I thought of you today, on my journeys. I’d headed out with my family to Wick, a peaceful old village on the South coast of Wales.
We pointed out the many signs of spring along the way – there were tiny, fearless lambs bounding about the wild, green hills and as we passed an old farm the most beautiful calves peered over a stone wall at us. As we crossed the village green we noticed daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops; I remarked how fitting it was to witness all this on the same day that I was to write the introduction for this March issue of the Cygnus Review. I also thought of the those so severely affected by the storms as we clambered over fallen branches and navigated around rubble from an embankment that had fallen onto the footpath.
As much as I appreciate and marvel in the beautiful signs of spring and all the gifts that nature has to offer, I don’t want to write to you through rose tinted glasses because I have every faith that we are strong enough for the truth. As sure as the seasons turn, there will always be more hard times ahead of us. I face this truth unafraid. We have each faced our own storms, literally and metaphorically in life and yet here we are pulling through, growing ever more collaborative, strengthening in mind, heart and spirit. Every scar is a witness to, and a reminder of, our greatness. My father once reassured me that our (mental) scars should be borne with pride and I know that from somewhere on the other side he sees how well I have come to understand that.
We all have certain wounds from which we are maybe still healing but as we do so we develop other strengths. That’s what makes every individual so special and that’s why we work so well symbiotically. With active compassion we hold each other up while fortifying the unique talents and skills within ourselves, sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously, forming strategies to not just survive but to thrive.
While the dust settles
We learn these strategies because our inner strength doesn’t just pop up and magically make everything okay after a trauma hits. We need to take steps to look after ourselves and to heal. In the life affirming book What Doesn’t Kill Us [Cygnus Code: 220202, £10.99], Stephen Joseph takes us through some really helpful methods, some of which may seem obvious but are so easy to let slide:
- Get help. Ensure you get medical, psychological and legal help if you need it.
- Eat nutritiously, ensuring you have enough fruit and vegetables and avoiding processed foods.
- Try to get enough sleep, avoid coffee from late afternoon and don’t eat too much approaching bedtime
- Stay physically active – you might not feel like going to the gym but maybe try to take walks every day.
- Practice self compassion.
- Be aware of triggers of emotional reactions.
- Avoid avoidance – survivor groups can be helpful.
- Tune into your emotions and how they influence you.
- Don’t underestimate the power of hope.
- Be inspired – look for stories of personal growth. For me it’s been Alice Hertz Sommer’s life story Century of Wisdom by Caroline Stoessinger [Cygnus Code: 221112 £6.49] and Nelson Mandela’s Road to Freedom.
- Use your social support – associate with supportive friends and family who encourage you to overcome barriers
- Look to the future – what do you see yourself doing a year from now, or five years? Visualise what you enjoy doing, what makes your heart lift, how you could contribute in some way to others, what would give you a sense of purpose?
Change is constant and inevitable. Sometimes it comes softly, aligned with the direction we want to go in. Other times it comes out of the blue and shakes us to the core. It’s natural that fear will be the initial reaction but when we push beyond that we discover the opportunity in change… no matter how dire the situation seems there is always opportunity and hope just waiting for us to perceive it.
There are some things, however, that never change. Every memory we have of a special place or a special person is alive in our hearts. After the physical presence of the person or the surroundings have gone the one thing that illuminated those moments continues to shine into every new memory we make – the loving energy that was exchanged never changes and never goes away. We carry that with us to new homes, new ventures, new joyful experiences. Because there are always more joyful times ahead, always. The best is yet to come!
Looking for signs of spring
I’ve had a song from the musical, Carousel, in my head all day and it seems fitting to end with some words from it. ‘At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark’. Pay attention to the song of the lark, to golden sun beams streaming through clouds, to daffodils, crocuses, and snowdrops, to the tiny lambs and calves peeking cheekily over the wall. Live every precious moment to the full. Pay even closer attention to those who point the signs of spring out to you, as my dear son did for me today. ‘Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone’.
Louisa and the Cygnus team
© 2014 by Louisa Mills facebook.com/onesouthwales