First, the year in stats:
Number of teeth removed: 1
Number of teeth straightened: all of them
Number of first dates: 1
Number of second dates: 0
Number of photographs shot: 20,000+
Number of books created: 1
Number of new courses created: 2
Number of hours getting inked: 11
Number of trips abroad: 0
Number of years on the planet: 41
Number of personal realisations: too many to count
2014 was a year in two halves. The first half was all about recovering from my dating escapades in the previous year. I didn’t consciously choose to not date this year but it’s turned out to be what I needed the most: time to get back to centre and ground into what makes me me. And I was doing really well — the Sacred Alone was born out of the delicious mindfulness of the first part of the year and I felt more connected to Source than I have done in a loooong time.
But then the book creation process took over.
Shooting Londontown was creatively challenging in the best possible way, and physically exhausting in the worst way. In order to stay focussed on the project and get everything done I let myself consciously numb out for a while — six months, in fact. Rather than deal with the big emotional stuff of life I did the work I needed to do — photographing the city, running my beloved courses, staying on top of admin and blogging when I could — then let myself watch a LOT of Netflix while resting my bones in the evenings.
Exploring the city with my cameras was an adventure in itself and while I felt stressed about the project more often than I’d have liked, there were many moments of pure joy as I rediscovered this beautiful (and maddening) city. It felt really good to sink into my photography for a while, though I learned it’s not possible to develop two big projects at the same time. My plans for the oracle deck had to be put on hold as there just wasn’t enough space in my head (or hours in the day).
I hit my deadline early December and now, as predicted, I’ve been sick for three weeks. It makes me realise how effectively my stress levels suppress any potential illness! I’m used to this pattern of manic creation and then full-body shut down, so I don’t imagine it’ll be changing any time soon.
All in all it’s been one of the fastest years of my life. New friendships were made and others were deepened. My relationship with my nephew got sweeter with every day that passed. My love and appreciation of my family is never-ending and absolute. I adore living in London and don’t have any plans to leave just yet. My teeth are now straight after a year persevering with Invisalign, and my body is miraculously still in shape, thanks to working with Carrie at the gym.
I faced a few demons this year, and though I numbed out for much of it, as noted above, I’m heading into 2015 with a renewed sense of what I need and what I want. I’m also bursting with creative ideas I can finally start tackling — hallelujah! — but first I must prepare myself for an operation in January. I’m having my fibroids removed and need to get my head around that — both the op itself and the recovery afterwards — but once that’s done it’s GAME ON.
Fave books of the year: The Radiance Sutras | The Book of Love and Creation | The Dance of the Dissident Daughter | Seven Thousand Ways to Listen
Fave music of the year: Bombay Bicycle Club | Asgeir | Bat for Lashes | City and Colour
Fave moment of the year: the day I looked after Noah, just me and him, and he told me he loved me (unprompted) about 150 times
Second fave moment of the year: Noah figuring out how to call me on his mum’s mobile phone
Fave photo of the year:
Fave posts of the year: The (delicious) truth about getting older | How to access our inner wisdom | On aching and love | 25 things you don’t know about me (maybe) | Delaying the big reveal | The end of woo woo | Sometimes you need a creativity reboot | The humans of Londontown | Inhabiting the soft animal of my body | Things I want to remember no. 12 | On wholeness & loving ourselves realistically | My beauty essentials
Thank you for coming here and visiting me in this space. Next year I’ll be celebrating NINE years of blogging and it is still such a joy to be here I honestly can’t imagine ever stopping. Thank you for your kindness and your comments, both here and wherever else we connect on social media. The web has woven us all closer together and I’m so grateful for that, aren’t you? xo
Other years in review: 2013 :: 2012 :: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009
Ps. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas/December break and are feeling ready for 2015. Choosing my word for next year has been made extra special thanks to all the lovely connecting and sharing happening in the Find Your Word Facebook group — I think we may have supercharged all our words in the process! I’ll share mine here
on Thursday next week!
These are some of the things Noah teaches me about myself:
— He sees me as a whole. He doesn’t see bits of me that he thinks are lacking. He sees all of me and loves all of me.
— He has no embarrassment around me. Clothes on or clothes off, it’s all the same. I’ll be sad when that lack of self consciousness comes to an end. For now bodies are for jumping and cuddling and running and dancing.
— He thinks I am strong and powerful. I can lift him over a (very) high gate and carry him for half an hour through a corn field when we get lost. Which we may have done on Sunday, but neither of us panicked because we were together (and I didn’t let on that we were, in fact, a bit lost).
— He trusts that I know the way home, even when for a moment I didn’t. I got us home and it became an adventure. From now on it will be known as the day we went home “the long way”.
— He trusts that I will protect him, no matter what. He believes in me.
— He sees me as his comfortable chair. His human towel. His living transportation. His comfort when he missed his mummy.
— He takes me seriously. Most of the time ;-)
— He sees me with loving eyes. There is no “good” or “bad” — there is just “Susie”. Taller and bigger, though not blonder. Grown up. Protector. Conspirator. Best pal. Mule and servant. His auntie. His Susie.
We attended my cousin’s funeral yesterday. Only a few years younger than my mum, he was really more like an uncle to me. A sweet and deeply kind man, he lived a simple life with the ones he loved and it feels dreadfully unfair that the last few years of his life were plagued with illness. So many beautiful words were shared about him at his funeral, it made me wish he was there to hear them. And I’ve communed with death enough to know that he was there, but for those of us left behind it’s not enough. We want them here, in the flesh, breathing, smiling, holding our hands.
After leaving the crematorium we went to look at the flowers laid out in the garden. On the way back to the car Mum said she wished she’d taken a photo so I ran back to snap a few shots with my phone. In that moment I was thinking only of my mum, but after taking the pictures I reflected on how even though I didn’t have photos of the flowers laid out at another crematorium, I could still remember the white lilies and freesias, and the roses I’d laid out myself. Walking back to the car, with not a soul around me, I turned a corner to find the most perfect grey feather lying on the ground at my feet. It actually made my heart jump. “Oh,” I smiled, “I was wondering where you were.” It never fails to amaze me how they keep in touch with us. I continue to find the feathers in the most important moments and the most needed moments. Always the feathers, sometimes seeming to appear out of thin air.
In the pub afterwards we shared drinks and stories, looking at photos and getting to know the members of D’s family we hadn’t met before. As my sister and I gingerly sipped our halves of Guinness we started planning our own funeral (as you do). Because, you see, we’ve already decided that we will be popping our clogs on the same day. By then we’ll have reached the end of our nineties and having outlived everyone else we’ll be ready to get in the car and drive off a cliff, Thelma & Louise style. We both agreed that we’d want to have a gathering beforehand so we could hear the kind words that everyone shared. We’d kiss our children and grandchildren goodbye and tell them not to miss us too much because we’d see them on the other side soon enough.
Abby said she wanted to be laid out in a white dress — like the Lady of Shalott — on a huge pile of branches. This would then be floated out into the middle of a lake at which point a burning arrow would be shot, setting the pyre alight. I agreed this was a stellar idea, and the conversation continued with the discussion of a joint pyre and whether or not we’d have prayers or meditation at the ceremony (Abby wants prayers, I want meditation — there will be both). When my sister said no one would be allowed to wear black I nodded in emphatic agreement.
All this might sound a bit morbid or inappropriate considering we were at a funeral, but I actually found it incredibly comforting. Death has to be one of the last taboos we have, something we all have to face when our loved ones take their leave, hopefully in timely and expected ways but often not. Learning we’re all going to die is so shocking. I remember the finality of my pet rabbit dying and trying to untangle the idea that it was permanent, that we couldn’t make her “better”. I can still remember trying to imagine what being dead was like — would it be an abyss of black nothingness? I don’t recall putting much stock in the clouds-and-harps of heaven, but as I got older, and started reading more new age-y books, I began to formulate theories about what comes next. In some twisty way I can’t wait to find out, but I’m happy for the big reveal to be 50 years from now.
Last week Noah and I were reenacting Frozen-lite with his dolls and at some point one of the girl dolls died only to come alive again with true love’s kiss (he watches a lot of Disney films). Even then I wondered what it was going to be like for our tender sweet boy to learn about death — how can we possibly explain it to him? Through the smiles and tears of yesterday’s gathering, my heart was warmed when I saw D’s grandson clutching the hand of his grandmother during the ceremony. These little people make everything better, they really do. Noah was playing at nursery all day, and I’m glad that for now he believes in Father Christmas and fairies and true love’s kiss. There’s plenty of time for the big reveals of life… just not yet, not yet.
(For D: I have no doubt that you’re reading this from the big golf course in the sky. Rest in peace, dear cousin x)
There’s so much I want to say, I don’t know where to start. I want to tell you about how good it felt to spend a week away with my family. How we tumbled along together as we always do. How my relationship with Noah just gets deeper and deeper, and how I soaked in every cuddle with him, every spontaneous kiss, every sneaky bottom squeeze. How I now know all the words to Frozen’s Let It Go. How much Noah loved Meggie the dog. How we caught ants in the garden and let them run up our arms. How I fell over in the bluebell wood, and how Noah wanted to save me. I want to tell you about how we met a man in the street with four owls on his arms and how I ended up with two of them on my head. Stroking an owl is exactly as magical as you imagine it will be. Unsurprisingly, we drew quite a crowd
And even though the days were full, I want to tell you how I still went to bed pondering my work in this world, how I’m feeling pulled in new directions and how books and teachers are finding me. I want to tell you about how I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of this, despite the excitement and enthusiasm, despite knowing it’s the right path. I want to tell you how I’m meditating every morning, and how much this new practice is supporting me, and how amazed I am by how naturally it’s unfolded. How my heart has opened wider and wider, and I’m learning the real meaning of surrender and compassion. And how none of it is easy and yet it’s all so very timely. And I really want to tell you how awful and amazing it is to be back home and how much I want to break out of my comfortable grooves and find more owls to stand on my head.