We are getting into a time of year that often involves a strange mix of busyness and contemplation, joys and sorrows, togetherness and separateness. The darkest day of the year for the northern hemisphere and the lightest day of the year for the southern hemisphere.
It is interesting to contemplate this yin and yang that is ever present in our lives and the world… even if we have lost our ability to see and feel it.
When we are on the precipice of a birthday, new year, or new beginning, we often feel compelled to take stock of where we are at. A time of setting intentions for some, and a time of setting demands on self for others. The difference lies in one’s ability to be compassionate with self, the ability to accept where one is, and the capacity to have reasonable expectations while finding inspiration to move ahead.
When I think about the three new years since my diagnosis, I recall the flavor of each one. The first was in the middle of my chemo. The impact was beginning to wear on my body, and I needed to stay truly present to the moment to moment changes in order to keep myself taking one step in front of the other.
The second new years, I had just gone through my final surgeries, and my final “outside of the home” trip that year was to a doctor’s office to see how I was healing. While I wouldn’t have chosen that for my final act of 2015, it was so appropriate.
The third year, I had the opportunity to go out by myself for a cross country ski in sparkly new snow. The sun was out, and it mirrored the deep joy I felt at being alive and well.
When things feel turbulent, I often turn to words to find solace, hope and a guiding light. A few years ago, I stumbled upon the beautiful poetry of John O’Donahue. In his book, To Bless the Space between us, was the most moving poem about transition. Perhaps it will offer you today the words you need to hear.
Titled, For a New Beginning, it reads:
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Whether you are planting a small seed of hope to nurture into life or contemplating a significant life change or adventure, staying true to our selves, staying true to our core values, staying true to acts of kindness, can bring us through the turbulence onto solid ground.
– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor, and a former oncology counselor at the Dempsey Center. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Through Creative Transformations, Stephanie works with people in person and online to offer cancer coaching, a DIY Individual Art Therapy program to enhance any healing work you are undertaking; workshops; and this weekly blog. Sign up today so you never miss one by visiting our website, Creative Transformations, where you will also find the links to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.