Sleeping with the blinds up, waking to sunshine with nothing but blue skies as far as the eye can see, is a good feeling. What makes this morning feel even more special is that it’s our niece’s engagement party today – the marking of a significant point in her life, her love and her relationship – and it feels good. Our gorgeous niece moved to Auckland from Arrowtown five years ago and has lived with our family for most of that time. She’s actually more like a niece-sister-daughter. Sometimes I call her my ‘saughter’.
The family has assembled. Parents, siblings and grandmother are all staying with us. Tonight is the night our house transforms into a celebration and party venue, instead of just being our home. The venue transformation has taken some planning, effort and time. After the day was booked, the water-blasting, weeding, cleaning and general arranging of furniture began. There were also discussions of a theme, and fun ways we could make it beautiful on a budget.
So I sit in bed this morning, with a sense of hope and expectation, but also a knowing of all there is to do to make the space fit for purpose. I see togs and towels spread around, camera equipment unpacked and the general plethora of life, scattered everywhere. We also have guests to feed, and things like solar lights to buy. From my perspective, today is about transformation on a few levels. The transformation of a niece into a woman beginning the next stage of her life as half of a team, the start of a new family, and the transformation of our home into a celebration festival space. So what about it?
At times I yearn for change, I seek transformation – when something isn’t working, I’m impatient to get it right. If I’m tending to be late, overly upset with criticism from others, losing my rag with the children, not managing my time well and not engaging with projects I’m passionate about – then yes! I want all that to change. In the past I’ve also wanted that to change right now. If you have read my previous articles, you’ll know that I’m learning that change is a slow process, and it also needs to unfold gradually. The process of change is better than I could have imagined and I am now a believer in slowly developing, sustainable change.
My original journey of change started with running. The first run happened on a summer holiday in 2013. I ran every morning, moaning all the way. I could only manage 1km before stopping and stretching – aka recovering. It was then 2km for a while – slowly extending the distance. By the end of that summer I could run 4km without stopping. I was hooked. I became motivated to be fitter, and two years in, it has been truly transformational. I am now more disciplined with time and more reliable with communication than I have ever been – because I run. Go figure! The practise of regular self-directed exercise continues to fuel change and resource my daily life.
Now back to today. Our niece’s journey to fiancée was gradual too. It started with texts and emails and phone calls. It evolved into dates, picnics, movies and talking late into the night. It progressed to meeting the family, resolving first conflicts – stretching, testing and growing their love. It took intention, time and effort. It used up energy on every level – emotional, physical, mental and spiritual. In the end, their relationship gave more than it took. There was a proposal, a ring and now a party. It’s going to be a great night. I can feel it in my bones. We will be gathered together to celebrate and the stage is almost set.
The new year can bring new decisions – what are you going to begin? Regular exercise? A new friendship? A new course of study? A new vocation? A new role in your community? A new habit of thankfulness or a new hobby? Whatever it is that you embark on, do it gently. Start, but be patient. Encourage yourself and back yourself to continue, even when there’s a hiccup – ensure it stays a molehill, instead of turning it into a mountain. I know tonight will be great, because we got here together, with lots of thought, love and grace. What a truly lovely transformation to be a part of.