Some Thoughts on Creating Change
By Juliana K. Nason Ashe, MA, LMHC, CMHS
The basic premise of Green Halloween embodies many of the ideas that have become increasingly popular and important to many of us over the past several years, such as embracing the health and well-being of our children and families, our larger communities, and our planet. It instills a sense of purpose beyond ourselves and our own experiences, provides a common purpose, and a foundation for applying and incorporating these values and ideas not just to autumnal festivities, but to other holidays, and into our daily lives as well. Green Halloween gives us a starting place for building the foundation for healthy lifestyles, step by step, together in community.
The idea of change makes some of us recoil—we may think about it, desire it, even long for it. But sometimes the idea of setting the wheels of change into motion paralyzes us. We may be overwhelmed at the mere thought of what needs to be done, or just by the idea of leaving the sense of comfort and security that our current habits and routines provide. We all arrive at different places along our paths. Some people may have stumbled upon this website quite by accident, and these ideas may be brand new—yet they may be very appealing. And still others may be on the opposite end of the continuum, and be well versed in the arts of healthy and sustainable living, needing little or no encouragement to jump on board. Many more will fall somewhere in between. Wherever you find yourself in your own process, some general ideas and thoughts about ways to approach creating positive changes in our lives might prove useful, as you contemplate how you might become involved in a way that is personally meaningful to you.
By definition, to change something means to alter or modify it, to transform it, or to pass it from one state to another. As a noun, change can mean novelty or variety. Taken together, we can craft our own definition that conjures images of a natural process or progression that will provide new experiences, insights, levels of awareness, and opportunities.
The first step in creating change for your children and family is to create change in your own life. This requires taking time to become mindful and aware of what is important to you, what you want your life to look like, your personal values, and those that you wish to share with your children. Make a firm decision to move toward and embrace the change you wish to create. All actions that we ultimately take begin from thought. The mind is the fertile soil into which the seeds of creation are born and sewn, where ideas materialize and grow. We must have intrinsic desire to see change enacted in our lives in order to make it happen. Visualizing and becoming intimately familiar with what it is you want to manifest in your life is the first crucial step in setting it in motion. It can be easy to shy away from this forward movement, but pulling back prevents us from being open to the endless possibilities that change can create in our lives.
The next step is setting small goals, which form the building blocks for larger ones, and then taking action toward these goals. Make one change, and take one step at a time, so as not to become overwhelmed by the process. Contrary to the old axiom, knowledge alone is not power, but rather provides us with potential power, resources, and fuel. You must still act on knowledge
gained to make things happen. Start small, gently moving toward the change you wish to see, and the positive results you receive will inspire and encourage you on to further action. Let the catalyst
of your results move you forward. Throughout this process, treat yourself with gentleness and kindness, and practice loving acceptance. These will be skills that serve you well in helping children walk through changes in their lives too. We all deal with challenges in our growth, and if we falter in our process, it should be acknowledged and accepted, and then we should refocus on forward movement toward our goal.
The beliefs that you hold, thoughts you think, and messages you send yourself are all vitally important. Open your mind and embrace the belief in all that is possible, in your innate ability to create the life you want, and then act accordingly. Change is nurtured with time, patience, faith, and persistence. Belief in our ability to effect changes in our lives empowers us in the process of making our newly planted seedlings bloom.
By modeling the fundamental beliefs, values, and behaviors that we want to see in our own lives, we are in turn imparting valuable lessons to our children, who emulate what they see and learn from those around them. In actively moving desired changes outward, from our own lives to those of our children, remember that routine, consistency, and information provides children with a sense of security and well-being, and makes things flow more smoothly. Develop routines and rituals for your children with a slow and easy approach, mindful of their experiences and feelings along the way.
For young children, incorporating the new concept of a Green Halloween into their celebrations will be quite easy, as they will be brought up surrounded with these values. Preschool aged children are very adaptable, and will be excited by many of the ideas and suggested activities, and they will in turn create memories that last them much longer than it takes to toss a candy wrapper haphazardly by the wayside. School aged children can be involved in the celebratory planning to the extent possible and appropriate, and can help with crafting costumes, games, and activities. Make sure to plan ahead, provide information, and set clear expectations around the celebration. Let them know that your motivation for these changes to the way you approach holiday celebrations comes from love and care. Older children will benefit from embracing the larger ideal of supporting and protecting the Earth, and may even take a lead in wanting to help in holiday planning, coming up with wonderfully creative ideas on their own. They need options and choices, and to be involved in creating new traditions. The Green Halloween website provides specific and lovely suggestions for alternatives to the standard Halloween fare to offer your children, both young and older, this season.
If difficulties arise in making these transitions, work together to make small changes toward the larger desired goal. This can be a rewarding, healing process and opportunity for growth, imparting lessons in flexibility, creativity, understanding, and good will for everyone involved. Regardless of age, always give children an opportunity to be heard, and listen to their concerns and feelings with attention, respect, and empathy. Remember that as parents there will inevitably be times when we will make decisions for our children that we believe to be in their best interest, which they may not like or readily agree with. Open and honest communication and a slow period of adjusting to the changes will move you along the path toward your ultimate goal together.
keep in mind that lasting change is a fluid and dynamic process, and
one that both occurs with, and promotes, awareness, thoughtfulness,
and patience. And those are skills that all families can benefit
from strengthening, during the holiday season, and throughout the whole
Juliana Nason Ashe is a Licensed
Mental Health Counselor in private practice. She can be reached at:
Chrysalis Counseling Services
Located at Sound Holistic Health
2804 Grand Avenue, Suite 300
Everett, WA 98201