwhile.  For those of you who are interested in exploring your current transitions as transformative opportunities, I invite you to join me for my upcoming free tele-class, “Career & Life Transitions-- Am I in One?  What Do I Do Now?” on Wednesday, October 6th, at 9 AM Pacific Time.  For further information and to register, please go to http://www.kailaslifecoaching.com/?id=presentations.