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Small Wins to Self-Discovery – Updated.

Apologies that the recent blog of similar title was published. I’m not entirely sure what I did but suffice to say the lovely people at WordPress have helped fix the glitch – because I took time to ask for help instead of battling fruitlessly by myself!

I recently discovered the profoundly simple Japanese philosophy of Kaizen: the concept of small steps leading to big changes through continuous improvement. Adopting this approach requires self-discipline and commitment and instantly resonated with me. I make no apologies for being regularly reminded that I began a journey or process of re-discovery in April 2018 and have continued to read, listen to and participate in what is available: be that with a DailyOm in my mailbox, a monthly Action for Happiness calendar or making time for a moment to chill ‘n’ still.

One of the biggest challenges that I have faced is feeling ashamed to ask for help because it feels as if I am admitting to vulnerability and appearing impotent. Apologising for the need to ask for help has possibly been passed down by determined parents who uprooted their young family in search of employment 400 miles from the wider support network of parents, aunts, cousins and friends in 1968. However if I’m going to be honest, and I need to be in pursuit of continuous improvement more often than not going it alone has been a hindrance rather than a help and I have to wonder whether major decisions that I have taken alone would have been the same if I had asked for or help.

These days I will ask for support or guidance in a variety of ways whether small domestic chores like stacking a tonne of logs for the fire, having my dog looked after when she was unwell or having my over stuffed suitcase lifted into my car on a recent trip.

Recently I took everything that was on offer turning to colleagues near to hand and further afield when faced with an unexpected incident at work. I was able to access my well of empathy, patience, strong arms and light words. I could not have managed this unless I had graciously accepted the support hat was available to me. We have held each other in mind, sending signs and messages of love, offering unconditional kindnesses in order to manage our shock and disbelief. I graciously accepted the kind words and support to manage physical practicalities and in return have been able to pay it forward to those whose need might have been greater than mine.

On Twitter I read that the Reverend Richard Cole has lost the companionship and love of Reverend David Cole and while I know nothing of their relationship or the cause of death, what I gleaned from the few tweets I read was that Reverend Richard Cole was asking for and taking support in whatever form it was presented, physically and spiritually and so was able to openly discuss his vulnerable state at this time. Grief is a sign of love and we need to get better at sharing our pain which in many ways is a small cry for help.

Last week when out for a walk with my lovely blended family in Apperley Bridge in Yorkshire we came across a woman sitting by the canal, being supported by her husband and parents as she waited for an ambulance, having fallen awkwardly with a suspected broken ankle. We were assured that she was comfortable and so continued with our walk. Some twenty minutes or so later we passed by the father who was still waiting for the paramedics to arrive and we asked if there was anything we could do. He smiled and explained that the owner of a nearby canal-side tea room had provided extra blankets and hot drinks, his grandchild had been taken home and all that could be done was to wait for the ambulance. He remarked on the kindness of strangers and that was enough to keep the family feeling supported.

On Monday night as we were getting ready for bed I asked my daughter to give me a nudge the following morning to ‘get work done’ before we began preparations for our Christmas meal. This blog is now almost complete and would not have been had I not asked for that reminder instead of finding a gazillion reasons to procrastinate.

Christmas can be a tough time for many people for a multitude of reasons and in order to continue to grow, seek opportunities for continuous improvement and become a better human being, I will hold in mind those I know who struggle or who have suddenly had their Christmas plans changed unexpectedly through loss, injury, homelessness, poverty or the breakdown of significant relationships. Be unconditionally kind, remember self-care and offer support to others if needed when life’s daily challenges start to impinge – especially if there is resistance.

Leaning into vulnerability is a sign of strength not weakness: if we can’t be honest with ourselves we can’t be open to offers of help.

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