When I look back on the past year, I initially think of it as having been a year of loss.
Among other things, it was the year our family lost my beloved father to the ultimate finality of his death, after more than three years of his terrible illness that affected us all.
As a precursor to his passing, it was also the year in which I lost my darling ‘First Cat’, Nenya, to old age (she was 19).
Our beautiful ‘Fluffy Buns’ was the surrogate child of my single days, and so when she breathed her last breath in my arms – at least peacefully and painlessly – it felt as though part of my youth was disappearing as well.
I also lost an important painting – that I’d brought into being some years ago, when I was younger and seemed to have more time for creativity – to a freak fire. While I am immensely grateful that no one was injured, it was nonetheless a blow: a loss of something I’d once created with love and commitment over many hours. The painting was also the foundation image for the cover of my unpublished book of short stories, so it seemed, symbolically, as though the universe really was conspiring against my dreams and aspirations.
All told, this past year also seemed like a time when I had largely lost Me.
And yet, when I weigh it all up thoughtfully and reflectively, this past year was not only about loss.
There is finding in here too, including the unwavering presence of some truly amazing friends and family, and discovering unexplored stores of strength in myself (sometimes cleverly disguised as sheer unmitigated cussedness, which I like to blame on my Celtic heritage). I also started painting again, for the first time in a long time: on a small scale, quite literally, but it reaffirmed the possibility of joy.
Mostly, though, I found that I was able to keep dreams in my life, together with an ongoing belief in silver linings, however imperfect or even flawed the dreaming might have been at the time.
I can’t look into a crystal ball and see what lies in store. But, while older and definitely – I trust! – wiser, I still have some dreams in my head. And some plans, laced with the silver linings of hope.
So it’s onward into the new year, with a focus on the alchemy of turning dreams into plans into action.
Perhaps starting with finally publishing my book. Now that – and some decent sales of course – would be alchemy indeed. And really: why not?