On the face of it this has been a rubbish year. No really. My mum has had 2 stays in hospital, my stepdad 1. I had to move house again and I’ve really struggled financially. I’ve been hounded by the banks, had bills I couldn’t pay, had whole weeks where I ate nothing but tinned soup. My sister got married and, I don’t care what anyone says, weddings and funerals bring out the worst in families. The amount of stress that accompanied it…it’s still making me grind my teeth, 3 months later. In September I crashed my car, writing it off and spending just over 2 months recovering from a sprained shoulder. I still haven’t been able to afford a replacement and the ensuing battle with public transport has been soul destroying. There have been other issues as well, through the month of November and into early December, that drove me to the edge of the abyss.
I sat on Christmas morning and thought how glad I was that this year was over, that next year would be better. Then I started opening my presents.
My little brother had gifted me a journal style notebook, that ubiquitous present writers the world over will have been opening on Christmas morning. It’s beautiful, with an intricate tooled leather cover. I was quite touched. He’s never read any of my books, but he wanted to give me an outlet for my imaginings. It reminded me that this was the year I published my first book. It’s been a dream of mine to be published ever since I was 12 and this year I finally achieved it. How could I have forgotten that? How could an achievement so momentous have been swallowed up by the petty disappointments of the year?
My friend Clare had gifted me jewellery- a necklace and earrings with the message “Reach for the stars”. It reminded me that my family and friends have so much faith in me, faith I’ve never had in myself. It’s been an emotional year and yet I’ve been surrounded by this unfailing belief that I can do it, that I can reach for the stars, that one day my dreams will all come true. It’s been both humbling and heart-warming. How could I have forgotten that in August, just 4 short months after starting on my publishing journey, I made it to the top of the bestseller lists on Amazon? How could I have forgotten the elation, the happy dancing and the joyful tears?
My boss, Joyce, had given me a hot water bottle and some chocolates. For all that moving was a nightmare and has caused me massive financial grief, I absolutely love my new job. I love the work and I love the people I work with. I love that I’m back to working regular hours which gives me more time to write, to go to the cinema, to go to the theatre and to meet up with friends. I have made more new friends this year than I have in the last ten years combined. Many are from work, but several are also from outside work. Thanks to working regular hours in a new city, I’ve had the freedom to join writing groups and social clubs. It’s been amazing. I’m also closer to the friends I had before, now that I’m able to give them more of my time. This year might have been a struggle in other respects, but how could I have forgotten the raft of new friends that have been helping me through it?
I think being miserable is a human condition. You only have to look at the misery of the depression-fest that had the highest viewer figures on Christmas day (Eastenders) to know that people somehow feel a need to be miserable. It’s bizarre and it’s not right. Every now and then we should all take a moment out of our lives to remind ourselves of all the things we should be thankful for. It’s too easy to forget our achievements once the initial glow of jubilation has faded. It doesn’t matter how bad times are, or how low we have fallen, there is always something in our lives that we should be thankful for. Even if it’s nothing more than knowing that someone thinks kindly of us. We watched The Grinch when it was on over the holidays and it really struck a chord with me. Even after all the presents and decorations had been stolen, Christmas still went ahead when people realised that actually it was more about family than about the commercialism and consumerism. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget to really live it.
So as Christmas fades behind us and the New Year looms large on the calendar, I challenge you to take a look around you and remind yourself of all the things you should be thankful for. You’ll probably find that through all the grief and stress you’ve suffered, 2012 was still an epic year.
As we move on into the New Year I want to thank you all again, from the deepest recesses of my heart. Thank you to my friends and family that have made this year so special. Thank you to my readers – it’s you that buys my books, reviews them, sends me the messages that make every fibre of my being smile. It’s you, in a very real sense, that are making my dreams come true and you will probably considerably underestimate the depth of my gratitude for that.
I wish you all the brightest of blessings for 2013. Much love, many huggles and bucketloads of kisses from me to you. Who knows where our journey will take us next?