Happy New Year to you! Following on from Jenny’s wonderfully honest and warm post last Friday, I thought I would do the same this week and find a word that I can focus on this coming year. I have chosen CLARITY.
Have you read the children’s book, A Squash and A Squeeze by Julia Donaldson? It is the story of an old lady who feels that her house is too small and asks a wise old man to help. He suggests she fills her home with her animals one by one. Gradually , it feels smaller and more of a squash and a squeeze than ever before and she is confused. Then the wise old man advises her to remove them and she feels her house is enormous and she is very happy with it! Well after Christmas, I feel like that little old lady. Christmas is wonderful but it can feel a bit much by the end of the hols - the tree, decorations, ornaments, presents, kid’s toys, food, parties and people. When the physical clutter is packed away for the next year, I survey our flat and it seems bigger and has more potential which can now be seen clearly. This is a good feeling and spurred on by this, January is often a month of more de-cluttering - sorting out files, papers, clearing out cupboards and numerous trips to the charity shop...with blinkers on though! (If I stop and browse, upcycling projects start to formulate and I’m in danger of replacing old clutter with new!).
But this feeling of clarity also reflects my state of mind at this time of year, for a little while at least. We can carry so much with us, especially if things have been hard and then there is so much to think about in the run up to and often during Christmas. When January comes, my mind is clearer, I try to put the challenges and difficulties of the year before behind me and I see the potential of the year to come. A new start. But to retain this sense of clarity is my struggle.
I have just watched the emotional finale of Downton Abbey and Oh My Goodness I have loved this program! The costumes, the nostalgia, the warmth and the sentimentality. And with those violins playing their hearts out as much and as often as possible in the background of every scene it seems, it has been a real tear jerker. In the last scene, two characters, Isobel and Lady Violet Crawley had a conversation about toasting the new year. Isobel Crawley expressed that it was the right thing to do - to look to the future, rather than the past. Lady Crawley, the matriarch of the family and my favourite character, said, “If only we had the choice”. I can understand that more and more as we get older we might want to relive moments in our history. After all, we have more moments to relive: The birth of a child, a family wedding, a beautiful sunset, the moment you knew you were in love and so on. Of course there are moments that might be painful too. But I suppose if we live too much in the past, we can miss the present and fail to plan for the future.
It is a balancing act don’t you find? I have a habit of looking back and dwelling on the past, regretting, wishing I had done things differently and then looking to the future, which of course is uncertain and worrying about that too. I think I’ll be happier tomorrow if I do this or do that. My to-do list seems endless, there is so much to do and in any one moment, my mind might be full of all the actions on that list. But to do this is to miss what is happening right now. My husband and I joke that my motto is, ‘If there is nothing to worry about, I will worry about the absence of worry’! So my challenge this year is to gain and retain some clarity; to be able to put both the past and the future (and that to-do list!) into perspective and live a lot more in the present. So that is what I am going to try and do: to stop often, to take stock, to think and acknowledge feelings, to understand my limits, to say ‘no’ more to some things but ‘yes’ more to others, to put clearer boundaries into place in relationships, to look after my health, to feel joy and enjoy, to be courageous, to be honest, to accept, to be grateful and to BREATHE…....
Another wise old man, Albert Einstein, once said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow”.
Oooo that got a little bit deep didn’t it? When I told my husband that my word for the year was clarity, he asked if that meant I would be drinking more red wine!........claret(y)?….
Whatever 2016 holds for you lovelies, I wish you well.