Stepping Out with Hope


January is a month that is punctuated with sadness in my personal life and for that reason I seriously considered taking the month off from blogging ~ something I did last year.

I suspect that many personal bloggers feel like I do and don’t want to be either dumping their sadness on others, or blogging away pretending that everything is great ~ causing a major dose of cognitive dissonance.

The decision to blog on has proved to be a quite a revelation on a number of fronts. Firstly, the support from fellow bloggers when I have poured out my soul has been very comforting and healing and I thank you all very much for your comments.

Secondly, even though January is punctuated with sadnesses for me, the very act of blogging, especially around my words for the year, Stepping Out, has made me look at the present and also beyond just me.

Thus far, January has been fraught with many horrors on a global level and the events in Paris last week seem to call for a collective response, unity and connection of some sort.

And while all this has been unfolding, the snowdrops that grow under the Monkey Puzzle tree which looks in at me as I type here in the study in this little corner of Ireland, have been pushing their way up to the light in the bravest of brave ways.

They greeted me this morning, showing white. These are the flowers that my mother adored and which will forever be associated with her in my mind.

But they are also symbols of the bravery and hope that we all need as we navigate our way through January and beyond.

How I wish the world could/would stand arm in arm beneath the Monkey Puzzle and read William Wordsworth’s profound words in unison:


Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

(William Wordsworth 1819)


Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

34 thoughts on “Stepping Out with Hope”

    1. Hi Sue, they seem to be getting earlier every year. They were never late for January 29th ~ Mother’s birthday ~ but in the last few years they’ve been nearer to the 9th.

      As for months, I agree! Maybe it’s good to get most of it over in one month, though I’m not sure about that. Let’s see how the rest of January goes.

  1. How strange I was looking at the snowdrops in the garden this morning and thinking much as you have! Please do keep blogging as if you need support I want to give you it as you have me. I feel bad that I have been spilling out my personal woes. I am here for you , we are here for you !

  2. Feeling the strength and support of the community is one of the great blogging pleasures. I hope it helps you through the month Jean. I saw some tiny shoots today while out on our walk – I suspect not snowdrops as they don’t usually grow there – it’s usually crocuses. Last year the shoots were showing late January, but snoozed on until they flowered in mid-February. Those tiny signs of spring to come.

  3. Beautiful poem Jean. I am glad that you continued blogging this month as I enjoy your posts. I hope all works out OK -the snowdrop pics are very encouraging.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Jean. I suspect we all have a week or month that is difficult to navigate. For me, it’s a couple of weeks in March mostly. But it has gotten easier over the years. I love snowdrops, too, and you are right, they are brave! We won’t see them until April most years. You also brought to mind a word connection: flower – fleur – flourish. A good word, to think on. I’m glad you are still writing here, but would understand if you took the time off, too. Sometimes we need to follow our heart. ~ Linne

    1. Hi Linne, thanks for your empathy and I hope March brings kindness to you.
      Interesting thought on the word ‘flower.’ Great to gain this perspective.
      As for blogging/not blogging, I felt that ‘Stepping Out’ gave me lots of options in that department.

  5. The poem about the Snowdrops makes me think of the struggles one has in life. Perseverance and hoping for the best keeps us on track. January was a hard month for our family also.. to lose a brother in World War II at the tender age of 21yrs., the month that he was born in. Also we lost our father in this month and his birthday too is in January. I was too young to know my brother Bill only have stories told to me by my Mom as I was growing up. His picture hangs on our living wall showing him in his Army uniform with the parachute insignia on his hat (this portrait was copied from a picture and done in pastel charcoal by a relative). It holds a special place in our home. Yes, January is a hard month because of its unyielding cold, dreary days, but sometimes it surprises us with sunny days and mild temperatures giving us a peak of what’s to come in the future. My thoughts are with you…

  6. I’m glad you chose to blog, Jean, and just know you’re in my thoughts and prayers. The poem is lovely and your bravery like the snowdrops inspires all of us, too. May this month continue to be one of healing for you…sending hugs…

  7. Profound Jean.. yes, the tragedies of life are getting extreme. I am so glad you chose to continue to blog.

    The collective needs your words and thoughts, life is in charge and life must continue, not just our life, but life. We must continue to look always for the beauty in life, it is there, knocking and peering at us through the window, waiting for us, to see it, feel it and sense it.

    Hugs this morning XXOO ❤ ❤

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for your lovely words.
      My computer decided to take a few days off but up and running again.
      I wonder do they do a bit of thinking about what we post!

  8. Glad you chose to continue blogging, Jean 🙂 Lots of good thoughts here. That flower-fleur-flourish thought is interesting. Also beginning to really love those snowdrops and their tenacity to withstand the worst winds you’ve had in ages! 🙂 ♥ ❤

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