I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but a walk along the beach on New Year Day’s morning to catch the sun rise put me in a reflective mood.
My husband and I had spent the last hour of 2016 doing what we love doing together.
We cycled to catch the biggest firework in town. We counted down to the New Year, watched the fireworks shoot up into the night sky. The spectacular display was reflected vividly on the glass that framed up Flower Dome, a part of our multi-million dollar garden that houses many different species of flora and fauna. It was like a double fireworks or a reminder that a reflection was much needed.
We went to sleep late that night, yet I couldn’t will myself to wake up later the next morning. It has became some sort of a date between me and him, the New Year Day’s sunrise, like a secret rendezvous.
A flu bug had been going around at home and everyone hasn’t been feeling too well this holiday season. It was bad enough to make me feel like 2016 sucks until I paused and think. And I am glad I did.
We had many FIRSTs in 2016. Some were scarier than others but overall we grew and we had fun.
The younger one joined Primary School and the elder one sat for his first National Examination. The Dad did some amazing carpentry work with the boys for our home improvement project. He showed them how much they can achieve if they were willing to get their hands dirty and put in some effort!
I had a taste of my first trail run and went for my first holiday without the boys. We ended the year with a charity project and a camper van holiday.
2016 had been a full and exciting year for us and we sailed through it relatively well except for some minor illnesses. So what not to be grateful for?
As I walked along the beach, watching my footprints being slowly washed away by each rushing wave, it came to me that the biggest concept I grasped last year had to be ‘Letting Go’.
As a parent, I have so often read and heard how we should take a step back and learn to let go so that we won’t rob our children the precious chance to fall, to fail and in the process, learn some valuable lessons.
If success is the cake then failure would be a key ingredient. We don’t always think of failure as an important ingredient in something good because it’s not sweet like icing sugar; it’s more like the bitter baking powder that interacts with the other ingredients to make the cake rise. Without it, you’d have a sweet, lumpy rock that would go straight into the bin.
So very often, fear grips me as I watch my boys try out something new or “dangerous”. At the playground, going down those staircases on their bikes, hiking up and down those 2200 rocky and steep steps in New Zealand. My intervention would have robbed them the chance to gain the confidence to overcome a new challenge, the chance to fall, to pick themselves up, to dust themselves off and try again. The chance to gain independence and to build resilience.
So often I was tempted to rush in to ‘rescue’ them from their school work when they did badly for a spelling, a test or even an exam. But I stopped myself, instead, took their cues on whether help was needed, reminded them their responsibility to know their work and do their best before taking a step back, bit my lips and let them try again.
Their year end results showed that the younger one is improving even though he started the school year quite clueless. The elder one has done relatively well for his PSLE despite failing miserably for his Chinese just last year. He managed to get into the school he wants and we are all happy for him.
They’ve learned that there is nothing shameful about failing and so long as they are willing to put their heart into it, nothing is quite impossible.
On a personal level, letting go encompasses more than just the fear of failing. It entails negative feelings and for me, something as simple as the ‘should haves’.
As I strolled on the beach, letting the morning sun bathe me in its warmth while dodging the next rushing wave, I felt a deep sense of calm, peace and joy, a strange new feeling from a place so familiar.
On such a morning, I would have Usually run or cycled. It was unlike me to just do neither and just walk along the beach. I knew too well I would struggle and couldn’t get pass the ‘I should haves’
I should have jogged
I should have cycled
I should have left home earlier
I should have done a longer distance
But then and there, so rarely, none of these were on my mind. I was living that moment. The sunrise, the warm sensation, the sound of the lapping waves.
Perhaps this is what they called mindfulness, an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. A thing that my preoccupation with the ‘should haves’ has robbed me of.
It seems so easy to get there, yet so difficult. A place so new to me.