Navigating Change and New Cycles of Growth

Northern Flicker

This year, while bird-song was feeling fresh and new again, I was intrigued by a particular bird’s call. It was coming from several streets away so I couldn’t see it, but I really wanted to know what bird was making that distinct sound. 

In answer to my internal question, a couple days later a friend posted a picture of a bird on facebook with a link to audio for the bird’s calls. Not surprisingly, it was the same bird I’d been listening to and wondering about. A Northern Flicker.

Ever since that moment in early spring, the Northern Flicker has been my companion.

A few weeks into spring I started morning hikes to train for a backpack trip I had planned. My regular route took me under a tree where a Flicker sat for his early-morning song. 

Lately, a Flicker has found it’s way to a tree adjacent to my home. If I get up at my normal time, his calls begin when I’m in the middle of my meditation. If I sleep in, his calls tell me it’s time to get up.

I don’t think a single bird is seeking me out to send a message meant only for me. But I’ve learned too many important lessons from the natural world to ignore the layers of synchronicity in these encounters.

When I searched through reference books for information about the Flicker, there were two things that jumped out at me. First is the broad range of this bird. Between the two variations, they inhabit virtually all of North America. The symbolism that was repeated in most texts was that they are an indication of a new cycle of growth.

When I sit with friends, colleagues and clients, the topic of rapid change and growth often comes up. Many of the people I know are experiencing a degree of change that feels out of the ordinary. It’s been happening for a while and from where I sit, it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon.

Change is the only constant of life—the sole, steadfast friend we can trust. Yet we often resist it, holding on to memories and situations that long ago ceased to serve us.”    ~   Free to Love, Free to Heal, David Simon

I’m learning to become good friends with change – in part because of the work I’m blessed to do. I have the honor of witnessing the new cycles of growth that are born out of change. I’ve seen first-hand the expansion, satisfaction and joy people experience when they have the courage to walk through it.

The up side is that there are predictable milestones when we’re moving through change.

Often in the beginning it feels awful, especially if the change was brought on by outside events.

This is a time to be particularly gentle and kind with ourselves. When we can lean into the “mess”, it frees us to let go of what was and find a certain level of acceptance. From that place, new possibilities begin to come into view.

Free from our identification with a past reality, we can see exciting new opportunities. This stage is a great time to explore without limitation, to be playful and open. As we do that, the next right steps begin to reveal themselves.

The action those steps call for isn’t always easy, but if we’ve truly let go of the old reality and let ourselves dream freely, we know we’re on the right track. 

Let the tenacity of your child-like mind help you follow what intrigues you. Let your adult competencies help you problem-solve when challenges arrive.

When we learn what to expect and which skills to use at each stage – skills we already possess – change doesn’t seem so difficult.

Is there a change that is calling you into a new cycle of growth? Learn to navigate the process and let it lead you to your next great adventure.

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  1. Linda August 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Kelly, I thank you for solving a mystery of 25 years. In our last home we had flickas in the yard. We had two chimneys and they would often sit on the top of the chimney to make their calls. There was always the drumming noise at the end that we would hear and wondered what they were hitting to make that sound. Was there a hole that they had access to some sheet metal of the house? Couldn’t find it. Now we know the bird actually makes the sound themselves. It is so nice to have an answer to a question that you never believed would be answered. Regarding the meat of your article however, it is reassuring to know that I am not the only one both experiencing and recognizing major change in the world. Thank you again for your astute observations (and for solving the mystery).

    • Kelly August 16, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks Linda – I love animal mysteries! No, you’re definitely not the only one experiencing major change. Curious, isn’t it??

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