Sept. 23 Restore Series

As I opened my eyes this morning, I noticed that my right side of my cheek was feeling a little wet.  Yes it rained in my room.  I really must have been zonked out throughout the night not to notice that the  rain was coming in my window.   But this rain is a welcome relief as my lawn, my flowers, the last remains of my vegetable garden, do not want to give up their hold on summer.

Remnants of Summer
This past Monday marked the end of the summer and Tuesday, the beginning of fall.  In yoga, we may practice the Autumnal Equinox, the passing between the two seasons, by moving through 108 Sun Salutations.  Transitioning and transforming as we move and breathe.  What other ways can you transition from one season to the next?  Below is an excellent article from Colorado State University which discusses what is change (situational) and what is transition (psychological) and how we move through these like the seasons.  Good read with some very handy tips.

The Inspiration

Transitions and Changes: Practical Strategies

by S. Quick, R.J. Fetsch and M. Rupured* (6/11)

Quick Facts...

Life is a series of frequent changes. Some changes are welcomed; others range from inconvenient to catastrophic.
There is a difference between changes and transitions. Change is situational; transition is psychological. It's not the events outside us that make the transition; it's the inner-reorientation and meaning-redefinition we make to incorporate those changes.
Transitions are times of crossing or traveling from something old and familiar to something new and unfamiliar. Most transitions are small and pass by almost unnoticed. Some, however, involve major disruptions in routines and force us to re-examine our values and lifestyle.
Transitions range from changes that affect everyone (social/technological advances and natural disasters) to more personal transitions that affect one's career and relationships. They may be voluntary, like moving to a larger home, or involuntary, like an accident, a disability or an illness. They may be predictable or unpredictable. Transitions and their disruption challenge us to grow and sometimes even force us to concentrate on today and the present moment.
By examining the past, you can recall transition-making strengths you developed and uncover any unfinished business that may now prevent you from being your best. To handle present and future transitions, use the insights gained from past and newly acquired skills.
Fact sheet 10.215, Transitions and Changes: Who Copes Well?, examines the characteristics of people who seem to handle transitions well (survivors of political revolutions, migrations, the farm crisis, Nazi concentration camps, the Vietnam War, disabiligy, cancer and depression victims). The roles that perception and meaning play in coping with transitions also are discussed (Antonovsky, 1979, 1987; Fetsch & Jacobsen, 2006; Justice, 1987).

"Unfinished Business"

When accepting a new job, moving to a different home, or finding a new partner, too often we rush to make a new beginning. We plunge into a new situation only to find ourselves frustrated, lonely, tired, resentful, or preoccupied with unfinished business from the past. We move to a different community but our minds are filled with old information: where our favorite gas station was, when the doughnut shop was open, and how to stay close to our best friend who no longer lives a short distance away. Our culture lacks formal rites of passage to recognize passage from one situation to another.
At one time or another, most of us have difficulty making transitions. Even positive changes can be fraught with difficulty in letting go of the past. Often we feel uncomfortable with change. A favorite way of dealing with our discomfort is avoidance. Avoiding uncomfortable feelings, however, establishes patterns that stand in the way of making new beginnings. When we refuse to accept a transition, when the fear of what lies ahead prevents us from moving forward, we appear to stand still on life's busy road while life speeds past.
People who have unresolved transitions have at least three choices:
  1. Do nothing and continue to hold onto unpleasant, negative feelings.
  2. Squarely face the old business and take care of unresolved feelings and needs.
  3. Relate old experiences to similar present experiences.
For example, a woman who never felt appreciated by her late father visualizes her father able to express appreciation. This enables her to ask for and accept appreciation from others.
Unfinished feelings can be positive or negative. For example, one 58-year-old man still feels disappointed about his dad's refusal to support him financially in college 40 years ago. Another man fondly remembers his eighth-grade teacher and repeatedly wishes he could tell her how much he appreciates all she taught him. The positive or negative "unfinished business" from the past prevents us from completing today's transitions.
While positive memories are one of life's special joys, dwelling too much in the past, or wishing we had done something differently, prevents us from fully living and loving in the present. The goal is not to discard cherished memories, but to address and resolve unfinished business. When too much unfinished business accumulates, we lose the sparkle and optimism which is every human being's birthright. On the other hand, the ability to make transitions successfully frees up precious energy for living more fully in the here and how.

The Transition Process

William Bridges, in Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, lists three stages of transition. The first stage is fall. We see grass turn brown and leaves fall, which means another year is coming to a close. The second stage, winter, comes when the soil lies fallow and uncultivated. This is a time for quiet and waiting. The world around us appears lifeless, dead, or in hibernation. When spring -- the third stage -- arrives, green leaves re-emerge from the dry brown twigs of winter. The earth bursts forth again with life. If we view changes in our lives like the changing seasons, we can feel more comfortable with transitions.
As seasons seldom change overnight, rarely does a person move smoothly from one phase to another. Some transitions, like puberty and aging, happen gradually. Other transitions, like passing the test for a driver's license, occur in an instant. However, there usually is considerable overlap and see-sawing back and forth between the new and the old. We need to take time to adjust to the new identity offered by change. Each person's progression is unique to individual circumstances and abilities.
Every transition begins with an ending. Even positive life changes can be difficult without proper endings. Before we embrace the new, we must let go of the old. "Endings are the first, not the last, act of the play" (Bridges, 2004, p. 132). Once we say goodbye and let go, we may experience a winter-like time. We feel lost, empty or numb-as seemingly lifeless as winter. When we allow ourselves to experience our new feelings fully, we move into the springtime of our transition and make a new beginning.
Fall transition is a time to break old patterns. At this stage we say farewell to familiar people, places and routines.
Winter transition brings feelings of emptiness, numbness, and confusion. At this stage we often aren't connected yet to the new and aren't yet disconnected from the past.
Spring transition means letting go of the old relationship, situation or event and making a new beginning. As spring leaves bud and flowers bloom, you, too, will find new energy to make a new beginning.
Learn to notice and experience the changing seasons of your life from fall (making endings) to winter (experiencing your pain) to spring (making new beginnings). You will feel a renewed energy, a renewed hope, and a renewed desire to grow and give to others.

Successful Transitions: Practical Strategies

From the research on how resilient people successfully manage transitions (see fact shhet 10.215, Transitions and change: Who copes well?), you can arrive at some practical conclusions.


  1. Antonovsky, A. (1979). Health, stress, and coping. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  2. Antonovsky, A. (1987). Unraveling the mystery of health: How people manage stress and stay well. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  3. Bridges, W. (2004). Transitions: Making sense of life's changes (2nd ed). New York: Addison-Wesley.
  4. Fetsch, R.J. (1992). The predicament-problem continuum: Dealing with stressors outside our control. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71(2), 192-193.
  5. Fetsch, R.J., & Jacobsen, R.B. (1988). Perception of farm/ranch situation as an intervening variable in family stress. Unpublished raw data.
  6. Justice, B. (1987). Who gets sick: Thinking and health. Houston: Peak Press.
  7. Latner, J. (1973). The gestalt therapy book. New York: Bantam.
  8. U.S. Census Bureau. (1999). American Housing Survey for the United States. (Retrieved from on 2/1/2001.)
  9. Vickio, C. J. (1990, May/June). The goodbye brochure: Helping students to cope with transition and loss. Journal of Counseling and Development, 68(5), 575-577.


Appreciation is extended to Joseph G. Turner, retired professor, and to B. Kay Pasley, retired professor, and Leah Beamer, graduate student, human development and family studies, for their review and editing.
* S. Quick, retired University of Kentucky human development and family relations specialist; R.J. Fetsch, Retired Colorado State University Extension human development and family studies specialist and professor; and M. Rupured, University of Kentucky Family Studies graduate student. 5/96. Revised 6/11.
Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

The Poses
Straddle Forward Fold with Chair

Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed.
Props: chair, 2-4 blankets

Place blanket single-fold on chair draping down. Legs can stretch through chair or straddle or cross-legged.  Arms placed folded on chair in front of you. Rest forehead on arms. Tilt chin slightly toward your chest.  Close eyes. For comfort or lower back issues, sit on blanket, add rolled up blankets under knees if legs in straddle, or blocks/blankets under knees if cross legged. May add a blanket at sacrum for grounding.

Sublime Side Lean
Props: bolster or 2 or 3 pillows or blankets
Benefits: Stretches the torso and provides a gentle twist which allows a release in tension in the lower back area.

Place bolster or the 2 or 3 blankets or pillows horizontally on your mat or floor. Lie on right side with hip at the base of the blankets or pillows.  Torso should rest on the stack.  Right arm rest on the floor with the palm up.  The left arm can reach over the head to increase the stretch.  Close your eyes and allow your body to relax and release any stress or tension. Slowly sit up and switch sides for the same amount of time.
Focus on your breath.  Breath into your right side allowing that gentle stretch to travel from the tip of your fingers down your lower spine.  Sense the left side of your body gently melting and surrendering to the ground beneath you.  All tension and stress being recycled by mother earth.  Sense the gentle letting go of your muscles and knowing that you are safe and supported.  Breath deep and exhale soft and long.

Savasana Legs up the Wall *with bolster

Props: bolster, 2 blocks, 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, neck roll
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep. Great variation if your hamstrings are tight or legs are aching.

Begin with using a double-folded blanket to be placed right above sacrum or under hips (see photo), setting it approx. distance 6-8" from bolster (adjust in pose). Sit down on the blanket and place your legs on the bolster.  Arms rest by your side, palms face up or with Goddess arms.  
Variations: To ground legs, blanket or sandbag placed on belly or legs.  Strap can be placed around calves, so you lose the feeling of holding up legs.  

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