Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Promise of Beginning Again ...

Hi Everyone,

A Happy Easter weekend to you all! I was thinking about Easter and Spring and the promise of new beginnings as I lay in bed this morning listening to a happy and vocal little chickadee calling for his mate.

Many of you have attended the Caring On Empty Compassion Fatigue Resiliency workshop, or have done some reading about compassion fatigue recovery and resilience, and have made plans for the small but important lifestyle changes needed to build your personal wellness. For at least a while, you were excited and enthusiastic about your plans, happy to be following ideas like "put the oxygen mask on yourself first" and "never give from the depths of your well, only from the overflow".

And then life happened. Your loved one had another health crisis. Your thesis was overdue. Your teenager got caught cheating on an exam. Your elderly mother-in-law moved in downstairs. An edict came down about working more overtime. You got sick yourself. Or you just got bored with the routine. Despite the best of intentions, your self care lapsed, quickly followed by a lapse in your self compassion. Self critical thoughts filled your head and, filled with shame at your "failure" to follow your plan, you distracted yourself by becoming busier still. Many of us can become lost in that fog of busyness and shame, forgetting that we always have the possibility of beginning again.

Beginning again has been a theme of poets and spiritual writers over the centuries. Poet, Rainer Maria Wilke, writes, Resolve to be always beginning - to be a beginner.  Jennifer Ritchey Payette says, It's humbling to start fresh. It takes lots of courage. But it can be reinvigorating. You just have to put your ego on the shelf and tell it to be quiet.  Buddhists speak of practicing "beginners mind" and the Benedictines follow what St Benedict called "a little rule for beginners". Those of you who practice yoga may be aware of tapas, meaning fire or heat, the discipline of showing up to practice again and again. 

Beginning again involves humility. Remembering that we will never be perfect at anything and forgiving ourselves for not being so. All we will ever need to be is human (by definition, imperfect) and all we will ever need do is to practice beginning again - and again and again and again ...

So, when it seems that life conspires against you and your plan, forgive yourself for giving up, re-assess, and begin again. We can begin again every day. In fact, every "failure" is a starting point. The only real failure occurs when we don't take the opportunity to start over.

John O'Donohue, one of my favourite poets, captures beautifully the feltsense of beginning again each morning in these few selected verses from his poem, Matins:

Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn.

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to colour...

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

And may these words and images bless your beginning again - today, this Spring and all through the year.

With love,



Unknown said...

Your blog is wonderful. I find your posts very nice and so informative. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this subject matter which was related to personal wellness. Keep it up. I'm looking forward for more updates from you!

Jan Spilman, MEd, RCC Compassion Fatigue Specialist said...

Thank you, Savannah. Jan