I really don’t think it is an overstatement to say this year’s events will probably go down in our family annals as an all round epic saga.

As the Winter solstice approaches and winter starts to nip at all our heels I am in a reflective, slightly meloncholy mood. I am reviewing a year of huge changes for myself, my family, many of my friends and indeed the world in general. I think the reflective vibe is largely to do with the spiritual journey I have undertaken with the Angelsey Druid Order this year. I spent four intense weekends in spiritual and personal exploration on Angelsey which were wonderful, inspiring and life affirming. These weekends have made me look at myself deeply and really be honest about how I have incorpotrated the lessons life has has sent my way, as well as inspired me to further spiritual explorations.

On top of that Damh and I are coming toward the final stages of an epic revamp of our house and home. This has taken up nearly eighteen months of my life in particular as I have been the one driving the project. What with the planning and execution of it all it has left little room for my creativity or even time to go outside of the house. It has been a long, tiring journey that has taken its toll on our nerves. I am not ashamed to say that I came close to really loosing the plot a couple of weeks ago, tempers became frayed and the house felt like a battle field. I went away to my last weekend of the ADO course and equilibrium was restored, to me at least, ready for the final push. Childbirth has some similarities to this whole house changing process.

There has been a company friends that have all been doing similar journeys and we have used FaceBook to buoy each other up through our various building trials, we have encouraged each other with the endless chanting of our mantra “It will be lovely, when it’s done”. Sometimes we have sung through gritted teeth, sometimes accompanied by hysterical laughter and manic rocking back and forth, but mostly we just reminded each other it will end and all this will be in the past…. it has been a blessing to be able to share the trials and tribulations.

The house journey has been mostly good, but as it comes toward the end there are little worries and annoyances creeping in that I am trying hard not to let spoil the good vibe we have had so far with the builders. On the whole they have been lovely and when I read some of the horror stories from friends going through similar, well let’s just say I am truely grateful to the gods and all for the experience we have had so far, so let’s not put the kibosh on it all now by tempting fate!

Today the hound and I am here with the electrician who is putting in the first fixes for downstairs, feels odd saying downstairs after living in a bungalow for sixteen years. The fundementals of the room changes such as walls being removed and doorways blocked up have happened, now the plumber, electrician and plaster have to do their thing, before the new kitchen and bathroom can be fitted. The new kitchen is stacked floor to ceiling in what will be my new studio, I am looking forward to being able to move into that space and make it a creative sanctuary. I have so many plans, projects and hopes for the future and that space is key to it all!

As I have been sat typing this post, the doorbell has rung several times, the plumber has been, organised the plan of action and gone, the electrician has finished a days work, Damh has been back taken the dog for a walk, another plumber has looked at the stopcock with a view to replacing it, they have picked up my curtesy car leaving me without transport once again, people have rung the doorbell for various reasons, I have moved an old door outside and the new bathroom has been delivered, I have brought most of it inside and I am now re-pondering exactly how we are going to get the bath around the odd shaped doorway into the bathroom!

This was actually one of my first thoughts as I woke up this morning, accompanied by the words “Oh bugger!” I am sure you all know the kind of thing, your eyes flick open, just as the jossling tumble of panicy thoughts that have been vying for prominance lose to the one thought that jumps forward just as conciousness wins out over sleep. The waking response is “oh bugger! how the hell are we going to get that corner bath through the bloody doorway?” That thought was closely followed by the rest of the  gang still trying to elbowing each other out of the way, all waving furiously and saying “erm have you done this? and how are you going to get the car back to the rental place before the insurance is canceled at 2pm? and how are you going to get the shopping? and do that, and this , and, and….” I lay still for a while contemplating it all and came up with no sensible answers. I gave up and gazed out of the big window taking in the bright sunlight, the pale blue sky, the rooftop landscape, the massive powerstation chimney (where the Peregrines nest), the seagull wheeling past the window…. I’m not used to this view yet but I am growing to love it already. My brain slowly stilled it’s clammering, I rose and headed into the shower of my new ensuite. 

In these moments of reflection I feel every bit of my fifty four years, in mind body and spirit. When I look in the mirror and see a tired, flabby and weary worn body, but still feel the younger more vibrant me inside. I have never been a particular beauty, for many years I have struggled with my weight and various health problems. But I am slowly coming to terms with the aging process and understanding the benifits of life’s lessons and experience. Things that happen rarely throw me off kilter any more, I am more philosophical about the ebbs and flows that push and pull our emotions. I watch the world and see the same old patterns occuring, I find human beings infuriating, hilarious and inspiring in equal measure. Some might say I was ripe for my croning right of passage, everything is in place as regards hormone levels etc, but I’m not sure how I feel about the idea. I have watched others joyfully embrace the idea of being an “elder in the tribe”, however I am not ready, not yet, but this year has taken a particular toll and to quote Bilbo Baggins “I feel like butter that has been scraped over too much bread”.
My reflective gaze has encompassed many aspects of life including the love I have for my family and friends. Over the years my family has had its ups and downs. Truthfully we are a complicated brood of complex characters, each with a unique view on life which makes for an interesting and occasionaly stormy dynamic. All my family have had some serious stuff to contend with this year, through it all and we have tried to stick together and helped each other as best we can, as families do. They are a deep source of pride and joy in my life, I would be lost without them. As I would my friends, who I also love and value hugely, they are just as much family to me and I am incredibly lucky to have many good friends in many parts of the world.

This year has been a year of huge change both on a domestic level and a global one too. We have all had a year of sad losses, illness as well as immense emotional and political turmoil to deal with. At times I have wondered what it was all about and why life has to be so damn complicated, annoying or just plain hard work without any end. But the sad truth is we all just have find a way to keep dealing with what life throws at us, because, well life is just that way out. Some times it’s good and other times it is a pile of ….well you know. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, sometimes it’s circumstance, at times other people and their selfish ways impact on us and at other times it is all those things at once!

I am so proud of all my family and friends. Though we are all very different characters with differing ways of dealing with the good times, the stresses and the upsets, the thing we all have in common is that we are always striving to make a difference, to make something good happen from bad and create new inspirations from the old. Not one of us is dull or conventional, which makes life an interesting ride and I am grateful to be part of that vibrant crowd.

As for the aging process? well on reflection, scraped thin as I feel at the moment, I am not planning a croning rite of passage anytime soon. My intention is to develope my character directly along the lines of the infamous Nanny Ogg (one of  Terry Pratchett’s Discworld characters for those not in the know). I intend to be a thoroughly naughty, outspoken, irreverant and endlessly creative old baggage until the grim reaper comes to drag me from my studio, with tools and writing implements still in hand, and send me on through the veil.

So invoking the spirit of the bonkers and outspoken old baggage I am becoming, I am looking to the birth of a new sun this solstice in the northern hemisphere and I am investing it with all the hopes our forfathers did, hopes for a new time of positive growth and renewed hope. On solstice morning I will be sending out a blast of Solstice love, peace and goodwill to all, I will be shouting out from my new bedroom window high above the gardens for all to hear, “Let peace and love rule the world!”.