This week's post is all about reflecting on the past, present and future. It is a short post, as I am sharing in the sadness of a nation and the wave of grief around the world at the passing of our great queen Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Reflecting on our days is an important way of becoming aware of who we are, what we are doing and where our life is going. Without reflection, we stumble from day to day without thought and are living on autopilot. I have known this. The work, eat, sleep, repeat pattern. A pattern that changed, only when I really looked at my life and considered what it meant.
I believe in looking back, not in a sense of living or dwelling on the past or with wistful rose tinted nostalgia, but in order to see where we have come from and indeed, how far we have come. There is an importance to our history, there are lessons to be learned, moments to be celebrated and traditions upheld.
When we have a true understanding of our past, we are able to know our present and look forward with clarity to the future. In fact, what we have today is a reflection and echo of past decisions, choices and actions. Some of these reverberate over decades and are generational.
Looking back in order to move forward allows us to relinquish the grip of the past and enables us to see it as chapters in the story of our life rather than the whole book. Acknowledging what has been, but knowing we hold the pen to write the next sentence is an empowering way of living, one that makes us visionaries, rather than victims.
The here and now is what we experience. But, as I say, this present moment is always in flux and responds to what has been and what will be. This is why I believe in taking stock of what we have now. Considering with contentment and gratitude the life we have. It is precious and fleeting, and so, acknowledging our reality is key to our wellbeing and a life well lived.
It is about honesty and seeing things for what they are. Accepting that our days are filled with joy, sorrow, happiness, hurt, life, and death allows us to experience life in all its fulness. It is not a Pollyanna approach or toxic positivity that glosses over the facts to avoid discomfort, no, it is an embracing of what is.
When we open our eyes to truth and allow ourselves to embrace this daily, we become aware of life in all its facets and can begin to appreciate our contribution, those around us and the wider world. We know ourselves and in turn, know what it means to be human.
What lies ahead, we will never know. And thank goodness we don't. As a person who likes to be in control, I have wrestled with letting go and allowing what will be. I also have trust issues - which means I feel safer when I know what is coming next. However, if the past few years have taught me anything, it is to be flexible and adaptive to what the future brings and to hold my plans lightly.
When my mother died, very suddenly and without warning, I felt like I would never plan for anything ever again. How could I? All the diaries, schedules and to-do-lists couldn't prepare me for such an event. I felt lost, my trusted ways of controlling my day to day had failed, and so why bother! I threw away my diaries and stopped journaling. I realise now this was the hopelessness of grief and a kick back reaction to a life changing moment.
As time has passed and I have come to terms with what grief is in all its shape shifting forms, I have looked at where I was and started to acknowledge my feelings each day. I have returned to writing and keeping a diary, and now plan for the future without fear. I know that nothing is set in stone, life can change in a flash, but planning ahead is now more about hope than control.
If we look forward with hope, considering the possibilities and what might be, we allow optimism and positivity to fill us up in the here and now. We become hopeful rather than hopeless. And if we prepare and plan for a future that is written on a chalk board rather than in tablets of stone - we know we can re-write, re-schedule or alter our future as we see fit.
So today, I would encourage you to look at where you have been, where you are now and be hopeful for the future. My heart and prayers go out to all who have lost someone, and as a citizen of a country who mourns the death of a loved monarch, I send my love and deepest sympathy to the Royal family and their associates at this time.