2016 has been a strange year. That’s putting it mildly, with global events that many of us thought “could never happen” turning out to be the things we hadn’t realised that many of our neighbours actually wanted.
There have been good things too, but for me, the year has felt like a bit of a slog. Events in the last six months have meant that my life may never be quite the same again and my sense of safety has been pulled out from under me. My resilience has been tested by events beyond my control and I haven’t always felt that it’s passed that test.
After Christmas, I found myself with a few quiet days for the first time in months. My habits kicked in, and even though I was almost on my knees with tiredness, I started to make long lists of things I needed to do or wanted to achieve while I had the time. It was only after some exhausted tears that I realised that what I needed more than anything was to stop. The only thing on my “to do” list should be to ensure that basic survival needs were met! 48 hours later, I have regained some of my sense of self, but I’ve realised that in 2017 I may need to let the zealous list maker inside me take a little holiday. She needs to learn to relax, and I need to continue to build up my reserves.
Instead of a review of the year, I’ve started to reflect on some of the things that the last twelve months have taught me:
- I may never fully know what is going on in someone else’s life and even when I do, I can’t presume to understand. My experience is not the same as theirs.
- I don’t necessarily need to understand to help others. Sometimes the smallest kindness or making time to listen if someone has something to say can make a huge difference.
- I have often underrated kindness. It matters. Especially when things are tough.
- It’s not always possible to tell when someone is having a hard time. They may be good at hiding it. That is why kindness is even more important. I might not know that I just helped someone.
- When things are tough I tend not to look after myself. Things unravel when I don’t try to eat, sleep and give my brain some rest. I need to be aware of this and allow for that tendency.
- Sometimes “good enough” is best.
Reading this back, so much of it seems like common sense, but there have been times this year when I’ve struggled to keep hold of these values, and many times when I’ve been grateful that someone else has acted by them. I wanted to capture them here so that I can remind myself of them when I need to – a sort of touchstone for 2017.
I hope that 2017 brings you peace.
Yes to all of this. Especially the kindness – which of course includes being kind to yourself. For me it can be extremely hard to balance my conflicting needs: I need rest and lowered expectations… but I also need to achieve certain basic things, to prevent feeling out of control and overwhelmed. You know? I bet you do know. Hence the list-making. I wish you all strength and wisdom in 2017, to find the balance.
Ah yes, balance. It’s so easy to lose it. I’m all for lists as a tool (in fact I love a list), but mine had begun to be a stick to beat myself with, rather than a support! Wishing you joy and balance in 2017.