… the Process

So much of life is getting used to the NEW NORMAL.
New job … New house … New marriage … New children … New stage in life.
Even the world around us sometimes feels like it’s just not the “normal” way we’ve always lived.

William Bridges has spent decades studying the process that we go through both as individuals and as organizations who are growing and changing. Both individuals and groups of people navigate into the new normal as living organisms. We all have to let go of what was and eventually embrace the new reality, but in the middle is what he calls “the neutral zone” where we are neither what we were nor what we will become.

We are changed when we reach the new beginning, but the challenge comes in getting from what “IS” or what “WAS” to that place where we are not yet what “WILL BE.”
Things are no longer the way they were, but they are not yet in the new normal.
The space in between — the Neutral Zone — is called the TRANSITION and it can often feel disorienting and lonely because we are out of our familiar element.

In order for us to TRANSFORM from who we were into who we are becoming, the process needs to be organic. That is, it has to come from us and not just be something that someone else makes us do. It must have integrity. It can’t be fake. It has to be based on authentic values — the outlooks and experiences that have been most meaningful to us.

The 13th century poet,
Rumi, expresses one of the goals of my work:
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.

Everything that I do can trace its roots to this reality. Whether I’m coaching a young mother figuring out the “new normal” of her life, a retiree who is restructuring his days, a middle manager who is just being advanced to executive level, or a church pastor preparing to take her congregation through life-altering changes, success lies in the balance of holding on and letting go.

Sometimes achieving and maintaining that balance is best done through
C O A C H I N G and sometimes through C O N S U L T I N G. Sometimes it is best done through P A S T O R A L – C A R E, what we call the S P I R I T – A L I V E and sometimes through the seamless movement from one to the other — even without you knowing.

The Process
Assess where you are and where you are going
Explore who you are (the Organic) and How you are Being Led to Change
Envision the New
Build the Way

… the Person

Deb Swift is an ICF (International Coaching Federation) member in good standing, an experienced educator and an ordained minister in the PC(USA). She currently pastors two congregations in Rochester, New York* following successful careers in music education and community organizing. Life has made her proficient in the language of believers, skeptics, questioners, agnostics and those who proudly oppose all of that. Deb lives in the city as a wife, mom, writer, gardener, pastor, and warrior for justice and joy.

Values Clarification – helping people recognize, claim, and prize what they value in life – was the area of her M.S. in Education. Learning to clarify what we really believe, prioritizing our life choices based on those beliefs, and then being empowered by that process is a part of her coaching -as are humor, metaphor and rewriting our personal narratives to focus on our strengths and gifts.

Swift is the author of The Church Has Left the Building – A Case Study of One Church’s Story of Transformation, Redefinition & New Life and is the Executive Director of Firebird Spirit, Inc., a nonprofit devoted to assisting churches and small not-for-profits in redefining themselves in light of the global pandemic and the social/political changes of the 21st century. Her life is devoted to working with people and institutions in transition. Midwifing transformation is second nature to her.

What this means is that she brings to her work with each person a wide variety of skills, approaches and experiences, knowing the right questions to ask and the best times to take a step back. Her practical, pragmatic and every-day language makes her approachable and excited to celebrate each person’s unique journey.

The secret is to ride loose in the saddle and hold fast to the reins. Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and laugh!”

A transformative thinker and visionary, Deb is committed to helping people reach their full potential with humor and grace. With Master’s Degrees in Education (SUNY-Oneonta in 1980) and Divinity (Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in 1990), she is a writer and musician, as well as a pastor and a coach, who loves technology, binge watching British mysteries, home repair and gardening, and relaxing in her inflatable hot tub.

Look for her on:

* — South Presbyterian Church (a 100% missional church that sold its building in 2014 and 8 years later continues a vibrant life with ~40 in attendance on any given Sunday at the assisted living center where the group formally formally worships — complete with a choir and pianist/director, and a bell choir! — and which is a benefit to those Christians, non-Christians and non-believers who live in the facility), and Irondequoit Presbyterian Church (a suburban congregation finding its way as a 21st century church).