Out with the old and in with the new

In the spirit of Janus, the Roman god that January is named after, I am looking back at the last year and forward into 2018.  Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings and I feel quite acutely that I am at some sort of crossroads in life although I can’t quite define what it is.

I have been thinking of 2017 as not having been a great year for me.  Not because anything awful or significant happened but because I went through some sort of change or personal crisis.  In retrospect I think the lack of a major crisis and because I has a new certainty about my job there was a void in my life, as awful as that may seem.  The void meant that all those things I needed to deal with mentally caught up with me. There is even speculation that I tried to create crisis and uncertainty in my life to fill the void by planning to move and I suspect there is some truth in that.  It is easier to be busy with something important or to blame uncertainty about something than to simply confront and process difficult things.

I have really missed my Dad this year and I have struggled to come to terms with various overwhelming feelings of being responsible for everyone – especially my mother.  She would be so cross if she read this as she is independent and doesn’t need me to look after her but having lost both my sister and my Dad in recent years it has really felt like the buck stopped with me. I became so resentful of a situation that I alone had created. Interestingly, the proposed house move whilst a mistake allowed me to realise what was important to me and to work though some of my grief at loosing my Dad 3 years ago.  He wasn’t there to advise me on whether or not to buy a house which has had subsidence or had cladding – he just wasn’t there and it really hurt.

But I have slowly processed things not in any sort of formal way, although I did nearly seek out a counsellor, but just through being kind to myself.  I have finally in the last week relinquished the last of my committee responsibilities for the various groups I attend.  I also closed my account on Twitter earlier in the year as I find it has become an echo chamber for views that I don’t share or just wasn’t interested in.  I also, as you may have noticed, took a break from blogging.  This wasn’t even really a conscious decision I just couldn’t think what to write – I think I was completely exhausted and my garden suffered as I thought I was moving and so disengaged with it. Stepping away from social media (aside from my instagram account that I use for textiles) has given me head room to think and heal.

I am an optimist and a survivor and have always found a way to deal with whatever life has thrown at me. Putting the montage together for the top of this post has reminded me of so many good things that happened in 2017.  I truly embraced my creativity and took the plunge and signed up for an embroidery design course with the Embroiderers Guild.  I completed Level 1 in November and got a distinction, I have this week started Level 2. Whilst I am over the moon at getting the distinction the best thing about the course was that it unlocked something deep inside me and allowed me to embrace my creativity properly. I have always been someone who knitted, sewed, embroidered, whatever but always other people’s designs.  I was too frightened of failure to go it alone – not any more.  I have found some much needed confidence which has been reinforced by the wonderful ladies at my local Embroiderers Guild.  They don’t realise what a real life saver they have been to me this year.

Work has settled down; my role was confirmed late in 2016 and whilst I can’t remember what my comfort zone looks like I have enjoyed the challenges that have been presented to me.  I have grown as a person, learnt lots about interacting with people and have delivered a number of projects successfully. I still have a long way to go but finally I have a job that is taking me forward, that challenges me and gives me a reason to get up in the morning – even when I have lost sleep fretting about some aspect of it.

Life at home changed in 2017.  My youngest who moved out some two years ago got engaged and they bought their first house but only 30 minutes away.  There is no date for the wedding yet, probably in 2 years time, but it will be exciting to help them plan their big day.  My eldest son who lives at home discovered the wider world and the delights of travelling to new places.  He spent just under 3 weeks in Iceland volunteering at a huge international scouting event, made loads of new friends and has more overseas trips planned for 2018 and beyond.  This has meant he is away from home probably more than he is here which was strange for a while as I am used to him being around.  However, I have slowly got used to solo weekends and now delight in them.  I can potter around in my own time, eat what I want, when I want, go where I want etc.  It has helped me start to discover who I am aside from a mother and someone who works at the local university and writes a blog!

So in the spirit of Janus and new beginnings what will 2018 bring?  I’m not one for new year’s resolutions as they just make you feel like you have failed but here are some things which I know will happen in 2018:

  • I’m off on my travels – this time to Austin, Texas to attend a garden bloggers event.  I went to the San Fransico one some years back and loved it and wished I had been to more.  2018 is the year I do it.
  • I’m also off to Somerset garden visiting with a group of friends who I have been away with for the last two years. Plus I am going to Newcastle in April to the national Quilters Guild conference – oh I didn’t mention that I took up quilting in 2017 and finished piecing my first quilt last week.
  • I will complete Level 2 of my embroidery design course and who knows I might even sign up for the final level 3 course.
  • I plan to try to go gluten-free.  I started to drop gluten out of my diet in 2016 and found I felt loads better but I haven’t successfully cut it out completely yet.
  • I need to walk more.  I haven’t been on my beloved hills anywhere as often as I did in 2016 and that needs to change – they are good for my soul
  • I’m going to redecorate my bedroom – new furniture, carpets everything.
  • I plan to do more blogging but not just about my garden, about whatever as its my blog, my journal so it’s up to me what it’s about but I hope you will enjoy it.  Oh and I plan to start hosting the End of Month meme again – after creating the meme some 8 or more years ago I need to look after it.

I hope you have things to look forward to in 2018 and that it will be kind to you and yours and thank you for reading and supporting my blog – it means a lot to me.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. FlowerAlley says:

    Thank you for this post. I especially liked the Janus description. I am glad that you made a list of activities for yourself. You and I are both at transition phases. You have wisely uncluttered your schedule and replaced these commitments with goals of your choosing. You have inspired me.

  2. Renee says:

    What a great new years post! Taking the time to reflect on the past and future is always my favorite part of this time of year. Your 2018 plans sound great, and best wishes for the new year!

  3. Pam/Digging says:

    What a reflective post, Helen. Like you, I feel that 2017 wasn’t a great year, although I can’t put it down to anything in particular. I expect it’s partly due to my family dynamic changing, as my youngest is soon to be off to college. And then there’s the political situation, which is a black cloud hovering over us all. Blogging continues to give me a creative outlet that I enjoy, although I write much less about my own garden nowadays and more about other gardens. Anyway, I’m glad you’re blogging again, and even more glad that you’re coming to Austin for Garden Bloggers Fling in May. Here’s to a happy and productive 2018!

  4. Yvonne Ryan says:

    You have had a great arty year like your embroidery your grden looing gooda hope to seee more pahotoss of front gardend

  5. 2017 was emotionally turbulent for me too as so many things were in flux, breaking down, falling apart, or I found myself again waiting for some mode of transportation to whisk me off to the next way-too-important task. Unlocking creativity and exercise were the key for me to finding an inner balance in the midst of it all. When in your town, I’ve only gotten a quick peek into your hills. I hope to be back one day and walk them fully. The views are stunning! Wishing you all the very best in 2018!

  6. Cathy says:

    Such a thoughtful and considered post Helen so thanks for sharing it. Well done for the progress with embroidery and textiles too

  7. A really interesting post to read, thank you for sharing. I miss you on Twitter (and here), but I know what you mean about it being an echo chamber. I have muted/unfollowed a lot of people and also added more words to the mute feature which is keeping things a bit more ‘me’. I have loved following you on Instagram and watching your quilting and embroidery develop, and I’m looking forward to seeing more this year! Who knows, I may even manage to join in the End Of The Month meme…

  8. You are certainly sounding happier, re-energised,and looking forward with enjoyment.I look forward to following your new adventures!

  9. Horti Hugh says:

    Hi Helen, as always your blog posts make for interesting reading and reflection. Very best wishes for 2018, and looking forward to what it may bring. All the best, Hugh

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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