If I had to sum up December in one word it would be ‘emotional’. It’s a month for looking back over the year – and 2016 has been pretty ugh in terms of world events. Christmas has also brought us many losses of famous people: George Michael, Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher from Star Wars and Rick Parfitt from Status Quo, to name but a few. On a smaller scale my own little family of four (two feline and two human) is now reduced to a grief-stricken three. Our beloved Thomas Tomkins died suddenly the week before Christmas. I’m tempted to plaster this blog with heart-rendingly sweet photos of Tommy (I have plenty), but I won’t out of respect. Unlike many cats (including his brother, Purrsy) Tommy was never an attention-seeker and I don’t think he would have liked it.
Much as we need Christmas to help us through the darkest time of year, it has a habit of stirring up stress and emotions, especially if we've lost loved ones. It’s a time when tears flow easily, when we are often in need of extra support. For me this December the extra support has come in two forms.
The first is music. My belief that music heals is as strong as ever. Although my heart was heavy this Christmas, I couldn’t ignore my commitments to sing in Care Homes and play my harp for numerous performances in Dunster Castle. Having to focus on music gave me a much-needed break from sorrowful thoughts. Seeing the joy on the faces of the residents at Eastleigh Care Home was an absolute balm. And look - you can see the smile on my own face in the picture with Sue at the castle. It wasn’t just for the camera. That smile is the result of sharing good music with so many people who delighted to hear it.
The second support is even more important: friendship. I’ve always lacked self-belief but what little there was plummeted to zero last week. Talking through problems with my super-kind husband has been a life-saver. As has the understanding of friends. My fellow writers have helped me more than I can say. One (a highly successful author himself – and yes, he has read my writing!) told me his faith in my ability is unshakable. That means a lot. He also reminded me of all the writing awards I’ve won. ‘The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt’ according to Sylvia Plath so, in the interests of coaxing myself back into action, here are a couple of ego-boosting photos.
As I write this, the new year is knocking on the door. Whatever failures and successes, gains and losses it will bring, I know that I’m lucky. Music and simple human kindness will see me through.