The Best Season

Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life. Wu-Men

From when the boys were little my husband and I had a habit of going in and checking on them each night before we went to bed. We would stand together at the foot of their beds and just enjoy watching them in peaceful sleep. Every time, we’d whisper to each other, ‘I wish they’d stay this age, it’s just perfect.’ But each year would roll by and we found ourselves wishing they’d stay the same in every delightful stage of their lives, except maybe late teens when we started going to bed before they did cause we could no longer keep the pace.

But I do remember that beautiful sense of enjoying them, loving them and celebrating the season and stage of life they were at, every year. It changed constantly, of course, but we loved the learning, the growing, the adventures, the discoveries, the ups and the downs and still do.

But there were many times and seasons when my mind was clouded by ‘unnecessary’ things and I, like many busy working parents, found myself struggling with anxiety, shame and guilt which blocked my vision, trapped me in damaging mind loops and left me weary to the bone.

In these times of loss of flow, hope and clear thinking I found my mentors to be life changing. I valued their fly on the wall perspective, their gentle but provocative questions, their support as I learned to let go of faulty thinking and their genuine desire to see me enjoy life to the full.

If you are clouded by ‘unnecessary’ and necessary things and desire to re-gain perspective and find the beauty in each season I encourage you to seek out a coach/mentor who can help you see that this could be the best season of your life.

There is a gift in everything if only we’ll see it.

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

Growing through awkward moments

Do you encounter ‘foot in mouth’ moments, where you sometimes over-compensate, over-think, over-react? You are not alone. Neither do these moments define or determine who you are. While these moments can often spiral you out of kilter with your values, faith, worth, meaning and purpose, God can and does use awkward moments to help us learn more of who He is and who we can be. This retreat will gently take you through these experiences with God. You are not alone and nothing is too hard for Him.

Please click here to download a PDF copy of the retreat for you to use and share.

Numbing or Nurturing – Habits for Change

I’ve begun to notice during this time of ‘glorious isolation’, my tendency to choose numbing strategies to cope with the lingering anxiety that lurks just under the surface of my ‘she’ll be right when I can see the light at the end of this tunnel’ demeanour.

Now there is nothing wrong with watching a re-run of Friends while nibbling on chocolate and downing a glass of smooth red. You’ll certainly not be judged by me on that one or similar options.

My lazy brain just loves to, take the soft option, ease my load (perceived of course) and excuse the need to slow the already slow pace.

Yep, here comes the but!

But I’ve begun to note that ‘numbing’ strategies while offering short term reprieve can become longer term bad habits with consequences I genuinely don’t want. That causes concern as I begin to normalise and justify the ‘need’ to numb down to cope with this season.

What I lose, is well-being, satisfaction, confidence and so much more.

Lately, in response to this pattern I’ve begun to remember some activities that tend to ‘nurture’ rather than ‘numb’ in this season.

For me, walking, reading (OK, wine may be involved) photography, writing, gardening, feeding the chooks and digging for worms with them, actually nourishes me. I don’t feel quite so defeated. I’ve begun to remember what I really enjoy doing, what gives me joy, purpose and meaning.

Building ‘nurturing’ activities into my day (because I’m worth it) engages my brain and gives me a stronger sense of value.

Before you ‘return to normal’ whatever that may be, my question to you is:

Have you noticed what ‘numbs’ and/or ‘nurtures’ you and what will you take forward into the new season just around the corner? Remember – you are worth it.

Letting Go

This is a self-paced reflective retreat. It involves five simple reflections and can be done in a day or over time.

Please click here to download a pdf copy of the retreat for you to use and share.