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Cobwebs in the Backseat

Are you in a season of Transition? What is a Transition? Here is an article I wrote a while back after noting some big changes in my world. It all started with a cobweb...


Most of the time I do ok. Every once and a while it hits me. When my son had his Junior Senior Banquet and was about to climb into the limo headed to San Francisco I cried. Today I was vacuuming out the back seat of my car and I saw it: a cobweb. A cobweb? Really? For 18 years kids have been shuffling in and out of the back seats of various cars. There was the Volvo we brought our son home in after he entered the world a month early! Then the Montero we bought when our daughter was a month and several others over the years.

How could it be that a cobweb had time to grow in the back seat of my Altima? It is a tell tale sign that I am in a season of transition. My kids are no longer kids. They are young adults. They drive themselves, date, do their own laundry and are well on their way to adulthood.

The problem is, I am still driving the Volvo around in my mind. The kids are still 4 and 6 and life will always be this way.

But, then I see cobwebs in my back seat and realize that they actually have not been in the back seat for quite a while.

Change is always happening to us. I changed toothpaste brands last week, for example. But Transitions are the internal emotional processes of how we respond to change. Change can happen in an instant but transition can take years to complete.

I have a feeling this Transition might take a while!

So what do you do? How do you handle cobwebs in the back seat when you aren’t ready for them?

Being aware of the Transition and doing our best to embrace rather than deny, ignore or push away the uncomfortable feelings that accompany the Transitions are key first steps.

Author William Bridges in his book Transitions, says there are three key phases to Transitions and if we embrace each as it comes we can set the stage for smoother future Transitions.

Endings: These are obvious but important. It is key to say what we need to say to whom we need to say them to. Grieve what needs to be grieved and allow space for closure. Take as little emotional baggage with you as possible. As my mentor Hud McWilliams says, “Healthy people live in slab houses.” Translation? Don’t shove your emotional junk in the preverbal basement of your life.

Neutral Zone: This is that oh-so-uncomfortable in-between stage. This is the phase between Ending and Beginning. According to Bridges, and verified by my own experience, this can be a tremendous time of new thinking, creativity and problem solving. You are free to explore new thoughts and possibilities. Don’t rush through this stage. Embrace it. Capture it and capitalize on it! “In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.” Jeanette Winterson.

Beginnings: These are best when Endings and Neutral Zone phases have been done well. One can enter Beginnings with the proper closure and possibly new ideas to implement and enjoy in the new stage.

Transitions are messy. One day I am embracing the Neutral Zone and thinking of the possibilities and the next I am crying over cobwebs! The point is not that we do this perfectly but, rather, that we recognize what’s happening, face it try and embrace it and know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. “Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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