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Blue January

Blue January

Is it blue?

This January feeling,

Where ice framed thoughts hang -

Stretched into the long nights ahead.

The warmth and festive lights cast aside

So brief the comfort that they offered

Replaced with impetus ,

New starts,

New hopes - or conditioning to look beyond,

Beyond the now,

The freeze that cradles me

Holds me tight within

The blue

K. Honnor - January 2024

Well, the year turns again and on we go into 2024. It's been a long time since I put thoughts on paper here and I shy away from making any rash commitments. Last week I saw many making resolutions to do more or less of something, set targets to adhere to - all those things that we set ourselves up to do with great intentions, only to fall, all too often, at the first hurdle. So no, I won't commit to writing here regularly, instead I will just hold it in my head to aim for this year.

The past year has held me back from the writing practices that I had developed over the previous five years. The more the year went on without writing, the more of an imposter I felt for all the noise I had previously made about being a writer. I have convinced myself now that the 'writer persona' was a fleeting role I found myself playing. If that's not the case, then I have to work hard this year to embrace it again. I guess, we'll have to wait and see what lays ahead - beyond the blues of January.

Wintry walk at Nonsuch Park & Mansion House

Ever Decreasing Circles - Thoughts from the end of the year.

'Ever decreasing circles' - this phrase keeps popping up in my head lately. I recall it as the name of a sitcom in the eighties. If I did watch any episodes at the time, the significance of the title eluded me then. Now though, I have been contemplating the meaning.

The last few years have left me feeling as if I am at the centre of a series of ever decreasing circles. Is it age? Is it the march of menopause? What exactly has driven away my confidence and with it, my presence within these circles is difficult to pinpoint.

The largest circle to have evaporated was that of my career. Stepping away from that has been the biggest change to my life, in both good and bad ways. Matters that had felt crucially important during my time teaching, simply disappeared. I have thought about that a lot since. The time, effort and stress that went into sorting such matters, keeping my head just above the water against the changing currents of educational demands - how and why did I do all that?

In acknowledging that I have now been able to let go of such burdens, has in turn allowed other questions to surface in my mind. Whilst I was pouring so much into the 'job jug,' making sure all of the kids in my classes were doing well, which 'jugs' did I allow to run dry? Sometimes I think I failed to notice how just low the level in the 'family jug' was getting.

A wise friend advised me recently that we do what we can and what we feel to be right at the time. Given my time again though, maybe I would have given more energy and attention to my family circle. How things might have turned out differently for my kids if I had been around more? I will never know the answer to that so I guess I'll always wonder and always default to that guilt setting that all Mums seem to have.

Now my family circle is a shifting space - somehow both decreasing and increasing simultaneously. This past year saw it lose another member and coloured the last few months with grief. Immediately the mind leaps to significant family dates and absent members but also, there are the more intangible events to contend with. Those moments that catch you unprepared for resurfacing memories. Often it is a small part of a day - mistakenly thinking of sending a photo or message, going to add an item that they would have liked to a shopping basket, telling yourself to tell them about something you've just seen or done. Bam! It hits you again.

Such losses have a ripple effect that continues on in so many ways. I came across a passage last week, that eloquently sums up this feeling:

Life After Death

In the Ramtop Village they believe that no-one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock he wound up winds down - until the wine she made had finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone's life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.

 Terry Pratchett

I mention a shifting space in connection to family because this past year has also been a time of adding numbers to this circle for us. Both of our children have found themselves partners that make them happy. As parents, we only want happiness for our children and for them to be understood and accepted by others. Seeing them both navigate their adult lives with supportive partners at their sides goes a long way in helping to minimise the impending empty nest feelings that I'm anticipating in the near future. At some point, there will be just the two of us and although we may have wanted a little of that over the years, when life seemed noisy and busy, as the saying goes - be careful what you wish for. My daughter would give a wry smile at reading this and start playing a certain track from Mamma Mia - knowing full well that it would make me cry!

Anyway, I sit here now wondering what the next few years will look like. Will we be able to downsize our home - swap its location to a place that is nearer the coast? What would that outcome look like anyway? The prospect is daunting - our circle becoming just the two of us. I'm contemplating how we would go about building new friendships or trying new hobbies. Many of my friends have come from work or the last circle for consideration here - my social circle. To be honest, that's been dominated by the drama group that I have run since 2005. Yet this circle is diminishing for me too, as I have resigned my post within it and leave the stage to others this year.

The circles of my life are shrinking as I seek the comfort of some calm. I recognise that I have spent many years waiting for some magical moment when adulthood would take over and I wouldn't feel like I was pretending to know what I was doing. Now, all of a sudden, I realise I should have embraced those years of pretence. Flew more by the seat of my pants to go places, put down my marking to jump in puddles with my kids, to stop waiting for a time when things might be easier or life would make more sense, and just make a tit of myself regardless.

My confidence to throw myself whole-heartedly into a project has diminished. I spent the last year barely writing anything as I felt I had little left to say. The mantra goes to "write what you know." It's a mantra that served me well through the six books I published - each of them reflecting parts of me in some way or another. But I let imposter syndrome take over. It told me that no-one would want to read about what I know and that anyway, they're all too busy dealing with what they know, to bother looking this way. Readers would be looking for escapism, a little relief from life's stresses - something I did not feel able to offer. All of this is my rationale for how I faded from my writing circle. On the odd occasion last year that I dipped back into my group of friends there, it was heartwarming to still receive a warm reception - as if I never left.

Ever decreasing circles seem to be the feature for me now. At least, that's where I feel I'm standing this January. There'll be further changes ahead - change is the one thing that can be relied upon to happen. I'll just have to find myself a role within the changes as I discover what the new year has in store. 2023 saw several 'last times' for me but as I end with a poem that highlights that feeling, I'm aware that the years ahead promise 'first times' too, even if I am unsure right now when or what they might be.

The Last Time

We seldom note the passing of our lives -

the 'last times'

The moments that, for so long mundane, pass by,

Shifted unseen to nostalgia-dipped memories

that sit just out of reach,

The ordinary items that we never knew the value of

until we realise we have had them for the last time.

The bad joke shared on a walk with Dad,

whilst humour still stood within his grasp,

No longer here to raise his pint as I roll my eyes,

or hurry along to the next part of my day.

The Sunday lunch around the table

when the kids were small,

the struggle over vegetables,

the chatter with grandparents,

replaced with shifts in the kitchen,

empty place mats,

snatched calls and fleeting texts.

The last family holiday with the four of us

bickering here and there about what to do next

but together, all the same, to watch the sunset,

to laugh about the skimming stones and sea spray,

not knowing that such simple moments

would become elusive,

not repeated by us all again,

one or more of us missing in the future.

If we knew, would we try a little harder?

Be a little kinder?


Listen more intently for a while?

Press pause on the 'last time,' just to hold it close,

let our senses register it all?

But the 'last time' doesn't ring a warning bell,

it slips quietly through our fingers

'til we stand quite still...

Wonder how it happened and what is to be next,

what each turning page of time has planned,

which will carry on and which will fade,

and what will become our next

'last time.'

K. Honnor from 'Just Take Five - A Contemporary Poetry Collection.' 2022

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