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My Latest Discovery About Transitions

September '18


Relaxing in my favorite leather chair, I listened to an old friend on the phone. The corners of my mouth turned up, when she related the details of her upcoming, three-week vacation itinerary.

“It sounds just great! I exclaimed. “Send me a photo or two, if you can. I’ll miss our weekly conversations while you’re gone.”

“Have you met any new friends yet?” she inquired.

“Not really, I’ve been so busy unpacking and settling in.”

“Well. There’s lots of time for that.”

After a few minutes of good-bye conversation, I hung up the phone a bit mystified. Why hadn’t I met any new folks yet?  She wasn’t the first person to ask me that question. I’m outgoing by nature, but had made no attempt to reach out and meet new people.

For some reason, my daily efforts focused on unpacking, finding places for all my stuff, and decorating my new digs. (Despite a massive downsizing effort, which sent truckloads of furniture and household items to consignment stores, charities and the dump, after three weeks, I still walked by 10 boxes of files to sort and condense, along with pictures to hang, or give away for lack of wall space.) Downsizing from a three-bedroom house on the water with a full basement to a one-bedroom apartment is no easy chore.

I had already found my way to Wegman’s (major supermarket), along with an excellent coffee shop, and local eateries where I could pick up delicious kale salads, local produce and even fresh mozzarella with a three-minute walk.

I’d figured out how to run the washer and dryer in my apartment, use the stove and the microwave, how to let folks into the building and the location of the trash room. I headed for the Farmer’s Market on Thursday mornings (another 3 minute walk) and learned that many roads in Princeton acquire different names as you drive along; three different names in ten minutes can be a bit confusing when you’re driving in new territory

Yet I had not wandered over to the library to avail myself of some of it’s amazing programs. I had not looked into possible Wellesley Club alumnae events I might enjoy, nor reached out in other ways to meet new folks. Thanks to visits from family members and their invitations to dinner, plus phone friends and weekly FaceTime visits with my old Stitch and Bitch group, I did not lack for company.

But I continued to question my ongoing hunger to nest, to find my way around, acquire a new PCP (which I recently did, thanks to my daughter-in-law), and just get settled. What had happened to my sense of adventure, my hunger for learning, and my outgoing self?

Finally a friend gave me the answer! “Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?” she inquired.

“Yes I do, or at least I remember that the levels go from meeting our most basic needs to more sophisticated levels of need.”

“With your recent move you’ve been momentarily thrust back to level one.”

Wow! When I got off the phone that day, I googled this hierarchy to remind myself of each level and found this helpful diagram.


I realized I was currently engaged in attending to my Physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest) and Safety needs (security, safety)—i.e. my most Basic needs in this new home. There would be time later to attend to my Psychological needs with making new friends. Happily I had family nearby, plus phone and Facetime friends to support me in this realm. The development of new friends could wait until my more Basic needs were met.

I also observed another action I took that made sense now. For some reason I was adamant about finishing my book before I left. I can now see why the timing of the publication of Midlife Magic was important. If I were trying to finish this work while landing in a new home, my necessary focus on Physiological needs, Safety needs, Belonging and Love needs, would naturally come before attending to any Esteem needs (feeling of accomplishment) by finishing my book.

This understanding of naturally needing to meet basic needs helped abate my concerns about an overzealous craving to settle in, and also reinforced my wish to proceed at a pace that felt comfortable with regard to finding new friends. In addition it gave me a new insight about the midlife transition journey, or any life transition.

When you have landed in new territory, after you to leave your past life (home, career, marriage, etc.), shed some baggage, set sail, felt lost at sea, and finally arrived in new territory, you will be thrust back to meeting basic needs again, as you explore an unfamiliar land—whether you’re in a new home, a new job, a marriage, or aa a divorcee.

Despite successfully navigating the rough seas you encounter when making any significant change in your life, you might find yourself like me, a bit surprised by your profound need to get comfortable in your surroundings as you attend to your most basic needs before taking other steps.

If this does happen to you, remember, “It’s all part of the journey!”

A Happy Fall to you if you live in the northern hemisphere and a Happy Spring to you if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, as we all transition to a new season.



  1. Debbie Barchi said on October 1, 2018:

    This is so insightful and explains a lot to me about why it has taken over a year for me to adjust to my much-longed for retirement. I have berated myself for not doing more since retiring, but now that I have read this, I feel I understand this process much better and can “give myself permission” to go much more slowly along this new road. Thank you!

  2. Jerielle Young said on October 2, 2018:

    Hi Bonnie, you’ve made your move!
    I just wanted to stop by and say hi and let you know I enjoyed reading your discovery. Makes perfect sense.
    Enjoy the unfolding at your own pace…

  3. Marna Ashburn said on October 5, 2018:

    I enjoy keeping in touch with you through your monthly newsletter. Good luck in your new home. I fell in love with Princeton when I visited my nephew there.

  4. Bonnie said on October 5, 2018:

    Hi Marna! Great to hear from you and thanks for your comment. I’m now even wondering if there are stages of moving into a new home that reflect Maslow’s hierarchy. 💕Bonnie

  5. Bonnie said on October 5, 2018:

    Hi Debbie! Love your comment about giving yourself “permission to go slowly on this new road”—beautifully stated! Bonnie

  6. Bonnie said on October 5, 2018:

    Hi Jerielle! So good to hear from you! Also loving your perfect phrase, “unfolding at your own pace.” And I’m also chuckling with myself, because isn’t that what we should always be doing? ❤️ Bonnie

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