This time last year, I was sitting down to write a column about my resolutions for 2015. I quote, “My resolution for 2015, is to just take time. Be it during a busy day, or perhaps last thing at night, I want to simply stop and look at my daughters and my family”. I am pleased and astounded, in equal measure, to say that I managed to keep this thought in mind throughout the year. At umpteen moments, during the majority of days, I have stopped and taken time. I have been stricter with my working hours, I have savoured moments with my children (in between their beating each other senseless), and I have focused on my family.
And I am so very pleased that I did. I lost my Grandfather this year, the last true tie to my father who passed away nearly 27 years ago, and the fallout from that has been extremely hard. I am therefore so very thankful that he and I had no loose ends. Instead, we had only love. Nothing remained unsaid, no conversational stone unturned.
It makes me think, as we approach 2016, that John Lennon was right in 1967. Love is all you need. If we have love, then we can cope with illness, stressful times, and the many turns that life brings. It doesn’t cure everything, nor make life plain sailing, but it soothes and it allows us to know we are not alone. Love is a balm to the soul when all else fails, and love gets us through the hard times.
The love of my husband, and my mother and children and certain friends, helped me to make it through those first months of grieving, and they help me still now that the initial shock has worn away and the full reality of loss has hit. Being in this position, one in which your world has been shaken into a new form, and one in which the sense of loss takes lengthy adjustment, doesn’t always leave you in a solid place to support others. But sometimes, what others may perceive as selfishness, is actually self-preservation. Sometimes, you need to look after yourself, as well as trying to look after everyone around you. You can try your hardest, but you can’t be everything to everyone, all of the time.
New years, new relationships, or new situations, often bring us face to face with the wish to change our social or personal circumstances. Sometimes, as we all discover eventually, we have to let go of people – in fact, we may want to. Sometimes, it transpires that those we trust and whom we believe to be integral to our lives, are not what we think them to be after all. We may be faced with the quandary of whether to continue a relationship we know to be built upon false foundations, or whether to take the brave, and ultimately kinder (to both yourself and the other person), route of ending things. Honesty can be cathartic and the people who really do have love for you will make a stand: they will stand-up for you, and stand by you. Integrity and courage, true friendship and love; who wouldn’t want these things in life? Being true to yourself, and your friends or loved ones, is one of the kindest things that you can do for yourself and them. If you find yourself confronted with a person or situation that is toxic to your well-being, then the best thing that you can do for yourself, and them, is to cut them free. If we do not, then we lower ourselves to the very levels we are complaining about. And, given that you only live once, why on earth, if you have choice, would you want to surround yourself with anything less?
This takes bravery, and courage – for we will lose things along the way, but as we enter a new year, it also provides a sense of liberation. If you can make a positive change that enables you to look back with integrity and self-respect, then make it. If you can make a change that will enable you to look yourself in the eye and truly know inside yourself that you did the right thing, then make it. This is your life: is has a ripple effect (and sometimes an avalanche) on the lives of others, but if you’re striving to be a good person, striving to have integrity, and striving to surround yourself with good people, then hopefully, good things will come your way. Mistakes are human nature, don’t beat yourself up when you make them, but learn and move forwards. Cosset your emotional well-being once in a while, and hold your head high.
As we approach this new year, the first of my life without my Grandfather, I know that I am lucky to not only have love, but to have cherished the times during which I have had it. It won’t necessarily always be so, because it simply never is. So take a hold of the people you love and who love you, reach out to those who have no-one, for there are more of them than we ever think, and thank your lucky stars for each little good thing every day. Don’t be a victim to the circumstances around you, do not allow yourself to become one of the bitter ones. We can’t control everything, but we do have choice – be careful what you do with it.
With this in mind, I wish you a healthy, happy and loving new year. Here’s to a peaceful and mindful 2016.
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 29th December 2015