Life around the corner

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”               from Kindness, poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

ID-10052519.digitalartLife around the corner (that corner that I got to after I got out of the mud and went a little way down the path and found a bend in the road and I took it) is sunny and warm; with blue skies, green grass and kind friendly people having fun.

This has surprised me because they are the same people who were there before, when I was stuck in the mud, yet for some reason I failed to see their kindness, I did not notice their friendliness and I most certainly had no time to join in their fun.

OR …

Is it that I am acting more with kindness and friendliness to those people and they are responding to my warmth and opening their hearts. We are laughing, having fun together.

It wasn’t that I didn’t chat before, or I that I was unkind, or unfriendly; it was just that when I was in the mud I had to keep going or I would get stuck. I had to keep going and going and had no time for idle chit-chat. I could not extend a hand to help others because that may have pulled me under and make me sink. I had to protect myself from the storm clouds above, from the driving wind blowing in my face, and the mud below and ahead of me.  I was so busy protecting myself and looking down at the mud that I did not notice the people and their situations and their faces. Those people are people – just like me. Sometimes they have been in mud of their own, and sometimes not.

Now the road is clear and I am looking up at their faces.

I can hear their stories – of the young gentleman at the firm where I had my car serviced who did not like the atmosphere at his previous job; of the lady from whom I bought my new kitchen pots who has a husband who is unwell; and the twice-divorced receptionist at my lawyers with a 30 year old son whom she adores, yet is lonely living on her own.

I can see their friendliness – the doctor’s receptionist embracing yet joking about their new computer program; my hair-dresser encouraging me in a new style for my hair; the sales-lady in the department store offering colour suggestions for my clothes.

I can feel their kindness – of that same sales-lady taking me around the store to find some matching accessories; of the manager of the department store allowing me to take my time with my purchases and then escorting me down the lift (elevator) as it was a bit spooky being the only one left in a huge department store 45 minutes after closing time!

These are interactions I am having with people in my everyday life as I now have an everyday life. I am now doing everyday things – an annual doctor’s check (six months overdue), hair-cut (four months overdue), car service (two years overdue, so low was its priority), buying new pots instead of putting up with old ones with no handles, luxuriating in buying new clothes rather than wearing the same clothes day in and day out for four years; and attending to my own legal affairs after years and years of attending to joint affairs.

In life around the corner, I have time for everyday life and within that everyday life I have found kindness and friendliness. It is all around me, everywhere I look, flowing from the crucibles of human life stories, pouring forth for me to drink and quench my thirst.

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Image.courtesy[digitalart]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

spring into summer

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After over three and a half years of looking towards spring with hope and optimism while still trudging through the mud of a cold bleak winter, I feel that winter is finally over. Spring is here. Summer is on its way. More importantly, the trudging is finally over. There is now a spring in my step. This is a warm bright place to be and I am singing.

I have therefore changed the name of my blog from ‘Almost Spring’  to ‘Spring into Summer’. I am no longer looking towards spring, I am in spring and I am bouncing.

I have altered the tagline from ‘transforming my life from we to me’  to ‘finding my voice and speaking my truth’. I have also revised the information in the pages and sidebar. I feel that these changes more correctly reflect where I am in my life.

Spring is a season, not only for new beginnings, but also for shaking off the winter blues and getting ready for the warm summers ahead. I see this time in my life as one in which to spring-clean or tidy up my old world, letting go of anything that does not serve me well; as well as planting seeds ready for their bloom in the summer to come. I see it as an exciting time of trying out new things, as well as planning and readying myself for the vision I have for a wonderful future, a vision of living true to my own beliefs.

The planning stage for that vision is finding my voice and speaking my truth.

My journey continues. I hope that you will join me on the path ahead.

 

 

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Image courtesy of [africa] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

serenity …. satisfaction …. softness …. sparkle …. simplicity …. sixty ….

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I had always considered turning sixty would be a defining moment in my life. I believed I would be at one with myself, comfortable and secure in my place in the world, calm and at peace. Two years ago, when my whole world turned upside down, I questioned whether that would ever be possible. Previously I wrote of seeing my life as a tree passing through seasons. After my youth of spring and the happy summer of motherhood, in the autumn of my life I felt my tree had been cut down and I had plunged into an early winter of despair.

However, after some time, I realised that the roots of my tree (family) and my trunk (experience) had not been destroyed. Moreover, I was growing new branches (friendships and opportunities) and I had managed to save some seeds from my younger years. Then as I saw green sprouting all around me, I realised I had reached a new spring, and some of those saved seeds I had already planted and they were beginning to grow.

These are the seeds that I saved and this is where they have come from:

  • Kindness: Although living a hard life herself, bringing up nine children through two world wars and the depression, my grandmother always knew someone older or sicker or more lonely who needed her help. My grandmother taught me kindness.
  • Pride: My father did not see me graduate or marry yet his look of pride in me, whenever I did anything of value, is imprinted in my memory.
  • Laughter: One of my uncles, taken from us too young, filled our family gatherings with fun and laughter.
  • Serenity. My aunt who died of cancer at age 33 was always serene and calm.
  • Boldness: My cousin nearest to me in age was killed in a car accident on his 21st birthday. He was daring. I was cautious. I still hear his voice ‘go on, you can do it’ that urges me on to begin things I am afraid to try.
  • Courage and resilience: My mother lost her mother, sister, husband, an aunt, two brothers, two friends, and two nephews over an eight year period. Widowed at 47, she worked for the next twenty years in order to educate my two younger brothers and provide for her own retirement. She never complained and has been the rock of support for everyone else in our large extended family.
  • Fairness, Standing up for others: When I was about ten a friend of mine taunted a disabled girl in front of me and I said nothing. When my mother found out she said to me “if someone ridicules someone less fortunate and you do not defend them, it is as if you said the words yourself”. My mother taught me to stand up for fairness.
  • Community: My mother and father were community minded people.
  • Wisdom, tenacity, endurance, gratitude, hope and optimism:  from my mother
    (my mother is 87 after-all, and she keeps throwing me more and more seeds)
  • Family and loyalty: As well as sharing happy times, my large extended family and close friends continually support me and each other, no matter what.
  • Belief in me: My sister and best friend have shown an unswerving belief in me
  • Parental love: I had a strong belief as a mother of not only doing things for my children, but also doing things with my children; coupled with family togetherness.
  • Patience, humility: My four beautiful children have taught me patience and humility.
  • Justice, Free Speech, Humanitarianism, Ethical Science, Protection of the Environment: My whole family including all my children have lived by these beliefs and have spoken up  for these as essential elements in a free compassionate society.

So how do I feel my life is for me at sixty?

A new spring. A new beginning. A new chance. A new opportunity.
I will begin by continuing to plant those seeds I have listed and keep nurturing them into the future. .

Image courtesy[FredericoStevanin]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am ……. as old as I am

I had a cousin who was killed in a car accident on his 21st birthday. He never graduated, never married, never travelled, never had children…….

I had an aunt who died from cancer at age 33 years old. She never had children, never owned her own business, never moved interstate, never wrote a book……

My father died of a stroke at age 49. He never saw his children graduate or marry, he never knew any of his grand-children, he never retired.

From where I am sitting there is still much that I have to face in my life that is difficult ……. being cast aside…….. being alone…. losing my plans for the future …….. having a depleted asset base from which to begin again………

However, being aged 58 years is not added to this list. It is just the age that I am.

Yes, it is difficult coping with the feelings of betrayal at age 58 … but this would be difficult, the hurt would be the same, no matter what the age.

Yes, it is difficult to suddenly be left alone at age 58 …. but no more difficult than a young mother left alone with young children. No more than a child being left by an abandoning parent.

Yes, it is difficult starting afresh with a depleted asset base at age 58 ……. but no more difficult than people who lost money in investment scams… no more than others who have lost money in failed businesses… no more than people who have needed to use their assets to fund a medical condition.

All of these issues are difficult situations for anyone at any age. The truth is that in order to overcome them, they need facing, they need dealing with. Thinking they are more difficult because you are a certain age is just an excuse to put off facing what needs to be faced.

My age has nothing to do with the difficulties that I now face. My age actually benefits me as I have a grounded experience in previous hard times that I have survived. So I know that once difficulties are faced, they cease becoming difficulties and turn into challenges. Challenges are invigorating and give you a reason to get up in the morning. Being the age that I am, I am better able to apply my past experiences to the challenging times ahead. Rather than facing difficulties I now have challenging goals …. embracing aloneness……becoming financially independent ……. of staying true to my values.

Whenever I start to think things are difficult ‘at my age’ …. I stop.
I remember to be grateful for the age that I am.
I remember to be grateful to have come as far as I have come.
I remember those loved ones who did not get this far in their own journey.
I remember to be grateful for the opportunity to continue my own journey into the future.

New family order

I am now back home having thoroughly enjoyed my time with all four of my children together again. It was the first time we had all been together for two years. We had five days together at home, a few days together at a wilderness lodge, and then some time in and around where my eldest son and daughter both live. It has been fantastic having them all around me and we had a great time. We enjoyed laughing with each other by remembering their activities and pastimes of their childhood. We enjoyed doing some favorite walks. We enjoyed preparing and sharing meals together and just generally being together. These have become my new happy memories.

It was a little sad saying good-bye at the airport to both my son and his girlfriend on their way back to Canada; and to my daughter who is off on an adventurous six months in Europe. On her return she will be taking a position interstate and stationed further away from me. So it was also good-bye to a way of life together we had both enjoyed.

Let me rephrase the first sentence in that last paragraph.

It was emotionally overwhelmingly difficult for me saying good-bye to two of my four children and – despite my resolve to hold it together – I completely lost it at the air-port and sobbed and sobbed in their arms. I was crying with happiness for the times we had just shared together. I was crying with happiness for their childhood that was now gone. I was crying with happiness that they were such wonderful children and I could not ask for any better. I was crying for their happiness, that they have made in it in the world and are now on their way to live exciting lives and I had always wanted that for them. I was crying for me because I miss them so much when they are not with me and we would now live apart from one another. I was crying for the unspoken words regarding the separation that we had all determined would not intrude on our time together and yet just the same was still a monster lurking in the background. I was crying for the change in family dynamics, not for what had become, but rather for the unknown of what we would become as the family continued to scatter in all directions.

It is natural for me to cling onto the old ‘order’ of the family unit of the parents as a central reliable unit and with the children gravitating back to that unit. I am still clinging onto the concept that our new family ‘order’ should become myself at the centre of this family unit and my children gravitating back home to me. For so long this has been the very essence of my being – me as the mother hen at the centre of my flock of chickens. Gradually I am coming to realise that in reality the new ‘order’ is a family in transition, with my twenties-something children spreading their wings and my thirties-something children setting down their own roots elsewhere. Gradually I am realising that the new family order will be me texting, phoning, emailing, and driving or hopping on a plane to visit my chicks wherever they may be.

And whilst this will lead on to new adventures for me in the visiting of each of them, I am as determined as ever that it will include me taking within me the traditional family values I treasure and imparting those values of love, support, encouragement and togetherness to them wherever they may be.

 

I Can See Clearly Now

It is towards the end of winter here in Australia. As the rains begin to ease, the skies clear, the flowers start to bloom and I can more clearly see the approaching spring …..

“I Can See Clearly Now”
Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all the obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Interlude

I have reached that point where I can finally say that ‘we’ have ended. Not only in reality but also in my head.  In my case it took me 40 weeks  – one week for every year of our togetherness.

I know that this is a defining moment and I know that it takes some people a lot longer to reach this point. I am also aware that ‘the ending of we’ is only one tiny baby-step on the pathway to becoming ‘me’ and there are still quite a few obstacles for me to climb over. I know that.

I know that at times I do still get sucked down and probably still occasionally will get sucked down into the gloom and sadness of the separation, the ending of the coupledom. I know that I will still occasionally have a yearning for the past, a yearning to be back in the happy memories, a yearning to change the not-so-happy bits, a yearning for a soul-mate – my soulmate.

However, I have reached the point where I do not see myself as half of a couple in my head. I see myself as a single identity, a unique person – although the defining features of that person are still a little fuzzy. The ‘ending of we’ was the first crucial necessary step for me to take on my journey to ‘me’. I needed to close that door properly. I needed to close it tight and make sure it was shut, make sure it was not one I would re-open, make sure I would not look back – before I could put my head up, look forward before me and decide on the next door I should open.