Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #61-Accepting the Change in Seasons

Fall foliage on the Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA, USA

Fall foliage on the Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA, USA

Autumn is my absolute favorite season of all!  Living in New England, I really do get to experience all four seasons, with the biggest challenge being the winter.  Sometimes it creeps up earlier than expected and chooses to hang out longer than desired.  I’ll spare us a revisit the winter travails of Massachusetts last year.  What I note though is that not everyone looks at the changes in seasons the same way.  See, I find pluses and minuses of each.  Winter can be bone chilling cold but I love the days of snowfall so intense that all you can do is snuggle, warm drink in hand and watch a great movie from your couch.  Spring can take fooooooorever to show up but once it’s here, it brings with it the promise of even warner weather with so much to do outside.  Summer, need I say more?  Yes, some days can get waaaaaaaay too hot, but outside activities are limitless.  Autumn, brings the warning of colder days ahead but helps us transition with BEAUTIFUL foliage and opportunities for fabulous fashion!  And yet, some of us like one season and one only or simply despise another.  I could go on and on but this is also the case in life.

It is inevitable that as long as you’re living your life is going to bring with it different seasons.  Things can’t go well 100% of the time, but, they can’t go horribly wrong 100% of the time either.  It just can’t. Some seasons can be more prolonged than others but it is inevitable that there will be change.  Over the past few months, another theme tied to this that has been coming up for my clients is that of the changing seasons of friendships.

Lately, I’ve consistently been heard things like:

“You know, I was a little down because as I was going through ‘x-situation’, I realized the folks who have usually been there for me just haven’t been.”

“I’ve been noticing a shift in my group lately….folks are kind of falling off.”

“As I approach my 30s, I am noticing that not everyone is game for continuing my journey with me….it kind of sucks.  It’s like they don’t accept the growth in me, or at least that I’m feeling I’m experiencing.”

I’ve been through all of this before myself so of course I have to ask each of them “As you’re noticing some folks falling away or distancing or even just cutting off ties with you, are other people showing up?”  Consistently the response has been “Yes and totally out of the blue!”  Yup, see just like the old saying “God never closes one door without opening another,” I don’t believe you’re ever left with loss without some form of compensation for that loss showing up.  This is especially true since we as human beings are just not intended to be alone.  So of course other people are going to show up in your life…and they will probably be so much better for you since they’re showing up in a season where the value of their presence is beyond measure.  Accept it as time for new fruit.

So what is there to do in seasons of changing friendships?

  1. Acknowledge your hurt: There are so many ways we try to be so strong and so tough and so unaffected by people and circumstances that we don’t let ourselves hurt or at least we don’t think we do. See, if you don’t take the time to let yourself acknowledge that these changes are impacting you, the “dealing with it” will show up in other ways.  You’ll be arguing over something with your spouse that you know has nothing to do with them.  You’ll be short-tempered with the kids.  You’ll give your coworkers some unrelenting side-eye and it really has nothing to do with them and all to do with the fact that the change, especially if unexpected has really dampened your spirits.  Let yourself acknowledge it especially with someone who can give you perspective.
  2. Decide to move on: Don’t let yourself get stuck in acknowledgement. Once you’ve made note of what’s happening or happened, give yourself the gift of moving on.  Start by treating yourself to a party for one….may be a day of catching up on Essence reading, a day at the spa, just a mani and pedi…something.  Focus on you, even if just for a bit then…..remember…..NOT EVERYONE IS GONE!  You’ve still got others in your life.  Shift your focus from what’s changing to what’s…who’s staying the same and reach out, engage, move on.
  3. Accept the beauty of change: When you’re going through these seasons, always think of fall foliage.  It’s so beautiful and brings so much with it.  It can be hard but look at the beauty of it.  Change is usually an indication of growth, strengthening, progress, forward movement….though it may not always look and feel like it, there’s beauty in it.  Take note of it and accept it.  When you do, you’ll notice how truly breathtaking it and you are!!!!
  4. Live fabulously fierce: Being who you are is not dependent on who is in your life. Others compliment who you are and the best of friends help bring out the best of who you are.  But no on, no one, makes you who you are other than you.  Commit to continuing to live fabulously fierce or however it is you choose to live….fabulously empowered….fabulously strong….fabulously hopeful….you choose and LIVE IT!!!!

Final note: With the whole Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson  scene at the Emmy’s…which I will not get into simply because I know I just  will not stop once I start…..there has been an increase in consciousness of “who’s clapping for you”….who’s in your tribe…who’s got your back….etc etc.  It’s raising our level of awareness that we actually get to decide who comes into our lives and who’s influence we’re going to let impact us.  Know that this is actually empowerment.  You get to choose.  You get to choose.  Be empowered in that and know that you decide through your intentions, actions, and who you attract, who will be in your life.  Accept the change in seasons and engage in facilitating what the seasons will entail with those you allow to be part of your journey.  And…..It. Always. Gets. Better. And so do you!

Soundtrack of the week:  Count on Me.  Be encouraged-your new season of friendships will result in those who can sing this song with you and know that the truth of the lyrics run deep.

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PAUSE: Free Flow Forum

“How do you stay so positive all the time?”

“You are always just a joy, don’t you have any down days?”

 “Everything must be perfect for you!”

“I wish I could be on a 24/7 high on life like you!”

So, we’re going to take a little break from the factors this week.  I had some really, really good stuff planned (even gave a little preview on my sister Sharon Brewster’s, Founder of the Outlet for Women, Facebook page) but there was something going on this week for a lot of people because I got a ton of inbox notes including the questions and commentary above.  I even met up with a friend who shared that someone asked her “Is Farah really as happy as she seems to be on Facebook?”  What really came out of all of this for me is that we, you and I, have more of an opportunity to learn more about each other.   So, consider this pause from the factors just a little free flow forum, more so than the usual, where you get more insight into who I am.

Now, to get to the question of am I as happy-go-lucky as you experience me here via LFF, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, in person?  WITHOUT A DOUBT YES!!!!  Is it a 24/7 happiness?  C’mon folks, I’m the founder of LFF but I didn’t lose my humanity in the process.  Yes, Farah Bernier is human!  Shocking, I know.  Here’s the deal though, what I’ve learned, and I have to thank good ole Boston College Half-Time Retreats for this, happiness is temporary-to be enjoyed, appreciated, and held on to for as long as possible.  Joy, however, is the key to the 24/7 experiences of happiness one of my more senior followers expressed desire in.

The reason this distinction between happiness and joy is so important to understand is that one thing with me is that I really am an “in the moment” kind of individual.  I love life and all that it brings, yes, even the challenges and the pain because they actually bring growth and strength.  I don’t know if this is a skill or just part of how I’m built, a long time ago, I just learned how to focus in on what is in the moment and appreciate every ounce of that.  So right now, I am truly, truly happy.  Blogging with a focus on helping others develop, reflect, and progress, however they define it for themselves, while growing in the process, myself, just makes me so happy.

Joy though, that’s when you can step back from a moment, look at your whole life picture, se the highs, the lows, the clarity, the incomprehensible confusing and rest in that it is truly all working out for your good and you are totally ok in all of it, built for it in fact.  See it?  Yup, that’s joy.

And yes, I definitely have my lows….still questioning?  Well, here’s the deal; by now, you know, or I think you know, I’m pretty obsessed with personal branding.  Those of you connected with me on Facebook may have even seen a recent post by superstar Veronica Chapman (CEO of My Crowning Jewel…check check check check check it out) where she noted Donald Trump needing to take one of my workshops J  Because of my passion around personal branding, I really do try to live and operate in a way that reinforces and strengthens my brand.  The key to that is consistency in the experiences others have with me.  No, no, no, this is not about putting up a front or a façade in any form or fashion!   Just as critical as consistency is authenticity (trying sooooo hard not to get into personal branding teaching mode right now).  Essentially, you just have to be true to who you are…just be real. What personal branding is about though, is being humble and strong enough to,(ready?)….brace yourselves, get over yourself and whatever is going on in your life, and focus on creating positive experiences that others can leave from you after an interaction and feel lifted up, not weighed down or diminished because of your choice of reveling in your problems.  Heavy, I know.  I’ll even say it, OUCH!

So about my lows?  Most definitely I have them, just like everyone else.  See you wouldn’t know that I recently had to say goodbye to my Uncle who’s gone on to be with The Lord and all I keep thinking about is his grand stature and his ever-gentle, subtle reassuring smile.  You also wouldn’t know that I was recently hurt by one who I really believed was a trustworthy and dear friend, whom I now have to confront about how I’ve felt slighted.  You also wouldn’t know that I have many around me who are going through some heavy stuff and there is nothing I can do to help accept just be there to help them laugh, give a gentle hug and believe for them that it’s all going to be ok when they can’t believe for themselves.

Am I hiding all of this? Not at all.  Do I just bottle everything in and not express any emotion?  Absolutely not.  My inner circle has been working overtime as I’ve needed a few “I just need to get this off my chest” sessions.  All that I am doing is balancing.  See, with my Uncle, for me, he’s gone too soon, but I am overwhelmed with joy just knowing that he is sooooooooooooooooooooooo happy right now.  I just know he’s up there and that smile is literally stretched ear to ear.  It actually warms my heart.  With the hurt from my friend, what are relationships but experiences across the spectrum of fabulous and downright painful?  The benefit there: I’ve got wisdom, and now can test how strong I really am in determining whether or not I’ll be an adult and have the conversation or cower and punk out because it will be a tough conversation.  As for the struggling around me, well, quite frankly, I just don’t get some of the things I have to watch folks go through-cancer, divorce, depression-I just don’t get it.  One thing that I believe though is that there’s a reason this is all around me and it must be because God sees me as able, even when I don’t, to lift their spirits when needed and spread the joy that He’s already given me.

Finally, just to be completely real with you, I am one who really operates under a faith that has never been disappointing.  No, this doesn’t mean that I just pray for everything, believe, and I get everything that I want.  What it means is that I believe that The One I believe in, always gives me what I need, when I need it, even when my when isn’t lined up with His when.  Yup, there are things that I’ve prayed and believed for that just haven’t come.  But all in due time and because of this, though sometimes disappointed and annoyed quite frankly, I know that it’s all working out for my good.  There are things that I asked for at 21 that I know that I know that I know that if I received when I was 21 or even just a little older, I’d be a hot mess!  One of my Pastors, Robyn Reese (remember that name because you’re about to hear about her in some pretty influential circles) once said to me, “Sweetie, if God showed you everything He has in store for you, it might literally kill you because you just could not even handle it.”  But with everything in due time, man oh man is this life turning out to be pretty fabulous!

So, yup, that’s me.  Hope this shed a little more light on who I am, what I’m about, how happy I really am, and how in the world I can be smiling all the time. And since I denied you a factor this week, I’ll leave you with a preview of the next: Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #16: Accepting Happiness and Committing to Joy.  More to come on!

Soundtrack of the week:  So, I’m not a singer, but I’m giving you a little bit of me today.  Enjoy!