Bec Brown Says - What do you say?

How change is good and the seven year rule

I’ve read recently that, on a cellular level, your entire body is regenerated every seven years.

Yesterday it was precisely seven years ago that, after a long stint of travelling and working as a singer, I packed up my bags and moved to Sydney – where I didn’t have a job and I didn’t know a soul.

With this in mind, I did a little research on the whole “new body” thing and discovered that, as cool as it sounds, this isn’t exactly correct.

Your body’s cells all live, multiply or die at different times. Those fit little white blood cells only live a few days but while they’re around, they’re mixing it up like a socialite at a red carpet event. On the other hand, those more sedate nerve cells in your brain are much more conventional – they last your whole life so if you damage any of those, it’s thank you, and good night.

So let’s just say that in a seven year period, MOST of your cells will have reproduced and replaced themselves, some of them, many times over. Exciting to think about, especially if you feel you could have taken better care of your body when you were younger – hey, there’s always the next round to improve.

But what I find even more fascinating are the emotional and mental changes that many smarty-pants (aka doctors, academics, psychiatrists etc) believe occur in about seven-year intervals.

Rudolph Steiner, a philosopher and social thinker* who lived back in the late 1800′s / early 1900′s, said that the seven-year “change” cycles continue throughout life and that society would be better off paying greater attention to them. His theory was that you’d better understand a person if you took into account the change cycle that they were in, then relate it to their environment and interact with them accordingly. By environment, he means that;

- A 28 year old who is married with children will have a different idea about responsibility than a single 28 year old, hence they will “change” at different rates.

- Someone who is 35 and has lived a lifetime in a war torn or third world country will have a different take on life to a privileged 35 year old.

No matter what change cycle you may currently be in, I like the idea that your body, as it’s busy regenerating itself, gives you a natural release of energy every seven years that encourages you to move forward and make changes. I’m also embracing the idea that these seven year change cycles have an ebb and flow – they’re certainly not cut and dried. For example, you may feel that you’re moving towards a new chapter in your life, only to find two years later that the development that you were hoping for (or dreading) hasn’t happened quite the way that you had expected. Or you may only remain at one “stage” in your life for three or four years then move on to the next chapter.

The important thing to remember is that every age and every approximate seven-year unfolding brings special discoveries to be recognised, understood, massaged and manipulated. And the best advice of all?

There is no time in your life that does not have validity.

I adored turning 30 two years ago and I am over-the-moon-turn-cartwheels excited at the prospect of turning 40, 50 and beyond.

Let’s rewind back to 2004 to find out why.

I was a few months shy of 25 and quietly devastated that my singing career – as exciting, door-opening and fun as it was – wasn’t bringing me the happiness or fulfilment that I had dreamed it would. And these were the dreams I’d carried from the age of 14 (my second seven year cycle, if you will) so I struggled a lot as I realised that the life that I’d thought I wanted – the life that I knew – needed to dramatically change. So I decided to settle in Sydney for a while.

I HATED my first year in Sydney.

I was used to gigging at all the cool bars and clubs, hanging with the fabulous people and generally resting in the knowledge that, although my besties weren’t always with me as I was often travelling, those around me knew me as “the singer with the DJ boyfriend”. Suddenly, though entirely at my own bidding, I was living in a city where I didn’t have any friends, no partner, no family, no job (which I also took on board as “no status”) and no frickin’ idea what I was going to do next.

I was also still trying to overcome an eating disorder (that, weirdly enough, also started at age 14) and was recovering from a double knee reconstruction. It took time, perseverance, teary phone calls to my friends and family, trial and plenty of error to eventually work out what was next.

Fast forward to today and, without a word of a lie, I could not in my wildest of dreams have thought that I would be where I am now. I’m blessed to work in a job that I love, have some wonderfully creative friends, enjoy a much stronger relationship with my family, live near the beach, be the healthiest I’ve ever been and to have a gorgeous, funny and supportive partner. Everyday, I give myself a good talking to along the lines of “Bec, you are bloody fortunate. You better appreciate every second of today”.

And I do.

And I also wonder how I will handle the next round of change. Or, as so often pops into my brain (that I wish would just be quiet sometimes), how I’ll now create new opportunities so that I don’t get bored.

But I now wonder about all of these things knowing that, with age, comes wisdom. And THAT’S why I have no problem with getting older. I reckon that if in each seven-ish year cycle there is a complete-ish body chemistry change, then with it automatically comes a need for preconceived attitudes and perceptions to be released. This gives a freedom which allows you to go ahead and make major changes – in your attitude, in relationships, career and in lifestyle.

A favourite quote of mine is:

“Freedom is nothing without discipline”

This rings true when dealing with change. It takes focus and determination to withstand the tumultuous cycles of change. I found this recent Daily OM super comforting too. It talks about embracing change and releasing the past with grace. I loved the idea of simply renaming the awful anxious feeling that often goes hand in hand with change as excited butterflies, thrilled with the anticipation of what may come next.

Or recognising the change that’s occurring and creating a ceremony – to say farewell to the past – and to move on to the new.

A good friend of mine recently made a big move. He’d associated a string of not-so-good times involving his home life, career and relationships commencing at the exact same time as purchasing a new watch. So on the eve of moving and commencing a new period in his life, what did he do?

He went to the ocean at 11.59pm and flung the watch into the dark watery depths. As he watched it sink and it turned midnight, he smiled, ready to move on to a new and exciting chapter of his life.**

So what will you do with your next seven years?

Not sure?

Of course not. Me neither. Sure, we can make plans and work towards what we’d like to achieve but who knows exactly what will happen?

How about we both just focus on making the next seven seconds mean something. And they’ll hopefully turn into the next seven minutes, then seven more cherished and memorable days, seven months and more.

*Rudolf was also a playwright and an architect and is, frankly, enthralling. Delving into some of his writing will be rewarding (though not at all what you would call an easy read).

**Those who know of this ceremony by my good friend (actually a very analytical person, not necessarily known for his theatrics) do, in true Aussie larrikin style, continually ask him “do you have the time? oh, that’s right, you don’t have a watch…”

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