Another New Year, Another New Me?

I know there are a lot of New Year cynics out there who like to belittle the idea of making resolutions for change, and believe you shouldn’t wait for the turn of the new year to make changes that are important to you, and in part I agree. But there’s something about approaching the end of a new year that makes you reflective, and I find myself thinking over the past 12 months and how the coming year might be different.

Every day spent on this Earth is an opportunity for growth. Things happen every minute of every day – some small enough to go unnoticed if you’re not paying attention, some big enough to change you or your life forever. Much of life is made up of the many moments somewhere in the middle; those straight bits of track on the rollercoaster that leave you guessing whether there is a rise or a fall at the end of it. And so it stands to reason that each of us will have changed in some way over the last year. Some things will have made us stronger, happier, more content or appreciative of the life we have, some will have made us question our existence.  Some things might have caused a fissure in our hearts that might make us a little more sad than we were before, and some will have broken our spirit, deeply hurt our souls, or left us alone or without loved ones. Some of us might have experienced all of those things and will be a different person to the one that started out this year.  If you believe you haven’t changed at all, then know that if nothing else, you are another year older. You have survived another year in this wonderful, confusing thing called life,  and are a step closer to the time you will say goodbye to it or someone in it. Time slips through our fingers like sand in a timer, except we have no idea how long our sand will last. So as much as I think it must be lovely to go through life without over-thinking the journey or the destination, I actually like to take the opportunity to consider what I have learned, and how I might allow that wisdom to change how I might live in the next year.  

I’m not talking about the usual stuff like stopping drinking, going on a fad diet, or pledging to join a gym (although I’d be lying if I said that choosing a healthier, fitter lifestyle wasn’t on the list somewhere). No, I’m talking about reflecting on the things that prevented me from being the person that I wanted to be, the things that happened that I had no control over, and considering how I might handle those challenges should they face me again in the year ahead.  

2018 has been a strange year for me. Strange because although I know that I had lots of good experiences and special times, one event had such a negative impact on me that it has overshadowed much of the joy of the last year. If you were to ask me what the most memorable moment of 2018 was for me, it wouldn’t be the lovely week we spent at Centerparcs with our family, or the look on my children’s faces when they arrived in Disneyland Paris. It wouldn’t be the people I’ve met ‘virtually’ and helped from afar to deal with things I’ve been through, and it wouldn’t be my eldest daughter’s face when we told her we had tickets to see her favourite band, or finally getting somewhere in understanding our son and his challenges.  It wouldn’t be the angiogram that our youngest daughter went through in the Spring and the day we heard her heart was looking good after three years of worry.  That said, I must admit to a smile as I write these things, because I had almost forgotten some of them. No, the thing I will remember 2018 for, the thing that has sadly defined the last year for me, is the end of my 20-year career with the company that I had basically grown up working for.

Redundant is an awful word. For me it says surplus to requirements, unwanted, unneeded, worthless. The dictionary definition includes words like unnecessary, superfluous, needless, dispensable, disposable.  Perhaps if my personal circumstances were different, I might have seen it as an unexpected opportunity, and I guess in some respects it may be, but what it did was shake the foundations upon which my life was built, and with me being restricted to working around my children and their not insignificant challenges, I am in a state of uncertain, unpredictable limbo as I try to work out who I am or what I will do next, because I’ve never known anything else. At 43 I know that I am unlikely to give as many years to another company again, and that makes me feel sad; that one of my proudest achievements is over and will never be replicated.  

But, I cannot control or change what has already passed, all I can do is to work out how to take control of my future. I’m not sure how to do it yet. My self worth, confidence, pride have all been diminished by the experience, and whilst I may not know exactly how to set about rebuilding those things right now, what I do know is that I resolve to rebuild them. I cannot allow it to step across the threshold of a new year and take any more from me. 

A wise friend recently said, “The redundancy has knocked you, but I think you have an amazing opportunity…Find something to engage your mind, and see where it leads you…procrastinate…try things out…dip your toe”

And those words got me thinking about the year ahead.  I guess you could call it a New Year’s Resolution – it’s a decision to take the lessons of the last year and use them to reshape me into the person I want to be going forward.  In 2019, my goal is to remind myself that thoughts are not facts, and my circumstances are not who I am.  I know I don’t have to have it all worked out today though, I just need to know what my goals are for the year ahead.  I have a few things I would like to achieve, but I’m keeping those just for me at the moment, so for now I will just say that what I am hoping to leave 2019 with is clarity, purpose and peace.

Happy New Year!

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If you love somebody, let them go…?

Dear Freya 

I hadn’t realised just how much I love sharing my life with you until just now. I have a pretty bad chest infection, and I’ve been told to rest as much as possible, and that if I haven’t improved in the next couple of days I may have to be admitted to hospital. So to avoid the latter, I have pretty much been holed up in my bed since 7pm on Monday evening (it’s now Wednesday).

I started to miss you yesterday. Miss your smell, and your beautiful eyes, and your constant babble and chatter. Jeez, I’ve even begun to miss The Little Mermaid! Lying here I feel bereft of the things that I usually take for granted, of the things that I often find tiresome if I’m honest. 

A moment ago you quietly whispered “mama” from your cot. You didn’t need to cry or shout because you know that I am always there for you, and I’ll come when you call me. Your daddy came to get you, and you popped into my room for a minute before he took you down for some lunch. And in the seconds after you left, the tears came spilling out of my face like big fat raindrops. 

Yes, I guess I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself being under the weather and all. But it’s more than that. When you softly called “mama” I was catapulted into a future where you awake in someone else’s care, calling my name into a space where it will not be heard, not by me. And it made me wonder how on Earth I am going to be able to part from you in 6 months’ time when I am due to return to work and pick up where I left off two years before. Two years. It’s a long time to get used to being around somebody, and I must say that I never considered how I would feel at the end of it all when I extended my leave. 

Right now I can’t even think about what I am going to do, so I swat those thoughts away like a pesky fly and try to use the strength I have to will myself back to health so I can propel myself back into our daily, humdrum routine. To think that last week this Groundhog Day kind of life was becoming wearing! That I felt hard done to for not being able to escape it sometimes! And here I am, escaping all of the things that are part of being a wife and mother, and it’s killing me that there’s a load of washing to go on, no food in the fridge, and that the 58,000th viewing of The Little Mermaid is taking place downstairs without me. 

I can honestly say that I have never felt the wrench of an impending return to work like I do now. After two periods of maternity leave, I went back without question to a career that I had not allowed myself to miss, but had been looking forward to returning to by the end of a year. But things with you have been different. Perhaps because you are most definitely my last. Maybe because I am older now, wiser. Possibly because what we went through together last year created a bond that goes beyond emotion; like chemistry. Maybe just because you are like sunshine on a cloudy day. 

So I will rest. I’ll ask for help and accept it with gratitude and grace. I’ll not let this develop into anything nastier than it already is, because I cannot be removed from you. These last couple of days have given me a tiny taste of life ‘without’ you, and a sense of urgency over how we make the next 6-months worth the pain I know I will feel at the end of it. 

I was always so level headed about childcare before you. Now I cannot picture myself dropping you at someone else’s door. What have you done to me, sweet, funny, determined little Freya? I am undone.