Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015: an in between sort of year

2015 is coming to an end, so let's embrace all the cliches and reflect, because if not now then when?

Ideally I'd like a few days to be still, and quiet, and ponder, and prepare for the New Year. But the reality is Christmas with family full of sherry and stilton and cosy sofa times, a weekend ahead in Brighton catching up with friends (and probably more alcohol and cheese!) and in between, back to work. Fun times, for sure, but not really that reflective. And I'll be honest as much as I know I need to stop and pray, most times I'd rather just read a book and escape. So I'm trying to snatch moments - thank you notes composed on the train, pleas for a sign whispered to the stars as I cycle home from the station, pausing from the pages of an autobiography that awakens something in me.

That's kind of how life is right now - a hurried mix of gratefulness, discomfort and longing. Perhaps life's always like that, but this whole year has felt like an in-between one: endings, transitions, beginnings and all the awkwardness (and joy) that accompany them. Maybe more than ever before, no where's really felt like home this year. From the beginning of 2015 we knew we were heading 'Upcountry' and so began to loosen our Penzance roots a little. Relationships shifted, some deepening as we made the most of the last few months, others changing in ways I wish they hadn't. We took a lot of sacks to charity shops. We lightened our load, ready for the next adventure, we were excited about being closer to the rest of the world, about University for Mr Q, about London.

In the summer, post Cornwall, pre London (I mean Hertfordshire-just-north-of-London), we had our European Adventure. I'm so glad we did. On Christmas Day my family went round the table talking about the highlights of our year and the wedding in Belgrade and the festival in Budapest and the exploring in Berlin were definitely at the top of the list. I've not really talked about it here, or even shared photos on Facebook yet (shock horror!) - maybe because it was so special I wanted to make sure I gave it its proper due. Which is a bit silly because when I do my memories will have faded somewhat. But it's also about living in the moment, isn't it? And we did. We danced and ate and drank and talked and read and sat for hours on sweaty trains and raved about Air Bnb and managed to pack light and had so many first times.

Finding a flat in Hatfield wasn't quite as easy as we thought, but late September we finally moved into a lovely spacious place. Definite thank you note there! Just a few weeks later, though, having purchased the corner sofabed, set up the veg box delivery and started exploring the town, hubby decided University wasn't for him. It was a big decision to make, to stop studying, but he's pretty convinced it was the right one. I can't talk for him, but for my part I guess there was both relief and shock and concern, and almost physically feeling the path we thought was in place for the next three years falling away in a matter of a phone call. Leaving... a big empty space, a big question mark...

It could have been a lot more dramatic - we were ready to leave Cornwall and I wanted to be closer to London for work. I still have my job, we have somewhere to live, there's lots of temporary work around here. So it's definitely not the end of the world. But it's not been easy either, especially not for Mr Q. Especially because we're in a new place, again, with few friends around, again, finding it hard to find a church we feel at home in, again. And as much as I'm not a fan of people dissing places and try to look for the best, I'm afraid to say Hatfield has not won me over!! The reason we moved here no longer exists and we've not found much reason to stay. I'm not loving the commute to East London every day. (Although we do know some wonderful-mainly-dancing people in Hertfordshire who have brought colour and kindness to the Autumn. AND Hatfield is a lot closer to Bristol and Birmingham and Oxford where I've been able to visit friends).

So ... there are still question marks over head. Where do we live? What do we love? What we do with our lives???? Which while daunting, is also exciting. Going back to the dinner table with my family and most of us are likely to be living and/or working in different places in another year's time. 2016 is one of change, I feel. More change! But hopefully change that leads to some form of settled-ness - not forever but for a while - more in our souls than in our postcode.

So yes there's longing - for our lives to be meaningful, for adventure, for not wasting this short time - which I guess is what most of us are longing for. And discomfort at not quite belonging in any place. And gratefulness, a whole lot of gratefulness. For the friends and family scattered all over the place, for poetry and dancing, for a car!, for not being killed or even badly hurt when I was knocked off my bike last week, for travels, for jobs, for beauty, for vegetables, for having a partner to face all the questions with.

Questions that might still need defining before we can hope for answers. But questions that I hope will take us into 2016 with our hearts wide open.

Some of this years best bits...

Celebrating Annah's 30th in Barcelona
Reunited after 13 years!
Beautiful Serbian Ana's beautiful Serbian Wedding
Hubby's private view 
Surprising Andy at his 60th in Sussex 
Brighton friends around the fire 
The most gorgeous god daughter in the world
The Mariana's
PZ Litfest
Goodbyes and beauty
Best place for a braai in Penzance
Family competition...
Sziget, Budapest
Portugal reunion in Dresden

Friday, 20 November 2015

The contradictions of being 29

I've been 29 for a couple of months. Since my birthday, in fact.

It's coincided with moving to London/just-outside-London/Hatfield (depending on how familiar I think you are with small Hertfordshire towns, or how lenient I think you'll be on defining what just-outside-London means). So perhaps some of the below list is also influenced by being in a new setting. Either way, I feel like 29 is kind of a weird age, with quite a lot of contradictions going on. To be fair a lot of them are based on me supposedly not looking like a 29-year-old supposedly looks. Whatever that means. Which is kind of my point:


Here's my experience of it so far, perhaps you can relate...

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Breathe out peace

Some of my reflections on all that's going on in the world. I know there's no easy answers, and there's opinions on all sides as to how we respond. I don't know the ins and outs, I don't know the best way forward. But this is some of what my heart says, about how we could be living every day, because you don't know what tomorrow will bring, and the smallest gesture could change eveything.

Today reminds me

To breathe out peace

Before the trouble comes
Before the night arrives
Before the sirens and the hashtags
Breathe out peace

In all the comings and goings
In all the conversations and pauses in between
Bring it with you, wear it on your sleeve
Pass it on, pass it on

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Catching up on creativity, health and community

About a month ago I wrote a post about intentions for this new season.

The past month hasn't quite gone as expected (maybe I'll write about that next time), and while for the most part I'm clinging to the words I wrote before stuff kicked off, I thought it would be good to remind myself of those aims. As I'm pretty good at starting and not finishing, about talking and not doing. And the changes that have occurred don't change the value of creativity, health and community.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Not overwhelmed

Spent the weekend with friends who are actually family, my crazy creative family that loves to dance and drum (and eat cake) and fill the space with colour and laughter and give all that they are the the One that inspires and outspires - breathes out life and love too deep for words. But here are some words, a humble offering, because being in that place I can't help but watch and listen and move and when I take a break from the dancing, pick up a pen and write...

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Intentions for a new season

It's the start of a new season.

The end of the first full week in our new home.

The first week I slept in the same bed every night for a long time (well actually except last night).

The first week of Llewellyn attending University and me commuting to and from London every day by bicycle and train.

The first week of ‘settling’ after a pretty full last few weeks: fourth wedding anniversary, partying in Brighton, moving house, 29th birthday, family visits (first people staying in our new home), Llewellyn’s first ever theme park and Ikea trips, watching rugby in first Hatfield-pub visit, checking out a new church, sampling the delights of Hatfield's many Chinese/kebab joints.

It’s been over two months since we left Cornwall. It seems like a world away. It kind of is.

It’s definitely a new season. And to mark it, there’s a few things I want to prioritise: