I honestly don’t know how to sum up the past twelve months. There are various clichés I could employ but none of them really capture the whole. Rollercoaster, possibly, would come closest but even that feels unsatisfying and somewhat hollow.
Despite being lucky enough to have not caught COVID19 the last six months have not been plain sailing, health wise. Setting aside my mental health, I have been dealing with two physical problems. Firstly an older health issue has come back into sharp focus; I have wanted to yeet my reproductive organs into outer space for years, this current iteration of them being difficult is doing nothing to change that wish. I am uncertain what will happen with this in the near future given that despite it making my life difficult and unpleasant and uncomfortable it is not immediately life threatening, so I cannot imagine the NHS has any capacity to actually fix it right now. I am having to find new coping mechanisms for it all and it is generally exhausting.
Secondly, I damaged my right bicep and shoulder back in early autumn and whatever I did, the pain and restriction of movement has become progressively worse rather than better in the months since, despite doing my best to get it to heal. Since I am ambidextrous and the pain and movement issues only really flair when I try to carry things, fully extend my arm, move it above my head, to the side or behind me, it is not interfering with writing, crocheting, driving or computer work but getting dressed can, if I’m not very careful, make me weep with pain as can many other day-to-day tasks that until now I’ve never thought twice about. It also badly affects my sleep, even with painkillers. I have a unconfirmed diagnosis of rotator cuff damage and I will be seeing a physiotherapist in the New Year (fingers crossed that COVID does not scupper that in any way) but until then I’m trying not to panic that I may never have full use of my arm again.
Writing wise I’ve written and submitted more original short stories this year than I have in all the previous years I’ve been submitting combined, so I’m really rather proud of that. In addition I hit the target I set as a member of the Get Your Words Out community and have written on over 350 days of the year. I won’t lie and say it was easy, because it was not, but I am glad I did it because it has shown me that a daily writing habit is not sustainable for me; daily journaling is fine but actually working on fiction or blog posts every day does not make my work better or make me want to write. I need space to not be always “switched on” in terms of creativity; my target next year is a far more manageable 240 days.
Coincidentally that challenge helped me to realise that my old methods of pushing myself to create shareable content on here (defined blog series, timetables, set posting schedules) no longer work. The massive changes I’ve made/had thrust upon me over the past three years to both my career and personal life have shifted how I do pretty much everything else, so quite why I thought that this aspect of my writing would stay the same is quite beyond me. Given that those changes are, in part, still ongoing – and that I am still learning how best to function in a much more fluid, far less structured living and working situation – I am taking the turning of the year as an opportunity to reset what I am doing with this blog. I do have quite a few draft posts from my Year of Reading Frugally and Year in the Woods series that I want to finalise and publish during January (because if I leave them they will nag at me like the worst sort of hang nail) but once those are done I’m simply going to post as and when I feel like I have something worth sharing. No schedules, no rules, nothing set in stone, just whatever feels right at the time.
I am not making any New Year’s resolutions, either. I shifted my personal intention setting and management to fit around the cross-quarter days of the Wheel of the Year quite a few years ago, so I did everything resembling resolutions back on All Hallows’ Eve. And they were not resolutions in the traditional sense. Instead each year they are a narrowing of focus onto the immediate paths I can take to move me closer to the life I ultimately wish to live, based on what is going on at the time. They are more about how I do things and why I do them than SMART targets with rigid timescales and I can honestly say this more organic, gentler approach has had a far more positive impact on me than any resolution ever did.
And so I’m signing off for the last time in 2021 and will leave you all with an old Irish blessing for the coming of 2022:
May the blessings of light be upon you,
light without and light within.
The blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.
And in all your comings and goings,
may you ever have a kindly greeting
from all those you meet on the road.