2019 review – Winter Solstice Reflections

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the shortest day.  At 04:19 tomorrow morning, the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.4 degrees which means it is when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the Sun, and so we have the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.

I miss the sun and the light.  I’m often in bed super early and have been struggling to get outside in daylight because of work.   I have written before about how this is the time of year where everything has died off to make space for new life which is true, but it feels important at this dark time of year to take time to reflect on what has come to pass before looking at what new is growing.

Here are some questions for you to muse on the shortest day and into the end of 2019.  Then next blog I’ll start to move us into 2020.

  • What have been your successes?

After the excitement of Into the Woods last year, this year has had fewer clear moments of achievement.  I have passed my Yoga qualification and got a new job with the Open University and loved running a well-being day in Kent.

  • What has changed?

To the outside world, not much has changed for me.  Same house, kids, dogs, jobs.  But inside loads feel like it has changed.  The recent Esther Perel stuff has been significant in how I understand relationships.  The horse riding has stirred some old dreams and desire for freedom in me.

There has been significant changes for some of the people around me; eldest son leaving school and starting college and P’s work and family.   Other people’s changes of course have a ripple effect for me.

  • What did you enjoy?

2019 has been big on enjoyment for me.  It started with a ridiculously cold New Year’s Day swim with friends off the Dorset coast and continued with a sunny walk up a big hill with friends.  The kids and I have met up with friends in community a lot this year and I caught up with old friends when I worked in Kent.  I love the deep connections with people who know me well and know me of old.

Iceland was huge for me this year.  I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did.  It was my youngest son’s idea and planning it took weeks, but it was life changing, stunning, magnificent and the three of us were such a good team.

Horse riding has been a joy, the freedom and exhilaration it gives me.  If riding gives me wings, yoga gives me roots and I love both.

  • What has been planted and is waiting to grow?

I’ve been working on my first fiction manuscript and it is really weird how much scarier it is than writing any of the non-fiction books.  In some ways sharing my imagination is so much more exposing than sharing my experience.  I’m curious about what might grow from it.

I’ve also done a taster yoga session at a local school and it looks like that will grow and I’m talking to a couple of venues of co-delivering days with them.

I’m hoping the riding lessons will flourish into days of riding with friends once the fields dry and I am more confident I can stay on a horse.

  • What has died and needs mourning?

We have had another bereavement in the family which has ripple effects beyond the moment of death.  A close friend pulled away sharply this year which still makes me sad.  A beloved colleague left and I miss her.

  • How is your health?  What could you do to make it even better?

Since the summer, health has been an even bigger focus than usual.  I do yoga daily and walk at least half an hour each day.  I have always needed my sleep and don’t drink caffeine or alcohol very much at all these days.  I’ve changed my eating to increase the amount of vegetables I eat and am making sure I don’t eat past 6pm.  I’ve cut meat and fish down to about one portion a week and I’ve increased protein through nuts, pulses and tofu.  I’m really feeling the benefits of it all.  I miss the sunlight so have changed the time of my walk through the winter so I get out in the daylight as much as I can.

  • How are your finances and what could you do differently in 2020?

I have more work this year than I have for a long time and it is good to feel that security of that and the autonomy it gives.   In 2020 I’m going to experiment with running some on-line courses to see how they go.

  • What has been hard this year and what did you learn from it?

There’s been some pretty big relationship stuff going on for me this year, romantically and in my wider family.  It’s not stuff I can write about here as it’s  not just my story, but none of it is easy.  Which is why I have been so tuned into Esther Perel and thinking about my relationship patterns.  I’ve shared my learning about this in the last 2 blogs.

  • Which behaviours have not served you this year?

I’m still learning about the balance between compassionate care and people pleasing.

  • Which behaviours have served you well this year?

Self-discipline sounds so unsexy, but actually, I’m so glad I have it because after a few weeks of self-discipline I have formed new habits.  Now I don’t even think about eating after 6, I don’t think about whether to do yoga or not, I just do.

I’ve got loads better at not taking on too much.  I’ve stopped initiating new projects and have consolidated what works which has shortened my ‘to do’ list and my inbox loads.

I have loved getting back into writing letters by hand, in pen and ink.  And I have learned to knit and both are so soothing and satisfying.

  • What do you regret?

I regret not going to London Book Week; I bottled it last March, I could have gone and didn’t.

  • How did you waste time?

The occasional Facebook rabbit hole (again, I’m pretty self-disciplined on it)

  • When was time well spent?

Seeing friends, reading, writing, travelling, writing, swimming in the sea, walking, being in nature, hanging out with the kids, doing yoga, my work.

  • Who were the people who energised you?

You know who you are.

  • And drained you?

No naming and shaming here, but I am aware of who these people are for me and luckily there are very few.

  • Which of your dreams came true?

Riding horses, doing a New Year’s day sea swim, becoming a yoga teacher at 52.

  • If this year were a book, what would the title be? 

Mine would be ‘2019 the year of Esther Perel, horses and Ice’

  • If this year were a colour, what colour would it be?

Pale sunshine and skies.

  • What would be your soundtrack to 2019?

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

  • What was your animal this year?  Which animal drew you?  Which animal did you most feel like?

Of course, the horse.

  • Who were your most important role models, elders and wise people this year?  Real, imaginary, digital?

Of course Esther Perel, my two witchy sisters and my friend from way back in school, GretaThunberg.

  • What do you have to be grateful for?

My health, my kids’ health and happiness, all our friends, our family and home.  The money and time to travel and explore, that we live in a safe place and time where we have fresh air, water and food.

  • What do you wish you had known at the start of the year that you now know?

That I can do more than I think, alone.

  • What was the single most meaningful moment of the year for you?

Being by the glacial lagoon in Iceland with my kids as an iceberg calved and seeing global warming happening in front of me.

Also, seeing the woman I want to be.

  • What are the questions I haven’t asked that you want to ask?

Happy solstice.

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