This has been a very challenging year. (I suspect I wrote a blog post around this time last year that said a similar thing about the previous year, but I maintain it is still true.)
I am physically exhausted. I didn’t always make good choices. Concepts like a healthy diet and exercise seemed like very low priorities with so many deadlines in front of me. Of course I’m paying for that now.
I’m a little too wedded to my digital devices too. I find myself waking up at weird hours of the night and not being able to not pick up the iPod Touch to see who’s tweeting what. Even the installation of a sky light in my bedroom — which seemed like such a great idea at the time — means the moment the sun is out (often around 4 am now that the Australian summer is here) I am awake too. It has no cover, there’s nothing I can really do about it except embrace my new ‘morning person’ persona. [Actually remind me to add ‘Sleep Eye Mask’ to my Christmas list.]
Many of my colleagues are talking about the school holidays with great fondness, but of course I won’t be on holiday, I’ll be searching for work. I had actually forgotten about the ‘joy’ of job rejection letters but it is all slowly coming back to me now.
I don’t mean to complain so much, but oy vey…
As I reflect on the year that was I must admit I took inspiration primarily from music. Two singers were often in my headphones and in my thoughts.
Firstly, Whitney Houston. I found this quite accidentally on YouTube. I didn’t know it existed. I certainly hadn’t heard it before this year. And quite honestly I think I prefer the dance remixes to the album version. At its roots it is a spiritual/gospel song, which doesn’t resonate with me at all, but there was something really encouraging and affirming about the lyrics.
And I crashed out
and I tumbled
but I did not crumble
I got through all the pain
I didn’t know my own strength
So in my darkest hour
my faith kept me alive
I pulled myself back up
hold my head up high
I was not built to break
I didn’t know my own strength
I like this song because it sort of spurred me on when I felt like I had nothing else to give. I like it because I was always surprising myself by what I was able to achieve if I just pushed that little bit harder.
[Of course the irony of taking inspiration from a woman who drowned in her own bath tub was never too far from my mind.]
The other — and equally unlikely — source of musical inspiration came in the form of singer-songwriter Donovan. I found a concert he did in 1997 on YouTube and it really blew me away. I couldn’t stop watching it. I think a part of me wanted to escape to bohemia and ear worms like ‘There Is A Mountain’ were fun and light-hearted, and sort of baffling at the same time. It gave my worried mind something else to think about for a while.
His voice seems deeper and more resonate now than it did in the 60’s and 70’s. He tells these hypnotic little stories about the sixties. I told Twitter that if I started romanticising the 1960’s too much to just remind me that I hadn’t been born yet. But yes, escapism, certainly. Romanticism too. I guess it is another form of ‘refilling the well’ as Julia Cameron puts it. I need to do that more in 2014, too.