Hello, and happy 2020……!
The sun has risen on a new decade, and as usual January brings with it a sense of expectation. Resolutions, plans for diet and lifestyle, pressure to overhaul just about everything in our lives. I don’t really go in for New Year resolutions, preferring instead to set goals throughout the year and make changes as and when I need to. Expecting to make massive changes to our lives when the days are short, the weather can be frankly awful and our bodies are screaming out for us to hibernate always seems a bit harsh, I find. I saw a quote on Instagram recently which really summed this up and left me with the feeling that it’s okay to let our thoughts germinate for a while – perhaps till Springtime 🙂 ? I do find that my own internal energy source is triggered by the welcome return of the stretching light.
We are really not made to rocket straight through winter, ablaze with energy. Look at nature. The ground and plants and animals are deep at rest. This is the natural way of things. Spend some time with the long nights, the moon, solitude, the bare earth, stillness. Be easier on yourself.Victoria Erickson
I say Amen to that.
All that being true, I do find that sticking to my usual routine in terms of exercise and fresh air helps keep me on an even keel over winter. In the holidays, we stuck to our regular routine of running, and all-weather walking – having a dog who needs a daily outing whatever the forecast is a good motivator on this front, I find. Now that the kids are back at school I’ve also resumed my morning yoga and strength exercises (if you’re interested, I use Nadia Narain yoga DVDs and Dr Chatterjee’s 5 minute kitchen workout). I keep my coffee to the morning and absorb as much daylight as I can before lunchtime (either naturally, or through the SAD lamp I’ve had for several years). And I cook. And eat. And move. And read. And take baths, and write in my journals. And watch TV, if I feel like it, in the evenings.
Just the simple things that seem to work for me.
One of my simplest pleasures from the holidays was a run with my husband and our dog along the beach on Hogmanay morning. It was one of those picture-perfect moments when 2019 seemed to be saying ‘I may be going, but I’m going out in style.’ The sky was a dusty blue and the sun was spilling gold across the sand dunes. I could caption the images here ‘sunrise run along the beach on Hogmanay,’ and be done with it.
But that would say nothing about the things that were in my heart when I took the photos.
And the things that were in my heart were more like this:
That over those dunes and across the road, is the tiny farm house my Mother and her seven siblings were raised in.
That in the fields beyond that, my Grandfather once spent his days tending to cattle – a role he performed with only one arm.
That at the end of the beach, a path leads to the village I grew up in.
That along that same path, my Mother stirred make-believe porridge in a gap in the wall on her walk to school.
The older I get, the more I realise how much my identity has been forged by this wild and beautiful place I grew up in. All the history that means my home county of Caithness, to me, is never just a place.
Places are never just places, they are a collection of the stories our hearts tell.
And if I have one goal for 2020, it’s to say more of the things that are in my heart.
One piece of feedback often levelled at me in my writing group is that I should learn to ‘let go’ more. That my writing can seem restrained, a bit formal – as if I am holding something back. I try to accept this with grace, as there is no doubt some truth in it. There is always the fear when you’re writing that someone might actually sit down and take it upon themselves to read the things you wrote. Letting your heart tell the stories is scary. It makes you feel exposed, and possibly vulnerable to outright attack. But perhaps, there is something to be gained from it. Better connection, more understanding, more authenticity.
So here’s to people and places and writing like nobody’s reading.
I’ll leave you with a quote I shared on Facebook recently:
I hope all your dreams for 2020 come true.