Hi! I'm Carrien.

Until You Feel Light - How Change Can Be a Good Thing

Published 8 months ago • 4 min read


Writer & Coach

Sometimes we find our story shifting in such a dramatic way that everything feels like it’s upside down. Our identity was wrapped up in a set of circumstances and relationships, and as those circumstances change, and those relationships shift, we find ourselves completely off balance, not sure of who we are anymore.

At first, it’s terrifying, unmooring, destabilizing. We fight to keep ourself anchored, to try and find something solid to hold onto that we can orient ourselves in relationship to.

But with the chaos comes possibility, the opportunity to explore new things, new identities, new ways of being in the world. As the terror subsides, and the change more familiar, we find that there is more than one way to be, that we are not simply the version of ourselves that we are clinging to, or the person we were in the past, but we are also all the future versions of ourselves that are still possible.

A year or two ago, around age 44, I decided I was going to learn to do headstands and handstands. I didn’t have a particular reason except that they looked cool and when I saw someone else doing one I thought, “I wish I could do that.”

I had no idea what I was doing, or how to do it properly. I didn’t have a teacher. I just put my hands on the floor against a wall and tried to go up into a handstand.

When I finally managed to get upside down it was frightening at first. I had no idea how to orient myself in this new position or how it was supposed to feel. I wasn’t just using the wall for balance. It was holding me up. My whole back was pressed firmly against it. My body was like a floppy sack of potatoes. None of my muscles knew what to do in this strange position.

My entire adult life I had been oriented with my feet down. “Feet belong on the floor. Feet bear my weight.” It was disconcerting and actually scary to be trying to put my feet over my head. It was a huge shift that my brain and body hadn’t had any time to adapt to.

But the more I put them in that position, the more they adapted. The right muscles learned how to engage, my hands learned how to grip the floor for balance, and it became more comfortable.

I have since learned how to play with balance in a way I would never have been comfortable with in the days before I tried to learn how to turn myself upside down on purpose, and been around teachers that know how to help a person find their way into an upside down position safely and correctly.

Until you feel light

One of the strangest phrases that I heard when I started practicing handstands with a teacher is, “until you feel light”.

It sounds crazy. I know. It’s the weirdest thing to hear someone say as you’re fighting against gravity to hold your body in a certain way and trying to put your feet over your head.

Until I felt it. I felt the way that my bones stacked on top of each other in a stable way, and my feet weren’t needed any more.

A good teacher will set you up to be stable in an inversion, and to find that place where the balance shifts.

“Stack your shoulders over your arms, your hips over your shoulders, come up onto your toes and step close with your feet…”

Everything is straining. My shoulders feel like this is all wrong and they are in the wrong place, my feet are glued to the floor, even pressing up onto my toes doesn’t lessen the weight they carry.

But walk them forward just a bit more, tilt to what feels even more unstable, and suddenly, there it is, the weight shift. Suddenly, what was bearing the load just isn’t any longer. The other body parts have taken over, they are supporting you now, and your feet feel light.

What has changed? Just the alignment, the center of gravity. It’s the same body, same muscles and bones, but aligned a different way, and now a thing that felt impossible is available to you. The world is the same. The ground is in the same place. It's your relationship to it that has shifted.

You’ve let something else take the weight for you. You’ve let go of your previous orientation and you're seeing the world from a different perspective. It's the same world, but your perspective has shifted.

Can you stay open to the possibility of feeling light?

Can you try accepting the change, even lean into it, and see where it takes you?

Yes, there may be grief there as well, but don’t close the door to the possibility of growth, even as you honor your grief.

A change isn’t always as catastrophic as it feels at first. When your center of gravity shifts, it might just be something new, something different. At first your mind might perceive it as bad, because it’s new and very different. But often having your world turned completely upside down could be a good thing in the end.

Love, Carrien

Is your story changing? Do you want your story to change?

Do you need someone to talk to who has been through this kind of thing already?

I can help you be intentional about the story you tell yourself about your life.

Together we can find out what is possible on the other side of what you think you know, and what you are afraid of.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this, please share it with a friend.

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Hi! I'm Carrien.

I help parents raise resilient children, without feeling overwhelmed, so that they can be brave to try hard things.

I'm a writer, parent mentor, and resilience coach. My passion for helping parents to protect their children and raise them to be resilient has extended to creating resources that have helped thousands of refugee and migrant families on the Thailand/Myanmar border through my work with The Charis Project. - I am also the mother of 6 amazing and rather resilient humans, who have managed to thrive in spite of their unconventional upbringing and being dragged around the world by their parents. - Join me here for words to heal and fill your parent heart and shape the words you give to your children.

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