It’s a recurring theme in my life, new beginnings. Starting something new, or something old all over again. I’ve never shied away from searching something new, although the anxieties of embarking upon a new beginning were always there, the excitement and adrenaline overpowered the worry and the “what-if’s”.
I wonder sometimes if my want for a blank page, a fresh start, comes from my childhood. My Mum and I moved house five times before I was ten years old. I didn’t know any other way, and although in different surroundings, I always felt like I belonged. I adapted well. Every so often, we would rearrange the furniture in the living room or the bedroom, I’d take interest in new groups and offer to volunteer, I took on my first job at thirteen volunteering at a local charity shop – just because I fancied a new challenge, and anything that sounded different or interesting seemed to call out to me.
I remember coming across the book To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue following the death of my father and It’s stayed with me ever since. It contains the poem “For a New Beginning”. To me, it inspires adventure, calls out to the “grey promises of sameness”, and encourages you to step out onto new ground, do something different; embrace change!
I haven’t read the poem for a long time. But O’Donohue’s tireless wisdom flickered in the back of my mind when I was thinking about writing this blog on the prospect of moving forward (not quite “springing” …I don’t quite have the enthusiasm for that just yet!). After reading it again recently, a different meaning came to me than the cheerleading calls I could hear when I read it as a teenager. This time, the poem holds a different meaning for me.
This past week has been a very emotional week for me. Like lots of people, I have spent quite a bit of time this past week reflecting on the past year and what an absolute rollercoaster of emotions it has been. It’s been an incredibly tough time for all of us, and some of us have faced exceptional hardships. It’s not a competition at all; the Coronavirus pandemic has affected each and every one of us in some way, but adding giving birth during this unprecedented time, losing immediate family members, battling new emotional demons and feeling isolated from friends and family has been extremely hard.
It has been physically and mentally exhausting. I’ve been stretched too thin at times, and I felt like I was running on empty. How ironic that I could feel like this? After all, I was confined within the comfort of my own home, with my loving, supportive husband and perfect new baby! We were allowed to go for a walk for our daily exercise, and we live in a beautiful part of the world, with acres of green space on our doorstep.
There was just the small issue of a global pandemic going on around us. This past year has felt like one long reaction. Restriction after restriction, my husband and I listened, we moaned, we questioned, we cried. We reluctantly understood, and adhered to the messages given to us, to protect ourselves, our family and others. We had no choice but to react, but when you think about it, whenever a change is ahead, you tend to start with intention. When I think back on past experiences of change (when I embraced it with excitement), I began with an idea of where I wanted to be at the end of it. Of course, we all can’t wait to see the back of covid-19, but unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere overnight. I’m talking about the changes it has had in our personal lives. Now we have had a year of reacting, living through rules and restrictions, I encourage myself into a new way of thinking. Is there anything positive to be taken out of this pandemic?
I have never been one for new year’s resolutions, I don’t particularly believe in them. But when 2021 dawned, I vowed to start a fresh after the horrendous past year. I made a list, written and stored in my bedside drawer of what goals I wanted to work towards this year and how I was going to be kinder to myself. There is a BIG emphasis on self-care, which I may write another blog about, as it’s something I’ve become really passionate about. I reflected on the expectations I had of myself in the past year and worked on a plan of how I was going to guarantee to make things better in 2021. Then Boris dropped another announcement just days into the new year and I was forced to react again, to the restrictions of lockdown 3.0.
I revisited John O’Donohue’s poem again recently, and rather than calling out to adventure, interestingly it now has a different meaning to me now. It calls to a new beginning.
As we approach the gradual easing of restrictions (again) I am entering this next stage with as much intention as I can. I am focussing on the end goal and will, (wherever I’m able) to deliberately shift from reaction to choice. This year is about thinking about that list of goals and dreams in my bedside drawer first and thinking about how my choices will inspire me to be better, kinder to myself and create a vision for our growing family.
The next twelve months will be a combination of restoration, intention, healing, self-compassion and joy. What does your vision of a new beginning hold?
Guest Blog by Elfie Astbury
For a New Beginning
In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time, it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.