Looking back with gratitude

As we approach the end of the year, it’s natural to look back. In some ways, I’ve had a terrible year. I’ve had stumble after stumble, I’ve hit wall after wall and I’ve had so many challenges that sometimes all I could do was scream into a pillow until I was so exhausted I fell asleep weeping. Despite that, there have been a lot of good things about this year. I learned a lot about myself and my resilience, and I’ve learned the immense power of gratitude.  

I’m grateful for my friends, for their support and understanding, for all the fun we have. I’ve been to concerts and plays with friends and been overwhelmed with happiness. I’ve had days out and fantastic company while I poke around old monuments and dank former prisons for my PhD. I have wonderful writer friends who keep me going and workshop my poems so that I can be a better writer. They don’t let me get away with any slacking off and I value their kind and insightful feedback. With my friends, there has been a lot of laughter, some hard work, a few tears and a sense that whatever may come, I will never be alone. 

I am grateful to all the editors who chose to publish my poems this year. I have had 13 poems published – unlucky for some, maybe, but to me each one was a reason to dance, an opportunity to share and take pride in my work. Each acceptance feels like a little miracle to me. I am also immeasurably grateful also to Indigo Dreams for choosing to publish my first collection in 2019. As I said, each magazine publication feels like a miracle and having a whole book published is almost so wonderful I can’t comprehend it. 

I am grateful for the support I receive at the University of Chichester. I completed the first year of my PhD and I am well into my second with a firm belief that I will achieve my goal. It’s not been easy, I work full time and I’ve had family commitments but I did it anyway. That goal keeps me going when things feel hopeless and dark and it’s thanks to the guidance of my tutor and the enthusiasm of the university that I can keep my eyes on that distant prize.

I am grateful to every writer who has taken me outside myself this year. Without books to sustain me, I don’t even want to think about where I might be. Art in general is a comfort – a movie that lets me forget my troubles or see them in a new light, music that uplifts me, podcasts that inform or entertain, stand up comedy that makes me laugh, theatre that takes my breath away. I live in wonder and I’m glad of that.

I am grateful for the headspace app. I discovered it this year after a friend recommended it to me and now I don’t know how I managed without it. The daily meditations have helped my creative practice as well as helping me cope with whatever life throws at me. The sleep casts are so very helpful, and most nights I drift away to the sound of the ocean and feel a small measure of peace.

I’m grateful to myself, too. I’ve had a rough year but I’ve held on to my dreams and my joys. I’ve kept myself positive and I’ve done everything I could to fight against depression or a sense of defeat. I don’t care if I look stupid and I don’t care where this fight takes me, I will pursue happiness and a sense of peace with everything I’ve got. The chief weapon in my armoury is gratitude and it is accompanied by a fierce energy. Whatever 2019 has in store for me, I’m going to hold on tight to all the good things. There’s a chance I’ll get kicked in the teeth more than once but I’ll keep going. Gratitude and ferocity might seem like unlikely bedfellows but to me they’re at the heart of everything I do and the reason I keep going. Amongst all the darkness, I’m choosing to be a motherfucking beam of light.