Yesterday, it stopped raining and the sun finally broke through. I went outside at three o’clock to walk followed by an interval jog. Unlike my usual pattern of going in the early morning, by waiting until mid-afternoon inertia had set in. I jogged for a while and just wasn’t feeling it, but kept trying and told myself, “Just work harder,” which was part encouragement, part chide from my inner critic.
I continued to jog and another voice came to me, “Just play harder.” I interpreted that as it’s okay not to do it in the usual way; Stop your Striving. I quit jogging and walked down the path and came to a small pond. A Great Blue Heron has been there during my recent walks. There he was, standing at the edge of the grasses on the bank below me. The bird’s colors, the hues of blues that bordered on lavender and light buff green that was like a wash over the blue, were so stunning. I edged up a few steps closer to have a better look and the bird took flight.
I’d never seen a blue heron spread his wings, the bands of light and dark colors so striking in the mid-afternoon sun. Watching the heron, I was glad I’d stopped my walk to enjoy the bird who had the pond to himself. It was peaceful and quiet with the lone bird and no sign of the recent formations of Canadian geese swooping down to interrupt the solitude.
I thought about how birds are seen as messengers. What did the Big Blue Heron have to tell me at the first of 2021? What does he have to tell you?
I’ve read that many people have turned to nature over the past year of the pandemic, finding joy and solace in its constancy and beauty. I would agree with that and know that when I’m troubled about anything, I head outside. Switching from seeing my walk/jog as play rather than work, allowed me to slow down and be present for the bird, for the scene that unfolded before me. As we begin a new year, I wonder what will unfold before me in 2021.
In past blog posts, I’ve shared about a system for understanding transitions that I learned when I took my Life Coaching Course. Bill Bridges created a Map for Change that includes three stages: Endings, The Gap, New Beginnings. For me, the most important Ending has been that of my marriage, that I’ve written posts about since August of 2019. 41st Anniversary: Not What I Expected
Over the past year, I’ve written posts about Bridges’s next phase, The Gap as I worked through the divorce process including cleaning out and selling our house. Trusting God in The Gap
Since our divorce was final in November, I’ve been slowly moving into the next phase of New Beginnings. It seems appropriate to be starting a New Year as I start my New Beginning. But, this post isn’t just about me, it’s about you, too and what New Beginnings you want to make in 2021.
I wish we could say we’re leaving the pandemic in the old year, but it’s surging and we know we’ll continue with the precautions and restricted contacts. With the things that are going on with each of us as individuals, and this pandemic going on with our world, what are the things that we need in this New Year? What are the things we can do to retool ourselves for our lives to be healthier, happier?
Recently I shared with two friends, on separate phone visits, that I was trying to figure out how to move forward after divorce. While I’ve done a lot of things to get to know who I am as an individual– through my solo journeys, dancing, and writing– when it comes to my foray into online dating, I’m not sure who I am. When you’ve been with a spouse for over forty years, you know there are patterns you’ve established that might not serve you well in the future. I talked with these friends about my inner search for what needed to be different in my next relationship.
Each had a book recommendation. The friend who’s been through a chaplaincy training program suggested, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert. The Enneagram is a system of personality typing, similar to the Myers-Briggs, that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. It describes nine different personality types and maps each of these types on a nine-pointed diagram which helps to illustrate how the types relate to one another.
My other friend, whom I got to know when she led the Write to Heal group in the Breast Cancer Survivors’ Program, recommended Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. It’s written by medical intuitive, Caroline Myss, Ph.D.who uses the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit and research in energy medicine, to help people promote their own spontaneous physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
Both friends agreed that we’d have phone conversations about the books and my discoveries as I make my way through them over the next weeks. I’ll also have the professional support of my therapist to get at the deeper issues in those discoveries. It feels like these suggestions from my friends, ‘the right books at the right time’, are the place I’m supposed to start in this new year. I can be like a bear hibernating in winter with my books– curled up and trying to discover who I’m becoming.
What is it that you need to discover and to change in yourself in this new year? Are there things you’ve become aware of–especially during the pandemic, that need your attention?
Those areas may be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. We’ve seen how underlying health problems have made people more susceptible to COVID 19: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic lung conditions etc.
Some people have been more vulnerable because of the mental and emotional strain, made more difficult by the sheltering in place: tense family relationships, depressed mood, feeling hopeless.
Other people may have had a spiritual crisis as they have questioned the why of the pandemic and have felt cut off from their community of faith. Bitterness may have taken root and be choking out their joy.
Whatever you discover is your need, your place to start in this new year, your new beginning, you are capable of taking a step forward. In my coaching class, we were advised to have clients to commit to taking One Step that was achievable in the following week. We were also advised to help that person to look at how they could make that step fun. Umm . . . , sounds like ‘just play harder.’
I remember again the lone blue heron standing on the bank of the pond. His body appears like a question mark. In the silence of that scene, it’s as if the bird has been sent to ask, “What are you going to do for yourself this year?”
May you find the answer and step forward in the week ahead, discovering a way to make the step playful, embraced with imagination and new energy, moving toward a healthier you in 2021.
Blessings for this new journey.