Welcoming Change

Welcoming Change

Monique sent us a kaleidoscope.

But it wasn’t the beautiful, smoothly-sanded wood or the delicate glass end piece that moved us.

It was the note in the box.

Dear Ruth and Bobbi,

Looking through a kaleidoscope, I find that I love the scene in front of me. It’s so intricate and beautiful, I just want to look at it forever.

But eventually, I have to turn the glass. The tiny pieces inside jumble around and, for an instant, there is chaos.

Yet soon a new, even more exquisite pattern emerges. One I would not have seen if I had not turned the kaleidoscope.

I send you this to remind you that your current journey is much like the turning of the glass: A new, beautiful picture is coming into view.

We knew exactly what Monique meant.

My partner, Ruth, had metastatic breast cancer. It was terminal.

We were in the midst of chaos and yet we had learned to not resist the path before us. To take each day as it came and be grateful.

And now Monique was teaching us even more.

That, like the kaleidoscope, each turn in our lives was creating something wondrous. Although many of the turns shook us up and scared us at first, we soon noticed the wonderful, delicate picture that was formed by the new pattern in our lives.

Ruth was one of those people who was witty, smart, wise, and fun. Everyone wanted to be around her.

And yet, in the depths of her soul, she was convinced that people didn’t – couldn’t – like her. Or love her. She was too damaged, she thought.

This belief couldn’t be any further from the truth and yet she could not shake free from it, no matter how much evidence I presented that showed the opposite.

It caused much pain in her life.

Her kaleidoscope was stuck on a very ugly, cracked picture.

Cancer finally shook it loose.

Instead of holding on as tightly as she could to what she knew, Ruth allowed cancer to change her.

With nothing left to lose, she let the kaleidoscope turn and began to see how much people loved her. How she made them laugh with her wry witticisms and brought tears of joy to their eyes with her bare, honest wisdom.

One day, after reading all of the cards and loving emails sent to her, she turned to me and said, “People really do love me!”

It was a moment of sheer grace.

Ruth died a very content, very peaceful, very fulfilled woman.

The pattern was perfect.

Welcoming Change

What about you?

Do you get stuck on the picture that is in front of you? Too stubborn or too frightened to turn the kaleidoscope of your life?

Remember that when you allow the glass to turn, although it may seem that you are losing something precious, a new pattern is forming. One that is just as beautiful – or even more beautiful – than the one you left behind.

Tolerating Chaos

I know what’s hard about the turning of the kaleidoscope. It’s the jumble, the chaos as the pieces within your life fall around and around, looking for the right place to land.

After Ruth died, my kaleidoscope seemed to never stop turning. My grief was stunningly more difficult than I had anticipated and I could not seem to get on my feet.

Somewhere within the depths of that dark night, though, I knew that when the pieces of my life finally landed, finally formed a pattern, I would be okay. And there would be beauty again.

And there was.

I moved to California’s Bay Area, a place that resonates with my bones and soothes my soul.

In my work as a therapist, I began to help others who were grieving, using my own experience to heal theirs.

There have been new friends, new opportunities, and new love.

The Turning of the Kaleidoscope

The pattern formed by my kaleidoscope is lovely even though the loss of Ruth will always leave a few cracks in my soul.

Sometimes, you just have to take the jumble and chaos one day at a time. Or one hour at a time. Or even five minutes at a time.

But have faith. The turning doesn’t last forever.

And remember that your new view can be stunning.

Photo by JarleR

Bobbi Emel

Bobbi Emel is a psychotherapist who helps you bounce back from life’s significant challenges. Download her FREE ebook Bounce Back! 5 ways to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs. You may also want to join her on a journey toward living a richer, more meaningful life on The Bounce Blog.

Latest posts by Bobbi Emel (see all)

63 Comments

  1. Very insightful and touching post.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Stylemum!

      Reply
  2. “I moved to California’s Bay Area, a place that resonates with my bones and soothes my soul.”

    The Bay area is a magical place. I lived near there for a while and really enjoyed it.

    The front range in Colorado is where I belong, however. I’ve gone through a kaleidoscope of change myself for the last several years. Three moves in four years, new career, now a blog. It has been a whirlwind, but I have learned a lot and am much stronger for it. Can’t wait to get back to my magical place though.

    Thanks,

    Dan @ ZenPresence

    Reply
    • I hope you can return to your magical place, too, Dan!

      Reply
    • I totally resonate with your change. Bay Area is beautiful (I’m visiting here at the moment) but Colorado is magical in spirit.

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  3. Thank you for sharing a beautiful memory with us Bobbi. I’m so glad that Ruth realized she was loved.

    My kaleidoscope has been changing alot this year and every day challenges me to see beyond the shifting colors. I will save this post for times when I need reminding that life does go on and there is more beauty to experience.

    Reply
    • I’m glad this has been helpful for you, Sherri. I hope that the pattern of your life continues to be beautiful in spite of the discomfort of change.

      Reply
  4. Nice metaphor. Sometimes there is chaos, but sometimes the simplest patterns are the most beautiful, too. Welcome both.

    Reply
    • Exactly, Dan. Thank you for your insight there. It’s true that simplicity can be beautiful and yet we overlook it so often.

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  5. Beautifully written and moving post, Bobbi. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I’m happy Ruth was able to turn the kaleidoscope on her own life before passing; everybody deserves to feel loved. I’m sure you had a profound influence on her state of being in that regard.

    Thank you for this.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Amy!

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    • Yes, we live an a world of impermanence yet strive for permanence, that’s why the turning can be so hard. And why we need to not only embrace the turning but the idea that impermanence can be very freeing!

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  6. Bobbi,
    What a moving an inspiring story. Thank You for sharing.

    The changes in our lives are truly a kaleidoscope. Our lives tumble and jumble to form new incredibly rich patterns.
    It’s a shame that some people can’t appreciate the new beauty because they are too busy looking to the past.

    I hope your post will inspire others to see the beauty in all the patterns of their life.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Natalie.

      It is hard to see the beauty when the turning sometimes involves pain, but it is there if we look for it!

      Reply
  7. Beautifully and transparently written, Bobbi.

    So true that it often takes a chaotic shift to make us see the truth. Very moving and thought provoking. I don’t know that a post has moved me emotionally like this in a long time…if ever.

    Reply
    • Gary, thanks so much for your very kind and thoughtful words. I really appreciate your feedback!

      Yes, unfortunately, sometimes it does take chaos to get our attention. But even then, we have to be able to see the picture clearly. It is one of the blessings of my life that Ruth did before she died.

      Reply
  8. A beautiful story of acceptance and resilience! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  9. Bobbi,
    This is such a beautiful post. Beautiful metaphor. Beautiful writing. Beautiful memories of a loved one. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your kind words, Marilyn!

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  10. I wanted to leave something thoughtful and compelling … but instead…. I am speechless.

    I have lost 3 people very close to me to cancer as well so this brought up alot for.

    Simply beautiful Bobbi.

    Reply
    • Thanks, James. And I’m so sorry about your losses, too. Cancer is horrible and it is affecting way, way too many people.

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  11. This is powerful and moving, Bobbi.

    I love the image of jagged shards of glass in the metaphor of the kaleidoscope for the chaos endured when life’s decisions bring great changes. The promise of a new arrangement of pain into something beautiful is so reassuring — a motivation to move through the fear and self-doubt that so often accompanies change.

    Gary said it perfectly, and I agree. Your clients are lucky to have you.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jim.

      I love the way you have summarized the idea into one succinct idea – the promise of the kaleidoscope motivates us through our pain. Great!

      Reply
  12. It’s a sad world at times like this, when a love one leaves us in the prime of life. It take’s a while to heal, Bobbi Emel you told this story in a way that softens even the hardest heart.
    Thank you

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  13. So emotional, deep and sad… but with the optimism in it!
    Thanx for sharing!

    Reply
  14. What a sad, life-affirming, beautiful, and moving post.

    I love the idea of life as a kaleidoscope.
    Letting go and being open to change are the key to happiness, I think.

    So sorry for your loss. And yet I am also happy for your sake, that there were beautiful memories within the pain. It doesn’t happen always or for everyone.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Bina. Yes, there are many, many beautiful memories. The kaleidoscope has created a lovely pattern for me even while incorporating the loss of Ruth many years ago.

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  15. Bobbi,
    Your post reminded me of something my first ever coach (over 10 years ago now) got me to do when my own inner critical voice kicked in. She used to say “look at the evidence”. And the evidence always showed my inner critic was wrong and I could identify it as someone elses voice not my own, so it became easier to detach from it.

    How heart warming that Ruth was able to see the evidence that she was a special person to many people before she passed away.

    Reply
    • Ali, for some reason it took cancer for Ruth to finally see the evidence, but it was a blessing as it changed her life to one of joy and lightness.

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  16. I think Ali Davies’ comment above is really key. Identifying the two people we all have, my coach talks about “the little kid” being the one to work on detaching from, the one I had to get to really know before I could identify when they were in charge and do something about it.

    Like everyone, your story Bobbi of Ruth’s inner transformation and your continued journey, resonated with me, so thank you.

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    • Thanks so much, Margaret. I know Ruth struggled with her little kid and I continue to work with mine as well. Such a life-long process!

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    • Oh that little kid plagues everyone I see. At least I’ not alone.

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  17. Gosh! This is such an insightful piece, Bobbi, it almost moved me to tears (and I’m an Englishman! :-) ).

    You’re so right about chaos. That’s the essence of the fear that keeps people from Change in their lives. Even when what they have currently, is breaking them. Your story is a great, heart warming story of how we just need to accept chaos is a kind of rebirthing; the creation, and coming to life of our new selves. So glad you shared it with us.

    Tom

    Reply
    • Thanks, Tom! I guess my writing must be getting better if I’ve almost got a Brit in tears! ;-)

      Seriously though, thank you for your kind words. I have to admit that I don’t like the chaos while it’s happening, either. But no one said I have to like it! I just need to hang on and look forward to when the pieces re-assemble into something new and wonderful.

      Reply
  18. Hello Bobbi,

    Thank you for this special story.

    I think the hardest thing to do is to see our beauty, without judgment, criticism and negative self talk. Your article is very inspiring and thought provoking. I felt sad and inspired at the same time.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words, Tania. The story is very much like life, isn’t it? Sad and inspiring at the same time yet dotted with bits of joy.

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  19. Beautiful mam! I’m speechless. Just wanted you to know I loved it!

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    • Thanks so much, Bric. I really appreciate it!

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  20. Bobbi, your post has taken me back to a time when I lost my sister. People say you’ll get over it. I don’t believe we ever ‘get over’ losing someone we love. Yes, we get to a place of acceptance and we can experience wonderful things again and we can enjoy life again. At the same time, we will always have a place in our hearts and memories for the one we loved – no matter how many years have past.

    Thanks and take care….

    Reply
    • Yes, you’re exactly right, Kirsten. I get angry when people say someone who is grieving should “get over it.” They’ve obviously not lost anyone.

      I understand what you are saying about always having a place in our hearts for the person we loved. That’s why I wrote “The pattern formed by my kaleidoscope is lovely even though the loss of Ruth will always leave a few cracks in my soul.”

      I am sorry for the loss of your sister, Kirsten, no matter how many years have passed for you.

      Take good care.

      Reply
  21. Amazing post! One of most touching i have read!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Judy!

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  22. This was perhaps one of the most profound things I have read in some time. This is a book. The analogy and note about the kaliadascope is wonderful – what a wonderful friend. So glad Ruth had shifted the colored glass to see herself loved. I know the lost of a loved one to breast cancer and the cracks in a soul. Grateful that you and I have turned the kaliadascope to see the wonders of a new experience too. Great post.

    Reply
    • Wow, Jane, thanks so much for your words of support! I do hope to make Ruth’s and my story a book someday.

      Our friend Monique is truly wonderful. She’s one of those people that we didn’t see a lot, but she somehow knew exactly what to say and do that was just perfect.

      Jane, I’m so sorry that you lost your loved one to breast cancer, too. Even though the lessons we learned are beautiful, cancer still sucks and grief is hard. But I’m glad you have had a good turning of the kaleidoscope, too.

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  23. Thanks so much for sharing this moving experience … helping us to realise that we are not alone in what seems like chaotic events. We are so much more than we see, whether we believe it or not.
    Walking such a path is not easy, but it opens us up if we are willing and unafraid to make each step … step by step, into something more..

    Reply
    • I agree, Kathy. Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback.

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  24. Unbelievably beautiful and wise words! I’m still wiping away the tears. i love this analogy of the kaleidoscope turning for life shakeups both big and small. I know your loss was one of the hugest life shakeups anyone can experience and my heart goes out to you.

    My admiration also goes out to see how well you’ve ‘bounced’ back yourself – and what an amazing example you are to others.

    Going through a separation after 22 years of marriage and moving to a new city has shaken things a lot for me. Sometimes I lose sight of where I may be headed and imagine it will always be a jumble. I think I need to look around for a kaleidoscope to keep with me as a reminder that new patterns always emerge!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your kind words, Sarah!

      It really does help to have an actual kaleidoscope around! I’m sorry that your life is a bit of a jumble right now, but I know, for you, that the kaleidoscope stops momentarily to give you a beautiful, interesting pattern and then it starts to turn again. Eventually, it’s going to settle for a long time on a great view!

      Reply
  25. This comment is simply to acknowledge what an amazing story you just told Bobbi. I think the hairs standing up on my arms says it all.

    Thank you for this.

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    • Thanks, Joel. That’s very sweet of you!

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  26. This is a tremendous true story. Look around at the world, it’s full of chaos if you choose to look at it as such. However, like in this story, if you stop and look at the world in a snap shot, there’s beauty everywhere.

    Thank you for sharing this story!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Michael.

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  27. Bobbie, i love your writing. This was really a great metaphor!

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  28. Hi Bobbie!

    I was so touched by this live changing post! Thank you for sharing not only this, but a lot of other things to help other people to change for the best and not give up.

    As a Criminal defense lawyer, I encourage my clients that they can still do more things in their life. That they can still have a chance in their lives.

    I hope I can also help others the same way you do.

    May you continue more in being a great encouragement to other people that will read more about your stories.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Andrea. And thank you also for the work that you do. I know it must not be an easy job, but I’m so glad you can see your clients through a beautiful turn of the kaleidoscope!

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  29. Thank you for sharing this story!

    I feel each time you write about your past a little bit of your wisdom passes on to me.

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    • Thanks, Amit, that is a very kind thing to say!

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  30. Thank you for this very touching post! I am currently in the chaotic point of my life. I have left behind everything I have known to be comfortable, and have been having some serious doubts. This post helped remind me that something beautiful awaits and I was called to make these changes for a reason. And I was just thinking this morning about taking it all one moment at a time – a useful reminder for whenever I start fretting about the future. Merci beaucoup Bobbi!

    Reply

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