I had lofty ideas of wise and profound things I wanted to share with you. After all, this last year, no, make it two years, have been profoundly life changing. Yet, these self-imposed wannabe nuggets of wisdom were not making it to the page. I couldn’t distil the events or the feelings of the last two years into something that could be neatly gift wrapped.
There was nothing neat and tidy about the year gone by. If anything, it was confusing and uncertain in a way that left many of us looking like deer caught in headlights, or numb from experiencing more of the same old, same old bad news or disoriented from trying to keep up and adjust to the roller coaster of hope and fear.
The ‘Not Enough’ End of Year Reflections
The New Year is a time we traditionally reflect on the past and make resolutions for a different future.
So, I spent a few days doing that. Reflecting. Trying to be resolute. I ended up finding a list of things I had committed to do and not done, a trove of half-finished projects, a catalogue of things I wish I had done. I swear, I even have a little pink journal full of ideas to be implemented in 2021. And only a handful of things were achieved. My abandoned lists and catalogues, and journals and lame projects left me feeling dejected. Even in my personal and professional relational life, I felt I fell short. I reflected on how I have been showing up for my friends and family and even clients and found myself wanting and remorseful. I could, should have done so much, is what I concluded.
Finally, I slapped myself out of my funk and found the good sense to think about the things I have done and all the ways I should be proud and content. In spite of often not wanting to get out of bed, and resume life with the living after my beloved husband, Tony, died, I have been kicking myself out of bed, and getting up and reimaging my life once again.
I am back at work full time and growing my practice once again. Many clients waited patiently for me to get back to my coaching and consultancy, and we have resumed our work together. I have new clients who have reached out to me. I have reimagined my work and practice in a way that resonates with who I am becoming and found that it also resonated with the clients I want to reach out to.
I have reached out to others to be of service and support as part of my gratitude practice. and found that I was richer for it. Together with two other friends, who have been on a similar cancer journey as I, we founded Lean on Me, an organisation to provide friendship and emotional support to people living with cancer and their caregivers and loved ones. I am impatiently waiting to share more about that in another post when we are fully operational.
I have slowly widened my reaching out to friends and family and have reconnected with many, after a year of being very quiet. I have made new friends in unexpected places. I have had many who have reached out to me, connecting through my grief journal’s on Facebook and I have been profoundly moved by how my writing and sharing of my love and loss of my beloved resonated with them, giving them the space to articulate their experiences meaningfully.
Yet, this felt not enough.
Life Had Other Plans
As much I tried not to be overly self-critical of how I should be ‘progressing’ on my grief journey, it was hard not to be hard on myself. Some of the pressure was self-imposed, some of it I fed off other people’s expectations of how I should be, and some of it just couldn’t be helped, because as much as I was grieving, life continued to happen with no regard to my schedule or calendar.
After a year of intense worrying and grief over the health of my late husband in 2019 and 2020, I continued to worry about the health and wellbeing of others in my family and other loved ones. I found myself back in hospitals and doctors’ appointments, traversing hallways I wished never to be back in.
Life had no regard for my wishes, plans and calendars.
And I know that life has treated you similarly.
And yet, here we are, slightly dishevelled, a little bit disoriented from our bumpy ride and a little bit surprised that we made it.
With this little reflection, I am wishing you, what I am wishing for myself (and want to say to myself).
My Wish for You (And Me)
You are enough. So be kind to yourself. Be ok with not being ok.
When you fall down, if you want to lay there for a little, just take a rest.
Get up when you are ready and feel stronger.
Reach out for a helping hand, and lean on someone else when you need to.
Be that someone to someone else in need when you are strong.
Reach out and give a helping hand.
Or just sit and wait beside them till they are ready to get up.
Love yourself, all of you, including all the places that you keep hidden and you think unworthy.
Loving yourself might mean sometimes keeping yourself safe and having boundaries.
And that’s ok. Know you are worth the time and space to look after yourself.
Be consciously vulnerable. Show who you are and be who you are with those who love you.
Love them wholeheartedly and unabashedly.
Open your heart and may you receive in return wholehearted love in abundance.
Be present to experience and feel all the feels.
Even the ones that leave you reeling.
Feel the pulse of life, in all its magnificent and sometimes terrifying power.
If fear raises its head, know you are human.
And nurture that tentative hope and courage to walk with and through your fear.
And when grief visits you,
know that grief is a way of showing you what you loved and cherished.
So, grieve your losses, and know the names of what and who you love.
And cry when crying is the only way to hold your grief.
And day by day may you grow around and out of your losses.
Know that what makes you laugh and gives you joy will also rise.
Find pleasure in the smallest of things.
Celebrate all things that bring you hope and joy.
Whether it’s a glass of wine or cup of tea with a friend.
Or a thank you from your loved one.
Or the project that was finally completed.
Or a sunset.
Treat all these as wins and with gratitude.
Be kind. Always.
To yourself and others.
This is not just a meme-worthy quote.
You really don’t know what someone else might be going through.
So be kind. Always.
And may you always have the kindness of others. Always.
A Wish of Enough Fierce Grace
If there is one thing I have learnt these last two years, is that things can change suddenly and quickly and some things change really, painfully slowly. One can leave you reeling, without footing, without a ground. The other can leave you feeling like your feet are made of lead, stuck in the mud.
Navigating these liminal, transitional, in-between spaces, when change visits you suddenly or keeps you stuck, requires a fierce grace.
Fierce grace asks you to “stand on the ground you find yourself on, even with shivering legs and a quivering heart, and to submit to the tasks asked of you at this time”. Fierce grace is having the patience and faith to know that at some point you will land on the ground, and find a place to stand without falling, Fierce grace is having the patience and faith to know that if you are stuck, it won’t be forever and that you must actively wait for the tide to change.
And that, my dear friends, is my most heartfelt wish for you, that you are able to practice fierce grace, whatever this coming year throws at you.
Fierce grace asks you to be hopeful, even if it feels tentative, and to take one step at a time if running feels too much. Fierce grace asks you to go fear forward into courage, to do the things that life asks of you, even if you don’t want to or are terrified of doing so. Fierce grace says it is ok to have expectations and hope, and yet asks you to be gentle on yourself if they don’t come to fruition.
Dear friends, we have made it into this year, despite whatever misgivings we might have had. I know that all of us might not have made it in the way we wished to, and that’s ok. It has been a tough and difficult year. I just want to celebrate that you are here, in whatever shape you are.
And for some of us, we are missing someone at our dinner table, and that is heart-breaking. For all of you, who is missing that special someone, or a life you had to give up or a lost identity, I am holding you with much love and tenderness.
To my family, friends, clients and readers of my blog, thank you for being part of my journey, and for helping me navigate myself to be here, with you.
Be well, my friends.
May you find the Fierce Grace to welcome this New Year, with all the hope and joy and abundance we all deserve.
May this New Year greet you tenderly and may it be gentle and kind.
Hello, 2022! We are ready!
Love and blessings