2020 ‘Annus Horribilus’ or……?

2020 has been a ………. year! Fill in the blank but check out the questions below to help give perspective.

Moving forward into 2021 will involve an honest look at 2020. Before we hastily dub 2020 as ‘annus horribilus’ which for many, it truly was just that, we need to take time to reflect, ask questions and find a realistic perspective on the year that will certainly be remembered worldwide for all sorts of reasons. Between catastrophic summer fires, famines, floods, explosions planned and unplanned and a worldwide pandemic thrown in for good measure, there have also been many families affected by the more ‘normal’ slings and arrows of life too.

Yet, in speaking to a good friend today she reflected on the safe arrival of two new grandchildren, the welcome return of friends to their home, quality time with family via all means possible both online and face to face when allowed.

Another friend mentioned the joy of having time, (as an introvert), alone, with quieter routines and less hustle and bustle in the days. The change of pace was a welcome reprieve to life’s demands and pace.

So I ask the following questions to help find a more balanced perspective on 2020. Reflection at this time of year is even more significant and helpful given the relentless negative and hyper intrusive media flooding our daily lives with the conjecture and statistics to drown us in fear.

Take some time today or over this festive weekend to consider these questions:

What did I learn this year? About me? About life?

What did I accomplish this year?

What challenges did I overcome this year?

What significant events occured for me this year?

What has changed for me in this year?

What burdens/habits have I let go of this year?

What am I grateful for this year?

Would love to hear your responses to these questions.

What price safety?

We received a touching phone call this morning from a close relative living in a nursing home, finding the loneliness of 2020 almost too much to bear.

“I feel like I have no family or friends. I know that’s not true, but day after day with no visitors, not even friends here in the nursing home are allowed to come for a chat and a cuppa in my room. Not wanting to complain but I just feel so low.”

I know there are many who have similar stories, ageing relatives feeling like their nursing home has become a safely sanitised prison where nurses, orderlies and cleaners are all they have to bring some small measure of human connection and brightness to a day.

One friend shared how she tried to arrange for her father to attend a Christmas family dinner in her home, only to be told by well-meaning Rona savvy staff that this year all inmates must stay in the home and are only allowed 1 visitor through the day. And no, the home will certainly not be providing Christmas lunch for the potential visitors as well.

What price safety I wonder?

While we err on the side of caution re physical health and re-elect Premiers to reward them for keeping us safe from the serious health issues associated with the current pandemic, I do wonder how we can support and care for those in our society who are experiencing the emotional, mental and relational impacts that are a direct result of our emphasis on ‘safety.’

It’s like a ‘living death’, sitting day after day alone in a nursing home room and this year of 2020 has made it all the more difficult for families who have been unable to travel across state borders to visit ageing relatives to bring hugs, chatter and comfort.

I hope we can together find ways to provide companionship and care to those in our community who are both alone and lonely, isolated in institutions or apartment blocks in suburbs near us.

Please feel free to contact me at C-Change Counselling and Coaching if you know of anyone who needs support during this difficult time. Together we can creatively and genuinely consider strategies to meet people’s needs.

Silence and Solitude

Two words that can spark dread and dismissal or evoke a deep response of anticipation and acceptance.

I vacillate somewhere between the two responses, knowing in my head that silence and solitude are helpful for me to choose from time to time just like the slack tide in the river that momentarily ceases its ebb and flow.

This year of COVID-19 created a ‘slack tide’ season that once accepted, became helpful. I’ve noticed the value of quality time, listening and enjoying connecting with family and friends. I’ve noticed a greater awareness of the inner life, what motivates, inspires, frightens or hinders me.

I’ve noticed a growing acceptance and love for others. I no longer require them to always understand, or agree with me, or even be like me.

I’ve noticed a deeper faith in an unchanging good God who speaks gently into my life with patient wisdom.

How has this season impacted you? Have you observed changes within, priorities shifting, relationships deepening? Have you found new ways to engage in the beauty of silence and solitude as a means of bringing balance to the strong currents defining life?

A friend has enjoyed additional time of solitude in the garden, planting, pruning, tending, watering. Another friend has enjoyed the time of silence while knitting, sitting in a chair looking at the ever changing sky as she quietly prays for her family. For me it has been writing and photography as I have soaked into the natural beauty of my home state.

This has been a season of ‘unforgetting’, finding new strength, purpose and hope. How has it been for you?

The journey of unforgetting

I forgot I love to play the flute, breathing, creating, flowing, soaring.

I forgot I love being in the music.

I forgot I love the simple pleasure of following a mountain ridge with my eye and noticing every curve, buttress, cliff and fold.

I forgot I love noticing the moment.

I forgot I love the warmth of a fire on my face as I wrap my hands around a warm cup of tea.

I forgot I love being comforted.

I forgot I love the sun shining through a window on a beautiful vase of flowers, revealing shimmering colour and curves of amazing design.

I forgot I love beauty.

I forgot I love watching a farmer on his motorbike with his working dog chasing, herding, delighting in being together, taking a moment for an affectionate pat and wag of tail.

I forgot I love being appreciated for my work.

I forgot how green the grass, how deep blue the mountains, how vibrant the golden hour at end of day

I forgot the power of choosing silence and solitude

Di Priest

C-Change © 2020

Courage to Connect

Self-isolation has provided some gold moments and some cabin fever moments, but the beauty in each day has become clearer. I’m enjoying the rhythm of connection with solitude, just as in music the melody is shaped and enhanced by the ‘rests’, the pauses that define the flow.

Connection is so precious in these strange days that I’m observing among our family and friends a gentle and growing openness to express and explore their genuine care, appreciation, needs and hopes. This deepening of conversation opens the door to more meaningful connection for those who are courageously taking the risk.

Let’s face it there’s no sport to speak of, no concerts, no outings to keep us on the lighter end of connection. Instead, with growing trust and respect there is a genuine desire to support each other, listen to each other and express through the limited means of technology our greatest human desire, to give and receive love.

My hope is that on the other side of ‘The Rona’ when life resumes its more ‘normal’ pace we hold some of the beauty of this season of solitude and deeper connection. Yes, we’ll need to resume our banter about daily life events and experiences as a very important part of human ‘doing’ that bring vital light and shade to interactions.

But here in this time of human ‘being’ how can we continue to treasure the newly found gift of really hearing, seeing and knowing each other?

Let me know what you’ve treasured during this time, and how you are going to hold it!