Spare Some Change?

"Home, sweet home!" As much as we enjoyed a recent mini-vacation for a wedding and family visit, it was so good to turn into our driveway, tread barefoot on our wonderfully worn carpet and sleep in our own bed.

As people who are trying to be more mindful and not react, traveling is replete with opportunities to grow in patience, perspective and understanding.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote that "familiarity breeds contempt", but I find that change is just as effective at times. The upside is that unless change happens, we risk becoming stagnant, staid and stale. Here are some tips for navigating the inevitable vicissitudes of life:

Each opportunity is a classroom. When plans suddenly shift, it's easy to get frustrated. What if, instead, we embraced change to get better at being flexible, nimble and resilient?

Change invites us to slow down and be present. Think about it- when confronted with an obstacle, impasse or predicament caused by change, you can bewail or breath. Annoyance occurs when what is happening is not what we expect and so we are left "out of control." What if we focused instead on what is right here, what we can control (for instance, our breathing, which then slows down our heart rate)?

Become familiar with unfamiliarity. My mother died just before Mass began on the last Sunday in April of 2001. Dressed so beautifully for the First Communion of my twin nieces, in 15 minutes, after collapsing from heart failure, she was "gone." So, when the next moment can be dramatically different at any time, the response is not to distrust life but rather embrace all that happens. It's difficult. But what's the option? If, rather than fighting uncertainty, we simply notice it as neither friend nor foe, then we get familiar with an unfamiliar terrain called the next moment.

Practice leaning into what happens, no matter what happens. Learning to open to what is unfolding, unplanned and unpredictable is practice … at times the toughest work we do. We don't practice to become perfect; we practice to be unflappable, grounded and nonreactive.