2020 Review

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Normally I would do my end of year review to coincide with Christmas cards I was sending, whether physical or electronic, but this year I have decided to wait until 31st December to post, and am even tempted to wait until midnight just in case. It is not that I am fearful but this has been an “unprecedented” year.

At the time I would normally have done this post I was still laid up with bruised ribs from falling off that horse though was starting to plan what I would write, and I suppose even Different Christmas was a lead up to that. But then just as I was in the planning stages for that my husband got shingles and has been very sore with that. Then on Saturday 19th Dec Wales announced that all was change for Christmas and we were going into lockdown again – though from the volume of traffic I would say that only means that pubs and cafes have now closed. Not sure if I can see much other difference on the roads. It is definitely not back to April’s sparse traffic volume. But then on Sunday my daughter announced that she had tested positive to covid and so, even though she wasn’t coming up here for the holidays it did mean she was going to have to spend it home alone! All this in just a week!

This has been the strangest of years. Even to the point that our cat went from eating biscuits to demanding that we feed her cat meat from a tin. She now has meat twice a day and ignores the biscuits that sit waiting for her to be hungry enough. If it hadn’t been for the local cat rescue places being closed all the tins that had been in the cupboard for the last few years would have gone to them but now she’s eaten them all.

Talking of pets – our crazy rabbit died in the summer, happily of a possible heart attack whilst he was sunbathing before begining yet another digging project. He was buried inside his own warren of tunnels that he had constructed over the four years he had been living here. He is still very missed and the amount of veg peelings in our food recycling bin has increased.

As with everyone 2020 started normally enough, though it was odd for us because my husband chose to stay home for New Year’s instead of going to a youth hostel with old university friends. So actually even the start of the year was different for us with us being together when we woke on 2020. We went away as always for our wedding anniversary at the end of January, which was followed by my husband going off for a week of intensive Welsh learning on the Llyn Peninsular. He managed to get away climbing with friends in Scotland at the start of March, but by the time he went away then things were starting to change and covid was being muttered about. We had two Airbnb guests, both in the medical profession, who went from saying it was nothing to worry about to slowly getting more and more concerned about it, to our guest from Burma having to cut short his stay so he got home before all airports were closed.

I was supposed to go on my regular March writing retreat but felt uneasy about going which was just as well because suddenly things got serious. So instead of being in Gwynedd I went Cardiff to bring my daughter to stay with us when the pubs closed. We bought her some walking boots the day before the country went into full lockdown. We thought we were going to be walking all over North Wales, but then the 5 mile rule was introduced and we finished up doing lots of walks around where we live. We have seen my daughter more this year, probably a good 4 months of the year, than we have since she went off to university about 7 years ago. I picked her up yesterday, now that she is over her coovid isolation time and will spend New Year with us and stay until this lockdown lifts. So even though we have seen so much more of her this year when it comes to everyone else – my son and our mothers and our friends – we’ve seen them less than normal.

My husband changed jobs at the start of lockdown and has now been working for his new company for 8 months and never seen the inside of his office or met any of his colleagues face to face. We are so grateful for our lovely big house and him being able to work upstairs in his own office. But his is the only work going on in the house because, with all the guidelines and restrictions, it is not safe to run our house as an Airbnb rental home for the time being. Read more about that on Humility. And since not having guests coming and going it has changed how I see the house and what it is for. For now I’m not making any decisions how things will look regarding Airbnb and room rentals in 2021, but I do know I see this place much more as a family home now than a business.

We did manage to get away for a flying visit to Somerset to see our mums and a couple of friends at the beginning of August and my son and his fiancee came up to us for a long weekend in mid August. Both times we were blessed with great weather. And we managed 6 days in Northumberland in late September, though because Northumbeland went into tier 3 we were not able to see one friend who had moved there a couple of years ago, and also a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party was cancelled. But we did manage 6 days of walking, reading, and resting together.

As well as Airbnb all my work has stopped – no more writing groups, no more schools work, no more workshops in the library. All very strange. But I have been doing a lot of my own writing and a few of my blogs from here are being published on Godspacelight.com which is quite exciting. I have also been working with a young illustrator and we have a book called The Little Yellow Boat which is with BumbleBee Publishing in the process of being put together and published later in 2021. I will tell more about that once it is out in the big wide world. My plans for 2021 are to work on more short stories and other ideas and of course to blog more. I do not want The Little Yellow Boat to be my only publications. I have also been working towards an MA in Celtic Studies and have loved the modules about the Mabinogion, especailly the Four Branches. I am thinking of doing some stores around the women from the Four Branches.

Every year we do not know what is going to happen, but I think 2021 is probably the one where we have the least idea. Will the vaccine prove effective enough to bring back “normal” life? Will we have enjoyed some of the changes and not want “normal”? For some their business will never be the same again. Many will be bankrupt. For others there plans will be delayed and will be able to move forward a year or two later. But also within that not knowing are things we do have control over. I plan to continue with the Quantum Energy Counselling healing work I’ve been doing. I will work on my own writing and develop a body of work and look at being published. I will meet up with people when I walk with my dog and have great conversations. I will email my friends. And I will carry on reading. All these I have control over. As to whether I’ll start Airbnb rental again or whether I’ll be able to restart writing workshops and schools work, that I have no control over, so will hold lightly. Also I do have control over how I behave towards what is going on around me and I hope I can hold Joy and Hope in the right place and walk as God wants me to through whatever is thrown my way.

Coming into my calling!

So how did I get from posting for myself to sharing?

From a workshop I did in my local library about a month before lockdown

I have always written. I remember as a young teenager writing stories and sharing them on the school bus with friends. I wrote a play about Thomas a Becket instead of an essay for my pre-O level history class, which I was told was great but I needed to get the language more in period. If only I could find that play now I would not change the language style but would go with it as it was – 11th Century drama with contemporary voices. But unfortunately is has gone. Even when I decided to do a degree later in life I went for history with creative writing. I am a writer but I have hidden that from myself. Or rather haven’t been willing to push through. I write lots but I very rarely push through and edit or try and find a publisher or a competition or any outlet for my work. But things have changed.

During lockdown I have had time to moan, to grumble, couldn’t find my creativity or my motivation, and also wondered what I’m going to do with the last third of my life. [I’ve had my 59th birthday during lockdown] But through it all I did journalling, emailing, started writing courses, met up with friends on Zoom silent writing gatherings [where we all sign on and say Hi and then mute and write for 2-3 hours then say how we’ve done and go have lunch]. But something was stiring.

I have a great friend who does amazing inner healing stuff. She lives in South of England, me in North Wales, so we meet via Zoom. She’s good at creativing a calming atmosphere over cyberspace. This last time highlighted my writing and I came away really believing that my calling is to be a writer. In fact to be an author. And from there things have started to open up. It isn’t magic. I have to do my bit. So I finished a story about “the truth of this virus” and have found a competition for it which means editing it from 3500 words down to 2000. I’m up for the challenge. I submitted 20/20 Perfect Vision to https://godspacelight.com/blog/ – and when you look you’ll see that they have edited it. Now if they had done that before I had had this time of both lockdown and inner healing I would have been hurt by it but today I am really pleased with how it looks. My work but their site, their brand.

I used to be afraid of editing especially other people doing it. I saw it as a personal attack, which is daft but that is how it felt. Like they were attacking me and not helping me with my work. As well as the editing on GodspaceLight I also recieved an email from a friend who has critiqued this “truth of the virus” story and again recieved in the manner it was sent – with love and support.

I have more work to do which I am excited about not overwhelmed; a children’s story that a friend is illustrating that it is my task to find a publisher; a fun bit about my husband builidng a eagle’s lair in his office which I shared the idea on a writer’s forum and have been given a website to share the story on; as well as this other post for GodspaceLight and the “truth about the virus” story.

And because of the clearing out of the junk that was holding me back from editing and completing any work I feel energized, creative and motivated. Finally I am stepping up into my calling – and funnily enough it is not all those other things i thought it might be ๐Ÿ™‚ But that is for another post ๐Ÿ™‚

Have to, Should do, Ought to

 

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Taken by me but I can’t remember where. This year I will be labeling my photos better ๐Ÿ™‚

Tis the season of the have, should, ought. Sometimes in all this we miss out on the real reason for the season, which in many traditions has a basis for looking at light and celebration.

I have lots of decisions that are coming my way for 2019 which means that, to give them due consideration I will have to, in fact even now, will have to change how I live my life. I will have to give up on have tos, should dos and ought tos. I don’t have enough hours in my day. Some of the things I will give up are things I like but I am learning if I do this then I can’t do that.

I spent the last 10 days visiting family and friends this has meant that I haven’t done the usual Christmas newsletter or the run of Christmas cards. I have also been gentle working through “Finding the still point of your story” which again is making me look at what is important. Not that the things I can’t do are not important or the people I didn’t see, won’t send cards to are not important but that I have a finite time to do things and need to invest wisely. This means giving up being a member of the spa and not getting in my thrice weekly swims and saunas. This isn’t because I don’t like to go but because I want to take my writing more seriously I want more time to read and this will give me 3+ hours a week more to read.

I have not done the Christmas newsletter because I have decided that I want to message

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Taken just now. These are the books in my study that I want to read. There are more in a box downstairs, in my bedroom and in the living room.ย 

certain people individually because that is where I am at the moment. But I cannot message 100 people that could be onย  my mailing list so it will be just a few. That way they can get special messages. Not that there is anything wrong in newsletters. In fact I had one from some friends which talked of her storytelling and has led me to using her story to tell when I am an elf at Santa’s grotto on Saturday. For me well worth having ๐Ÿ™‚

So in all this I need to look at how I lead my life, what I want to do in it and not get rushed around by should, ought, have to. I am learning well this week too because my son is home for 10 days, which is lovely, but if I want to still write I have to leave him on his own. I am also asking him to help with things like walking the dog so that I am not run ragged there.

So for me this time between now and the new year will be of deciding that I do and what I will have to put to one side. I want to take my writing seriously – which means I have to stop doing other things.

Watching Those Stats

I am trying to sort my social media out and so have taken the Facebook app off my phone. That has been great because it has stopped me checking who’s said what on whatever. But actually, apart from putting pictures of my dog on there and advertising my workshops I don’t use it much.

social-icons-51I have just started a blog with my writing on Medium. Find me onย  https://medium.com/@barefootatthekitchentableย  It is a great site with lots of other writers and is easy to do. One of it’s great features, for those who haven’t yet gone on Medium yet,ย  is that there is a button at the side of each post to press for “claps”. A reader can hold down the button and let it run up to 50 claps. This morning I was checking my emails and it gave me my statistics. Please note I have only posted 2 pieces on there and not that many people know as yet! But I got into checking who was following and how many claps I had received. It is also possible to check how many claps each person has given you. I could feel myself hovering over to this place but stopped myself. Would it change what I thought of my followers if I saw that they had only given me one or two claps and not the full 50? What would it make me thinking of the posts I had put up there? Wold I get into condemning my writing?

We seem to live in a world now where we are judged all the time and encouraged to judge each other. Medium does reward those who gain over 1000 claps for a piece which is great, but it can still bring in that insecurity.ย  How often do we look to see who’s “liked” or similar on Facebook posts, on Instagram, on Twitter and more? The media talks of how Facebook and others sites make us insecure about our lifestyles and our looks but I have yet to hear it spoken of about how we feel about the “rewards” we receive.

It is great as writers that there are so many places we can post but I think we do still need to guard out fragile writers egos.

Being a natural encourager I will always “like”, clap, click the heart, etc because that’s who I am. I know of people who are not like me – and I do struggle with them ๐Ÿ™‚ – but their way of supporting and encouraging is hold back, to be more restrained, and that is fine too. What is the point of having to be able to give from 1-50 “claps” if everyone gives every piece the maximum? But it does mean that we all need to be careful that we don’t get too caught up in the rewards and turn ourselves into performing seals.

I love to watch Dragon’s Den and some ofย  what I like is the comments that the ones whoDragons-Den-new-image1 don’t obtain a dragon get. These people are often not unkind but they are harsh. They tell people they are unprepared, tell them that they need to do more, have not researched, etc. They cannot take on everyone who comes through the door, cannot give them all the 50 claps. There are people who are not ready.

So I will continue to post on here, on Medium, on my Barefoot writing workshops website because all three take me in different directions. I will also continue to write for myself and for some friends I share with. I will do my best not to worry about what the reaction is but continue to hone my skills and trust to me not the “fish” I get thrown. I am not a performing seal. I am a writer.