Guest blogger Yvonne Kelly, MSW, RSW, founded The Step and Blended Family Institutein Tottenham, Ontario in Canada with her husband Rick. She is a certified Stepfamily coach and counselor. Her latest project is on Step Dating, which I’ll feature more of in later posts. A teleseminar and educational materials on the topic will be available on her website soon. Yvonne acquired two stepdaughters when she married her husband Rick, and they later had three more children.
Beyond the Holidays
by Yvonne Kelly
Welcome to the New Year – 2009. For many of you I’m certain you found the holidays to be a time of stress (quite normal in stepfamilies I might add) and for others it was a time of rest and recuperation. I’m certain for some, you are still wondering “where is the R and R, after the holidays?” Regardless of what camp you find yourself in, it is time to pick up and move on into this NEW YEAR ahead of us. At The Step and Blended Family Institute, we want for all of you to experience this next 12 months ahead as a year of renewal and change. This doesn’t mean making 12 New Year’s Resolutions, one of which you might actually keep. It’s about deciding that if there is anything you want to learn more about, anything you need support around, or anything you can do to change things for the better, you take the steps to do it. And I will actively applaud you when you take the first step towards doing so. Small changes, efforts and taking initiative are the first steps to improving one’s own life and the world around us. Even when the circumstances around us seem less than adequate, or maybe even downright offensive, there is always at least one thing we have in our power to do, to make it better. Sometimes, that one thing might be simply accepting what it is that we’re facing instead of fighting against it, resisting what is really happening, and thereby increasing our frustration and immobilizing us from taking any action to improve things.
I would challenge each and every one of you to stop, think about just one thing that you could do, or one thing you could say to another person, that might actually bring some relief or resolution or peace to whatever situation you are currently experiencing. I know that for the majority of you visiting this site, you are doing so because you are trying to find the balance in what can be a very complex life as a stepfamily or blended family. I also know first-hand what many of you are experiencing as I am entering my own 15th year in our blended family. So when I say, stop, breathe and decide on even just one thing YOU can do to make a positive change in whatever situation you are dealing with right now, I can say that because I know it works and because it’s what I aim to expect of myself on a daily basis. The other reason that this is the most effective way of helping yourself in any situation, is because each one of us can choose to make changes for ourselves – we have that power; we don’t have that power over anyone else. However, when we do our part, take that first step, utter that first word or make that first gesture, so often we find that our very actions and gestures, positively influence the very individuals we had been hoping would change all along.
The families we live in are complex and constantly changing – there is just no arguing that fact. Most of us at some point, find ourselves facing challenges we had never expected in our lives with very little experience or the answers we feel we need to deal with these situations. But there are answers, there is support and there is a tremendous amount each of us has to offer when we adjust our mindset and start to look at what we can do (instead of what we can’t do) to make our relationships and situations better. That’s where it begins and when we can do that, it will be much easier to invite and engage with other people in improving any situation. So I invite each and every one of you reading this to: decide the things that are not to your liking, can improve. Decide there is a role you can play, and be the one to make the first offer or the first step. And believe that even the smallest forward movement is significant and will lend itself to the next positive movement and before you know it there will be momentum for important and lasting change.
So without having to make too many resolutions to yourself, make one decision – that this will be a better year than the previous one because you have the ability to make choices and to find things that can make it better, even one small step at a time. And if support is necessary for you in a given situation, ask for it, and if there are things you need to learn, then seek out that information.
Do whatever it takes to move things forward and create the life you want because it certainly isn’t going to happen to any of us otherwise.