Over the past few days, there have been some moments that have really caught my attention. I am not really a New Year's Resolutions type of girl,mostly because they don't make it past the 3rd. Actually, if we're being honest, we celebrate Christmas at New Year's with Jason's family so really, they don't make it past 10 am on the 1st when I wake up and indulge in a double cream, double sugared coffee and one of my father-in-law's yummy "outsmaken", which I'm sure I spelled incorrectly but it's like a really great smashed egg extravaganza with gouda and mushrooms and bacon and.... you get the picture. So, instead of resolutions, over the past few years, I've chosen a word to be aware of and focus on for the year. Sometimes it's a group of words or a saying, a mantra of sorts...last year was "Be brave with your own life so that others may be brave with theirs". It really shaped some of the decisions I made and how I approached things when faced with opportunities or risks.
This year, the word I've chosen is "mindful". I'm not sure where these words come from and maybe it's a buzzword that somehow makes its way into my vocabulary but for the few weeks leading up to New Year's, this word seemed to be integrating itself into a bunch of different areas of my life. It's a reminder to me to be mindful in all things. In the passing of time. In the way I speak. And eat. And move. Who I come into contact with. Where I spend my energy. What drains me. What fills me.
In that, the past week in particular, the first week of the new year, it feels like being mindful has pointed a spotlight on a variety of moments that have added up to a really full, emotional, rewarding, frustrating week. Somehow, this week, the first of the year, has really encompassed the full gamut of life. There have been those days where everything runs smoothly and much is accomplished and there have been those where the cars are frozen solid, I'm late for work and I feel completely overwhelmed by a morning standing in front of my church trying to convey the things I saw and felt while in Cambodia. A friend's marriage is threatened, a friend's finances are crumbling and there are tears and questions and unknown futures. Meanwhile, there is joy in an engagement, a phone call from overseas, a moment of extreme gratitude that 2013 was a year in which I spent time with every one of my nieces and nephews and how amazing they all are, growing and becoming their own people.
Particularly, over the past two to three days, there have been leavings and goodbyes posted, as the long term volunteers that we love leave homes again in England and Australia and Canada, to head back overseas to continue to serve and support the care workers we love throughout sub-saharan Africa. They are leaving home for home in many cases, a feeling we know from our brief time there. And though there are goodbyes and missed occasions and longed for loved ones on one continent, there are welcome homes and hellos and more occasions on another.
And then I am mindful. That in our efforts to achieve balanced lives and sort ourselves out, particularly heading into a new year, that we often miss the obvious - that life is balanced. Not always, sometimes it tips the scales one way or the other but for most of us, thankfully, in the grand scheme of things, there is a balance. A year of hard work and little tangible return gives way and the rewards are reaped. A couple in a marriage that hits rock bottom, levels out and begins a steady climb back to restoration. The financial crisis that loosens all sense of control of circumstances opens the mind and hearts of someone who held too tightly to false security and gives freedom. I don't always see the balance. And when the emptying and hurting and insecurity push me towards the tipping point, it's hard to feel that small shift that sometimes is all it takes to get back to centre.
So, week one of 2014? I'm mindful. And thankful. And even hopeful.