In 2020, write your chapter beautifully

  • Family ties: Nina London and her mother, Vera, at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (Photograph supplied)

    Family ties: Nina London and her mother, Vera, at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (Photograph supplied)


I genuinely love the last days before the New Year. I always look back and think about how it went, what happened, what interesting people I met, places I visited, women I helped, what dreams I realised, how I personally changed and how my life transformed over the year.

I recall the brightest and happiest moments and rejoice that there were many of them.

I try not to think about the sad memories; those I choose to keep in the past. I mentally turn over the pages of my days of last year and celebrate with hope and joy the new chapter of the incoming year.

In 2019, the most memorable and special days for me were those associated with the publication and presentation of my book, Live Love Laugh. From Siberia to Bermuda.

The first book signing took place in Bermuda in late October at the People’s Gallery at City Hall. I kept putting off publishing this book for months. Everything was almost ready; I selected articles from this column, Life after 50.

Bill carefully edited them, and I placed the photographs in order.

I found a talented designer and began looking for a publisher. I was consumed by this dream.

I already saw the book in my hands. Then, I suddenly postponed its publication for no apparent reason.

More precisely, there was one reason: I was not sure that it was needed, that people would buy and read it. I wasn’t confident.

Nina, who always took a chance and bravely overcame obstacles, suddenly hid her head in the sand like an ostrich.

I took refuge in our cozy cottage in Cavello Bay and crawled under the proverbial covers.

“Someday” I thought. “There is still time.”

Yet my dream refused to go back to sleep. I tried to forget about it, but it was calling with a soft and insistent voice.

It woke me up in the middle of the night. Like the cry of a newborn baby, it tugged at my heart strings.

In July, I visited my mother in San Francisco. We are very close and I discuss with her all matters, be they problems or feelings. I share my most secret thoughts.

I can be very honest with her and bare my soul because she never scolds or criticises me, and that it is priceless.

We walked together slowly through the magnificent redwood groves on the sleepy paths of our favourite place in the city — the Botanical Garden.

Mom was listening and nodding at my passionate confession. “I cannot finish this book, I keep putting it off, and I feel badly about. In fact, it makes me feel badly about myself, yet I am stuck! What if the perfect time never comes, then what?”

I declared hopelessly.

We sat on our favourite bench under tall, sprawling lindens. We were silent and listened to the songs of birds hidden in their branches.

Then, amid the calm, my mother began to tell me a story of her life from years ago in Russia.

When she was a professor and head of her department at the Irkutsk State University in 1990, she got an order from Moscow: develop a totally new course in Siberia for students of the coming year.

The name of this course was to be Environmental and Ecological Chemistry.

In the Soviet Union virtually no one knew anything about ecology, never mind global warming.

Mom had many revelations while researching this topic.

She became so passionate about what she discovered while preparing this course that she wrote a book that instantly became popular among students.

“Do you know what was the most amazing outcome of this?” she asked me, holding my hand and looking at me intently.

“You wrote a sequel?” I suggested.

“No!” my mother laughed, and I felt her happiness. “After attending my course and reading my book, two women students created professional careers that never even existed before!”

One went to work in the newly opened Department for Environmental Protection in the Siberian city of Chita and a more eco-sensitive era began in this formerly unregulated wilderness.

The other developed a series of lectures and toured cities throughout Siberia educating people about the urgent need to protect our national treasure, Lake Baikal.

It is the second largest freshwater lake in the world, the deepest and the oldest.

My mother’s former student explained with both facts and data how the government must close the giant wood pulp and paper mill which was discharging huge amounts of toxic waste into the pristine waters.

Eventually, the government shut it down.

I was quiet for a long time. Overhead, wisps of clouds were racing through the blue skies above San Francisco Bay.

I imagined the winds that pushed them, crossing oceans and deserts and mountains and empty steppes until they reached the vast, clear waters of Lake Baikal.

I thought of the rare fish, the omul, that lurks in its twilight depths, and the white tigers pacing the endless forests of its Northern shore.

I remembered camping there as a young girl with my father on his geology expeditions each summer, and the local shamans that spoke in hushed tones of the spirits in the lake.

I saw the flames dancing in their eyes as they warmed their hands around our fire at night.

When I returned home from San Francisco, the hesitation about my book had vanished like those wispy clouds above the Botanical Garden.

I knew what I must do. If my book changed even one person’s journey through life for the better, perhaps the world would benefit in ways I could never anticipate.

In 2020, we start a new chapter in our own books, each and every one of us.

Write your chapter as beautifully as you can. It belongs to you, and no one else.

Get out from under your covers and realise your dreams. They will unfold in unimaginable ways.

Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com<;/i>

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Published Jan 2, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 2, 2020 at 8:37 am)

In 2020, write your chapter beautifully

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