Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: A New Year

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
Neil Gaiman

This season has been a particularly wonderful season for wild carrot which became 'my' flower back in 2011 and so seems appropriate to accompany the quote from Gaiman, which expresses beautifully what I hope for this year. 2014 is going to be extremely challenging as Mac and I rearrange and restructure our lives.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Endings and Beginnings

I don't usually do Christmas letters, and on the rare occasions that I have, it's been more of a New Year letter, or even a February letter. But the past twelve months have been a strange time, so I decided to write about it. I won't call it a Christmas letter / blog because I decided a few years ago not to do Christmas - instead I invite people to come if they wish to our place for Not-Christmas. The last couple of years were fun for me because we had lots of people at our place on 25 December, just hanging out and socialising: family, family of family, and friends who, for a variety of reasons decided to be with us. This year, after a complaint from one member of the family, I haven't invited anyone, but just asked family what they are doing, and told them we'll be at home as usual. Hopefully, they'll all come out to spend some time with us and with each other. If anyone else turns up, I will make them welcome too.

Last year at this time, Mac's boss at work (and others) were made redundant. It was all rather unpleasant, and in addition, we knew that Mac's level would be the next to be re-structured. We expected to hear in March, but time dragged out and I pushed it to the back of my mind. It's been very stressful, especially as Mac decided right back then, that if they offered redundancy, he would take it. He said he didn't want to work any more, at least not in that sort of full-time, employee way.

Anyway, now, a whole year after the first layer of re-structuring it has happened. He finishes work tomorrow. It's scary.

At the beginning of April I went and saw a doctor in Hamilton. He's alternative, but is a registered doctor who gave up his place in a medical centre to devote his time to private practice in which he addresses problems through diet and supplements. I went in the vague hope that he would do something to make me feel healthier than the gradually wearing away feeling I'd had for a long time. As a result I have a greatly improved digestive system, almost no joint pain (very occasional, and so negligible as to not qualify as 'pain'), and, best of all, no depression. No depression despite the fear and uncertainty of not knowing how we are going to live from now on. It has been a lot of work holding myself together, but I know that without the change in my body's health, I would have struggled in vain to remain semi-stable and depression-free.

There has been sadness in the year with the death of my brother-in-law and friend after a long battle with cancer. I had known him for 43 years. I saw him two days before he died and said goodbye. It's hard. It's hard to see some one you've known and cared about for that long die, and, in addition, it brings awareness of one's own mortality into sharp focus. Other friends have also had hard times: injury, illness, marriage and children problems. I should count myself lucky, and I do, but it all adds to the scariness of the future. I don't want to get ill or die yet: I have thrown so much time, throughout my life, into the deep chasm that is depression, and now that I have finally climbed out I have so much I want to do and enjoy before I die.

Friendships seem to have changed a lot this year too: partly because I have changed, and my day to day life has changed; and partly because they have changed. I found the same thing happened at various times in my life, such as when I first had children, and when my last child went to university and then left home. I have stopped going to some activities, and I have started new activities. Some of my friends have gone to work, gone travelling, got into new relationships, have new family circumstances. Sometimes it feels like 'everyone else' is expanding their horizons, while mine are shrinking. Some have moved on to such an extent that I have had to accept that they no longer want me to be a part of their lives. That's hard, but I also know that there are people that I too have left behind.

So, apart from improved health, what else is good? I have enjoyed Wednesday nights going with Steven to listen to jazz in Auckland. I have enjoyed a couple of book making workshops - and making books again after a bit of a hiatus. I enjoyed a great year in the vegetable garden last year, though this season is not looking so great. My bees didn't do too well last year, but so far things are looking better this year. I've enjoyed my beekeeping friends and my permaculture friends, old and new, and hope to see more of them over the next year. Womad was again one of the highlights of my year, and I bought tickets for womad 2014 before we knew the details of Mac's redundancy. I am determined to enjoy it as best I can as it will probably be the last we attend. We also spent last New Year's Eve at Papamoa at a reggae concert, which was great - as well as good music, it was one of the best atmospheres I have experienced at such an event. From now on, I will probably have to restrict my live music happenings to Raglan, but fortunately there is some good music to be enjoyed here.

From now on I'm going to have to limit activities, especially those which require petrol. Visits to Hamilton will be mainly for shopping, looking after grandchildren and visiting family in the time between those. But I am going to enjoy spending more time with Mac, getting more done around home, with a helper to do stuff that I can't do on my own. I had my first market stall the other day, selling books, and have booked in for two more. One of the things that my years of depression have done to me, is whittle away the small amount of self-confidence that made it through my childhood and teenage years, and that first stall was very hard to do. Without Mac's encouragement, and that of a few friends and family, I couldn't have done it. I was so scared of a whole bunch of really unlikely possibilities (like, of some random person coming up and telling me my books are shit) that I ate almost nothing but chocolate for days before hand! (Don't tell my doctor, please!) Mind you, I didn't drink even one glass of the two bottles of whisky I've been given, so that was good. So I'm looking forward to giving it a go a couple more times before, and also to starting up my Felt store again.

I'm looking forward to more swimming and walking with Mac, more creativity, and just finding joy in the simple miracles of life. I'm trying to think of it as a new start to a new adventure with new opportunities.