Reflection and adventure

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my last blog about my father.  I hugely appreciate your kindness, your sensitivity, and your readiness to share your own experience of the loss of your parents or others whom you have loved.  It was good to be reminded that everyone will go through something like this at some time in their life and that, ulitmately, we all cope in our different ways.  It was also good to hear in your responses that you had understood what I was trying to say about my father.  I felt somehow that in reading and responding people were honouring him and his life.  Thank you.  It meant a lot to me.

And so here we are now in 2016.  I am not a great maker of New Year's Resolutions.  When I used to make resolutions, I would find that they were pretty much the same every year: the same losing weight, taking more exercise, eating well, drinking less.  Not a great advert for the efficacy of resolutions really.  Clearly if they worked, each year would bring new ones!  The only ones I ever got anywhere with at all were the positive ones, the ones where I resolved to wear my more glamorous clothes or cook interesting new recipes from my battery of cookery books or to have more time with friends.

But there is something about the turning of the year that does make you look both forward and back, like Janus facing two ways at once.And looking both forward and back seems to be just what I want to do right now.  We have had a lot of loss in the last couple of years.  My mother, Ian's father and now my father have gone.  I have often felt over the last year or so that the sheer energy, time and determination required to support my father through the last year of Motor Neurone Disease might just have been so huge that it got in the way of understanding the enormity of the loss of other people.  It was just too difficult.  There was only so much of us to go round and while Dad needed us we had to get on with doing what we could.  Now it might be time to reflect a bit more, to see where we are now and what we want to do with the time which we suddenly have in abundance.

Over the period of loss we have also gained three new grandchildren, now sixteen months, four months and three months old.  So life itself is demanding that we look both backwards and forwards.  No doubt it is sheer coincidence that the number of family members going out and coming in match.  It feels good though.  It feels right.  Reason to look forward as well as to look back.

I have read a variety of blogs in which people look to find a word for what they aspire to do or to be in the coming year and this seems to me better than making a list of resolutions.  It focusses the mind on the big picture, the important stuff rather than on the weight on the scales or the sessions in the gym.  Laura at Tell Tale Therapy blogged about her word, compassion, and I liked it a lot.  As I said to her I think I need two words and here they are: reflection and adventure.

Reflection seems obvious.  I need a bit of time to slip slowly into my new life, not simply looking backwards as in remembering but also reflecting on how my parents and my father in law lived their lives and what that has to teach me about living mine.  Much of it seems already very clear and it is about loving and living very fully, balancing doing things for others, particularly family, and doing things for oneself that keep you sane, balanced, happy and true.  I loved the way my parents lived their own lives with such energy and enthusiasm.  It freed me to live mine in a way which is very difficult to do if your parents live vicariously through you.  So there is a lot to think about in terms of loving and supporting our family, our children and grandchildren and the wider family, while at the same time living my own life, living our own lives, properly, deeply, with enthusiasm and commitment.

And that is why the other word is adventure.  Life has been constrained in recent years by the care of my father in law and my father, even if those constraints were necessary and accepted without rancour.  Now there are possibilities and a sense that the time and energy we have now are not going to be limitless.  I am sixty, not thirty.  Now is the time to climb the mountain, to sail the sea, to navigate the rivers both physical and mental.  Now is the time to take the photographs, write the stories, lie on the sand and take up the sun.  I don't want to be perpetually on the move because I love my day to day life at home.  I don't want to have some kind of super bucket list and tick off the continents of the world.  But I do want to drive across Europe, to learn a new language, to wake up in a new city.  I want to see New Zealand again.  I want to cook things I have never cooked, knit and make and write things I have never tried before.  I want to live the life that remains as well and as fully as my parents did even though I will make my own choices as to what that means.  And I want to keep my balance, to walk the tightrope, using the stick which is reflection to make meaning of the adventure.  I want to do both: to stay still and to move, to be silent and to sing.

Reflection and adventure, that is what I want for 2016.  I wonder if it can be done?

Comments

  1. Reflection I can do. Adventure is the bit I wonder about. And think again.
    But I will enjoy reading your adventures!

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    1. I think that is the challenge - to do both! I will let you know how I do!

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  2. Sounds like an interesting year ahead. I like the idea of both words.

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    1. It's a tension though isn't it? We will see!

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  3. I can imagine you embracing both! Maybe you'll put Vancouver Island into your planner!

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  4. I do hope so. And it would be wonderful to have a visit to you on the list!

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  5. Elizabeth, I wish you and Ian a 2016 filled with adventure and reflection, and an appreciation of what each new day offers each of us. (I'm trying to focus on that last bit myself as this still new year unrolls.)

    xo

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    1. Thank you Frances! I too am trying to look at each new day. Who knows, you may get to Wales this year!

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  6. Positivity is a great thing, says I! I won't harp on about myself but I think looking forward and being positive is a wonderful thing. I myself will endeavour to move forward and I am sure you will too for 2016.

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    1. Let's hope for a good 2016 for both of us!

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  7. I think those words will give you a great year, each one balances the other x

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    1. That really is the hope. I think the reflection is easier to achieve than the adventure but it needs both for it to work as I hope it might!

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  8. I hope it can be done, because your aspirations reflect mine entirely.

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  9. Reflection and adventure are wonderful aspirations for the next chapter in your life Elizabeth, and certainly resonate with me. Your post is inspirational and after giving so much to your family, it is good to see you moving forward with such optimism.

    Sixty seems to be a bit of a watershed especially when losing parents and, like you, I find myself aware that time is passing and wondering how to make every day count.

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    1. It is interesting to find others feeling the same sense of transition. As you say, it an odd stage of life but full of potential I hope!

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    2. I love that last paragraph and have feelings very akin to yours and Marianne's in my 61st year. All the generation above gone now but a 16 month old grand daughter filling some of that gap.Do you have responsibilities for your grandchildren?

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    3. Not really. I looked after the oldest one day a week until he went to school but he is nine now. Every few weeks we babysit or do some daytime childcare but not that much as two out of our four children live a long way away. I have to admit that I find small children and babies lovely but shattering!

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    4. We too! And a huge responsibility keeping them from harm which I don't remember feeling so keenly before.

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    5. Good to know we are sharing the same feelings and experiences. Grandchildren would be a great focus, but for now we are trying to enjoy our freedom. I would love to meet up and have a proper chat one day, with both you ladies! Another goal for 2016 perhaps - meet some blogging friends. As you say, Elizabeth, it is a great community and wonderful to share so much.

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    6. What a very good idea Marianne! Let us try to make it happen. You would be very welcome up here in North Wales!

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  10. Your blog keeps disappearing from my blog list Elizabeth. But I have caught up with you again. A great post, really inspirational. Reflection and Adventure are just what we need to make sure we make the most out of 2016. Happy New Year!

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    1. I think google have made some changes which seem to be affecting how to follow the blog. Glad you have found me again! I have had a period away from blogging but intend to get back to it again now. It is a great community and I miss it when I am away!

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  11. Reflection and Adventure. Love this idea. I look forward to reading what you share in the coming year x

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    1. Now I will have to do it won't I? Maybe it's not a bad idea to have committed myself in public!

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  12. I hope that reflection and adventure take you to some wonderful places in 2016 with great and happy experiences and new memories made to reflect on in the future! I am with you about resolutions, I think that positive things are much better than negative. Good on you! xx

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    1. Thank you Amy. I will try to keep the balance!

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  13. Sounds like a great combo, reflection and adventure. I've been thinking similarly, to keep and actually expand mindfulness and meditation practice and also to venture out more in a variety of ways. Look forward to reading about your experiences in this new year. :-)

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    1. I like the phrase "venture out more". I do think it is very easy to stay home. I have a vivid memory of standing on the edge of a beautiful town square in Croatia with some very good friends, one of whom said dryly "You know, I think I need to get out more".

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  14. I think those are the perfect two words to guide one through a very good year (I think they'd make for a pretty good life as well, really!) Go, you! Happy 2016!

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    1. Oh I like the idea of those words as words for life! I will have a good go!

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  15. What splendid choices of words!
    As someone else has commented, reflection is wonderful - adventure a little more daunting. So I hope you do get to New Zealand again and do lovely adventurous things there.
    My words might be gratitude and peace. I'm pretty grateful for all the good things I have in my life - peace is something to strive for and utterly elusive.
    I hope 2016 brings you and Ian and the family much joy!

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    1. Thank you Elizabeth and I wish you every happiness in 2016. Gratitude and peace sound rather wonderful too! I agree that adventure is more daunting. I can do reflection standing on my head (not literally sadly but you know what I mean!).

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  16. A great combination of words, you may find you can reflect more in new places away from daily life too. Wishing you well in this new year and life stage.

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    1. I think you are right. I do find that I do a different sort of reflection away from home and am more able to see the big picture. At home it is easy to be so aware that the hellebores need mulching or whatever that other things become obscured.

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  17. Your post resonated deeply with me, Elizabeth. Having lost beloved parents I remember that initial vacuum, when life is thrown into sharp focus, and you need to decide upon new priorities. Your loss somehow has to inform your future, in a very positive way.
    I also am sixty, and have just become aware that time is limited, and I need to do all the things I want to do NOW ! So, as far as travel is concerned
    you just need to go ...

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    1. Ah, yes, "you just need to go"! Ok. I will.

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  18. I think when parents pass away it does make us think of the time we have left ourselves.
    We are fortunate to have grandchildren to help us look to the future.
    Best wishes for 2016

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    1. Thank you and to you too. And yes, grandchildren give us a stake in the future as well as quite a lot of fun in the present!

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  19. 'There was only so much of us to go round' - this really struck a chord with me, Elizabeth. Recent tensions arising from our current predicament have only added to a very painful situation and have left me reeling and completely drained. I guess all we can do is our best - and know that to be the case in our hearts - and leave the naysayers to their own opinions. I hope you find that well-deserved time in 2016 for reflection and adventure. Cx

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    1. I think that doing your best is all you can do Chris and I have found that my sense that I did the best I could for my father, however difficult and exhausting it was, has been a help in coming to terms with his loss. I hope you can find the time and the energy to copy with your own demanding life right now! xx

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  20. I don't think anyone can quite prepare you for the loss of your parents, it changes you but in both good and sad ways. As with all bereavements, change comes in waves and we just have to go with it. I'm a few years ahead of you on this journey and what I've found is that I can still be reduced to tears on some days and laughter on others. Go on now, live and love, it's all that matters.

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    1. As you say, live and love. It is all that matters and it is utterly what my parents did and what they would want me to do. So here I go, as best I can!

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  21. I'm reading this post straight after your previous one, Elizabeth, so it is good to read of your positive plans. I like the idea of adventure, then time to reflect, then another adventure, and so on, one after the other, perhaps with a bit of reflection while on an adventure :-) I wish you a happy and fulfilling year. Sam x
    PS I have tried to follow your blog by email in the past (I don't like bloglovin because it gives me a load of commercial blogs too) but can't see a way to do it. I came here via Alice's 'All the bright day' to catch up all in one go. Anyway, I'm delighted you will carry on writing because you do it so well.

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    1. Thank you Sam! Sorry you have trouble following the blog. I've tried to investigate but don't feel to have got very far. I am also a bit worried that it will get harder because Google are making some changes. I will try to link to you to make it easy from my end!

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  22. If you find your wanderlust carries you to New York, do let me know - I would love to meet you in person! Email: wallowithnail (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. That's very kind! Might well make it to new York in the the autumn. We will see!

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  23. I've been very much out of the blogging loop - both reading them and writing posts - but really love your ideas of reflection and adventure - it's really striking a balance, isn't it? I had lots of adventures when I was younger, but didn't do much reflecting on them. May this be a year of rejuvenation for you...xx

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    1. Thank you. I echo this. Used to have adventures without much reflection. These days can do reflection and ignore the adventures so the plan is to do both!

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  24. I'm another who has jumped straight from your last post to this and your chosen guiding words seem perfect to me. Silence and song, the two halves of a whole.

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    1. I hope so Annie. Sometimes it seems quite straightforward and sometimes not.

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  25. Hello Elizabeth. I have been reading your blog for a number of years but have never commented before. I have only recently started a (gardening mostly) blog and only more recently gone public with it and now I can see the reasons to comment when I read other's posts. The sentiments you express in your blog have often resonated with me in many of your posts and this one is no exception. You have a way of expressing and writing that I admire greatly. I hope that you find the balance you are looking for in 2016 and that you are able to "seize the day" and make opportunities come your way. I am a great believer that if we are open to experiences they come our way. Allowing time to reflect is so important especially as you have such changes to absorb.

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    1. Thank you. I am so glad you commented. I think you are right about opening up to new experiences and the experiences then following. Sometimes the great challenge is to do not think about doing!

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  26. 01.24.2016

    Finally this morning while walking, my resolution came to me, to let go. My intention is to let go of "old stories" I tell myself about myself, others, the world around me and of the preconceptions and expectations not based upon reality. Wishing you a happy rest of Sunday. :-)

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    1. I really like this one. How hard. How wonderful. I hope you find it works for you as the year plays out.

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  27. I've been terribly out-of-touch this past year, so I had missed the news that you had lost your father, though I know there was a hideous inevitability to it. I can't share my own experiences as I still have both of mine, but I am so very sorry, as you said, yet another loss. But, and it is a big but, I have enormous respect for your honesty in the way you describe your life in all its shades and moods, and I love your two words for the year. I hope the reflection brings you peace, balance, perspective and even more wisdom. I hope you have loads of adventures, of all sorts.

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    1. Peace, balance, perspective. All sound good. Thank you. I hope so too! And that your year brings you good health and good fun!

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