Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision

Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com
Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com

My school friends and I have just booked our annual weekend away, going to Center Parcs next March. It’ll be our second trip there. Before that we went to a couple of 1990s weekends at Butlin’s holiday camps. These were lots of fun but after two of them I felt I’d had my fill of reliving my youth. When the subject of the next group getaway came up one lunch together, I seized the chance to say I didn’t want to go there again. Turns out some of the others felt the same so changing the destination was really painless but when I raised my objection I didn’t know that would be the case. There were no signs that the others felt as I did so I was taking the risk that they would all simply go to Butlin’s without me – in fact I even encouraged them to do that if they were still enjoying the events.

In this instance the situation worked out really well but rarely can we be sure of this when we speak out about a difficult decision we’ve made. Although we may hope that our choice will be welcomed, we have to accept that others may not react as we want them to. We may fear the response of our parents or friends or children. We might be so worried about what others will say that we are deterred from taking the path we wish to follow, whether that’s emigrating or separating or abstaining.

For all of us, there are occasions when we make a decision that is hard enough in itself then find that the response we get makes it worse still. Even when the change is positive for us (getting fit, a new job which we love and pays more) – or perhaps especially when the change is positive for us – the new situation may seem like a threat to our nearest and dearest, triggering a defensive stance from them.

In such circumstances, we are perhaps breaking a rule, whether stated or unwritten. Maybe we’ve always enjoyed a boozy Friday night with a friend which they’ve assumed is a never changing fixture in our diaries yet suddenly you’re cutting out early so you’re fresh for a run on Saturday mornings. Maybe splitting up with your partner challenges your family’s treasured determination to stick relationships out no matter what the cost. Maybe quitting your job to pursue your dream breaks the complicit understanding between you and your husband that work has to be a source of unhappiness which you can moan about together.

Even more insidiously, friends and family can make the right noises about changes we make yet in reality strive to undermine or sabotage our efforts. We all know people like this: the parent who seems to encourage weight loss but sulks when we refuse second helpings, the friend who says they’re pleased we’re in a romantic relationship then proceeds to dig for the new beau’s flaws, the sibling who remembers all our previous failed attempts at habit change (“The only thing you could run is a bath!” – please say I’m not the only person whose younger brother has said that to them?!).

Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com
Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com

This time of year is often a crisis point in terms of trying to make changes or instigate a significant new choice as we find ourselves spending more time than usual with our loved ones. It’s tempting to just take the path of least resistance and stick to the status quo…tempting except that while this is easier for those around you, it may be considerably harder for you. Maybe you just can’t bite your lip any longer. Maybe you simply cannot tolerate the bad behaviour of another or the condoning behaviour of yourself. Maybe the prospect of waking up in the same situation in twelve months’ time makes you feel sick.

Perhaps you’re a lucky one and you don’t have any such big decisions to face. If there’s no painful choice that you deep down know you have to face sooner or later then I envy you. I wish I could say it were so for me or indeed many others. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are more of us who have a tough decision decision lurking near. I suspect this because over the last six months I’ve heard many telling me I’m brave for doing the things I’ve done, such as walking away from a seemingly enviable career, and saying they’d love to do something similar only someone in their life is holding them back from it. Any time you wonder “But what would X say?”, you’ve touched on this.

I wish I could tell you that making big, hard choices actually works out really well and you’ll be supported in the end, only this is not true. You might run the risk of ruining a relationship. Things might never be the same again. But I can tell you that if you don’t do what’s right for you then you’ll end up hurting yourself far more than your choice will hurt others. You will always suffer for this sacrifice.

The other thing I feel sure in saying is that there is rarely, if ever, a right time. Sometimes we think that by leaving things a while longer that it’ll get easier or the situation will change enough that our decision is redundant. This is simply not true. How it is now is how it is. You could be waiting your whole life for better circumstances and they may never come. Accept what is and act now. Step towards your decision today, tomorrow, over the weekend, in the next week. Act before the end of the year. Start 2017 having taken the decision you know you need to face. It may not be easy but it will be done.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

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Fear but courage too: getting to where we want to go

Fear but courage too.jpg

Back in June, I got a new bike. The old adage claims that you never forget how to ride one, but having not regularly ridden since early childhood, getting out on it felt like relearning a long lost skill. I also quickly learnt that my hometown’s geography is not at all what I thought it was. I grew up on the hilly side of town therefore believed that the opposite side (where I now live) is completely flat. Oh no, that is not the case! Turns out the flat side is pretty undulating too. I’m constantly moving up and down the gears as I negotiate the inclines, descents, humps, bumps and adverse cambers (the latter isn’t really relevant but I like the phrase ‘adverse camber’ and don’t get enough opportunities to use it).

My regular route from home to town includes going over a railway bridge. When I started riding, this posed a big challenge. On my first attempt, I had to get off and push the bike over. I then began gingerly creeping over in first gear and on the path, convinced that I had sudden onset asthma every time. Soon my speed and confidence increased. Three months on, I stay on the road and in fourth for the outward journey; on the return, I still go into second or even first but it gets easier every time.

Why?

Because I’m stronger and fitter now than I was then. Every time I cycle, my leg muscles gain a little bit extra strength. It may not be a big increase, but it all adds up.

Initially, I would only feel the burn in my calves. It seemed like they were the only part of my leg responsible for pushing the pedals around. Gradually I started to sense the contribution made by my hamstrings, then my gluteal muscles (the backs of my thighs and my ass). More recently, my quadriceps (the muscles at the front of my thighs) have been making their presence known as I come back over the bridge ever more powerfully.

All these different muscles, and no doubt a number of others, are at work when I cycle. Sometimes it might feel like it’s all down to one particular set but the truth is we rarely rely on one alone.

The same applies to our metaphorical muscles. Last week I wrote about feeling the fear and forcing ourselves to do it anyway. I talked about how using fear as a motivation for action was like flexing a muscle – the more we do it, the stronger it grows. Now I see that this face-the-fear muscle doesn’t operate in isolation. Like the muscles that make up my calves, thighs and bottom, the face-the-fear muscle works alongside that which drives courage.

Facing fear and building courage are in tandem. Using one strengthens the other too, and together they are what really get us out of our comfort zones. And if we use them regularly enough, they gain the kind of strength and momentum needed to get you where you really want to go. They become more powerful every time you flex them, however small the particular incident may seem.

I’ve been drawing on this power duo a lot lately, pushing my comfort zone in many ways. I’ve taken up netball (last played at school) and started to learn Italian. I’ve booked a train ticket to meet up with some other girl bosses that I only know via Facebook. I’ve submitted a piece of writing and am collaborating on another creative project. Some of these activities feel more nerve-wracking than others. Italian is largely fun (even if I do want to get fifteen out of fifteen on every. single. test.); putting my work out into the world is gut-wrenching.

Yet each time I push the boundaries of where I feel comfortable, something great happens. I can’t say it gets easier, but it doesn’t feel quite so hard. It might be unpleasant, uncomfortable, challenging, but I know I can survive it – I know because I’ve been through it, or something similar, before. I’ll get through to the other side and will be stronger for it.

Tweet: Courage is fears nemesis. Courage is fear’s nemesis. To face our fear, we draw on courage too – and that very same courage will also help to quash fear just that little bit more. Like when riding a bike, we don’t use just one muscle but pairs or even groups of them. Facing our fear and using our courage is a great combination. Together they will get us over so many of the bridges and hills that we have to climb.

Feel the fear & force ourselves to do it anyway

Feel the fear and force ourselves to do it anyway.jpg

This morning I sat with my first coffee of the day on the front bench.  The air was cool but the sun was strong enough to warm me.  I went out with the intention of reading some emails but, as is so often the case, got waylaid by social media.

Coffee drunk, emails still unread, I decided to have a second cup.  Nursing number two decaff, I opened my inbox.  I’d ‘saved’ a couple of messages from the night before because they looked too juicy to read without being fully attentive to them (I was catching up on The Great British Bake-Off when they’d arrived in my tray).  Two more equally enticing messages lay there as well.  Working my way through them, I could feel gratitude swelling my heart.  All four emails contained amazing content that made me feel content to be alive (not something to be taken for granted after months of debilitating mental health issues).  Not only that, they inspired me for the workday ahead, all feeding into the thoughts and themes that I am trying to bring to my writing right now.

This gratitude was swiftly followed by a slightly guilty sense of luck.  Back when I was working full-time at my previous job, every login to my email bought a sinking sensation in my stomach at the prospect of what might be awaiting me.  Changed deadlines, moved goalposts, requests that I really, truly did not want to fulfil, and maybe a nice message in there too.  For over five years I tolerated this discomfort without really thinking about it.  It’s only in its absence do I realise how uptight even the simple task of reading emails made me.  I was unhappy, my body knowing what my mind refused to acknowledge.

In the end, my body and some long relegated part of my mind joined forces against me.  As my mental health struggles worsened earlier this year, I found myself physically unable to get out of bed when the time came to go to work.  It sounds like some lame excuse that I’m making up but truthfully, I am serious.  Parts of me that I was trying to ignore ratchetted up the anxiety, panic and stress until normal service could not be resumed.  So I quit.

After years of wrangling about my career choice, the actual decision to resign came relatively easily.  I knew that it was the only option left available and I felt relief at actually asserting some kind of authority over my situation after years of feeling victimised by it.  I had a supportive partner, savings and a small business on the backburner, all of which I could lean on.  Still, leaving full-time, well paid employment for I wasn’t exactly sure what was terrifying if I thought about it too much.  ‘Aren’t you worried?’, people asked.  Of course!  But I knew this was the decision I had to take.  It was a classic case of feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’: was there ever a phrase from self-help literature as hackneyed as this?  It is so embedded in common parlance that many probably don’t realise that there is a 1987 book with that title by Susan Jeffers.  However clichéd the term itself has now become, Jeffers’ text is worth a read, providing a nuanced argument about how to use our fear in productive ways.  As she and others recognise, fear is a natural human response.  We should not simply ignore it, riding roughshod over alarm bells and warning signs.  Feeling the fear and doing it anyway is not about putting ourselves in danger but instead pushing our comfort zones a little further, stretching ourselves beyond where we’ve gone before – further but not necessarily too far.

Maybe I’ve read this analogy before, I don’t remember, but using our fear as motivation for action seems to me like building a muscle.  The more we flex it, the more we use it, the stronger it grows.  We have to test ourselves with small challenges so we are used to the process and sensation of overcoming fear before trying to take on grander struggles.  You’re not going to get far attempting a solo round-the-world yachting expedition unless you’ve taken some adult swimming lessons to get over your fear of water first.  You’re not going to establish a new relationship with alcohol unless you are prepared to face one social occasion without drinking first.

Of course building up this metaphorical muscle is easier said than done.  Even those small steps towards facing our fear can seem overwhelming.  In the hours building up to my second netball practice session last night, I was riven with anxiousness about attending.  Despite having a brilliant time the previous week, my monkey mind was very good at coming up with arguments as to why I shouldn’t go back.  This time they’ll know that I’m rubbish.  This time no-one will want to mark me because I am so useless at playing.  This time they’ll shout at me for missing passes.  This time they’ll point and laugh and say ‘Look at that stupid fat girl trying to play our game!  Let’s all point and laugh!’  This time they’ll tell me to never darken the doorstep of their clubhouse again.

In the end, I only went because I promised myself I’d never have to attend another session ever again if I didn’t enjoy it.  Oh, and my friend was already sat on the drive waiting to pick me up.

Obviously I totally loved it, just as I had the previous week.

I won’t pretend that feeling the fear and doing it anyway was pleasant or easy.  However, it was worthwhile.  I gained from it not just because I had fun playing netball, but also because it strengthened that face-the-fear muscle just a little more.  The same irrational thoughts will probably surface next week, and the one after, and the one after that, but each time that metaphorical muscle will get stronger.  And I’ve signed up to play for a team so I’ll leave myself no choice but to keep on facing that fear.  There’s no harm in giving ourselves an extra push if we need it.

I am Sporticus

I am Sporticus

A slightly blurry early morning gym selfie

I don’t even remember what we were talking about when a family friend’s name came up in conversation.  I’ve known her since she was born; a photograph of a six year old me holding her as a new-born still sits on my parents’ piano.  My partner has only known her for the two and a half years that we’ve been together.  He made a passing comment about her ‘being sporty’.  Much guffawing immediately followed on my part.  ‘Sporty?!’, I retorted.  ‘That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.  She is even more bookish than me.’  ‘She plays netball’, came the reply.  ‘And you play badminton with her’.  ‘But she hated adventures when we were kids!’ – the moment that statement left my lips I realised how lame my reasoning was.  My partner was presenting clear evidence that the friend is sporty (present tense) and all my counter-arguments relied on examples from twenty years ago (past tense).

This conversation has stuck with me since, giving me the kind of brain itch where you know you have to scratch your head and think about what it means some more.  When I relayed the story to my friend, her first reaction was to splutter with laughter as well; even for her, the past tense dominates over the contrary present tense.  She isn’t alone.  I also considered myself un-sporty despite regularly being active and fitter now than ever.

We all do this in different ways.  We acquire or assume labels, often very early in our lives, and they stick – or we stick to them.  At school, it seemed that you could either be bookish or sporty, not both.  The fat girl state of mind lingers on long after the weight has gone.  Envy of the popular girls likewise.

Along with labels there are stories – stories that we tell ourselves about who we are, what we are like, how we show up in the world.  I am not sporty therefore every effort to exercise is doomed to failure as it runs against my very nature (or at least that’s what I tell myself).  I am not sporty therefore there is no point in not eating a second helping of dessert.  I am not sporty therefore there is no point in buying myself clothes that I might actually want to exercise in.  I think therefore I am not.

What if we challenged these stories?

What if we wrote a new story – not an ending, but a new narrative about who we are, what we are like (and what we like), how we show up in the world?

This is a difficult task to negotiate.  We don’t want to force ourselves into a new position that is just as limiting but in different ways.  Many of us don’t need help in finding new ways to make ourselves unhappy or uncomfortable.  We are already adept at telling ourselves untrue stories that we go along with for years anyway: of course I love him.  Of course I want to follow this career path.  Of course I enjoy every weekend getting completely wasted.

So what if we simply tried out a new story?  What if we experimented with the labels that we give ourselves?

In the name of research on your behalf, dear readers, I have conducted such an experiment over the last week.  I was aware that the ‘not sporty’ label wasn’t a good fit anymore.  Whereas once it was a useful protective barrier, now it felt restrictive.  I’d outgrown it.  I didn’t want to be un-sporty anymore.  Moreover, I am not un-sporty anymore.  The experiment turned out to be less about doing something different and more about opening my eyes to see that things are already different.  Like with my netball playing badminton partner, I was already acting in a new way – only by unconsciously clinging to old labels and stories, I was blind to this change.

Maybe this is the key to finding which stories to adopt and which to rescind: looking out for which have already taken seed within us.  When we listen to ourselves closely and carefully, which already sound like a truth we believe?

Experimenting with new stories in this way, we find a secret hidden in plain sight, something our deepest knowing has been aware of for some times but we’ve been unable to see or to sense.

Once our eyes and hearts are open, the previously hidden seeds find ways to blossom and bloom.  The new stories take on a life of their own.  Our creativity kicks in, helping the new way to embed, to become even truer.

This was certainly the case in my own recent experiment.  When heavy rain prevented the planned bike ride or the backup plan of a run, I was initially at a loss.  Previously, I would have taken this as cosmic confirmation that I was not destined to a life of exercise and sat on the sofa with a magazine instead.  But with the new mind-set came new possibilities – and a dance workout on YouTube turned out to be an awesome substitute activity.  Never occurred to me before to look online for help with exercise.  Just when I realised that my new trainers were actually over a decade old, I spotted some hallmarks on an old no longer worn bangle; the trade in weight of the gold is more than enough to cover the cost of new footwear.  Perhaps most crucially, when some bad news left me angry and hurt, my instinctive reaction to pull out of my first netball session that evening was soon overridden by a clearer urge to go because it would help…and it did.

That I am sporty is a new story.  New, but it is true, feeling truer for me right now than the old un-sporty badge that I for so long wore with a strange pride.

And having played Wing Attack against my badminton partner’s Wing Defence on Wednesday, I can tell you that the new story is true for her too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Should Always Carry Stamps

This post is part of my
‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read the first post in the series, you can click
here
.

Today I will be taking a walk up to the Post Office to
purchase postage for a large letter.  I
don’t quite know what size qualifies as ‘large’ for Royal Mail in the UK as
this is a fairly new category, but I think it’s some combination of size and
weight.  Anyhow, I know that my A4
envelope requires a different kind of stamp than is usual.  I don’t really mind making a special trip but
it is a bit irksome when I have four perfectly good regular stamps in my wallet
already.

I always carry stamps.
As with yesterday’s favourite
mug habit
, I’m not exactly sure when this began.  It goes back at least to 2008.  It was around that time a friend lent me a
book (I think it was Sam Gosling’s Snoop: What Your Stuff Says about You)
where the author asserts that the world is divided into two kinds of people:
those who always carry stamps and those who don’t understand why anyone
would.  I definitely identified with the
former.  

My teeny tiny A Life
Of One’s Own
tip for today is therefore the suggestion that you get
yourself a book of stamps and carry them in your wallet.  As there’s no expiry date with postage, it
doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to use them, but when you’re
eventually down to one, buy another book before you run out.  Then repeat.

Why?  

Firstly to help yourself.
Now that electronic communication has reduced levels of mail, we may not
use stamps as much as we used to, but often when we do need them it is for
something urgent or important: the birthday card that needs to be in today’s
collection, the bank form that has to be with them by tomorrow.  Now think about the nearest pillar box in
relation to your home or workplace.
Wouldn’t it be easier if, rather than having to go to a shop that sells stamps
first, you could lay your hands easily on what you need and pop the item
straight into the post?

If that alone doesn’t convince you (and why wouldn’t it?!),
a second reason to always carry stamps is in order to connect with others.  There are two aspects to this.  It is in part about communication via
mail.  Maybe you’re out somewhere and see
a funny postcard that instantly makes you think of a particular friend or
family member; if you have a stamp on you then sending it to them seems much more
straightforward than if you have to factor in getting postage too.  Likewise when you hear some big news or an
announcement.  Whether it’s passing an
important exam, an engagement, a birth or a death (or remembering a birthday at
the last minute!), having one less step in the process makes buying/sending less
hassle.  Carrying stamps opens up more
opportunities for you to connect with those you care about, recognising and
celebrating the important moments in their life.

The other aspect of connecting with others is the giving of
stamps.  We’ve all said to people around
us ‘I need to get a stamp’, and we’ve probably all asked or been asked if we
have a stamp.  It’s up there with the ‘Do
you have a light?’ appeal between smokers.
In a way, the two function similarly, albeit stamps posing less risk to
your health.  If the request can be
fulfilled, a moment of connection is forged.  The person receiving is grateful because
without that, their object (the cigarette or the piece of mail) is
useless.  It cannot function without the
other element, be it the light or the stamp.
In the case of the latter, you’ve also saved them time and possibly hassle.  

As the giver of the stamp, you’ve just helped someone out
for very little cost (in fact no direct outlay, as you’d bought them anyway)
and no inconvenience at all – they were already in your wallet.  You’ve done them a favour, made their day a
little easier.  That’s a good
feeling.  It may only be fleeting but
aren’t most experiences in this life?  

Grab opportunities to connect as much as you can.  Buy stamps.

What about you?  Do
you carry stamps?  If you don’t then has
this post encouraged you to buy some?
Who knows what opportunities it will facilitate!  If you’d like to share with me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

This post is part of my
‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read the first post in the series, you can click
here
.

My start of the week epiphany

Monday didn’t start as planned.  I didn’t get up when the alarm went off.  I didn’t have the short but anchoring early
morning chat with my partner that I treasure.
I didn’t go to the gym.  By 11am I
felt like I was already behind on the week.

Then an unexpected parcel arrived containing a box of Turkish
delight.  When taking the delivery, I
spotted the cheery primroses, a surprise present received at the weekend and
placed by the door only the day before.
Turning back into the room, there were the yellow roses that had
accompanied the door-side plants.  

In that moment, these three literal gifts offered me another
gift.  They served as a reminder of the
good things in my life, things that are usually there in some form or another
but often get overlooked, forgotten in the maelstrom of life.  The light can be easily overshadowed by
dark.  A looming but not pressing
deadline can sour an otherwise enjoyable weekend.  One critical statement skews our memory of
otherwise glowing feedback.  An acrimonious
ending may shape our recollection of an entire relationship.  

Sometimes it may feel as if the light in our lives has
disappeared entirely.  Last week saw Epiphany,
a festival which celebrates the story of the wise men visiting baby Jesus.  The visitors see a star in the distance and
travel towards it, but they don’t actually follow the light in the night sky the
whole way – the star only reappears when they get nearer.  I feel this is a crucial detail, and a hugely
inspiring one, encouraging us to carry on anyway.  Keep journeying because at some point along
the way, the light will return, and it will seem all the brighter following the
darkness.

My three gifts weren’t gold, frankincense and myrrh but
Turkish delight, primroses and yellow roses.
Nonetheless, they were a reminder to look for the light.  And the start of the week didn’t seem so bad
after all.

Week 11: As with tea, with life

When I came up with the idea for The Fourth Quarter seasonal journey through autumn and winter, a
list of weekly symbols quickly emerged, as did what felt like the right running
order for them.  I didn’t plan them out
in detail, but I had clear thoughts about the themes behind each one; last
week’s reflection
on bathing
, for instance, I wanted to represent quietness and moments of
solitude.  What has surprised me as the months
have passed by, though, is the extent to which the meanings and metaphors have
evolved.  I *thought* I knew what each
week would be about, but the journey has taken on a life of its own (apt given
the title of my site and coaching practice!).
This perhaps isn’t surprising, but what is notable is that each symbol
has remained completely apt.  If anything,
the symbols have become even more pertinent.
In an Elizabeth Gilbert Big
Magic kind of way
, it is as if I have been the vessel through which the
concept and symbols found form but my real world brain has taken a while to
catch up with what they all actually mean.

This week’s focus, tea, has proved a particularly strong
example of this, what I can only inelegantly describe as ‘not what I thought
it’d be but totally right’.  In my
original human thinking, it was going to be all about a relaxed form of
hosting, offering people tea as a gesture of hospitality and forging
connection.  That would have been totally
fine, I’m sure; maybe even good.  Yet the
mysteries of creativity have another agenda that is forcing its way on to the
page.  Let’s see where it takes us…

This time two years ago, I developed a dairy
intolerance.  Seemingly out of the blue,
I literally could no longer stomach milk or cheese.  Adjustments to my diet followed, and I swapped
cow’s milk for first soya and then almond milk.
This generally worked well, only I didn’t like the taste of other kinds
of milk in tea.  As a result, English
breakfast tea, a former staple of my day (and one of the few attributes of the
British nation that I was happy to share), vanished from my life, replaced by
herbal varieties or coffee without milk.

Strangely, despite years of heavy consumption, I didn’t miss
it – so much so that even as my tolerance for dairy products has improved, I
haven’t returned to drinking it.  Then
the other Sunday, I was out with a friend and we were having old fashioned
cake.  Coffee just seemed like a weird
accompaniment, so English breakfast tea it was, served in a proper cup and
saucer too.  And just like that, proper
tea was back in my life, like a lost love or the prodigal child, reunited at
last.

What does this symbolise?
Of course it may mean nothing at all; it may simply be that I went off
tea and now I like it again.  This is
undoubtedly partly the case, but I think there is something figurative going on
inside those cups of char as well.  The
lesson I’ve drawn from it is that things change, and not just once and for
all.  Life is a constant ebb and flow.  Sometimes we’ll like tea, at other points we
won’t, there may be occasions where we can’t have it – and then it could all
shift again.  As with tea, with life:
people come and they go, relationships blossom and wither, jobs are started
then finished.  And the same is true of
identities.  Certain labels may serve us
well at one time but down the line they may no longer suit.  The danger comes when we cling on, refusing
to let go or allow the cycle of change to continue.  I was a tea drinker, then I wasn’t.  I couldn’t drink tea, then I simply didn’t
drink tea.  Now I get to choose: maybe I
will, maybe I won’t.  I don’t need a
definite position on the issue.  

I hope these thoughts resonate with you over the weeks
ahead.  December is a month packed with
annually occurring events and traditions that can make us feel like each year
is – or somehow should be – the same as the one before or one when we were kids
or one that occurred way back in some mythical past before that.  Except it isn’t like that.  This December does not have to be the same as
the last one.  Things change, you change,
the world changes.  Today you may have
coffee; tomorrow you might have tea.  As
with tea, with life.

I’m off to put the kettle on.

Tell me what it is that you are drinking right now,
literally and metaphorically!  You can
get in touch via the A
Life Of One’s Own Facebook page
or using the hashtag #fourthquarter2015 on
Instagram and/or Twitter.