Happy 1st of March 2021, dear friends. It’s a new month and a chance to take stock once more and to dig deep and find some new resolve. To look up with faith and trust and to remind ourselves that we just need to live one moment at a time.
Whether today finds you rejoicing or struggling with life, know and be reminded that you are valuable and that you matter. That you have it in you to take that next step. Whether or not you’ve got through February in a way that you are pleased with or not, know that you have the chance to begin again, today.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, go gently forwards and remember always that you are not alone.
When seasons change, are you in a hurry to rush to turn the metaphorical page? To start your new chapter, and head on into the next new thing without looking back?
I’ve been there before. I suffered a lot of pain growing up with a couple of markedly traumatic years in school. I put my head down and just wanted to press ahead and forget everything that was behind me and move forwards. Then later when I finally got my first apartment / home of my own, after facing a range of different challenges, I wanted also to press ahead, and to do things to serve God and help other people. I had it all planned out in my mind. Let me just give you a quick ‘spoiler’ and let you know that the story didn’t unfold that easily for me and was in fact a very painful time. I had gone through so much that overwhelmed me, big and little things accumulating over the years, that I couldn’t just press ahead. I had a traumatic episode of complex PTSD, severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks and although I pressed ahead even when experiencing all of these horrible and terrifying symptoms, holding on a full time job and doing outwardly well by the high quality of work I was producing, I was falling apart. God needed to bleed all that stuff out of me (which is a work in progress) in order for me to heal. Now I am able to build myself up after being broken down and broken apart. At least, God Is rebuilding me and giving me wisdom in how I can be part of that rebuilding process.
Sometimes we want to turn the next page, especially if we’d been on a particularly difficult chapter or few chapters of experience and life, and put it all behind us. Our bodies, brains, nervous systems, spirits and emotions may not let us. We need to heal before moving forwards sometimes, and it can be a painful revelation after having put so much energy and effort into surviving life, only to feel we are back at ‘rock bottom’ once again. It can be hard to see the ‘breaking apart’ as an important part of the healing process – of being progress in its own form.
I was touched to see (watching from the UK) last night, Joe Biden’s memorial service for the thousands of American lives lost to the pandemic. I watched this morning on the news a professor talking about the importance of Truth and Reconciliation in order to move forwards. Truth must come first, and this is a process.
Regardless of what your politics are, and what you may believe, the point I’m making is a humane one and not a political point. There is dignity in taking that moment to show honour, respect to those lost, and also in so many realms of life, of taking time to recognise and perhaps mourn for what happened in order for us to move on.
Perhaps you in your own life want desperately to move on from something. Maybe like me you need to press ahead, but then those painful emotions will catch up with you in a crippling way. You need to allow the wound to be exposed (but in the right way) in order to find deep healing.
As the world watches the changing of administrations in the American presidency today, we are looking at a man who gives honour to that ‘moment’ to pause and reflect, to grieve, and to be honest about things. I’m impressed with Joe Biden as a human being who has overcome adversity and grief and loss and personal struggles in his own life, not by running to push past them or ignore them, but to take time to face them, confront them, feel the human emotions, learn from them, and move forwards with compassion to help other people.
Like I said, this is not a political post, but in my own journey of healing, I look for examples of people who have gone ahead of me from whom I can learn. As I seek to share my learning in my ongoing journey, I also am avidly seeking to learn from the wisdom of others.
So I have been reminded of the important lesson to take a ‘moment’, however long that moment may be. We can’t always rush our healing journeys to fit in with our personal time lines. That can feel devastating when we are living through it, I know that personally, especially when we feel crippled by our emotions and experiences and traumas, even though we have worked four times harder than those around us, only to survive, while they all seem to be moving seamlessly ahead in their lives, even thriving, having never had to experience the things we have had to endure and fight to overcome.
Yet there are others like us. There are others who have found the strength to overcome. And from that they have also found the Grace to be more compassionate people who lift others up, because let’s face it, in this world we all have trouble, we all have battles to overcome and burdens to bear.
The Greatest of all Who has gone before me, before us all Is Jesus Christ. There Is none more compassionate and loving than He, even though He Is Greater than all. He has suffered more than all, having taken upon Himself all of our sufferings, and at the Cross He declared Victory, “It Is Finished”. Yet, He Is The One Who gets down in the dirt, in the dungeon beside us, and holds us and heals us right where we are. He Shines His Light into the Darkest of Places and He binds up our broken hearts and heals our wounds with His own. There is no pain or suffering He does not understand. Jesus Christ, Loving Saviour of the world.
As we face this day, let us take a minute. To remember those around us. To take a moment for ourselves. Let us also challenge ourselves to take a moment before we speak because others are going through their own struggles, anxieties and healing processes too, even those with whom we may disagree. Let us take a moment to be human, to feel what we feel, and to allow love and compassion and Truth and Light into our lives.
Let us take a sacred moment before we turn that next page.
Well friends, we’re well and truly at the last leg of 2020, and what a year it has been! While things may not miraculously improve (or perhaps they will?) in 2021, we can take steps to helping our mental wellbeing and outlook as we approach a new year.
It is understandable if many of you are feeling fearful, anxious, apprehensive or deflated as we approach a new year. After all, so many of us had high hopes for the perfect sounding ‘2020’ at the start of the year, and at the end of last year, expecting visionary things and grand new beginnings for the start of a new decade. While some individuals have done really well this year, on the whole, the world has taken a bit of a beating with this pandemic. It can leave us feeling in a negative mindset as we move forwards.
One thing that sometimes helps me, in fact it often helps me, is to ‘theme my months’. It gives me a sense of focus, purpose and direction for each month and helps me with setting targeted and manageable goals.
While I don’t envisage any time soon any of my months to be themed with ‘travel’, there are things that can help me focus on the positives in my own life and set goals accordingly and keep moving forwards, even with everything else going on around us in the world.
With life being so uncertain in terms of what we will and won’t be able to do in 2021, I think if I do decide to theme my months, or some of them at least, then I will focus on personal projects that I can do from home. I even managed to do this for some of the time during lockdown this year, including a ‘May theme’ of ‘Summer holiday’ where I decorated my room to look like a beach house (I must have posted pictures earlier on if you want to see if you can find them) and listened to holiday music, and even went on ‘virtual walks’ in different parts of the world via You Tube.
What are some of the themes that you or I could set for ourselves in 2021 that could help us to keep positive, focused and moving forwards?
I thought I’d have a bit of a brainstorm here, but your own list might be something completely different:
Potential Monthly Themes for 2021:
– Self Care
-Connecting with Friend and Family
-Learning Something New
-Staycation – learning about new countries without leaving home!
-Exercise or fitness
-Charity / Random Acts of Kindness
-Developing existing skills
-My True Identity
-Overcoming obstacles or personal issues
-Mentoring or being mentored
-Singing / Dance
-Learning how to use a new piece of technology that you haven’t used before.
-Encouraging other people
-Rest and reflection
-Gratitude / Thanksgiving
-Going outside for a walk everyday or most days (if you are permitted to do so).
-Health and wellbeing.
-Decluttering / tidying
-Home or garden projects
-Learn a new creative venture
These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, but perhaps you have some of your own that are totally different to mine. I’d love to hear what they are if you feel like sharing. In the meantime, don’t be discouraged by everything going on in the world. Take a moment to think of the positive things that you can begin to build into your life going forwards as we approach 2021, even as we head into the unknown. We will adapt and change as we go but we will seek to do so with love, hope, faith, joy and peace.
In my last post (21) I wrote about taking time out just to ‘be’ and to enjoy doing nothing in particular. This post explores taking time out to reflect and to deal with some of our ‘stuff’. Not the stuff in our attics, spare rooms, garages or basements – but to spend a bit of time sorting out what’s overflowing from our ’emotional junk drawers’ in our hearts and minds.
Hopefully we’ll all have a bit of time this season where we can have even at least a day or two to ourselves to rest and reflect. If we think we don’t have this time, then maybe we are not being intentional in making this time for ourselves (time we would otherwise spend watching TV perhaps).
The new calendar year will be upon us in a matter of weeks, and the general mood of new years, and beginnings of various sorts tends to be geared more towards action rather than reflection. Those around you, as well as the things you read and see in the media, will be imparting messages of goals, things to accomplish, plans and experiences.
This time of the year, however, lends naturally to reflection, to taking time to pause and ponder, to rest and be thankful, to look back before looking forwards, to re-evaluate where we are and where we need to go. It is also a time for being honest with ourselves and taking time to deal with some of our ‘stuff’ emotionally and mentally.
We can choose to view some of our struggles as blessings. For example, this time of year can bring certain things in our lives more sharply into focus. Light might be shed upon our true feelings and motives, for example, the sociable nature of this season might reveal our inner loneliness; the frivolity and consumerism might pull on our heart strings to search for something deeper and more meaningful in our lives; the end of one year might nudge us into reflection as to whether we have made the best use of our time or simply been frittering it away.
As much as we need plans, and to take action, we also need to do this purposefully and to do so requires quieter times of thinking and reflection.
Moving forwards also requires letting go of some of the burdens that we carry. We might be allowing things from our past to hold us back from stepping into the future that we long for. Perhaps we need healing, need time to seek counsel, therapy and to get help with how to deal with traumas or difficulties in our lives. This can be a long road, but we have to start somewhere and we don’t have to do it all at once. We often face a ‘stop-start’ process in any journey of self-reflection, repentance, healing, recovery and change. But the thing is to start, to reflect upon what is needed to go from where we are to where we are meant to be.
I am blessed in that I don’t take this journey alone. Jesus Is my Shepherd, King, Healer and Lord, and He leads me forward with grace and peace. There is healing that only He can bring and things that only He can do. There are also certain things that I must do to cooperate and participate in the process – things like renewing my mind, working on difficult issues, forgiving, letting go, and reframing the way I think about difficulties I have experienced. These things, like the changing of the seasons take time.
But it’s important that we do take time to reflect upon our lives and to consider what things we have been ‘stuffing down’ deep within our hearts, and into our subconscious that we hope will just ‘go away’, things that actually in their time need to be dealt with in order for us to go forwards in our journey with a greater understanding, appreciation of life, sense of identity and purpose.
Will you give yourself some time to do just that this season? You need and deserve it. x
Travelling teaches youto keep moving forwards. There is something of a momentum in travel, even when you have reached your chosen destination. For there is a certain weight to knowing that one has only a limited time in a certain place, especially when it is different to what you are used to, that keeps you looking, seeing, planning, exploring, doing and going ~ forwards, from one new ‘adventure’ or experience to the next. We seek to ‘make the most of’ our new experiences, knowing that time is fleeting and that before we know it, things will have changed yet again – maybe we will have moved on to a new place, continuing our travels around our little yet magnificent globe, a speck of wonder in this vast universe of Creation, or we will return to the ‘normality’ of our everyday circumstances, and know that we will most probably cease to look at our lives with the same wonder. Knowing this helps us to keep that forward motion and forward thinking.
However, if you are anything like me, you probably find this more challenging to do as you travel through your life generally. Perhaps thoughts about the past keep us from living fully in the present or moving forwards with greater freedom and change into the future. As someone who has been overcoming post traumatic stress primarily caused by childhood bullying, I know that this can be difficult, that one can get stuck, body, mind and heart in a certain place that is so distressing that it is impossible to get free of without help. Yet, exploring the past can sometimes be the most forward compelling thing we can do if we are seeking to break the cycle of whatever has kept us in fetters, as we face that seemingly overwhelming challenge of thinking of ourselves in new ways and moving towards freedom.
Perhaps we need that reminder that the journey of our lives on earth is limited, is fleeting and that we need to wake up to the awareness to make the most of the time and life we have. For me, for the past few years that has meant putting in a lot of hard work and effort in confronting a painful past of childhood hurt and trauma from bullying, but I don’t believe it was time wasted ~ as challenging as it is to change and heal, it is a journey and a road well worth travelling on, so that we can wake up, be free, and live in the new moments that Life Gifts us with. For me, this freedom is in Christ, and I take His Hand as He leads me on in this journey through life. xx