Alana Walczak: Navigating in between | Homes & Lifestyle


February is a fun month. It’s the shortest of the year, but it often feels like the longest. Especially this year – when everything feels different.

The Super Bowl deviates from tradition with sparsely filled booths and pre-kickoff poems. The extreme weather hit much of the country. Valentine’s Day candy exchanges were skipped in the classrooms. Punxsutawney Phil searched for his shadow without a crowd to cheer him on, reminding us all that every day at the moment feels like Groundhog Day.

When we close February, winter is fading, but spring has not come yet. 2020 is over, but the full prospects for this new year have not yet unfolded. It feels like we’re moving through a huge “in between”. It is a time of tremendous transition – we are not quite here, but we are not quite there either.

And man, I really wanna be there. Wherever it is.

At first, my instinct was to do more – add more to the calendar and get around my discomfort as soon as possible. Like many others, I thrive on a busy schedule. It keeps me busy and, if I’m honest, it numbs my feelings a bit.

But when I opened my calendar to do more, I realized that it just wasn’t possible. So, I thought, maybe I should prioritize more time.

New Age Semantics? Maybe. But also a real challenge to pause, check in with me and really evaluate what I need and what I could get from it.

We have seen so many changes in the past year. As we near the 1 year mark of this widespread trauma, we have become accustomed to working remotely, helping our children in the virtual school, and wearing masks. We learned to poke our elbows, hug our friends in the air, and experience boredom and chaos at the same time. All of this is new. And everything is difficult.

I realize that remote working, digital education, and the end of “life as we knew it” were extremely difficult for me. At the same time, it gave me more time with my daughters. I had a front row seat to witness their development. By the age of 10 they are no longer small, but neither are they exactly tweens. They are beautiful in between.

They hold my hand on walks around the neighborhood and snuggle up next to me and watch movies on the couch. They also spend more time alone, making up their own mind, and developing more independence as they slowly develop into who they are supposed to be.

Watching them is a reminder that there is no linear path for their journey or for anyone really. It’s two steps forward, one step back. Or maybe an endless spiral – forever forward while always circling back.

It seems to be of vital importance to notice the incremental adjustments and starts of this intermediate time. Since we don’t know how long we will wait for new activity, inspiration, or change, we can use this time to be aware of the progress we have made and our growth.

How can we make the most of this interim time? I’m certainly not an expert, but here are a few things I try to do:

»Letting go of expectations: If the past year has taught us something, we have nothing under control – except our own thoughts. If we can break free from attachments to certain outcomes, we can live in the here and now.

»Take small steps: I was programmed to achieve something from a young age. I like setting goals and getting things done. Taking small but consistent steps forward – as I notice and celebrate the small wins along the way – is my mantra right now.

»Trust the possibilities: life goes at its own pace, whether we like it or not. Although sometimes I wish I could speed it up or slow it down, I have to honor the honesty of what is. When I do that, I find joy in the unexpected and allow myself to really be in the moments when they come.

While I’ve decided against adding tons more to my calendar this month, I’m going to kindergarten with my daughters this weekend. I’ve never had a green thumb or expect a blooming garden, but I love the symbolism of planting a few seeds.

Together we’ll get them in the mud and see what happens. We will look for the sprouts every few days, water them or just notice new leaves on a stem. I will do my best to let go of expectations of what will grow or when it will flourish and just notice the changes. It will be a poignant reminder that some of the best things in life require us to step back and let nature take its course, knowing the best is yet to come.

Towards the end of February, I decided to have confidence that something powerful would grow in this interim period. I don’t know what it is yet, but if I stay open and make room for development, it may be more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

– Alana Walczak is CEO of the nonprofit CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), a leader in developing programs and services to effectively treat child abuse and promote healing, as well as programs to prevent abuse through empowering and supporting families. For more information, click here or call 805.965.2376. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are their own.