top of page
  • Sarah Smith Warren

Making Peace with Change

by Therese Johnson, Owner Operator of abiRiver Consulting

Once upon a time during the throws of covid, when people and businesses did random things to survive, I thought it would be a good idea to help people downsize in their homes and lives. Well, it was a good idea, as there is such a need for assisting people in those times of change and transition. But, I didn't anticipate just how difficult it would be - not the work of organizing, cleaning and decluttering - but the deeper work of change and transition. Later when I moved to Fargo, my sister introduced me to Therese who had created a business specifically for these times of change. Therese has such a deep understanding of what humans need. When Therese hired Soul Space Work to help revise and solidify her business foundation and goals, I was amazed by the incredible story of what led her here. For starters, as you will read, she is no stranger to change and that is her connection to her clients. She and her team walk alongside them in a poignant time in their lives - maybe they are downsizing and excited for a new chapter, maybe there has been a health issue or a death and a family needs to deal with transition, moving and selling. abiRiver puts the human first. As we worked on her mission and purpose, there was a whole other mission living inside of abiRiver, and that was her dedication to her employees. In her time as a single mother, working to make ends meet was nearly impossible, navigating school hours with work hours with childcare needs and kid activities. Therese is very passionate about creating unique job opportunities for woman and mothers that work with THEIR schedule and THEIR needs. It's not often you find a business who's mission is equally to serve their employees as it is to serve their clients. Welcome Therese! Thank you for sharing a piece of your soul with us, your clients and your employees.

- Sarah Smith Warren is the owner of Soul Space Work, a coaching, consulting and facilitation space dedicated to helping humans make space for their souls in their work and life. Connect with Sarah @soulspacework or

Making Peace with Change

By Therese Johnson, Owner of abiRiver Consulting

“Mom- sometimes I miss when we were poor.”

My teen tells me this in confidence. He says it like it is a secret and he shouldn’t say it too loud. He was a child who came home from school burdened by the thought that kids in class might be missing something in their home life. He always asked me to buy them food or a new toy to cheer them up. He would ask me to help out an aunt or uncle on a bad day, because he thought we had the means to do so. As a small child, he never thought or felt like we were poor. I worked 3 jobs but he didn’t realize we lived paycheck to paycheck. We had just enough or barely enough but we made it work and we always helped and accepted help from the little village of friends and family around us.

Our little community of broke single parents, poor college students and young adults was just trying to get by. Together we made do. We shared meals. We babysat for each other. We celebrated each other’s achievements. And we daydreamed of the days when life wouldn’t be so hard. But even with shared trauma, it was still isolating and hard.

The weight of the anxiety you carry every day, wondering how to make ends meet this month never let up. So, when I hear him say that - ugh. It’s a punch in the stomach. I don’t miss living in that constant state of anxiety. It was being stuck in survival mode 24/7, with just moments of catching a deep breath before being plunged back into the cold water of poverty.

What is he missing about that time in our life that feels so nostalgic? Our bare bones meals - he misses “those simpler days” he says. Or packing up for a weekend and cuddling up on a twin mattress in a pup tent to travel a little and see some new sights, with $80 in my bank account to feed us and have enough gas to get home. He misses just getting up and going somewhere on a whim.

Don’t get him wrong. He cherishes the life we have made for ourselves. He looks around at the home we now own, with a giant, beautiful, blended family we’ve created and married into, and the success of years of hard work now paying off. He is, we are, so grateful for the peace that comes with safety and security we now live with.

But a piece of him, a tiny part of his heart, still longs for the days when it was just us. He and I. “The good old days” he calls them wistfully.

It feels unfair to miss them because we love the life we have today. But he still catches himself looking back at those memories and misses those moments together. I hope he always holds those memories dear. I just don’t want to live in those moments forever.

Change has always been associated with grief in our lives and for the last 5 years, we’ve had to learn how to celebrate change and live in it with gratitude.

I’ve made change my whole livelihood. Starting with life as a paramedic, where I was an anchor point in someone’s life for a moment. I was guiding people through some of the worst days of their lives. With fleeting moments of joy in that field, it was an outlet for me to manage and control a chaotic situation because my own life wasn’t as easy to manage.

Real estate was an unplanned break from the medical field. Switching careers, I saw more joy most days. I was able to guide people through huge decisions with confidence. The chaos and anxiety about home buying was a seamless transfer in skill sets from paramedic to real estate agent. I was able to facilitate the transition into a new chapter for my clients, many of them first time home buyers. But I ached for the chaos that I gave up in the back of an ambulance. It sounds morbid but it wasn’t always dying or death back there. It was most often anxiety, fear of the unknown, and managing change. I am really good at walking people through change and I understand anxiety first hand.

Creating a business, especially one based on change, wasn’t my intention. I never dreamed of being my own boss. I need rules because I live by a strong sense of justice. I need data, because I need to understand why we do what we do. I need experienced people around me because I need examples to follow.

Starting abiRiver Consulting means it is an absolute blank slate and I am creating rules, data and experience as I go. If I have ever felt like I was living in a constant state of free falling - this is it.

There is no one to turn to and ask: what next? In fact, I have more and more people turning to me and asking that very question.

This is what I know to be true and real:

We are all going through a season of change and that never ends.

We all deserve to live in a space where our needs are being met.

We all carry anxiety about decision making, big or small and good or bad.

As Sarah and I worked together to create a mission statement that captured the heart of abiRiver’s principles and goals we included the statement “creating a safe space for change.” This rings true over and over again in my life, my clients’ lives and my staffs’ lives.

How do we make peace with change and create that safe space?

We leave room for conversations. The fear of the unknown lives in our head and often talking out loud and walking through our next steps gives us a new perspective. We might answer our own questions after talking out loud, we might hear how silly our fears sound. We might think of new questions that give us more confidence in moving forward with the right answers. Let’s talk about what you will miss and if there is something we need to carry over into the new chapter to honor that or if it’s time to leave it in the past.

We give permission to grieve. Allowing someone into your space to help manage change is difficult enough, there is vulnerability in that but with it comes the possibility of encountering emotions you weren’t prepared for. Even with only positive changes to look forward to, we can still grieve what we are leaving behind. So go ahead and grieve and relive the good moments you are letting go of. Or just be sad to leave a place of comfort and familiarity.

We respect the things that won’t change. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There is no reason we can’t hang on to pieces of our life that still brought us joy and happiness, even if there is grief lingering with it. Let’s let love, joy, and grief live together. That moment of sadness exists because of the years of love and joy that surrounded it and that is something to cherish.

I don’t ever want my son to let go of the years of memories that he holds so dear, because I associate it with anxiety and grief. He will hang on to those memories for the rest of his life. I have to allow myself to let grief and joy live in those memories together and when I hear him talk about the moments he loved the most about being poor- it was never about being poor. It was about how much we prioritized happiness where we could find it. He remembers the joy we had over our simple meals and spontaneous adventures.

Would I go back and change our lives if I could, so we didn’t live through that trauma? Without a doubt, in a second. But that’s wishful thinking and not real life. So, we embrace the discomfort of change knowing that we will always find moments of happiness and joy even in the midst of struggle. We move forward by embracing change and the joy it hides in its coattails every day.

abiRiver Consulting is a real estate-based company that supports you in moving forward so you can thrive in your next chapter by downsizing with dignity, honoring your legacy and creating a safe space for change. We offer home organizing services, packing, and moving services and real estate services - all individually curated for each client and their needs.

Learn about abiRiver's services and book your FREE consultation here:

Therese Johnson - Owner Operator of abiRiver Consulting

REALTOR® with Dakota Plains Realty | 5302 51st Ave S Suite B Fargo ND


35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page