The roll of the sea lulls me to sleepiness, steady in its retreat across winter sands. Christmas is done; unwrapped and packed away again, the glimmers of a new year peeping through in its wake.
2023 came in darkly and leaves with surprising gentleness, the swirling black thoughts and gripping catastrophizing of depression and menopause settled, finally, by the right combination of medication, yoga, life-affirming books and the very best of people. Mostly, 2023 was a year of making things right; of having the grace to forgive and the courage to be forgiven in return. Of reaching out and holding on. Of changing the things in my control and turning away from the things that weren’t. Of considering, carefully, instead of the usual rushing in. The year ends with everything where it should be, personally and professionally, and the small moments and support along the way are not taken lightly.
We spend a blissful Christmas in a beachfront apartment, Storm Gerrit stirring and tugging at the door. I stay for a week, while my someone lovely and three teens come and go as work, coursework and other parents allow. We eat too much cheese and celebrate Christmas Day with a takeaway. I hike for miles, across mud-furrowed fields in a downpour and along coastal paths under the dying light of a clear December day. We venture into mild Boxing Day waves (one of us for two hours and me for 10 minutes) and I zip through a whole book in three days. It’s a thriller, set in my home valley against the outline of childhood mountains and a canal towpath that’s a stone’s skim away from my parents’ front door. The evocations are a gentle nudge to be creative in a year which has remarkably – deliberately – few plans.
2024, I decide, is my year of missing out, of embracing the JOMO and seeing what happens in the remaining space. ‘Must do’ races sell out in days and I happily let them sell, choosing not to indulge the instinctive panic about what ‘everyone else’ is signing up for. The new year’s email from Marathon Eryri, congratulating me on winning a place in the ballot, is a genuine and lovely surprise, but I don’t set a finishing time or rush to book a B&B. There will be room at the inn – or in my tent – and I’ll cross the finish line eventually, a tiny, unspectacular dot in the mightiness of God’s own mountains.
In 2024 I don’t pledge to finish the book or walk 1,000 miles or climb three Everests; I simply carve out some hours each week to write and walk and run, and trust that the small wins will come. This year my teens might leave home and I will send them on their way, hoping beyond hope that all the muddled parenting among the house moves, dropped balls, grief, laughter and love has given them the roots and wings to fly, to fail with grace and to always, always find their way back when they need home.
2023 rolls out across the flatness of Carmarthen Bay. I let a great many thoughts wash away with it and wait to see what is carried towards me in return.