Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Starting over

Each day is a new day.  Full of potential.  Today is one day. Tomorrow is another day. Tonight represents an opportunity to start over. Afresh.  Anew.  And press re-set.

New Year's Eve looks rather different for me these days.  If all goes to plan, this evening will be much like many other evenings.  And at the same time quite different.  For no two nights are ever truly the same:  I am not the person I was yesterday evening, and I will not be the same person tomorrow, either.  We none of us will be.

But, just for today, I don't intend to celebrate the dawn of the new year with a glass of anything.  Mine will likely be a mug of tea.  A favourite mug.  With fresh mint, most likely.

For, these days, I don't even indulge in caffeine after dark.

I did however have the most delicious Darjeeling Broken Orange Pekoe this afternoon. Sitting in the finest company, this sumptuous teatime treat was poured from a divine silver teapot, through a delicate little strainer, into a porcelain cup which sat upon a matching saucer.  

It indulged all the senses.  And seemed like quite the perfect way to toast the end of one year and the commencement of the next.

Today I feel grateful to know the meaning of real happiness.

Travelling home at around the same time that many will be applying the finishing touches to their NYE outfits and makeup, brought a quiet little smile to my face.  

Walking the length of the almost empty platform, I took delight in the fact that, not for the first time, mine shall be a sober night.  

The throng gathering on the opposite platform were surely making up for my abstinence.  And the rest.  

Just for today, after quite a few days (weeks, and years) of not having lifted a glass containing alcohol, the thought rarely crosses my mind.  I am looking forward to seeing the early morning of New Year's Day and, without wishing to sound too smug, attending a three hour yoga workshop in which I am hoping to connect with, and set, my intentions for the new year that beckons.  

For, whilst tomorrow will, in some ways, be much like any other day, I am resolute in the fact that 2014 will be a year to remember.  And there's a far greater chance of me doing so, without a drink.

Happy New Year!
...wishing you and yours a fruitful, rewarding and companionable year ahead

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sailing Away and coming back to My-Self-Care

I was lucky enough to be given a massage treatment for Christmas.  

Just, exactly, what the would-be doctor would have ordered and what I should have self-prescribed some time ago.

Self-care still takes practice. Earlier in the year, I had it down 'to a tee'.  I was taking time out before I needed to, and making the most of my wonderful masseur's fingers (and thumbs).  

Somehow, in the midst of everything else, that seems to have become both heavier and even more fast paced, I let a few essential ingredients slip through my fingers, and 'into the ether'.

Having my head and face gently yet expertly massaged was a great heads-up for self-care. It's back on my agenda (and already features in my gorgeous new 2014 diary), in a big way for I know I ignore it at my peril.  I'm far better at it than I was once, but when things are tough, I need to turn-it-up...  

Friday, 27 December 2013

The illness came too

Christmas 2013 came and went.  It was as good as it could be.  This year has been somewhat eventful for my family and I.  

Illness has descended and taken us in its unflinching grips. It has hijacked the life of someone for whom I care deeply, progressively robbing it of so much of the pleasure and joy we used to share.  

To say that I have been feeling angry is a gross understatement.  I am in battle with an invisible opponent who arrives at the least opportune moments consuming that which is most precious to us:  time.  

Terminal illness is a sentence - not only for the individual diagnosed, but for those of us who are similarly tried and tested, watching and waiting, anticipating our wretched powerlessness.

We got away as we had planned to.  We pulled out all the stops and made it happen.  

But the illness came too...  The chronic condition is relentless and lacks any respect for the festive season.  There is no such thing as a holiday.  But every moment is important. And we enjoyed moments I will, I know, come to treasure. We made sure to make memories.    

December is a strange month.  And none so strange as this.  In the same week as I received confirmation that I have attained another Masters level qualification, a hospital bed was delivered and Morphine was prescribed by the palliative care team at the Hospice whose care we have the privilege to receive.  For Christmas, a great friend gave me a bag of M&Ms.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Moved by the movies

My local cinema is something of a favourite haunt.  I have a membership.  I often take friends, and I'm not averse to going by myself.  Somehow, I never feel lonely at the movies.  2013 has, it seems, been another good year for films.  These have been my highlights...  

Cirque du Soleil - Worlds Away 3D

Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.
John-Luc Godard
Silver Linings Playbook

The Impossible

Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theatre.
Roman Polanski
Hyde Park on Hudson

Life of Pi 3D

Juxtaposing a person with an environment that is boundless, collating him with a countless number of people passing by close to him and far away, relating a person to the whole world, that is the meaning of cinema.  
Andrei Tarkovsky
Les Mis @ IMAX


Side Effects

Lebanese Rocket Society

Place beyond the Pines

Great Gatsby 3D

The Heat


Ritzy Short Film Festival - feat. Arcade Attack (1982)

Photography is truth.  And cinema is truth twenty-four times a second.
John-Luc Godard
The Audience


Cinema is a medium that can translate ideas.  
David Lynch
The Butler

Note to self:  Renew Picturehouse membership.  

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Missing at Christmas

Every two minutes someone goes missing in the UK. Many families will feel incomplete this Christmas. The Carol Service on Monday evening was in honour of those who will not be at home this Christmas, and those who miss them. 

To describe the event as moving would be a gross understatement. It was tremendously powerful, and evoked a wide range of emotions in me and, I imagine, everyone who attended. 

The Revd. Katherine Hedderly who previously presided over the first Carol Service held a year ago did a fantastic job, inviting us to reflect on the issues that missing presents for those who are left behind welcoming those with faith, no faith or some faith to join together to remember families.

Rock Choir set the scene.  'True Colours' spoke to the pain and anguish of those affected by the multiple issues that arise when someone disappears.  'Something Inside so Strong' was a testament to the resilience of those who find themselves in the awful limbo missing entails.  And Sir Trevor McDonald OBE's familiar voice provided a steadying presence in the midst of an emotionally stirring service.  

I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All the day through

In that small cafe, the park across the way
The children's carousel, 
The chestnut trees, the wishing well

I'll be seeing you 
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you
Words:  Hugh Thomas Morgan & Brian Andrew Leiser

I could hold back my tears no longer when Peter Boxell, having described the agony of having a teenage son missing started to sing his narrative.  Peter's son, Lee, when missing, aged 15, back in 1988. His steps have never been traced, and his whereabouts remain unknown. 

Peter's story is just one of the many hundreds Missing People are all too familiar with. The Charity is continued to supporting families for the length and breath of the missing journey. The Carol Service reminded me how I feel both proud and humbled to be involved with the work of this Charity whose inspirational mission and ethos both shone out so brightly at St. Martin's. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Birthday Pulling Power

Birthdays are important.  Well this one certainly was...

Today Charlotte celebrated her 34th birthday.  

Yes, 34.  Somewhere in-between 30 and 35.  

Thing is, life counts.  Years count.  Days count.  Moments count.  When you've been up against the alien.  And that's exactly what Charlotte's been busy doing.  Fighting the horrid alien that came into her life (and ours) at the beginning of 2012.  

The last month has been hectic.  I hadn't realised exactly how hectic until it dawned on me that I hadn't seen my bestie in a few weeks.  This didn't feel OK.  Particularly when I was later to discover that Charlotte had had a scare.  A nasty scare.  In the shower at school.

Thankfully, the angels at Kings did all they could to find out precisely what had swelled up.  To discover that it was not, in fact, the alien returning, or sending a cousin.  Surgery has side effects.  The body doesn't appreciate being lacerated at regular intervals.  Soft tissue particularly doesn't enjoy it.  And this was Charlotte's body putting up a little resistance.

It's been a helluva term.  She started back at school having just got through surgery and before half term had commenced, was back under the bright lights of yet another operating theatre.  

Which is why I walked onto the gym floor towards the indoor rowers with great gusto this evening...

It was Charlotte that got me into a boat in 2000.  And she stayed in boats far longer than I did.  Her stamina exceeded mine, and her skill blew my own out of the water.  Never let it be forgotten that, pre-cycling, Charlotte was a rower, and later a sculler of world class standard.

So inspired have I been by this woman that I decided to push myself through 2k, just for the sheer hell of it.  F*** you Cancer.  F*** you Alien.  My mantra got me through with a some half decent splits, for someone who has not pulled so much as 500m in several years.  

I was delighted to glance across at the blokes going for it either side of me, huffing and puffing, as I sailed along comfortably at 01:47 for the last 200m.  Little did they know that I was doing it in honour of my dearest friend and birthday girl.  

Whatever your feelings on body art PLEASE watch this moving story...