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Here We Go Again

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

We stand at the start of a new year again and after two years of this ongoing pandemic, it is hard not to feel a sense of a deja vu and somewhat despondent. In an attempt to dispel that, I started thinking of what I might be able to achieve in the months ahead. There’s much in our lives that feel out of our control right now and particularly for me at the moment, there is a limit to what I can be proactive about. So I’m putting that to one side and thinking about a few things to aim for this year.

I definitely need to work on my diet and health, that's a given. There are a few projects in the house that need some attention too. Mostly though, after months of losing my way with my writing, I need to get my head back in the game there. We recently moved a desk into our loft room and I intend to use it, so bring on the schedule and put pen to paper. That needs to be my mantra.

Sat now at my desk, with the sun casting shadows across my notebooks and other writing paraphernalia, I find myself contemplating some hopes or wishes for the year ahead. I am not going to call them resolutions for I fear by labelling them that, I will be setting myself up to fail. Something very similar was said by my daughter this week and they are wise words. She has taught me a lot this year. As we discussed together, I am going to work towards the few goals that I have in mind. This little poem sums them up quite well - it's funny how my brain slides so readily into poetry to process my thoughts...

New Year Wishes - 31/12/21

Be kind to myself and to others,

Write at my desk when I can,

Get out in the sunshine and feel the breeze,

Appreciate all that I am.

Lose a few pounds, but don't stress it,

Spend time watching waves hit the shore,

Read some of my large 'to be read' pile,

Try worrying less and hope more.

When thinking about the possibilities of the year ahead, I came across a blog post that I originally wrote two years ago. It seems the annual talk of resolutions makes me adopt a reflective mood on a regular basis. Do you do the same? Perhaps we all do.

Of course, I wrote this before we knew what was coming our way to restrict our lives, but then again, as this piece explored, there were always things to hold us back - some external, some of our own making. What stops you from reaching your goals? Perhaps it is the same as me. One thing that has changed from when I wrote this though, is that I am feeling more comfortable in my own skin and along with that, I feel less pressured to conform to external expectations. I’m taking that as a big positive into 2022.

The Ties That Bind - first published December 2019.

What holds us back from moving forward at those crossroad points of our lives? These past two years I have found myself thinking, some might say overthinking, and writing about choices we make in life and the directions that we take. Often the image replays in my head of a lone girl stood in a clearing in the woods with two or three possible pathways opening up in front of her. Such imagery serves to illustrate the dilemmas we face as we make particular choices in our lives but then again, such choices are rarely presented to us in such a clear cut manner. It’s not like life gives us a series of signposted options, where each path is marked to lead to a particular destination. Mostly I have stumbled around and only part-way along the path, discovered my new surroundings and begun to guess where I might be headed. There are obvious key moments in life where I have stood at the metaphorical crossroads and made a conscious decision to follow one particular path. At the end of school, choosing to study for a degree, saying yes to a marriage proposal, committing to having a family and most recently, walking away from my teaching career - all of these were definite pathway choices. Other aspects of my life feel more akin to being in stumbling mode, trying my best to stay upright as I keep moving forward. Mostly we keep our momentum moving forward until we hit an obstacle blocking our way, don’t we? Sometimes we have the courage and reserves of resilience to keep pushing on until we break through the obstacle to continue on beyond it. Sometimes the obstacle stops us in our tracks and forces us to look around and notice details previously unseen. These are the reflective moments when we maybe appreciate what we already have and perhaps take some time to re-evaluate who we are and where we are going. I have probably spent most of this year doing that, if truth be told. I am writing this as the last few days of the year play out their tune, whilst waiting for the fresh melody of a new year to begin. It’s that time when resolutions are discussed, set and more often than not, broken and discarded as quickly as they were established. That’s my backdrop to my thoughts tonight. Like many others, I am wondering what may be ahead for me and what choices I might be able to make in the next twelve months. For unlike the lone girl in the woods, free to skip off along any path that takes her fancy, I feel inhibited. Invisible, yet very tangible ties bind me and can make any progress feel impossible at times. I find myself asking what is it that binds me? Confidence issues, circumstance, indecision - all are playing a part. None of us can really go skipping off into the woods without a second thought though, can we? There is a pressure at this time of resolution making to be better, to reinvent yourself and become a new model, as if the current one has become outdated and defunct in some way. We’ll all have days when we feel defunct or deficient in many ways but is the concept of reinvention, striving for that yet unobtainable you, really a healthy option? I recently read somewhere that we shouldn’t be looking for the ‘new you’ but instead be accepting of the ‘you that you are.’ This may prove to be my biggest challenge for the year ahead. I started this piece with an idea that I would write about what might be holding me back from seeking work next year. As has often been the case, the process of writing down my thoughts served to clear the pathway for me to take a few more steps ahead. Those steps just might not be going in the way I had first thought. If I stand still for too much longer, I am afraid that the creeping ivy of self doubt will entwine my feet to leave me forever rooted to the spot, so I feel a growing sense of urgency to move soon, in one direction or another. For now though, I’ll pause to raise a glass this New Year’s Eve and make a toast to unknown destinations. Cheers everyone!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year, whether you make and keep resolutions or not.

(If you would like to check out my writing further, take a look around my website for information on my books and poetry.)

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