I know how difficult it can be to participate in the enforced jollity of the festive season and to be honest I just take myself way from it all now. If it's too much I make my excuses and leave or I just don't attend parties. As I'm about to turn 50 I've finally acknowledged that I just don't do socialising with more than a few people who I already know. I'm no longer putting myself in places that make me uncomfortable. I'm confident enough now to choose not to go the work party, or the 'big do' that I really don't fancy.
There is always a lot of emphasis on new beginnings in January and again it's pressure to make changes and be new and shiny. To go vegan, give up alcohol, take up running - whatever your particular flavour of "New Year New You" might be. On New Year's Day I saw people go sea swimming en masse, park run was full to the brim with hungover runners and the Nutri bullets were dusted off so that New Year smoothies could be made. I am not a cynical person at heart. If you want to do a new thing I applaud your efforts and will cheer you along. I set myself a goal to run a half marathon and managed it - despite people doubting I could do it. One 'friend' said, " I didn't think you had trained enough so you did well to finish." Thanks mate - don't let the door hit you on the way out. I guess what I am saying is you can choose to make the changes any time and sometimes not putting pressure on yourself to do it on the 1st of January might make it a bit more achievable.
Resolutions aren't really my thing. I have aspirations, wishes, ambitions, but not resolutions. I don't know what is coming up in the future so I would rather work on my resilience to deal with the twists and turns that might come. I have had a lot of practice now and while I don't feel anything like as bullet proof as people tell me they think I am, it is heartening to know that I can take things in my stride.
So what does a new decade bring ? Well I think it's worth a bit of a review of what has gone before.
2000s: were all about finding my independence. I had left an unhappy and damaging relationship that had isolated me from my friends and left me depressed and lacking in confidence. Once I was out of that I cut my hair and lost weight. I moved house a bit - travelled for work and eventually bought my own flat. I went to Romania and Sierra Leone with my job and did a lot of public speaking. Meeting lots of different people and visiting pretty much every town and city in England was a mission, but it was amazing and gave me confidence and self belief.
I did internet dating when it was still like the Wild West out there. The whole of London reminds me of places I have been on dates - none of which went on to become a relationship, but as I had never dated in my younger years it was a lot of learning for me. I worked out where to meet for a first date, what places were best for daytime or evening and where to get a coffee or go for a walk. I learned the hard way that you will know very early on if it's not working and if you have agreed to go for dinner it will be a painful experience unless you go for one course and no coffee.
2010s: I found out I was having a baby. My miracle boy was much longed for and when his brother came along by adoption my status as Mum was set. I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my kids, but it was far from easy. I had no idea how much it would test me to parent these boys and I had to learn how to do the best for them without losing myself in the process. I was home with the boys for a long while so the eventual decision to go back to work has been a big transition and I have had to learn the inevitable 'working mum juggle.'
This last decade has been about being a parent. Putting my kids first and finding ways to make it all work. I came to parenthood older than a lot of other people I know. If anything it made me more grateful and I have tried so hard for my kids. They are my life and being her for them has been an honour. It has also shown me that I am loyal, passionate and driven to do what is best for my loved ones.
2020s: Well this is the new big unknown isn't it ? I am now a single parent and this is a whole new challenge for me and my kids. We have made it through our first Christmas and New Year as a family of 3. Our beloved cat died and the boys have shown me they are resilient and brave. They are also very protective of me and it makes me so proud that they are good people. As they grow older we are finding new ways to be a family. It is all about negotiating what we all need in order to be mentally well and happy.
I know whatever life throws at me I have to roll up my sleeves and get on with it. I have two amazing guys by my side and an entourage of incredible people who love and care for me too. I am learning to ask for what I need and to accept help with gratitude.
So many people have said, "I hope this year is better for you." I will tell you something though. Everything that has happened has shown me what I can do and who I can be. I may not know what is coming, but whatever it is I'll take it on.
If I were to make resolutions they would be something like:
- Say no more often
- Prioritise my needs
- Trust myself