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Monday, 31 December 2012

epilogue 2012

as the end of the year approaches there is a tendency to look back over all that has happened in the preceeding 12 months. in honesty, most years i do this but my memory is bad and beyond others great life events i have very rarely felt i have enough of my own life events to have much to think on. 

this year is different. 

on new years day i narrowly avoided a car crashing into me whilst traveling to visit a friend. that experience shook me. not because i could have easily been hit and suffered severe injury or died but because i wasn't. i was spared. i was a matter of centimeters away from what could have been horrific but i watched in slow motion as the action played out and avoided me, avoided everyone.


from that day i knew this year would be big for me. i haven't changed jobs, i haven't got married or had a baby, i haven't moved house or city. i haven't done any of the things that are considered momentous life events. what i have changed is myself.

if you had spoken to me last year i would have told you i was a happy and content, confident and rounded person. i was able to cope with whatever life threw at me and could come out the other side smiling, i had inner strength. what i didn't realise was all of that was underpinned by fear. fear of admitting to myself i was unhappy. i liked my own company but didn't know who i was, i was a shy person who acted akwardly around others, this sometimes came off as arrogance but mainly it was lack of self confidence and i had no idea how to conquer that. 

i am a woman who has a faith. a faith in a god who is bigger than me. i believe that everything happens for a reason, nothing happens by chance and god uses all circumstances. i knew he had protected me on new years day. i knew there had to be a reason for it. from that day i have been on a journey. a journey to find what god wants of this life of mine he spared. 

slowly i was shown how wrong i had got my life. assumptions i had made about myself and others that were wrong ones. i had to relearn a lot of my behaviour. i had to apologise to people for my actions, actions that at the time seemed perfectly fine and reasonable to me but i was shown were actions of someone who was lost, alone and afraid. i was shown i was loved and valued and that enabled me to stand up for myself and speak up when i felt others were disrespecting me, something i have struggled to do on my own behalf all my life. my attitudes have changed. i now no longer expect the worst outcome, nor do i expect the fairytail either, i have learnt how to live in the middle; i have learnt balance. i have learnt the value of patience, hope and love and am not afraid to express them. i am no longer fearful. i am hopeful, optimistic, excited and happy. happier than i have ever been. i am open to life. i have let go of the old fearful self and have embraced self assurance, an assurance that has eluded me all my life. i have not been alone on this journey and i am grateful to those few who have travelled with me, supporting me as i have negotiated my way along the overgrown path of my life. i value each of them. i am thankful that i have not only learnt how to express myself but am no longer afraid to express to them, at any time, the difference they make to my life.

the quote i am reminded of is this: "life is a journey, not a destination." previously i would have thought nothing of this, would have dismissed it even. not now. this year i have started my journey. fully. for the first time. i know where i would like the destination to be but i now know that the journey is the most important part, the hardest part maybe but i imagine the most rewarding. without the hardships of life, without the hard life lessons how would we know how to live in happiness at our perceived destination? i am also learning that the journey moulds us, prepares us for where we want to be. what we hope for as our destination, i am learning, can sometimes be just the tip of the iceberg. 

this year i have found myself on the receiving end of many compliments. they range from  the regular "you look well" to "there is something different about you but i can't put my finger on it" to just this past week an old friend opened her front door and exclaimed "you look superb." how we laughed that she told me that before she had even said hello. i have got better at receiving them. that in itself is a huge step. most people, although not all, exclaim "it must be the hair" in an attempt to explain what is different. but i know what they see. they see an inner beauty. a peaceful, joyous soul who has finally learnt enough tools to equip her to start her on her life journey. 

i think 2013 is going to be fantastic. i have my hands off and my heart open and can't wait for what the next year brings. 

as we set about celebrating the end of one year and the dawn of the next i wish you all a very happy new years eve and all the best for 2013. what journey will this year take you on?

Emma

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas lights

We've been away for a few days, but Christmas lights have shown us the way.....












Jane

Saturday, 29 December 2012

walking











today i accompanied my lovely friend di as she did some research. we arrived in castleton early this morning. along with the rain. the forecast stated the rain was due to recede around mid-day. it did not. in fact when we were walking into the wind the rain was actually sore on our faces. it did not dampen our spirits. we had a great time. i was soaked to the skin when we had finished, we definitely deserved the mulled wine and "dirty burger" we treated ourselves to. well, when you have walked five and a half miles in the pouring rain incorporating treak cliff cavern, speedwell cavern and the blue john mine, climbed 233 steps up to mam tor which is 1695 feet high, walked down the other side in more than your fair share of mud and water, i'm sure you would agree we did too.

Emma 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

christmas day











christmas eve dinner / christmas day lunch.

"farmer kissmass" (as my eldest nephew calls him). church. champagne. food. games. laughter. fun. together. raising a glass to those you miss. memories. love. 

wishing you and yours much love, joy and peace this christmas season.

Emma

Monday, 24 December 2012

1 day till Christmas

Well as I write this the post I wrote eleven days ago is now true. I have found and wrapped presents, got the turkey, written and posted cards and even managed the holiday hair cut.
It shows what you can do in eleven days if you put your mind to it. In between the lists that have been done the things that have meant the most to me over the last twelve days have been the unexpected pleasure gained in things you didn't expect. Making Christmas decorations at church which was just on my to-do list but turned out to be really good fun, spending time with people I care about. Last night we had people round after the carol service, beforehand I felt so tired, and was wondering why I had ever planned to do an open house, again it was great fun due to shared relationships.
Tonight, we peeled vegetables, and sat down to eat dinner together. We are not the perfect family, but tonight we laughed and enjoyed each other's company.
Yesterday at church we were challenged that Jesus was born into mess and muddle, and how he wants to be with us in our mess and muddle. I'm glad about that, because mess and muddle is frequently where I live. But that's ok, my home does not have to be perfect this Christmas, and for that I'm grateful. I've learnt again over the last few days about being thankful and appreciating the moments that happen unplanned. It's not about ticking off the to-do list, or planning the perfect day tomorrow, its about relationship, having time to listen, and spend time with people. To be thankful for the gift of Jesus that we celebrate, and admire and learn from the courage of Mary and Joseph who were taken out of their comfort zone, defied the culture of the day but followed the call.

So, whatever you are doing tomorrow I hope you have a lovely time, and know that the mess and muddle of Christmas is the perfect place to be.






Jane

Sunday, 23 December 2012

2 days till christmas

this afternoon i am back home after a couple of days partying and playing the role of christmas present delivery fairy for friends and family. energy reserves are quickly being depleted but there is no time to re-charge, many jobs are still to be done and further partying is taking place tonight. i am looking forward to catching up with yet more friends. as i was driving home today i realised the last words that were uttered both as i walked away from jane's front door and walked down my brother's garden path were the same. 

"love you"

"love you too"

i am grateful to have friends and family who not only exhibit that they care but are willing to say it out loud on a regular basis. as the song says; money can't buy that. 












Emma

Friday, 21 December 2012

4 days till christmas

this week i have found myself thinking about traditions. at christmas there is a lot of repeating what you have done before, perhaps that is why at this time of year there is a greater sense of missing people you have lost through the years, repeat behaviour reinforces the gap. 

this week i have remembered; being told to go back to bed until 7am on christmas day, walking downstairs in age order with dad at the front and mum shepherding to the rear, a 10 pence piece and tangerine at the bottom of our pillowcases; the smell permeating all the presents, chocolate for breakfast, church, champagne, huge lunch, truffles, blockbuster film on tv,  the dads sleeping off lunch, games, buffet supper.

some traditions are instilled, some are collected along the way. all memory making, creating our life tapestry. 

tonight i am with jane and her family. they have created a new tradition. the tradition of opening their home to friends to party and celebrate christmas. today has involved helping getting the house ready and shopping for and preparing food. jane asked if today had been onerous to which i instantly replied no. thats the thing about traditions; new or old they are worth upholding regardless of work involved. they involve connection with others, a focus outside of yourself, a reminder of the past whilst celebrating the present and looking forward to the future.

i can hear the playlist being tested, glasses and bottles clinking and much chatter. it's time to get my party frock on and start making the next round of tradition memories. happy friday everyone.

Emma

Thursday, 20 December 2012

5 days till Christmas

So, 5 days to go to Christmas. State of play one sick daughter (up every two hours last night whilst she burnt like a furnace) manic day at work with no chance of getting everything done in the time left available, no wrapping of presents yet done, but turkey and sprouts now ordered.

However tomorrow night work will be done for 10 days, and we will be in the middle of hosting a Christmas party. This is the second year we will have had a Christmas party, and what strikes me as strange is we never did a party in our old house, last year we moved and suddenly this is what we do every year on the Friday before Christmas. And I love that. I love that a change in scene can bring a change in how you do things. I have always wanted to have a hospitable home, and in my childhood wished we were the house that had parties, this is my way of doing something different to my parents.

Tonight Em arrived down, and it feels even with work tomorrow that Christmas has arrived early. Sitting down we started picking our favourite music, one of my favourite tracks of all time is The Killers.



I just love it, it always makes me want to sing, epitomises freedom and has enough angst to make you feel good. Tomorrow at what will be the start of the holidays I hope to dance to this, to kick back against the good and the bad of the year, and enjoy the company of friends.
First however a sick daughter needs to get better, and a few more hours of work. Not long to go.



Jane

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

6 days till christmas

tonight i arrived home to a parcel behind my door. not so unusual you would think at this time of year. when i saw my aunts writing on the package, i knew exactly what it contained. my mum is one of seven. last month we had a family reunion of her side of the family. i have yet to write about it here (i promise pam, i will, soon). i say mum is one of seven, yet only six remain, her sister Elma having died young. over the weekend i asked my mum's eldest sister if she would do a family tree for us. she agreed and as a large sheet of paper was rolled out and the family tree commenced all siblings gathered round to talk not just names but dates of births and ages too. stories came out. tears were shed. healing tears. comforting words were spoken. honest words. as my mothers daughter it was an honour to witness the exchanges between siblings; to be allowed to be a fly on the wall of a conversation about things that had happened long before you were a twinkle in your parents eye, that's something that doesn't happen everyday. 

i was told by my father that he had always wanted a little girl and he wanted to call her emma jane. to my father; i had no middle name. to my mother she always insisted that my first name was emma my middle name jane. i found out why at the reunion weekend. as far as my mum is concerned; she called me emma after her sister elma; explaining that she felt it was too much for my grandma if she called me elma. (i remember my mum telling the story of how when i was a teenager staying at my grandparents she had found my grandma crying at the bottom of the stair after calling me down for dinner - she had inadvertently called me elma - that was the time my mum expressed her concern that she might have got it wrong calling me emma; she was concerned her tribute was too much for her mother to bear). during the sharing of stories my auntie told us she had elma's compact. it was the only thing that my grandma had of elmas after she died. it had her initial on it and i was told she would send it to me as not only was i the only member of the family whose name began with e but it was fitting as i was named after her. 

this is what arrived tonight.







i do not mind admitting that i am overwhelmed by the gesture. it is beautiful and i am somewhat taken aback that i now have something that was an aunts i never knew, a much loved sisters possession and something that my grandmother cherished. i am now a custodian of one of my family's treasured heirlooms. there were tears and grateful thanks offered. i will treasure it and one day pass it down the line to continue to keep her memory alive.

Emma