So here we are on the eve of a new year! And to celebrate this we enter the human tradition of gathering together to figuratively step across the threshold from one year into the next.
A whole range of emotions can arise in each of us at this time each year. Being together on this evening seems a natural way to share the awe of the journey through life – both the excitement of stepping into new times and new potential, and the bittersweet recalling of the joys and challenges we faced during the year we are leaving – a farewell of sorts to the events that are now part of our history.
Gathered with close friends or big crowds of strangers either way there is an interesting sense of unity on this evening. For tonight we share a common identity as members of humanity – all alive at the same time on this rotating earth, each facing the relentless march of time that defines our lifespan, each nurturing hopes and dreams for the year ahead.
If looking to be entertained on New Years Eve it seems that we can come to the conclusion that New Years Eve is somewhat overrated. If willing to open our hearts to the spirit of hope around us wherever we are gathered, it is possible to discover that New Year’s Eve can never be disappointing. Even when alone on this evening we are likely to be mindful of the special point in time this is and to feel some unity with all of humanity facing this mark of time together across the globe. The telly can bring into our homes coverage of celebrations from around the world, tracking the rolling countdowns across the time zones. Perhaps the worldwide pull to acknowledge and celebrate this evening together comes from a deep sense that it is together that we can face anything the future holds.
My hope for 2015 is that this spirit of Unity and Hope with which we start the year together will continue to connect us all throughout the year. In the face of potential challenges facing humanity may we awaken to our possibilities, greet the future with our creative potential and choose to act for our collective good. Imagine if we chose to show up in these celebration numbers to simply create and contribute to positive changes on this earth? How much brightness of future could humanity create if we allowed this spirit of Unity to continue all year?
Some days are frenetically busy. They can hold an enjoyable sense of momentum and an adrenaline- filled buzz. Of course there is the risk of spiraling into stress when continuing at a high pace for too long.
Other days bring opportunity for a different rhythm. I love it when they come along. For when the pace is not frenetic and we get to breathe a little, we can gain a sense of reaching beyond autopilot to notice our feelings and to be with them as opportunity presents. I particularly love it when there is a connection between my feelings and the natural world around me – and the best times to notice that is on the days I get time to be outdoors a little.
Take these past few days which have brought warmth with summer thunderstorms and rain. On one of these days, coincidentally, my feelings were of sadness and nostalgia around a transition point that occurred for me this week. Luckily I had a flexible schedule and as I walked back home from a local venue I found myself with a wet face despite holding my umbrella overhead – wet with the streaming tears that had to be cried. And as I cried I noticed great synchrony with the rain I was walking through. My tears cleansed me from the inside as Mother Nature’s downpour cleansed my surroundings.
And now in the aftermath of the rainy days we have greener and fragrant gardens for a while and yesterday I had time to sit and appreciate my garden. Relaxing on this lazy Sunday afternoon I notice how the gentle summer breeze carries the sound of insects and birds, and how this supports my own contented feelings. Swinging on the garden seat on the back verandah with family around in a similarly relaxed state I realise that in this space and time I am filled with a deep appreciation of the natural abundance in my life. And I became filled with gratitude for the harmony between my internal peace and the peace in my surroundings. What a privilege to be alive and to experience this serenity.
I do hope your schedule allows you too to find the simple and amazing abundance in just being, and in feeling harmony with the natural world. It would be great if you have a moment to share such an experience here.
Sundays can be a day to relax and reflect and connect again with being creative or recreate-ive! And on a particular Sunday afternoon – of all the things we have the liberty to choose to do in suburban Adelaide, Australia – how special it was to have 20 women choose to come together for a conversational afternoon tea.
Some of us at this event were friends already and many of us were meeting each other for the first time. Common ground for all of us in the room was that we are women alive in a time and a place where we have the liberty, rights, responsibilities and resources to ponder our life’s purpose.
The topics of conversation that were facilitated got us away from our usual rut of conversation in our daily lives, inviting us to think about the significance of aspects of our lives and our lives overall. Connecting just as we are – outside of women’s typical roles in family and work settings – was a particular gift of such an event.
I know I speak for Sue Lohmeyer, Elizabeth Ellames and Gail Glastonbury (my collaborators in this project) in saying we delighted in creating the context for women to express themselves and be heard, and especially to experience a sense of community in doing so. We see the event as the first of a series of community gatherings for women that we intend to host, and we draw encouragement from the wonderful vibe at this first event.
We have created the Happy Hearts Community facebook page and we invite anyone with an interest in happiness and community to connect on that page – it is a public page and broad membership is welcome. Anyone who knows that community can create happy hearts is welcome! Here are a few photos from the day.
Recently we have been replacing a 30 year old outdoor structure in our backyard – before it falls down! And the old materials that have been taken down are now being loaded into a large commercial bin for removal and recycling. What a big and tedious job before we get to enjoy the light and bright (and safe) new structure that will be built soon. Looking at the huge pile of material to shift today, I feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. If I had to approach this disposal process on my own I might not!, but with the combined efforts of the whole family it becomes do-able and proceeds with a momentum – courtesy of our combined persistence, cooperation and encouragement.
As we shift this seemingly endless pile of deconstructed “stuff” across to the skip and recycling, I think of a time decades ago when a different family to ours would have been thrilled to be purchasing these as new materials and cutting them to size to create the outdoor space of their dreams. A wave of nostalgia hits me. I did not know them but I acknowledge their care of this space and their creativity, as we now bring our renewal to it – with our new vision, current materials and our teamwork.
And perhaps in another 30 years another family will be updating the space again as we are doing now, and leaving their mark on this part of the world.
These reflections as we work together today make the task much more meaningful. I become mindful of the creative spirit and custodian role we bring to our living spaces. For we are part of a never ending story – the past, the present and the future. This big task is now part of our family history – memorable because we are achieving it together. And it is forming part of the story of this house and yard.
We are filled with gratitude as we choose to contribute in a positive way to our living space – and get to work together to get there. I wonder if you have an example to share of a positive practical project together in your family?
Head and Heart at work
As a working woman I am sure it is that necessary combination of my mind and heart in my work role which has held my interest for decades now in my chosen vocation.
I do need to invest intellect and rationality in assessing, recommending and providing relevant interventions to a competent standard when I am in work mode. But even as a qualified allied health professional with a defined role, a specific skill base and a professional code of ethics to guide practice, there is no risk that I could ever be valuable if I became robotic around that information base.
A purely rational approach would not allow me to successfully tailor my work skills to meet the needs of each client and customer. The term “therapeutic use of self” arises in the literature for my profession – alerting us to the fact interpersonal skills are highly necessary in delivering our services – and become an in-extractible part of the therapeutic process. Thus I cannot leave my heartspace at home when I go to work – it must accompany me and be used there – with a specific purpose of course.
We all need an emotional rudder to balance our intellect. I cannot think of any workplace where a culture of intellect and expert knowledge alone would ever be sufficient to serve the customers well, nor the workers themselves. Long live emotional-intellectual balance for effectively delivering our work skills and expert knowledge, and as a feature of our workplace culture wherever we work. Do you agree?
Led by our son, last week we ended up milking the last of daylight saving for all it was worth. Walking through the door at 6pm after a full day at work, I am usually ready to sit down and slow down. But most days last week my enthusiastic 7 year old’s welcome-home greeting was an immediate heartfelt request to “come on out and play AFL in the back yard, Mum”….
Not at all a football fan, such a moment tests my value system – should I follow and connect around my child’s interests? Or do I counter-suggest a less active indoor activity to indulge my preferences at this time of day? The opportunity to connect on his terms wins – and so out I go, laughing within at the passion of this small lad-turned-whistle-touting-and-rather-bossy umpire. For twenty rough and tumble minutes he and his dad and me run around in the backyard like mad things, representing various teams, tackling with a vengeance, kicking wildly and sometimes accurately, bouncing, hand-balling, jumping for ball-ups, taking it in turns as ref, and laughing lots at our own silly jokes.
By the time we return inside each evening, our family unity and our good humour are both high, and our lungs are full of fresh air. What better way to finish the day could there be?
The footie culture is not my cup of tea but by bringing this activity with such passion into our back yard last week, my son helped to provide a fun context in which we co-created family togetherness, relaxation, love and laughter. Gratitude swells my heart.
I invite you to share your gratitude here if anyone in your life, has recently taken a lead with co-creating your family culture playfully?