I’ve always loved reflecting and looking back on the year, I’m the sort of sucker who loves those programmes at new years where the year (or better still, the decade) is shown in highlights. So as a bit of a birthday ritual I’ve been ruminating on the past twelve months and pretty much the one word that immediately springs to mind is loss:
- Loss of loved ones: my Grandad died in July and my father in November
- Loss of identity: I quit my job in September and had to work a three month notice period that coincided with my Dad’s death; I no longer get to define myself by my role
- Loss of security: it’s strange for a family to suddenly lose their menfolk and as much as I don’t like to admit it I do feel less protected and secure in some way
- Loss of purpose: no longer need to worry about Dad’s health or the stress of work
- Loss of consistency: this is the big one, suddenly life has a different pattern, a different pace, a different purpose.
Hang on, hang on, before this turns into some big emotional guilt trip that leaves you sobbing into your cornflakes, after all five significant losses are enough for anyone in twelve months, but let’s stop and think about this. How would the TV producers share the year in review? I think they’d opt for balance – the highs as well as the lows, the sun and the rain, the loss and the opportunity.
So, let’s try and reframe. All of these losses are very real, very visceral and tangible. They catch me when I’m least expecting it, at times they quite literally take my breath away when I remember my reality, but this is good as well as bad.
I think if you look at it loss and change are really just two sides of the same coin.
I’ve always considered myself someone who embraced change, in fact I’ve been accused of seeking it out for the thrill, change for changes sake, change to prove life is a challenge and an adventure and not just something to passively travel in. So for the sake of balance, and reframing loss as opportunity, and viewing change as a positive, my last year was also one of new adventures and learning:
- Learning to live with loss, recalibrating and focusing on what is important
- Learning to appreciate how good most people are. There are those I’ve known for years and hold close, but also those who wander through offering words of encouragement and support. It can be so easy to focus on the one or two who make our lives more challenging but there are so many good people out there
- Learning to focus on what brings me energy and positivity rather than what drains and stresses me
- Learning to really savour the day, none of us know how long we have in this life, we don’t know how many more birthdays we’ll live to see so we have a choice to decide how to spend each and every day and I’m working hard at savouring life, living, feeling it, the good as well as the bad
- Learning to stop and observe the little things, sunrise on the beach is a very humbling experience.
There aren’t many days that pass without me thinking of my past life, of how different things were a year ago, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Some days I miss who I was, I miss my Grandad, my Dad, my job, my colleagues, but most of all I prefer who I’ve become. I love life with less stress in it, I love being more conscious of the decisions I make and the time I have. I love recalibrating and focusing on the life in work-life balance for a bit.
Looking back, I’m a year older and wiser, most definitely richer in many ways. To some extent it was a year of loss, a year of change, a year of grief, but I guess in the best sense a year of revelation. In the words of John Green:
“Grief does not change you….it reveals you” The Fault in Our Stars