Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn


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It’s Okay to Look Back

I loved Ohio winter this weekend! The rain from Friday night that mixed with the dropping temperature caused everything to ice over. When the sun shone through the trees and on the snow Saturday morning, everything sparkled and looked like glass. It was magical. Rob and I went out to enjoy the unique scenery, he took this photo, and it got me thinking…

We have such a linear view of our experiences in the world. We often talk about “moving forward” after a trauma or life change; sometimes using our distance from the trauma as the metric for how well we are getting over it. I see why we do this- we need to create something somewhat measurable so that we feel like we can show progress.

One of the sayings I like and remember in hard times is “Don’t look back- you’re not going that way.” But this weekend I had a moment to rethink that. There may be occasions that it’s ok (even beautiful) to look back. That is when you see things and appreciate them from a different perspective.

Back to this picture…

Rob took it near the end of our walk on Saturday morning.

Were my fingers numb? yes.

Was my nose frozen? yes.

Was I uncomfortable and looking forward to getting back in the car? you bet.

Then you know what Rob did- he looked back behind us. While I was so focused forward, he took a moment to glance back at the path we were on. When he turned around, he grabbed his camera to take this picture and I could see why. It was gorgeous! If he hadn’t turned around, we still would have finished the walk, we still would have enjoyed the rest of our morning together, and we still would have other beautiful pictures. But because he looked back, we got to experience a moment of extra beauty, too!

At the beginning of my experience with breast cancer, I remember Rob took a picture of a foggy path and to me, it represented the unknown ahead of us. This weekend, I was reminded of the value of also looking back after an experience. Not to relive it, but to reflect on the beauty that was within it.