Thursday, 20 December 2018

All you need is love

Well, it is that time of the year isn't it? When we down tools... pick up bars of Toblerone and our TV remotes and sink into the sofa. No? Just me?

It is also the time of year we get to reflect on 2018 and all it has brought us...

On a work level, it was one of my finest. I got to work with wonderful people, saw a project dear to my heart rise like the phoenix from the ashes and met a whole bunch of amazing folk in film - waters I had never dipped my toe into before. After a punishing 2017, it was nothing short of joyful.  On a personal level, going back to college was a highlight - again for the people I met and also because it is great to get out of my Berkhamsted bubble and learn new skills.  The loneliness of writing has never sat well with me.

And yet, there have been moments of complete devastation. When the phone goes and someone says -  'Are you sitting down?' And you say 'yes,' because you always do, don't you? Even when you are standing in your kitchen, heart pounding, thinking - what the hell is coming next? And it is never what you expect and it is never, ever good. People dear to me have had struggles - life or death struggles - and all I have done is offer support and love, while I watch them be more courageous than I could ever be. It is at times like this, that I think of my Father's saying: You are nothing without your health. I hope they (and you) have a healthy and happy 2019.

What have I learnt this year?

1. That when cooking it is best if one stays in the kitchen. Maybe not get on Twitter or stop to write that email or two... never ends well.

2. That being near the sea is a balm for the soul. Cornwall and Croatia - easily two of my favourite times in 2018. Beautiful Brela - swimming around the famous rock every day, as schools of teeny tiny violet fish swam just out of reach - was incredible. One morning husband and I got up at dawn and crept out there for a swim. It was silent, save for the quiet sea lapping at the shore and I held that moment in my head for the rest of the year.

When I feel stressed, I go back there.

3. That nothing on earth beats hanging out with those that have known you since you were 11 and still miraculously do. But perhaps 3 drinks and then stop is a lesson I should have learnt back in 1994... Maybe then, texting your first boyfriend, after not actually seeing him for 25 years, (and I quote - spelling mistakes included) : ' Too many drinks later... We are at a girl's reunion... and I have a daughter and a son and I thought I have a lot to thank you for. Thank you fit teaching me sex and thank you fir making me love my own body. I only wish my daughter felt teh same. I wish you only happiness.'  DEAR GOD. 'What,' said my dear mate C, "are you going to say when he asks how old your daughter is and you reply er.. 8?"  My point, was that I wished my kids would have the great first love I did. Perhaps it got lost in my 12 gin translation. Sigh. Oh and I sent YET another text to his gentlemanly reply, but I cannot face writing it here. I would have to kill myself if I did.

4. So really, a lesson is, STEP AWAY FROM YOUR PHONE WHEN DRUNK. I'm 45 - why do I still need to learn this???

5. There is NOTHING wrong with star bothering, even at my age. But when you meet the most handsome and talented actor of his generation, remember he is not of YOUR generation - so to compensate, tell Timothee Chalamet that he looks like your son. Then exit. Quickly.

6. Hanging out with your kids - when you set down the phone, leave the house and go explore - is amazing. They will be gone in a matter of seconds, (my son is a teen next year) so enjoy it while you can. Every hug in the morning, every lazer quazar game at their birthday party, every blackberry pick in September sunshine, it will all be gone in a heartbeat. So embrace. Go outside. Look up.

7. That Dark N Stormy at 3pm on St Paddys - because B thinks it is a good idea and sure didn't we win the rugby and isn't Ireland fecking class - will end in a broken toe. Be warned.

8. Bike rides are always good idea.

9. Freshwater swimming is amazing. Especially with my two old flatmates. Henleaze you are stunning and I wish I could swim in you daily.  Thank you CJ. Summer you were glorious and exhausting in equal measure.

10. As ever, 2018 affirmed that my greatest pleasure in life is when the lights dim low and I'm holding a hot coffee in hand, waiting for a movie to start. Tomorrow, we as a family are off to see Elf at my local art deco cinema - replete with bar! I'm so lucky to have The Rex on my doorstep - meaning I get to see wonderful films like Summer 1993, Wildlife, BlackKKKlansman, The Rider, Custody (the most tense film I have EVER seen), Coco and Ladybird (with my son) there... I'm still not down with films being on Netflix or Amazon before being on a big screen - I just do not get why you would want to see the cinematography of something as incredible as The Rider, on a small screen? End of rant.

11. I've also leant that I may no longer have periods (thank you partial hysterectomy, I love you so) but my PMT still rages and thank god for Evening Primrose. There was a point this year as I wept on the school office staff because my cakes for the cake sale had on the drive to school become cake roadkill, that I realised my hormones are the ruin of me. Evening Primrose helps. Something had to.

12. Most of all, I realise how fleeting time is, that we are here again, about to usher in a new year. I know that we must use our time wisely, in who we share it with and what we chose to do with it. I personally need to get offline more and get outside more. Having almost pet ducks (we named - Daisy and Derek) to feed most of spring; the rest of the family seeing a deer in the garden - but only me seeing a beautiful kingfisher hurrah! - has meant me embracing the outside more. Getting out and walking to the end of the my lane, along a canal and up into the woods - is brilliant.

2018, thank you for being kind to me. For affording me health and a stable income. For giving me sunshine and the seaside. At a time when our country is a mess, when everyone seems to be suffering, when mental health issues are only starting to be less taboo, I try and find one reason every day to be cheerful - from a good book, to a hot bath, to a great cuppa - joy is in the small moments. That all we have and can give, is love -  and that really, is all you need.

Merry Xmas and a Happy 2019 you filthy animals.

CM xx