Updated: Dec 31, 2018
I just finished the loveliest book; A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman. It’s the kind of book that takes a few days to recover from, a few days to really come to terms with. The story is about a very old lady called Marvellous Ways, who lives alone in a creek in Cornwall, a lady who is coming to the end of her remarkable life, but knows there is something coming, something that she needs to do before she leaves… enter a young man lost after WW2, a young man who believes he has nothing inside, nothing left to give, his great love and touchstone having disappeared, no family or friends to speak of, no home to return to. Marvellous finds him and with her healing hands, her stories and her mysterious and magical foibles, she brings him back from the brink. It’s beautiful, it really is. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a tale that feeds the soul. I’ll start my next book soon, another of Sarah Winman’s, When God Was A Rabbit. I did try and start it straight away, but it was too soon after old Marvellous. My heart isn't ready for another story and I'm not ready to let go of her just yet. I was trying to rush because of the looming deadline of my Goodreads Challenge; seven books to go in 24 hours. I don’t think so. With the best will in the world… I don’t think so. I mean, I could cheat and read seven of Henry’s books. Maybe seven Beatrix Potters? Or Thomas the Tanks? I read two Julia Donaldson stories to Henry last night, I could read another five and I’m done. Mission accomplished. It's no hardship reading Tabby McTat and A Squash and a Squeeze, but I’d still know, in my heart, that would be cheating, and I can’t live with that kind of guilt.
So, I have failed the challenge I set for myself at the beginning of 2018; to read twenty-four books in a year. That’s two books per month. Which is totally doable right? Except I didn’t do it. I tried but couldn’t make the words stick. Given the circumstances of last year I’m very impressed I made seventeen books stick, and I appear to have given all those books four or five stars each, so it wasn’t a complete write off and some epic composition clearly did enter my brain. Reading wasn’t the only thing I struggled with; I couldn’t make my words flow either. I did hardly any writing (my last post was in friggin' JULY!), next to no making and crafting, I didn’t go to the gym or the pool once. Ok, maybe, like, three times, but honestly, I have done so little in the way of exercise and eaten so much, those three times have just cancelled themselves out. They basically never happened. I did manage to stick to being dairy-reduced though, which is huge given how much I love milk, butter, cheese etc. I’m not entirely Vegan (on the advice of my Doctor), but I make Vegan choices where possible and it feels good. It’s been an amazing journey so far and I’ve learned to cook, which is wonderful. Overall though, I’d say 2018 was not a year of concentration for me; I couldn’t focus on very much at all, except trying to keep a roof over my head and not sinking, even when I really wanted to let myself sink. It was a year of sleeping. Literally and figuratively. Even when I didn’t look asleep, I really was. I may even have had conversations with you… I was asleep. Sleep conversing is a serious skill you know, one I’m rather brilliant at. Some may say I even have a flair for it. Thank you Some, I appreciate your noticing.
It’s ludicrous isn’t it, the pressure we put on ourselves at the beginning of a New Year, to do things, to accomplish things, to make things happen… to wake up. To begin the self-imposed Herculean task of self-improvement requires an enormous burst of energy, which, on January 1st is no mean feat given the momentous hangovers, chocolate and cheese-filled tummies, roly-poly pyjama-clad bodies and pitifully empty purses. But the 1st of anything is a neat and tidy place to begin new things... or a Monday. Mondays are a good starting point too... as are the turn of the seasons... Spring is a good one for me because it's bright and hopeful and full of new life. Back to New Year, where usually, a few weeks later the momentum of a new-and-improved-us runs out and we fall back into our usual patterns of behaviour. And we feel like failures because we couldn’t manage to change the record. That’s why, this year, I don’t have any resolutions, or rules, or new routines or anything that even resembles a commitment of any kind. I’m not doing commitment in 2019. There’s only one thing I’m going to do and that’s to just be.
I won’t be starting another Goodreads Challenge this year either, I’m just going to read when I want to, when my brain will allow words to sink in. And my blog will just carry on being my blog and I’ll write when I can feel the words trying to leap out of me, into the world. I’m going to try and say no to things I can’t commit to, things that are too much for me. I’m going to swim if I feel like swimming and I’m going to wear make up if the mood strikes and, this is the important one, I’m going to try my best. If last year was about sleeping and staying afloat, then this year will be about keeping going, trying to stay awake a bit longer and learning to accept myself as I am now. Not how I was a few years ago, but now. I’m going to look in the mirror and say ‘Lexie, you’re ok, exactly as you are. Now just go out, do good, be kind and do your best’. None of us can do any more than that. I’m going to try and make life wonderful again.
I’d like to propose a toast… to a year of wonderful ways. Chin chin.