It’s hard to believe a year has passed since all this began, a year none of us could have foreseen. I, like many others, believed it would be resolved quickly, allowing me the big 50th birthday celebratory holiday I had planned. Alas, this was not to be.
Like everyone else, my life changed overnight. I went from a frenetic life with no time to myself, to having all the time in the world. Many people would be (and probably have been) paralysed by fear at this prospect, but I wasn’t—not deep down—as it was the pause I have needed for a long time, to allow me to take stock, and it was the pause I’d asked for.
Before all this happened, during the winter of 2019/20, I was at a low ebb. All I wanted was to crawl under a rock, alone, for a few months. What the universe delivered was somewhat different, but it gave me the breathing space I needed. My life and outlook have changed over the last year, and it has all been for the better.
The time away—as I like to call it—has given me time to step back and look at my life and the way I’ve been living it, and to consider what and who are most important to me. I used to think filling every spare moment of my time with activities was how to get the most out of life. I was wrong. All that did was stop me from seeing, stop me from breathing, and stop me from dreaming.
I gathered the courage to let go of the things that no longer gave me pleasure—the radio show, the book club, teaching yoga, and make room for what does—writing. Oh, and how my creativity has bloomed during lockdown! At long last, I now have a daily writing routine and a specific creative space in my home, complete with an antique writing desk gifted to me by my late aunt.
In 2020, I published the second volume of my short horror stories—Darkly Sinister; I finished penning and typed up (I write longhand) the last volume in the Bonds series—Eternal Bonds, which will be out later this year; I wrote—from idea inception to first draft, the first volume of a contemporary romance series—Chasing Rainbows; I wrote a twenty thousand word storyline for a novel—The Secret of September Cottage, based on a short story I wrote many years ago; I wrote another twenty thousand word storyline for a novel—David & Goliath, based on the life of a new and intriguing acquaintance; I wrote and am redrafting the screenplay structure for the film/TV version of Bonds; and I have picked up and am finishing a novel I started to write a few years ago, based on the story of Ellie Lawrence—a character in the Bonds series—called The Headhunter, which is based on a short story my dad wrote when he was at school.
As well as the creative side, I have changed how I interact with readers in newsletters and on social media, bringing a more personal touch to my writing, showing people a little more of who I am as a person, not merely what I write.
Speaking of friends, the last year has proved an interesting time to reflect on the people in my life. Some have fallen by the wayside, while others have remained constant, becoming even more special to me. I have even reconnected with the two people who know me best in the world. Sami and I grew up together, meeting at age four and being a daily presence in each other’s lives until our early twenties, when our paths took us in different directions. I met Pam as I consolidated three years of my remaining night school degree into a year full time. She and I hit it off straight away—my mum saying we were like sisters—and shared our twenties and early thirties with each other before, again, life took us down different paths. I am forever grateful to have found them both again.
As a person living alone, lockdown has been an interesting and challenging time. Being prone to depression, I have had my dark abyss times, but I have learned to rely on my resilience, willpower, and desire to thrive to get me through. The year has given me time to fully step into the real me, to no longer be afraid of showing people who I am or of being who I am, to finally learn that living my life on my terms is what matters. Through the help I sought prior to the pandemic, and with my continuing fascination in astrology, I have learned so much about who I am and what I am here to do, the puzzle pieces having finally fitted together.
For the first time in my life, I have taken my foot off the gas and allowed my body time to recharge. Self-care Sundays have become an invaluable part of my life and I am very protective of this downtime. My time to recharge and unwind has allowed me to reconnect with my inner bookworm. I may not devour books at the same rate I did when I was younger but disappearing into worlds for hours on end is a pleasure I had long forgotten. Being kinder to myself is a valuable lesson, and I have reaped the benefits, for it has given way to a freer and more creative me.
Don’t get me wrong, the last year has been a tough one in many respects. I lost a beloved aunt early in the pandemic and the burden of the funeral, the eulogy, probate, and the support system for my uncle, all fell to me. Lockdown made what is the hardest time of all even harder, but it highlighted my inner strength and resilience. Not seeing my parents (I live in Wales, they in England) has been worst of all, especially as my dad’s mental health is suffering, putting a lot of stress on my mum. Regular phone and video calls have helped us keep sane, and Mum and Dad will be my first port of call when all this is over.
For a person who used to be terrified of being alone, jumping from one relationship to another or going out with the wrong men to avoid being by myself, the prospect of spending any length of time completely isolated should have filled me with terror. Yet, a year alone is exactly what I needed to gain perspective, and it has taught me a great deal about myself. I have learned my time is precious, and I will be choosey with how and with whom I spend it in the future. I have also learned to be alone is a pleasure and a gift, and I do not need anyone else to make me happy. Whoever I choose to share my life with will be there because I want them to be.
I should add, I haven’t been entirely alone during lockdown. Jasmine and Texas (my furbabies) have kept me on my toes, making me more enslaved to them than I already was!
For everything this break has given me, I have found happiness and contentment in solitude, and I am in no rush to change this.
’Til next time,