Do you know, the funny thing is that I have been blogging here for around three and a half years, and I never realised that there was a ‘Spam’ filter that was filtering out comments!
I noticed it and had a look and have just seen some lovely and beautiful comments, and I’d like to think that they are genuine ones from my readers, although Word Press has filtered them out.
I just wanted to say that I am grateful for every genuine comment, and try to acknowledge and reply to them individually, so if you have posted anything at anytime in response to any of my blog articles and thoughts, and if you have not received and acknowledgement or reply, I am so sorry.
I thank you and appreciate you here, and I guess it must be that Word Press filter! It’s hard to know what is genuine or not once it gets into that space, but for those of you out there, thank you 🙂 x
Welcome back to my new interactive series of journal prompts / contemplation points to help us together to navigate our way forwards through 2020. Instead of looking back and feeling that it has been a negative or wasted time, I hope this series will help us to learn more about ourselves and find the ‘hidden treasure’ of this year.
If you haven’t yet seen my first post in this series, please take a look at my main page and you’ll find it there, just before this one. Feel free to start and stop this journey and take things at your own pace to make the most of these times of reflection. And as always, you are so very welcome to share your thoughts in the comments.
So without further ado, here is the second prompt:
(2). Think of at least one thing that you had taken for granted, or not appreciated fully before the 2019/20 pandemic.
I’m sure that I’m not alone in the awareness that there are so many things that I have not fully appreciated, even though I try to cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude’ on a daily basis. We can be thankful for many things, yet sometimes it takes a crisis to more fully and deeply appreciate them.
There are *so* many things – faith, family, friends, health, homes, food, clothing, the internet and maintaining connections, blue skies, the very ability to breathe and to be given the gift of life each new morning we wake.
I think this question can take us to deep places of gratitude for many different things that we may usually be thankful for, but not quite as deeply so. I’m so thankful for all of the relationships, people and things I’ve mentioned above, however, for this post I want to express my appreciation for one thing in particular: the health care service and all the people who make it work.
I live in the United Kingdom, and here we are very fortunate and blessed to have the National Health Service where most treatment is free. I have friends in America who always have to worry about health insurance, and even crowd-funding long-term treatments for their health problems, whereas here we never have to think of such things. Sure, there may be costs for adults undergoing dental treatment and such like, but GP consultations, prescribed medications, hospital treatment, mental health and psychological care, and the list goes on – it is all FREE to the patient.
And while we have been in the midst of the pandemic, doctors, nurses, auxiliary staff, administrators and a whole host of people have been working tirelessly, sacrificing their own wellbeing, time with their families, and in some heroic cases even their own lives, in their commitment to helping and caring for other people.
We had a weekly ‘clap for carers’, however, even after these things fade away, I know that I should be so deeply appreciative of the people and systems that work tirelessly to preserve and improve the quality of human life. I hope the government will appropriately and financially honour those who do so much for our society.
Yes, this is something I am deeply grateful for, and am so very thankful for during this pandemic.
What about you? What positive thing can you take a moment or two to be appreciative of as you think of this year so far? If you need a few ideas, how about these as starting points for you to explore some thing or various things that you recognise have been a real gift and blessing to you through this experience, even if indirectly:
The past few years have been characterised by exactly that: the past. Despite all of my determined efforts to push past life’s hurts and to build up my life, my body, mind, heart and spirit simply could not do this. Life had other lessons for me to learn, which in a sense meant being broken open for all of the hurt to begin pouring out.
The past few years have been intense at times: I went through a process of a lot of the pain and hurt and anxiety and depression that had been stuffed down and bottled up within me, ‘exploding’ to the surface in what felt like a breakdown. I was diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress, severe clinical depression and severe generalised anxiety disorder. It was pretty awful, and it had felt that way for a very, very long time indeed.
Do you notice that I said ‘had’? That is monumental. I notice even at the early stages of this new year a shift within me – within my thinking and within my heart. I may not be completely healed or whole or well or recovered yet, but the nightmare of explosions within my mind keeping me trapped and frightened in this unreality between past and present has in fact passed. Or at least it feels like that just now, and that is incredible. I didn’t know if my mind and heart would ever feel calm again and at one point I was feeling like giving up.
The noticeable shift is that my heart and mind are naturally inclining towards the now and the not yet rather than to the past. The past difficulties I have faced now are part of a bigger narrative, they are being processed, redefined and finding their place and in working on this I am allowing myself to find my true identity and to walk in it.
And as naturally as if I had always been this way (which I never had) I am able to ponder the present and the future (the ‘now and next’ as my mum says) without feeling crippled, pulled back or limited by the pain of the past.
It is perhaps for many people a simple thing, taken for granted to be in the now and the next, but it is a beautiful miracle for me, one which I would like to pause and to appreciate with you right now, even as we move into the not yet.
Someday you may look back on the days you are living right now and wish that you had appreciated them so much more. But why wait for that someday when you can begin to more truly and fully appreciate life now, as you live it?
I had one of those ‘moments’ last week, it was after Church, which had been a Remembrance Sunday service, and I was taking a quiet walk through the park which is just opposite the Church, on my way home to the centre of the city, which I often do. The park is a lovely big park where you can wander around, there are trees, a duck pond, some statues / monuments of sorts, a large circular fountain, park benches, flower gardens, a play park area for children, at the far end there is a small ‘skate park’ for the teens, and you can walk uphill to the top of the park where you are granted a beautiful view over the city, including onto the old castle like building of one of the universities.
The trees in the park were ablaze with autumn colours, the air was crisp and cold, people were walking at a slower pace as they strolled together hand in hand, or walked their dogs. Others jogged, ran and sprinted past as fast as can be. Some lingered while sitting on benches, and children played, often pausing to inspect a leaf, or some other fascinating object at their eye level, or squealing with delight at a squirrel as it scampered by.
The day was blessed with sunlight, and as I wandered through the park, I decided not to head straight home, but to walk around it a couple of times, to stop and look and take it all in, to sit on a bench and enjoy the view overlooking the city, to really appreciate the beauty, the life, the colours around me. From time to time I listened to the birds, while at other points I put my headphones in and listened to worship music. It was blissful. A couple of people came up to me to exchange some small talk, and then went along their way.
I had a moment, while drinking in this beauty, where I realised that these were the moments of my life. The life I was living right then at that moment. These were the special ones that I would hopefully look back upon one day and think of with fondness, hopefully having enough presence of mind to remember them. I decided to pause and appreciate them, the moments, these ‘right now’ moments before moving on.
Maybe you have moments like that, enjoying the beautiful free gifts lavished upon us all. Yet, do you miss them? Do you let them flutter past you because your mind is occupied with what you don’t have? I am trying more and more to appreciate the present, and the good things in my life right now, even while I wonder about my unknown future, about hopes and dreams.
A week prior to this, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in about a year. We used to meet up with a couple of other single female friends and go out to dinner or meet for coffee, go to church together, and share life. A few years ago this friend met the love of her life, got married, moved further north in the country, and a year and a half ago had her first child, a baby boy. We caught up on life as much as we could over coffee and a fleeting visit. She remembered with nostalgia her carefree single days while living in the city. She loves her husband and baby, but there are things to adjust to, sleepless nights, responsibilities that she didn’t have before. While she was single, she longed for the things she has now, as many of us do, but when we met up, she was somewhat wistful, about the days she had left behind. Perhaps she even missed them, or aspects of them a bit.
Now, here I am, a single young lady living in the city, with my own place, a full time job and friends and interests of my own. I’ve worked hard over the past few years to recover from some tough health challenges and continue to work on it as it’s been a long road. Things are looking brighter however, and I enjoy pursuing my interests and dreams. However, I don’t know what the future holds. I would like to get married and have a family of my own and share that with the family I have now.
I know that many of you also think of the future, you wonder what will be, and your ‘wonderings’ will be different depending on what stage of life you are in and what your perspective and attitude is.
But wherever you find yourself, take time to really appreciate your life right now, or the things that you can. It may not be perfect, you may be going through a really difficult season, but don’t wish away the good things you have now, or fail to appreciate them because you are longing for something else or something more.
I have voyaged through light and shade in my journey through life. There have been seasons characterised by simplicity, seasons of tears and pain and despair of life, seasons of struggle, seasons of healing and now I am entering a season of hope. You will have your own experiences of light and shade in your own life. But take time to appreciate the days of your life right now, even if you are hoping for future blessings or change.
Single ladies, don’t mope and be miserable if you want to find the love of your life – enjoy the free time you have if you have it right now, take time to build up your skills, independence, interests, friendships, career, pursuits. Spend time with the people you love. I love spending time with my family, and talk to my parents every day on the phone because I live alone. I truly appreciate that blessing.
I have had seasons of poor health, and I choose to enjoy and appreciate the health I have now. The home, the friends, the job, the food, clothes, the travel, my blogging community, my church fellowship and family.
What are you taking for granted this winter season as you long for spring? What hopes and dreams do you have that you may be letting tinge your thinking with negativity because you don’t have them yet or don’t know if they will ever be fulfilled? What do you have in your life that someone else might be longing for? A home, a family, food on the table, friends?
There are so many things that we have right now in our lives to appreciate. Let’s take time to appreciate and enjoy them and be thankful for them. And right now, in this moment, I choose to be thankful for and appreciate – you! 🙂 x
Sometimes at work we come across people who do things to help us, whether that is something as big as advocating for us in some way, or as ‘small’ as bringing us a cupcake on a Friday afternoon. The world is full of hostility, but where we are blessed to encounter kindness, friendliness, a helpful attitude, a job well done, respect in any big or small way, then it is worth pausing to show our appreciation. The appreciation may not be in the form of an award, a bunch of flowers, or even a card – it might given circumstances be a simple ‘thank you’ expressed in person, or even by email to a colleague or fellow office worker. Show your appreciation. Say thank you. Because the kindness of others should never be taken for granted. And your kindness in saying thank you might just make a bigger difference to that person than you think.