Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘change’

Gems of Change

By Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.

“Gems of Change” was first published in Spa Magazine January/February, 2001. At that time I was living on the lush Garden Island of Kaua’i Hawaii with my husband.  We are now living in Phoenix, Arizona enjoying the splendor of the ever-changing desert.

Recently, while opening small decorative boxes of trinkets, I came upon the many pieces of sea glass I gathered when I was living on the island so many years ago. As I was handling each of the colorful pieces, once broken and discarded, I thought about the many life challenges so many of us face today.  It was then I remembered this story and realized it was time to share it once again. It is my hope that Gems of Change will bring comfort to your lives in many special ways.

The Story…

Since moving to the island of Kaua’i some eight years ago, after twenty-seven years of living in fast-paced Los Angeles, my life has been in a state of total flux. Rather than the peaceful, simple life-style my husband and I sought, we were greeted with Hurricane Iniki, the worst natural disaster to hit the Hawaiian Islands, just ten days after our arrival.

We thought we were moving to paradise, but instead found the move to be fraught with continuous challenge. Over the years I felt like our goal for a peaceful life-style was being shattered into chards of broken dreams. Every time it appeared as if bits and pieces of my life were coming together, something would happen to squash the opportunities from coming to fruition.

A few months after the hurricane I decided to visit our local neighborhood center. While sitting at a picnic table, one of the Hawaiian elders opened a large jar of what appeared to be multi-colored jewels and emptied the contents into a round basket that was on the table before us.

Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Upon closer look, these jewels were really tumbled pieces of broken glass. I became curious and asked her about them. Aunty Martha told me about a beach on the Westside of the island known as “Glass Beach.” She said that rather than soft golden sand, the beach is covered with what looks like tiny pieces of glittering jewels. However, these jewels are really fragments of broken glass that were once parts from various types of bottles, which were discarded out at sea.

Over time, these jagged fragments are washed onto the shore and transformed by nature into colorful gems. These gems are often used to create jewelry, picture frames, flowerpots, sun catchers, and ornaments of various kinds. Aunty Martha then handed me a piece of glass and told me to put it in a special place.

I did as Aunty Martha told me to do and placed it on a shelf next to pictures of my friends and family, all the while thinking someday I’d like to visit that beach.

That “someday” didn’t happen until about a year later, when I noticed that I was still feeling jagged and fragmented in my own life. I had no regular job, finances were dwindling rapidly, and I missed my friends and family very much. It was then that I decided to take some private time for myself and visit this beach. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas as to what I might learn. I just knew that I needed to be there.

With gentle shore-line waves lapping over my bare feet, I walked along the water’s edge, noticing pebble-size pieces of glass glistening like fine jewels in colors of turquoise, emerald, brown, crimson, and orange.

As I walked further, I notice larger, thumb-size pieces of the glass and decided to collect some of them. After an hour or so, the plastic bag I had brought with me was filled with these gems.

Wanting to survey my treasures, I found a cove, and emptied my sack of glass onto a large beach towel. I picked up piece after piece, noticing each shape and color. One particular piece of smooth, frosted white glass caught my attention. I decided to use this piece of glass as one would use a reference book to find answers to a puzzling question. Holding it in the palm of my hand, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and mentally asked it to teach me something I needed to know right now in my life. I turned it over and over in my hand, while waiting for an answer to surface.

In these few moments of quiet meditation, I realized that our dreams, goals, and visions begin whole and smooth like the glass that was once part of a bottle or a jar. However, sometimes we find ourselves in uncharted waters; perhaps feeling like we were tossed overboard. There may be rough seas, high winds, and unclear navigation. This lack of clarity and turmoil can leave us feeling broken and shattered. With time, the edges of uncertainty smooth out, and we can find a safe place on which to land and gleam.

With these thoughts in mind, I began to think about the many challenges and traumas that have jarred my life over the years prior to our move. I remembered how, at first, these difficulties felt like they would break me apart. However; upon inner reflection, I now know that each experience has helped to smooth my rough edges and helped me to look at my life with greater dimension.

The sun was beginning to set as I bundled the many gems in the towel. Once I was home, I placed them in a large, clear glass jar and tumbled them over and over again. Each time I turned the jar, I saw a new design emerge.

As I look at that jar today, I realize that those once broken chards have become the vibrant colors in a personal kaleidoscope called my Life.

A Kaliedoscope Life

A Kaliedoscope Life

Take a few moments to reflect on your own life, and share with us what you may use to bring beauty to the chaos and confusion you may sometimes be called upon to endure.

 

Dr. Joyce

Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D. LMFT LLC
Creative Solutions for Positive Change
602-923-2704
Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
Co-director of The Phoenix Institute of Ericksonian Therapy
www.drjoycemills.com
www.butterflywisdom4you.com
drjoyce@drjoycemills.com

Read Full Post »

Sole Survivors

~ Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.

It was a rainy Saturday morning when I finished unpacking from a recent business trip. After jiggling open the sliding door to my closet, I desperately tried to find space for a new pair of shoes I had purchased.

No such luck. Every time I moved one dusty old box, another fell down.

“This is it!” I huffed out loud. “This is the day I give away all of my old shoes.”

The shoes I’m talking about were not just tattered–many of them no longer fit. Why was I saving them? I got my step stool and up into the nether regions of closet land I went.

Sole Survivors

Sole Survivors

The first box contained a pair of black satin high heels. They were my favorites eight years ago when they were new. I remember wearing them the night I attended a grand performance of Swan Lake by the Joffrey Ballet. My friends and I were able to go backstage and meet the dancers.

The next box held the silver-mesh heels with beaded flowers delicately draped across the front that I first wore to our youngest son’s bar mitzvah 12 years ago. As I closed my eyes, I could still hear his 13-year-old changing voice chanting.

Less glamorous were my workout shoes, all tattered and torn, but reminding me of exuberant aerobics classes at the gym. Each pair of shoes was like an old photo album carrying vivid pictures of treasured moments.

In 1992, when I moved from Los Angeles to Kaua’i, Hawaii, I brought all my shoes, knowing full well that many didn’t fit anymore (my feet seem to get wider with age). At the time, I didn’t know why I was taking them, but sitting on the edge of my bed, holding my black satin heels, I knew … I didn’t want to let go of the memories of parties, weddings, vacations,  and anniversaries.

I’d worn these shoes during some of the best years of my life. They were with me when, against the odds, I went back to school, got a Ph.D., wrote books, and built a private practice as a marriage, family and child counselor. It wasn’t just the accomplishments that were important. It was all the wonderful people who enriched each experience. By holding on to the shoes, I’d been trying to hold on to the memories. Even though moving to Kaua’i was a goal my husband and I worked hard to achieve, it seemed I was still spiritually linked to my 27 years in Los Angeles.

I took time to carefully dust off each pair of shoes and put them in a white plastic giveaway bag beside me. After placing the last pair inside, I twisted a wire tie around the top and reflected upon the importance of creating space in my life.

I realized that letting go of what no longer fits allows for experiences — and shoes — that fit the person I’ve become. While the memories continue to nourish my journey, now my closet has room for new shoes to travel with me on the path ahead.

Update:

It has been twelve years since I wrote this story.  Sole Survivors was subsequently published in Living Fit Magazine, in the July issue in 1997.  I am now living in Phoenix, Arizona and still reflect on the messages I received from cleaning my closet on that fateful Saturday morning.

After reading this story, perhaps you will also take time to reflect on the importance of letting go of what no longer fits and creating space in your life for new pathways and discoveries yet to be discovered.  I welcome your thoughts and share the journey.

Joyce

First published in Shape Magazine, 1997.
All Rights Reserved – Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D. LMFT, LLC 2009
Dr. Joyce C. Mills
Creative Solutions for Positive Change
602-923-2704
Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
Co-director of The Phoenix Institute of Ericksonian Therapy
www.drjoycemills.com
www.butterflywisdom4you.com

Read Full Post »