The next step is the first step

Two years ago marked the financial settlement of my divorce, ending three years of trudging through rain and mud. I felt I had finally reached a sunny place. Spring was upon me. Free of my divorce, I saw myself in a new transition, tidying up my old world, letting go of all that did not serve me well, trying new things, planting seeds ready for bloom in the summer to come, and readying myself for the vision I had of living true to my beliefs.

I did the sorting, packing and letting go. I tried new things and had new experiences. I devised my own HEALTH.Plan and became healthy and fit. I packed up and moved. Now – at the age of 63 – I begin my new life as a single person branching out in a new world, a world which I craved for during the process of my divorce settlement.

However, in all honesty, I have been drifting the past twelve months without much direction.

To be truthful, moving on has not been easy. The move was not without hiccoughs. I am struggling financially trying to make it work. Making new friends and finding new social circles is not easy. Nobody knows me here and at times I feel quite lost and alone.

The little bit that feels lost is that of my identity. I had been a wife, mother and business manager. Then I became a sufferer of the unexpected collapse of my marriage. Then I became a strong woman recovering from that with grace and dignity. Now that I feel lost, I wonder if that became my identity and whether I am lost without it. I do not want to be remembered as the ‘one who recovered from divorce‘. I want to make a difference in the world. At one stage I felt writing in more depth about my experiences may help others. However, I was scared that may also send me emotionally back to that dark place that I had crawled out of. I wanted to be free of that. I had moved on.

Or had I?

I am outwardly strong and contented and the pain at the pit of my stomach has long gone. However, the person who recovered from a difficult divorce; the person previously at risk of ill-health who became fit and healthy; and the person brave enough to move alone to a new area after 40 years – those three parts are still fragile inside. So my writing stopped.
I felt that because I was still going through some fragility and further tough times I had not reached my destination. I wanted to get to the part about the rainbow and the sunshine. I felt I hadn’t quite got there. I felt no one would want to hear about black skies in springtime.

While I was trying to fathom out what to do, people were somehow still finding my blog and sending me encouragement that what I had written had helped them. This made me conflicted. Would writing about my difficult experiences take me back to a dark place? Or instead could it shine a light for others? If so, which experiences should I write about? Divorce – Nutrition – Relocation. Which voice was mine? Which truth should I share?

As so many times I had realized before, when I get stuck and can’t move and I want to get somewhere else, the best place to start is at the beginning.

The first step for me is to become proficient at what I do. I have therefore enrolled in a University course, and am now buried in books and research. I am doing a Masters in Nutrition and I am also planning two units in writing and publishing.

And so I start a new beginning.

I have come to realise it is all new beginnings. Every step I have ever taken has always been the first step towards the rest of my life. While some steps did not seem to lead me anywhere except getting me out of a hole, every step led me to the next step.

And all those next steps all took me to here – at my new beginnings.

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Image courtesy[africa]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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

 

Blue skies ahead

ID-10043357.digitalart“I am not sure what I shall do. Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.”
“Most things don’t. But sometimes, what happens instead is the good stuff”
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

About a year ago, after much soul-searching, I was emotionally in a place where I wanted to move on. I wanted to begin a course. I wanted to try something different. I wanted to move away. I wanted to begin my new life.

I couldn’t. I still had to finish off the marital settlement and run the business.
I became stationed in this horrible place of being here and wanting to be there.
Everything was overwhelming me and I was in deep pain.

At the time many friends, family and supporters assumed I was still suffering the end of my marriage, the leaving of me by my husband, its emotional effects, and my shattered self-esteem. Whilst those issues added to my pain, they were no longer the main problem. What I was experiencing was not something that I had to ‘get over’. It was something that I had to ‘get through’. The problem, and hence my misery, was all the legal and practical things that still had to be done surrounding the marital settlement. There was still all that mud to trudge through, before I could begin my life as I wanted it.

I yearned for a better life yet to ‘get through’ to that better life, I had to put that better life aside. I had to put aside my dreams. I had to stop writing poetry. I had to stop planning my future. I had to stop indulging in soul-searching. I had to face what needed to be done and devote my time to getting done what I had to get done.

Nevertheless I had been instilled, with a vision of a better life.

In some ways, the vision made things much more painful. Up until that point, I had clung onto the remnants of my old life. The relative uncomfortableness surrounding my marriage end had become tolerable. I had become used to feeling under-par rather than happy. I had become used to scattered grey clouds over my head. I would smile and carry on.

However…

Once the vision of a better life had been planted in my head, that world I was in became a scary deep hole. There were no clouds to see. There was total darkness. It was the vision of a better place that made the world that I was in so painful and intolerable.

And yet …

It was the vision of me striding towards that better place that kept me going forward, that kept me trudging onwards through the mud, until I was through it on the other side.

which is where I am now –

  • flitting from activity to activity unable to focus and not bothered that I can’t
  • spending a lot of time faffing
  • sorting out my own personal budget and knowing that it is all mine
  • planning
  • not planning
  • watching drippy movies and not caring that I am wasting time
  • feeling anxious (‘what on earth am I going to do with the rest of my life?’)
  • feeling euphoric (‘I can choose to do whatever I want!’)
  • back to my dreams of a wonderful future
  • in a world of hope and happiness
  • understanding there is still practical stuff to get done  – and knowing it will be
  • knowing, as in the quote above, I am heading towards ‘the good stuff’

 

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Image courtesy[digitalart]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Song: Jimmy Cliff version of the Johnny Nash hit ‘I can See Clearly Now’.

 

 

 

 

 

Almost there…..

 

ID-100107304.num_skymanIn regard to the marital property settlement I have recently passed through some major hurdles and have almost got the whole settlement across the line. The feeling I have is that I have been lost and alone in this thick dark gloomy impenetrable forest which I have spent three years trying to hack through, seemingly getting nowhere. Then I decided to go a different route, trudging uphill through an area of dense brambles, enduring much pain and suffering to go that way, but by that route I have slowly been edging forward. At last I have come to a clearing. Even though there is still a little way to go, I can at least now see the path ahead. The way to go is easy walking for me now and, just a little bit further down at the end of the road, I can see some light.

I am almost there.

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ImageCourtesy[num_skyman]FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Love under a rainbow

 

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My second son was married two weeks ago. It was a glorious affair over six days on the Cook Islands.  It was the coming together of our family and my new daughter-in-law’s family and all of the couple’s friends. It was the coming together of my family and my ex-husband’s family for the first time since our separation. It was the first major milestone that we had faced since that separation.

It was not without an undercurrent of fear (on my part) in meeting up with my ex-husband in these circumstances and wondering how to react with him. However, it was time to put all that aside and make it a happy occasion for my son and his wife to be.

Prior to the wedding, we had managed to arrange a family get together with the happy couple in Sydney for my mother and my two nephews and families who could not make it to the wedding. We were able to bring together for the first time my mother’s six little great-grand-daughters, including my two grand-daughters, all under five. They looked so cute together. It was a happy day. Due to some wonderful friends, we were also able to arrange care for my mother for a few days so that my sister could also attend the wedding, albeit she would only attend for two nights.

Once on the island, I was able to relax and I had a wonderful time. I shared a villa with two of my children, my sister (on the two nights she came), my brother-in-law, and my niece. My brother and his family were in the villa next to us. We were able to have some close family gatherings and chats long into the night. It was a wonderful time of togetherness.

I even did some kayaking and had a pedicure 🙂

The wedding ceremony itself on the fifth day was beautiful and many tears of joy and happiness were shed, along with some nostalgic tears, and some sad tears that my son would now reside in Canada – so far away.

Then it came to the reception and speeches.

When I turned sixty earlier this year, I gave a little speech about my life being like a tree. I described the roots of the tree as my ancestral and extended family; the trunk of the tree as representing my friends, acquaintances, education, talents and experiences; and the branches of the trees my children and grand-children. I had described how my tree was spreading the seeds of the values inherited from my family, and those I had formed myself.

When it came to my turn for giving a speech, I had thought I would use the same imagery of the tree. However, I could not see where my son and new daughter-in-law would fit. Would she become part of my tree? Would my son become part of her tree? Would they start growing their own tree?

Then, instead of a tree, I thought of the imagery of a rainbow.

A rainbow represents harmony. To me, having the wedding in such a setting with all of us coming together to help celebrate, was like a rainbow. It was the promise of new beginnings, after the storm. The arches of the rainbow represented the joining together of my son’s family and my new daughter-in-law’s family. Each colour of each arch of the rainbow represented each parent and grandparent and their families, and we were joined together in harmony by the union of my son and his new wife. This was the promise to them of the rainbow and its message of hope. Within that rainbow, there were the gifts that had been given to them by all the generations that went before them.

Red for passion and excitement.
Orange for vitality and good health.
Yellow for the promise of new beginnings.
Green for compassion and kindness, and for this great earth.
Blue for the courage to speak up for their beliefs.
Indigo for love and companionship.
Violet for peace, temperance and wisdom..
The full rainbow for embracing love in harmony.

That was my message to them for their wedding.

And this (by sheer coincidence) was their wedding song.

 

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Image courtesy[Tao55]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Loneliness and daffodils

Down my driveway

A host of golden daffodils!

 

I was struck by loneliness a few days ago.

Loneliness is something that comes and goes for me. It was intense when my husband first left me. That was because I still cared for him deeply. I missed him as my soul-mate. I missed his companionship and I was hurting quite badly. I wanted to be loved and cared for. I wanted to be hugged. I wanted to be appreciated and respected. I wanted someone to think that I was special. I wanted someone to watch over me. A special person.

Loneliness moved on to a dark cold place of feeling rejected, discarded, unwanted and unloved. Loneliness kept me feeling insignificant, that I did not matter, that I was meaningless. Loneliness became a feeling that I would never see the light out of my darkness, that I would never feel any warmth again.

Loneliness became a feeling of having no direction in life. It became endless worrying and worrying about endless worrying.There was the loneliness of sorrow and grieving with no end. It became a bad dream from which I could not awaken.

Loneliness became me suffering and suffering alone. It became a burden for me, this  suffering alone. It wasn’t being alone that made me suffer loneliness. It was the suffering that made me feel alone, the knowing there was no-one who would understand me.

Loneliness transcended into me feeling like a misfit. There was no tribe out there for me.
I was a black pearl in amongst diamonds and even though I was trying hard to be a diamond, no-one wanted me.

That was yesterday.

Today is different because I realize this:

There has always been light out of the darkness. The sun always comes up. Absolutely. And even before the sun comes up, there are stars in the sky.
There is always warmth. The warmth of human kindness. The warmth of my inner being.
There is always hope. There is me. The hope is a belief in myself that never fades.

Today it is spring. The sun is shining. The flowers are in full bloom. In the ‘bliss of solitude’ I remember all the good that I have in my life, all my friends and loved ones who care for me and whom I adore, and my own specialness. And today I accept that I am a black pearl and proud of it. I want to remain a black pearl. Black pearls are rare and special. I am special.

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils’.

Daffodils
William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.