Things change…even when you’re not sure you want them to. So it is with this blog: The Reflective Writer is arriving at its conclusion. Now.

This is the final post for The Reflective Writer blog, and it is a post I have been writing internally for several months now. Thinking about what I might say, thinking about what “the final one” should be, thinking and mulling and revising and rejecting — all the ways one can be engaged but not doing, lost in words but not writing. I so wanted to create a final post that would be a perfect capstone to this experience and, as with nearly every hope that accompanies the word “perfect,” I became stymied. I could never arrive at that idealized conclusion.

In the end, I am able to come to this final post not by having the exact right set of words or being sure what the conclusion will be, but simply knowing it’s time. Sometimes we get ready for a change because we’ve spent just enough time avoiding it. We get tired of our own hesitation, our strategies for procrastination both subtle and overt, our backtracking and sidestepping. We get ready because we are bored with the alternative.

In digging through a box that made the move with me to my new home last year, I found materials from a writing course I took many years ago with author Rebecca Wells. I browsed through the notebooks and found striking words of exhortation, directed towards writing but speaking to me now of life in general.

“You can turn on the existential spit of indecision forever.”

“You commit to something. It’s the kettle on the stove.”

I loved these so much I wrote them on 3×5 cards to put with my journal so I could read them daily. The existential spit of indecision — was there ever a better description of the state we experience when avoiding choice and change? My existential spit of indecision about this website started well over a year ago, and now, today, I am jumping off the spit. I am done turning, done roasting, done debating.

As for the next commitment, I already have a new kettle on the stove. Unexpectedly, I have launched into a new teaching arena: I teach fitness for seniors in two classes —  a low-impact cardio dance class and Silver Sneakers©, a class to improve muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and balance. The story behind this will wait for another day and, perhaps, another blog. Suffice to say that interest, experience, impulse, enthusiasm, and opportunity came together with startling ease.

Moving to new experiences does not mean the old ones get tossed. I continue to teach workshops, where reflective writing finds its place among other brain-based stress-reduction methods, and I am never far from my own journal. My needs have not changed. I must put pen to paper, explore my inner world, and contemplate my experience in order to change and grow. Though I will not be sharing thoughts through this blog, I will be writing and reflecting. I hope you will do the same.

With deep appreciation and affection for all who have read this blog, I sign off now. May your inner world and love of self-exploration through writing continue to grow.

Judy Stone-Goldman

 

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Following a Path Ahead — But to Where?

by Judy Stone-Goldman on August 20, 2015

I was all set to write about my recent workshop, “Are You Caught in a Stress Loop?,” a recent event for clinical supervisors (in-house and field) with the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington. I was going to thank attendees for their broad participation, their excellent brain functioning (!), and their open minds and hearts. I was going to say how my own mindfulness and acceptance skills were given a boost from the day. I was going to add in some bits about the brain and stress. But as I began writing, a different blog showed up.

The blog that took over the page is about transitions and change (recognize the theme?). It’s about the moment when you know something about what needs to happen. It’s about saying, “I’m ready to take some action, even if I don’t know all the answers for myself.” It’s about being moved to act despite fear and sadness.

The decision I’ve made is this: at the end of the year, I will be shutting down the Judy Stone-Goldman website and The Reflective Writer blog. I don’t know what, if anything, I will put in its place. I know only that I’ve changed, and I don’t have the same “fit” with the site.

For the “Stress Loop” workshop announcement, I had to submit a short bio. I reviewed bios I’d written from 2011 to 2014 and thought, “These are nice bios, but they aren’t right any more.” I had to write a new bio — not just update the old one with a few extra words — to create something that felt current.

That’s the reaction I have to my website. It’s a good website, but the shape and emphasis don’t feel like my current self. I don’t want to just fiddle with it, cajole it, tweak it. I want to step back and ask, “What do I want to create? What is true to who I am now? What is my purpose? Do I even want a website?” As scary as a blank canvas is, it is the right canvas for me now.

I came to understand all this in the week after the workshop. That might sound like a reaction to an unsuccessful or unsatisfying event, but the opposite is true. The day was a big success. The part of me that longs to create and connect was deeply satisfied. I knew (and felt proud that) I was brave in the workshop, trying activities that could easily fail, and I saw it was now time to be brave in other creative efforts.

A moment of emotional insight is so different than the back-and-forth struggles of an unsure, debating mind. It is heart and mind together — the limbic and prefrontal cortex connected and communicating — and it offers the gifts of calm and assuredness.

I will continue to post blogs for the next few months, because one thing that doesn’t change is my need to write. And even as I write about an ending coming, I am imagining beginnings. That alone is worth writing about.

Are you coming to any transitions in your life? How will you know what to do?

Questions for Reflection: Have you had experiences of suddenly knowing an important “next step” in your life? What is the difference between mentally figuring something out and having emotional insight? Are there any transitions in your life now that await decisions or actions?

Writing Prompts: “When it comes to making a change, I typically figure out what to do by _____” (then keep writing); “I can tell I’m stuck in a debate in my mind when I _____” (then keep writing); “One time when I had deep emotional insight was _____” (then keep writing); “As I read about Judy deciding upon a change, I realize for myself _____” (then keep writing).

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Writing Today and Wondering about a Transplant Within

July 6, 2015
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This little plant needs a new home. It was a gift from a friend at a tai chi class, and it needs room to put down roots and grow. Transplanting can be hard on a plant, which must be, literally, uprooted. The earth is shaken, the solidity of the ground disturbed. Could it be a […]

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Preparing My Outer and Inner Spaces in the Hours Before Surgery

May 21, 2015
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What would you do if you suddenly could not use your dominant hand for a while? What would call to you? What would suddenly HAVE to be done? This morning, at 7:30 a.m., I found myself in my backyard, tending bushes and flowers I am just getting to know in this first spring in our […]

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One More Time: Letting Go, Honoring Loss, Saying Goodbye

April 22, 2015
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I had some goodbyes this weekend. Some sadness; some loss. Hadn’t I already said my goodbyes? Yes, but apparently I wasn’t done yet. On Sunday I weeded and watered one final time at my old house. Although we moved last November, we waited until spring to sell, taking the time to update the house and […]

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What Will Surprise You This Spring? An Invitation to Surprises

March 17, 2015
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This blog post has one question: What will surprise you this spring? Spring is a time for the familiar to be reborn and for the new to arrive. Buds return to decorate bare winter branches. Colors suddenly dot landscapes. Green takes over gray. In my old house, I knew what to expect. Spring brought refreshment, […]

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Why Today’s Best Choice was Writing in a Cafe

February 26, 2015
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I am at Simply Soulful Cafe & Espresso in Madison Park, Seattle. I have come here to write. By hand. Writing in a cafe used to be the underpinning of my life when I lived in Seattle a few decades ago. Cafes were plentiful (cafes with personality and individuality, not just Starbucks on every corner). […]

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Managing Polarities with Tai Chi and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 2015

January 26, 2015
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I began this post last week. At the time, I was in a rather gray place (note the photo I selected). I wrote: “I am in the post-New Year’s, post-move, mid-head-cold malaise. I am merging with a gray, dispirited world.” I was going to write about writing as my cure, and perhaps finding something worthy […]

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How to Let Single Words Guide Your Reflection for Year’s End

December 31, 2014
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Dark and light meet at the end of December. The days remain short with early darkness, but we already see the movement towards light as sunset shifts later, minute by minute. Perhaps we would prefer to toss away this old year along with the darkness, but first we take a few moments to review and […]

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Finding Everything We Need for Hanukkah and Then Some

December 20, 2014
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      When you move to a new house, the most oft-used word is “Where”: Where is the flashlight? Where did we put the dishwasher tabs? Where are the scissors? the boxcutter? Where is box #37?  Every day has its collection of small victories (Look what I found!) and defeats. Some things, once found, […]

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Finding Your Zone of Comfort and Caring on Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014
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I saw this statue while wandering in Kirkland on a damp and gray day. The supermarket wasn’t where I thought it should be, and the day was unpleasant, so stumbling on this statue was a delightful surprise. I loved the tenderness and intimacy. This image captures what I want to convey this Thanksgiving. Find a […]

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In Appreciation of the Sky, the Trees, the Light, and the World Beyond My Windows

November 15, 2014

We have beautiful window views in our current home, and the views have enriched our lives through 20 years. We made it a point to be appreciative of the views, welcoming the different patterns of light and dark. We recognized that the large windows and expansive views gave us breathing room and space. Now, as […]

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Letters From an Archeological Dig Remind Me of My Past

November 3, 2014
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Thirty-six years ago I separated from my first husband and sought a divorce. Thirty-six years ago I wrote letters to friends and family to tell them my “not-very-good” news. And thirty-six years ago those friends and families wrote me back in long, thoughtful letters, letting me know they loved and supported me through whatever troubles […]

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Saying Good-Bye to the Roses Before We Move

October 15, 2014

When you prepare to move out of a house, you face many good-byes. You start to notice characteristics of your home that you will miss, a favorite view from a window, the pathway from the recycle bin to the door, the way light falls into the living room. You start to realize how much you […]

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Learning to Gather My Inner Forces in a Tai Chi Lesson

October 1, 2014
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In today’s tai chi class, the teacher talked to us about “gathering our inner forces” as we prepared to start the forms. One does not take written notes during tai chi, so my mind works hard to retain words that speak to me. “Gathering our inner forces” spoke to me. When I began to learn […]

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Why My Little House Books Will Come To My New House With Me

September 21, 2014
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I do not know how old I was when I first heard Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories of her childhood. I say “heard” because my mother read the Little House books to me well before I began reading (and rereading) them myself. I had read them all several times before the books — in hard cover, […]

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After Years of the Clutter Battle, Finally Letting Go of the Vestigial

September 10, 2014
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This week I achieved something that has heretofore eluded me: I threw out mementos that have followed me around for a lifetime. Gone are the scrapbooks started in nursery school. Gone are the letters from Girl Scout Camp. Gone are (most of) the illustrated stories I wrote, scrawled in pencil by a child’s hand. Gone […]

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How My First Tai Chi Class Led To My First Tai Chi Lesson

September 4, 2014
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I became a student of tai chi this summer. I went to a class near my home, invited by a woman in my Zumba class who heard me express interest. I sensed that tai chi would be good for me: gentle, calming, a counterpoint to the sometimes frantic energy in my exercise world. My main […]

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Discovering My Elephant Self on the Way to a New Home

August 14, 2014
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Let’s start with the elephants. Elephants made their way into my consciousness a few months ago. My husband and I started house hunting, and we expected to take years in the process because (as I said), “We are two lumbering elephants. We don’t move quickly and we don’t turn around easily.” As I reflected on […]

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I Missed You So I Thought I’d Write

July 28, 2014
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Sometimes you think of someone you haven’t thought about in a while, and you have a yen to talk to them. You pick up the phone, or send an email. Maybe there’s nothing really significant to say, or maybe you have news, or maybe it’s just an intuition that you want to connect. That’s how […]

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