As I write this, today marks not only six days in this new month of September, but also six months since I moved to Cairo, Egypt. An extra bonus on top of that is my birthday is exactly one month away, on the 6th of October, or Revolution Day, a national holiday here in Egypt. (Have been telling people my entire life, my birthday IS a holiday…initially in my mind, now in reality.). To say a lot of beginnings are on the horizon is certainly an understatement, life is indeed shifting in a new direction for me as is the case for everyone else.
In the States, Labor Day, the holiday which marks the unofficial “end of summer,” was this past Monday. Families and friends gathered for bbq’s, beach days and took vacations from work as everyone prepares for the next phase of the year, even children as they return to school. Across the globe, approximately 6,123 miles from Chicago and a seven hour time zone difference, in Egypt, the same weekend marked the Arabic New Year, a holiday which represents new beginnings and transitions. Although, the standard calendar year of the 1st of January, is officially observed as the beginning of the new year, it was nice to have the “illusion” to kickstart efforts of new activities and as a reminder of goals yet to be completed. On both sides of the globe, the beginning of this month has been marked as a fresh start for many things to come.
Experiencing something “new,” even challenging prompts the brain to positively grow and expand. Dr. Kathryn Papp, neuropsychologist and instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, states, “We now know that the growth of new cells—a process called neurogenesis—occurs throughout life, even in older age.” Guess this explains why tasting new snacks or sweets instantly makes you feel smarter…or maybe it is just me wanting to share the experience with you also, lol. The process of having new experiences accounts for the euphoria we receive while learning things such as a new skill, different projects of engagement at work, or even hobbies. All are opportunities to become better individuals by expanding and stimulating our minds.
While having a conversation with a friend after viewing old pictures from my former work career and travels, I blurted out with a smile, “I used to have a great life!” My friend asked if I regretted changing course, to which I replied, “Absolutely not. I still have a great life, just in a different way.” All forms of change can be challenging, indeed overwhelming, but ultimately (Hopefully), filled with the joy of having a new experience, even if it’s just repeating an action, such as relocating. The logistics of packing, finding accommodations, etc. are the same, but the new environment allows us to discover a new approach to how we make the transition. Repetition creates an opportunity to view an action in a different way.
As we enter one hour closer towards a coffee break, one day closer to the beginning of the week or weekend and one month closer to the end of the year, I challenge you to see each new break or beginning as an opportunity to begin again. Begin the afternoon in higher spirits than the morning, conversations with positive expectations and happy hours with visions of great open bars (#Yess).
Begin again, each and everyday, in your own beautiful way.