As I am facing new beginnings in my world of today on many fronts, I realise that it is not the first time that I have done so. I have faced new beginnings and challenges before. I decided to begin a theme of writing of previous “new beginnings” and what it meant at those times of change in my life.
The first big change in my life was starting school. It was that first scary step away from my parents as it meant that I would now be without them for six hours a day, five days a week. Nevertheless, the years from age five to age seventeen – which represent my school years – were a very stable period in my life.
I lived in the same home in the same town. It was my stability.
I had my family of my mother, my father, my elder sister and my two younger brothers. They were my core level of support and sense of security.
I was part of a huge extended family. The people within that extended family were all very close. My grandparents and four sets of my aunts and uncles lived in the same area and we spent much time with them every week. Four others sets of aunts and uncles lived not too far away and we also saw them regularly, several times a year. I have many happy memories of the family gatherings and holidays with my sisters, brothers, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I grew up with this huge level of support for me, in whatever I did, and whatever happened in my life.
There was school and its extra-curricular activities such as sport, music, school plays, debating teams and speech nights. It was at school I formed friendships, learned to form my own opinions and became my own identity.
I grew up in a small community where everyone knew everyone else. My father was the editor of the local newspaper. He knew everyone of any significance and also all the ordinary people of the town who simple enjoyed being themselves. My parents were heavily involved in community organizations. Everybody in the town knew my family and therefore they all knew who I was. I was encouraged into community life by my parents. I went to church every Sunday and I was in the church choir. During the week, after school, I went to a friend’s place on Mondays, Girl Guides Tuesdays, choir practice Thursdays, girl’s society every Friday. Tennis was all day Saturday.
Life was very busy, yet predictable and therefore stable, in its gentle weekly cycle of family, school and community groups. It is interesting that although those weeks were stable, the years themselves were full of change. In fact every year was a change from the last with each new school year marking the fact that I was one year older. Each February, there would be new beginnings of a new class, a new teacher or teachers, and sometimes new friends. Yet, even those changes became part of the predictable pattern of the annual rhythm of life. I learned to accommodate and expect that annual cycle of change. That is because underneath those annual changes life was stable with the strength of my home, my family, my extended family, my community, and the strong values instilled in me by my parents and grand-parents.
Author: Leonie Elizabeth.
Originally written 19 June, 2015.
Updated 09 December, 2017.