Monday, 31 October 2016

Beginnings and endings

This is an extended* version of the Wellbeing column that was published in the York Press on Tuesday, October 4th 2016.

While January 1st is considered the beginning of a New Year in the Gregorian calendar, for many people, there is a feeling of new beginnings in Autumn. The start of a new academic year and all the ‘Back to School’ signs in shops, can bring back memories from decades ago, of new uniform, shoes, pens, bags, classrooms and teachers. 

In my own life, this autumn will see some new beginnings. A new routine at home, the start of a new writing project and new bulb planting in the garden. These are beginnings to look forward to. Autumn also reminds my family of a time three years ago, when the doctors and nurses at Scarborough Hospital saved my husband’s life, one month after my mother’s death and two weeks before the publication of my first book. There were many new beginnings that Autumn, not all of them were welcome. 

Beginnings often involve endings too. While some endings can bring relief, they can also bring feelings of loss. If the ending has been sudden, rather than planned, there is usually some shock and trauma to manage too.  It can be tempting to dwell too much on the endings, rather than look forward to the opportunities that new beginnings can bring. The past is familiar, but the future is unknown and we can dwell in what is familiar, even if it makes us unhappy.

*After this was published, I spent some days with my four grandchildren, who live in other parts of the UK and so changes can be more noticeable. The passing of years seemed more striking this year, in their size, milestones and growing maturity. It was surprising to feel more emotional than usual. With a little self analysis, I could recognise that it was the sands of time that appeared to be gathering speed and I didn't like it. It was sobering to recognise hints of the very same behaviour in myself that I had written about in October's column. I was quietly grieving for the past and it hurt.  

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller
While getting my head around the changes in my own life, another quote has come to mind. 
“We live in the past or in the future; we are continually expecting the coming of some special moment when our life will unfold itself in its full significance. And we do not notice that life is flowing like water through our fingers.” Father Alexander Elchanov

I plan not to waste valuable time dwelling on what I can’t change or have no control over. I have time to make the most of each new day and see what tomorrow brings. There are always simple pleasures in each day, which can be appreciated. Seize the Day!

*I allowed myself to wallow for a short while, but knew there was only one healthy way forward. Onward!