Looking Back, Looking Forward: Three Lessons I Will Take into 2021

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Three Lessons I Will Take into 2021
Let’s Not Dismiss 2020...

Lights flashing green, red and gold; rich aromas wafting from cafes and homes; carols blasting joyously from the walls of the supermarket; shoppers lightly brushing past. People trying to hold the normality of December, despite a year that has been anything but ‘normal’. A common thread gingerly binding it all together… Hope!

The hope of what the next year will hold has never been so palpable, so tightly grasped. It escapes from lips mid conversation, it is held in the eyes of those masked and unmasked alike, it is felt in those uncertain yet desperate touches. Hope hovers in the air, a saviour for us all, a light at the end of a Covid tunnel of uncertainty.

But should we be reaching for hope this way, placing it at the forefront of our minds and forcing out that which has been our gloomy reality? As much as we may want to return to normality, it is unlikely we will ever have the same world as before, for better or worse. Instead, let’s embrace where we are in the timeline of our lives, of this world, this, our mysterious universe. Let’s learn from 2020 and bring those teachings into the years ahead of us so we can perhaps live and forge a more profound, present and purposeful life than ever before.

All of us have had different experiences throughout the past twelve months, circumstances have varied greatly and each of us has had our own unique difficulties and decisions. For some, the hope they have grasped so tightly will dissipate, leaving nothing but a hole of disappointment, despair, anger. On a global scale some people will have lost a lot. I would like to direct my prayers and my hope at them. Our lessons and what we have been gifted in the year will vary. Perhaps instead of announcing our New Year’s Resolutions, we should reveal what we have learnt from the past year. Send them up like beacons of hope and in the sharing may the strong intention help us all grow closer together and let our sacrifice and our loss integrate into our new and kinder future. With the December Global Days of Unity (19-20 Dec) focusing on ‘looking back, looking forward’, this is the perfect time to start thinking about the intentions we could share.

For me the following are true…

Embracing Change – the Good and the Bad

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. – Leo Tolstoy

As the pandemic spread across the globe, so too did drastic changes to the way we live and relate to each other. Suddenly we couldn’t leave our houses, the stores were running out of food, we were cut off from our friends and family, face-to-face meetings moved to Zoom, and schooling was done at home. This time last year, it would have seemed impossible that this would be our reality. Yet, we adapted to the ‘new normal’. We have embraced change like never before.

It has meant I have grown in resilience, developed gratitude for things I had never before paid a second thought to, and know I can swim with the current of life, no matter the size of the waves.

Creating ‘Spiderwebs’ with Those We Love

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. – Brene Brown

Many people have been forced to stay confined with partners, family or roommates for months on end, but even as restrictions ease, our ability to meet new people has been drastically cut. With this, we may have unwittingly gone on a deep dive with those closest to us. I know I have.

Like a spider carefully crafting its silver thread into art, so too have we created masterpieces of connections. Whispers of our fears, dreams, and inner workings are slowly woven together. With each layer we break down, discovering new elements of those we love, we create a new thread in the story of our relationship.

These webs, which may have taken years to form in prior times, have now been fast-tracked, creating beautiful pieces of art that we can revel and rest safely in for years to come.

You Have One Life, How are You Going to Live It? What’s Truly Important?

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. – Søren Kierkegaard

In March I was separated from my family, days before my Grandad was due for a life-threatening operation. The thought of not being able to say goodbye, to be there with him and my family ripped through me, tearing apart my vaguely put together life and filling my mind and body with dread.

The relief of his recovery was short-lived and just as I was once again granted permission to visit, he passed away.

Flicking through his old photo albums I could see his life flash before my eyes, so well lived, yet still so short. He was once a child in his mother’s arms, a boy poking his tongue at the camera, a young man in his prime, a groom, a new dad; a grandad, my grandad, and then suddenly age gripped him and he no longer was.

Regardless of whether we have known those who have passed away this year, mortality has been shoved to the forefront of our minds. Deeply considering our own death, and the deaths of those closest to us, is not a pleasant pastime, yet it provides clarity on what is meaningful to us, what we are most grateful for, and how we really want to live and be remembered.

It has made me reassess my priorities. If I, or those I love, are on a limited timeline, if our lives are closer to ending than originally thought, how do I feel about my use of time? Have I been a good daughter, granddaughter, sister, partner, friend? Have I lived to my values and what would my eulogy say?

The man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had. – Robert Louis Stevenson


What have you learnt through the past twelve months? Do you resonate with any of the above or are there lessons that mean more to you? As always, we look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

With love and well wishes for the year ahead,

Ash and Team UPLIFT

BY Ashleigh Wilson



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Take 5 Deep Breaths

1. Feel your body.

2. Relax your shoulders.

3. Choose a word that makes you feel peaceful, such as om, peace, or love.

4. Inhale slowly while mentally saying the word you chose. Pause before starting the exhalation.

5. Exhale slowly while mentally saying 1 with the first breath. Exhale saying 2 with the second breath, up to 5 or more.

Feel Your Body

Relax your body, and just be aware of how your body feels. Without changing anything, notice what you are feeling, and where you are feeling things in your body.  If your body wants to adjust a little, let it. Be curious how it feels as your body relaxes. (Resist any temptation to analyze or think.)

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