All posts by Frances Bryant-Scott

Who Am I Now? – Leaving identity behind in transition

I’ve got one more day with my clients. One more day in my identity as a social worker, as a counsellor, as a therapist. Letting go of this identity was not something I thought would be so hard. I know, what was I thinking? Oh, wait, I was thinking, not feeling. That’s my default m.o. when I’m under stress.

I thought that all my work with grieving, transitions, and loss would prepare me. After all, I’ve left lots of identities behind over the years. I’ve graduated from various schools,  moved house, and even country, a whole lot of times. I’ve married, became a mom, even got (temporarily) un-married. Not that those transitions into and out of an identity were pain- or challenge-free by any means.

But I’ve never left a job that I loved before. I’ve left jobs because the contract was over. I’ve left jobs because the pay wasn’t enough to support me. I’ve changed careers due to burn-out. I’ve even walked out of a particularly bad job in the middle of the day -not exactly polite, but I’m very proud of the boundaries I set for myself that day!

Honestly, most transitions are more of a “one at a time” kind of deal. This one isn’t everything, all at once, but it comes awfully close. Tomorrow I leave a job, and soon I will leave a home, a city, and even a country, that I truly love… how do I do that? It’s one thing to move from one identity to the next logical one: you get married, you know you’re becoming a spouse. You have a kid, you know you’re becoming a parent. But what am I becoming? I look down into the void and I see infinite stars… it’s a good thing my scared little self has my bigger self along for the ride!

I started to write this blog a few weeks ago. The word “day” was “month.” Then I started again last weekend. The word was “week.”And here I am yet again. Sitting down to write is not coming easy to me these days. Watching endless old familiar TV shows is very easy. Reading old familiar and comfortable books is comforting.  Art – which “ought” to be my mainstay – is almost as uncomfortable to get into as writing. But at least I’ve done it a bit more consistently than writing, and so I thought perhaps it’s best to break this long silence and share what I’ve got.

Zoom!What is it about this awkward space between one identity and another? At the beginning, it was an incredibly exciting feeling, like bursting into a clear sky, with nothing but forward and upward momentum. Hooray! Bruce got the job in Crete! Amazing! Look at the incredible landscape! The food! The ocean! Ah the inspiration will be there for the taking, and I will have all the time in the world to become the artist I always wanted to be…

But… what if I don’t? 

I watched a crow down by the beach a week ago. I think it was young. It zoomed up to a forked branch in a tree, and perched there, one foot on one side and one on the other, wobbling back and forward. I stared for a while. The crow might have been more self-conscious if it had known the attention it was getting! But since its back was toward me, its feet splayed out in opposite directions and its tail-feathers flipping up and down as it tried to keep balance between the two ends of the forked branch, I was privileged to feel its struggles as if they were my own. And I felt it. Right down to the bottom of my own toes. All my “what if’s” flood into my legs and make them weak and wobbly.

What if, despite the job offer, the Greek consulate says “no, we don’t want you here.”? What if we get there The Earth is Shakingbut I totally squander my time, and end up watching Netflix while hiding in my shuttered house from the extroverted neighbours?  My wiser self (and sometimes that’s an inner voice, and sometimes it’s a supportive friend) asks me some better questions. What if it’s fine? What if your neighbours are really sweet and even a little introverted themselves? What if Greece doesn’t happen, but by making the preparations you end up opening a magical door you didn’t even know existed? What if you wobble a bit on your branch, and then take off and fly into the beautiful sky and sing above olive trees and a turquoise ocean?

Wait and see...What if I sit with this feeling of in-between-ness, of not-knowing, and just BE with it for a while. Underneath the noisiness of my fear, I can feel a steady bass-beat of something else. Back when this started I even said out loud that what I was seeking, in taking this chance to completely change my life, was an experience of free-fall. To so completely let go of what I know, that I would have the chance to learn who I really am outside of all the other definitions and assumptions. I find myself scrolling back up to the first drawing, looking closer… I want to see those stars close up. And I do want it badly enough that I will try again to re-settle myself into waiting and being with what comes.

So … one more day of being with my clients, who have blessed me over and over again in their own willingness to BE. And now I’m feeling it. All of it. And I’m sad.

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye – Changes in store for Open Hearth Studio

I haven’t reached out through my blog or newsletter in the past few months or so because of some big changes my family and I have been contemplating. During the weeks that our situation was most uncertain, it felt like it would be unfair to current clients to create anxiety around changes that might not even happen. It was really important to me that they be able to hear the news directly before it became public knowledge. And, to be honest, to write about anything else except the intense process of making decisions and waiting for news felt like it would be really inauthentic. So instead, you got silence, for which I apologize.

As of August 2nd, I will no longer be serving clients at my studio. The “in-person” side of my practice will be closing at that time to allow me and my family to prepare for a move to the Greek island of Crete. We first became aware of this opportunity just ten weeks ago, and we’ve opened our minds and hearts to embrace it. While I am incredibly excited about this change, it comes at the cost of having to say good-bye to many parts of my life and work here in Victoria.

My husband will have a job there, and I will have the chance to reconnect with my own identity as an artist. I will be able to serve clients via video conferencing, but not under my qualifications as a Registered Social Worker. It feels really lucky that this move came along right at the time that I completed my years of studying to become a Spiritual Director through the Anamcara Project! You might want to know more about what that means, so I’ll be writing more about it in another newsletter soon.

Even if we haven’t been in touch in some time, this change is still an ending, and I imagine and regret that it might create a sense of loss. Every new ending recollects other endings in our lives, and as I say all the time, we just don’t “do” endings and transitions very well in this culture. I’m no exception. I wanted so badly to do it well, and get the news out “the right way” (whatever that could possibly be!) that I created a lot of tension for myself and for those people who did know and have been there to support me and my family through the waiting and uncertainty. We are making the leap into public knowledge now, however, even with many questions still unanswered and quite a few bureaucratic hoops still to jump through. I figure, if nothing else, I can at least work through this change out loud from here on, and we’ll see what happens!

My hope is that you will wish to continue to accompany me on this next adventure through the newsletter and my blog. I honestly don’t know what it will look like. I hope there will be lots more of my own art, definitely lots of photographs, and maybe more writing!

My deepest thanks for hanging out with me here, and many blessings to you.

-Frances

P.S. Here is a photo of a small chapel built right on a spit of land into the Mediterranean near where we’ll be living. And some felt vessels I’ve been making, trying to catch the blues… I think I’ll get better at it once I’ve seen the colour in person!

Felt vessels