Yet over the months of September, October and through December, I wasn’t compelled to sit to write. Thoughts weren’t popping into my head. Last week, two things happened. First, I had an idea. An idea for a blog. Second, once I’d considered getting back at it, I received a late Christmas gift from my daughter’s father-in-law. You may remember last year when he gifted me the book, “Life’s Too Short to Fold Your Underwear”, and signed his accompanying letter, East Coast Hughie? Well, this year East Coast Hughie managed to hit it right out of the park again, with his gift of the beautiful children’s (even though I secretly think it was written for grown ups) book, ‘What Do You Do With An Idea?’, by Kobi Yamada.
I have read this book before, in fact I have given it to others in the past, but I have never had a copy for myself, though I have longed for one. Hughie did it again, he won the blue ribbon for choosing my favourite gift. It was just the nudge I needed to remind me what to do with my idea. So here I am, a few months later than I expected, but feeling just right about writing again. And of all the blog thoughts to pop into my head, the one that stuck was about my love life. Hopefully it’s not too much information!
We had a most wonderful Christmas. For the first time in several years, we had our whole family together. We spent Christmas Eve at Greg and Cara’s, feasting on some of their culinary wonders. The following day, Christmas dinner was here, complete with excited children, an old-fashioned turkey dinner, and capped with a rousing game of Christmas Bingo! I willed myself to breathe in the moment and to cherish it. I was determined not to get caught up in making sure everything was perfect, but to simply relish being together. After all, we know all too well how illness and pandemics can quickly mess up the best laid plans.
In moments like this, it’s easy to feel love. It’s easy to understand what all the Christmas songs are about. It’s easy to believe in peace on earth, goodwill to all. It’s easy to have a magical love life.
At the same time, behind the scenes at our house, behind the phone screens, another script was being acted out. Jim’s mom had been taken to the hospital in Ontario on Christmas Eve, where she remains today. She had a brief stint back home, but clearly the complex issues at work had not been resolved, so New Year’s Eve saw another ambulance trip and more uncertainty. Adding to that, two dear friends of ours here at home were also hospitalized, one with very, very worrisome symptoms, and one with a good prognosis, but a long recovery ahead. While we were cherishing our time together, we knew we were only a few keystrokes away from news of these loved ones.
I did a lot of self-talk on Christmas Day. I reminded myself that spoiling the moment I was in, with worrying about things completely out of my control, would do no one any good. I reminded myself to not take for granted what I had right in front of me. And yet, it always leaves a bit of guilt to be celebrating while others suffer. I wrestled with my feelings throughout the day.
It felt like I was holding love for the time with my healthy family in one hand, worry in the other, and in my head holding space to figure out a way not to let one overshadow the other. It was only when I stopped judging the two, thinking of one as good and one not, one as love and the other as concern or worry, that I found peace.
Peace came when I understood love is not the absence of worry, but that it shows itself in many ways. To have a thriving love life, we of course need moments of bliss, memories created of happy times, and cherished feelings of connection. We need moments when we want to freeze time, for the happiness inside us to never end. I frequently find this kind of love on a mountain top, even trudging through the snow on my way there. I find it in little moments with our grandjoys. I find it in the music and movement of dance, and in the lyrics of song. I find it in laughter and conversation with siblings and friends.
But a thriving love life is also found in other, more poignant moments. It is found sitting in chairs beside hospital beds. It is found at life’s beginning and life’s end. It is found in the laughter of children and in the grace and wisdom of those with more years. It is found deep in the memories of our heart, and in the gratitude we feel for sharing our life with others so precious to us.
If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it to take away the suffering of all those I love. But I'd be very careful to never wave it to remove any of the love that has blessed me, neither through the joys or sorrows of our everyday living.
This week, Jim continues to sit with his mom by her hospital bed. For now, I am here at home, toboganning with the little ones, visiting our friends, tending to life, supporting Jim from a distance, making tentative, ever changing plans, and continuing to find little ways to share love with those around me. It turns out, we have a very, very healthy love life. I would not trade it for the world.
My inquiry for you, in this new year, is ‘How's your love life?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups and has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to find out how to improve your love life.