At the close of this year like no other, I wanted to drop by and gather my thoughts. My posts are similar to my journals, with extended gaps between entries. Rather than feeling that this is somehow a failure on my part, I’ve come to accept that it’s just me. That I don’t lose interest in things but that I do need a break from them. I’m starting with this, because it was the thought I had that set me on the path to writing this post about my reflections on this year.
I imagine that I am among many of you who have had time to think about their life and attitudes over the course of a year that has found us being with ourselves far more that we are with anyone else. I have read of those who have left cities for a country life, people who have changed careers or partners. New hobbies that have emerged as creative outlets. Finding out what really matters and discarding the things that don’t.
If I had to choose the most important word for me this year it would be kindness. People have needed it more than ever and it’s infectious. It’s a word full of hope and can manifest in so many ways. It isn’t saccharine, it can come from places you least expect it. It’s necessary and we all need more of it.
My dog, Ziggy is loving and gentle, bouncy and irritating and gorgeous in every way. He will allow me to cuddle him for as long as I have the time. He nudges me when he wants something and is a lesson in how persistence yields results. He has been a reason to get out and exercise on a daily basis come rain or shine and through him I have met so many other lovely dog walkers. Stopping for a chat whilst your dogs bounce around getting to know each other is a therapy in itself.
My home and garden. We are all spending the majority of our time in our homes these days and it has given me an excuse to rethink forgotten areas, to make it more cosy. The garden too has been an escape, much needed at times.
I have a small downstairs room that has, over the years become something of a storeroom. I’ve always said that I would tidy it out one day and this year we did. We repainted, in white, I’ve never painted a room white before so it was new for me, I’m a colour addict and had tried different colours which just made it smaller and darker. A big mirror on a wall near the window reflects light back into the room. We added a new sofa and are slowly finding decoration for the walls, something I like to take time over. It has become a room to listen to old vinyl records, to read and dream. I realised how successful it was when I overheard the plasterers who plastered our ceilings a couple of months ago; the one doing that room told the other that it wasn’t actually a big room at all, it’s really small. Result, I made a small space big by sleight of hand!
I’ve had time this year to read books on my shelves that I’ve always promised myself I would read and to explore interests that I’ve never had time for; art journaling for example. This is really new to me and it’s a great outlet for feelings that are difficult to express.
Finally, after many years, I’ve given up tutoring. This was enforced last March and I’ve decided to make it permanent, like many these changes are a direct result of the way life has changed this year. This has freed up so much more time for my business and I’ve started to focus on the techniques I like best. I bought a new kiln, so now I have a small ceramics kiln and another, tiny one, for enamelling. I’ve honed in on making copper jewellery and ceramic jewellery and art work. That’s not to say that I don’t do other things too but it is the area I have found myself concentrating on. All the work on my business has made it grow and it’s now my only source of income. Scary but fun!
We live such constantly changing lives, we need to move with those changes and embrace what life throws at us. The recent tier 4 lockdown of London has completely changed our plans for Christmas.
This, along with some of the other difficult things that have happened this year means that we need to draw on our resilience and we will. I find that quotes and poems can lift my spirits and so I’m sharing a few favourites below:
Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved (Soren Kierkegaard, attributed to others since)
Live life in day sized compartments and bite sized portions (Inspired by Thomas Carlyle)
Not bad ideals for a year like this one.
I leave you with this poem by Wendy Cope, it has uplifted me. It’s not only optimistic and happy, perfect for the times we find ourselves but orange is my favourite colour!
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
— Wendy Cope
Wishing everyone much joy and better things in 2021.