If you want to touch the future-touch a life.

If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life. (unknown author)

I know I'm not alone in being pleased to say goodbye to 2016. Global politics have had their impact, its true and I will come back to that, but that's not been the main story for me. I started this year having my breast amputated ( I know a mastectomy is the medical term but I'm using this expression as I feel it describes more honestly the impact). I chose to have a reconstruction rather than live an imbalanced daily reminder of the cancer returning. There have been moments when I wondered if I made the right choice but of course now that I'm much stronger I'm grateful for a more normal appearance. As the new year approaches I can feel the optimism that the opportunity to close a door on this experience offers and I welcome that.
There's a risk I do my usual and start 2017 full pelt but I'm trying to avoid that. This year passing has made me take the world at a slower pace and although frustrating at times, I know I've also quite enjoyed it. My promise to myself is to maintain not only that but also the permission I gave myself in this my sixtieth year to take every opportunity to have fun and time with people I love.I'm determined to keep that going too.
But in truth I've also been blindsided by the global political context and a trend that scares me. I'm still trying to decide how I can respond to it. I see fully that if we want a kinder world we need to be kinder ourselves and that's something I've really been working on, even thinking about food choices and so on. Mindfulness offers an approach to loving kindness that I've found restorative and of course many forms of prayer do that too. But it's the question of what action can I take that challenges me.
The answer to a kinder,less isolated world can't be about politics; although politicians can show leadership and enact the right policies to create the right conditions and I will do my best to influence this. The answer lies with us all so I will continue to volunteer with Contact the Elderly and really recommend that as a way to connect. I know it's also just reaching out a bit more generally in my life and community as well as supporting great organisations like Social Bite in changing the lives of homeless people. Another thing I'm keen to support is this campaign by the UN http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/together. The mantra of respect, safety and dignity for all is a powerful message to spread.
So this year I will hopefully be getting stronger and healthier, doing things with people I love and also doing my best to make the difference I can. And hoping that my fears for 2017 prove unfounded.
Finally here's a poem I wrote on how 2016 affected me. Of course I can't tip the world back up but I  do believe all of us have a role in shaping how we want it to look. 2017 I will be working on the next verse of that poem, I do hope it can be an optimistic one.

 Universal Corrective

My map of the world is
upside down
I thought I knew it as a truth
that my way was right
or at least I saw it the right way up

This way looks strange
and I'm fearful
of falling off
a small appendage
of a world I no longer recognise

The centre of this map
is a scattering of islands
in a vast Pacific Ocean
Like stars they remind me
of our powerlessness

Flip it up again
I want to call
get us back to how
know the world to be
Can anyone hear me?

This isn't how I believed it to be
I'm tied to another image
I'm clinging to my own map
But the universal corrective
has another plan


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