Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Day 269 - 21 again ;)

Don't worry, I'm not having a crisis about my age...yet. I'm young, free and single, and happy to stay that way for a while. No complaints whatsoever. My life's awesome, and my twenty-second year is already proving to live up to that.

It's just...well, I shouldn't be twenty-one, at least not until today. Given that I'm a proud scorpio, and that my birthday was barely two weeks into November, you may well be surprised. The thing is, I wasn't due until today. When I went home from the hospital on Christmas Eve of 1991, I was still slightly more than five weeks premature. My first Christmas should have been in 1992, when I would have been almost a year old.

Big deal. That was twenty-one years ago...so why is it relevant now? Why should I notice it and, more pertinently, blog about it? Well, to put it simply, I'll tell you what today's post is about - luck.

I'm an only child. Everyone who's known me for more than about five minutes is aware of that, because it seems to be one of the first questions I'm asked, and indeed one of the first questions we seem to ask anyone with whom we make an acquaintance. (Maybe it's some kind of social phenomenon.) What I don't tell everyone, however, (because it's served as quite good fodder for the ubiquitous 'true or false' drama game in the past!), is that I'd consider myself the youngest of four.

My mama had two miscarriages and a stillborn before me. The latter, my elder brother Ben, lived for about two minutes (as far as I'm aware) and I can't imagine how difficult that must have been for Mama - and Papa. I've always felt a sort of connection with Ben, perhaps in part because he probably would've had a disability too, had he lived - but also because he and I were the at the same gestation when we were born.

It is a thing that strikes me on this day every year - not just how different life would have been if my birthday were today, but how lucky I am to even be here. Yes, if I'd been an aquarius, I'd probably not be in a chair, but I don't think I'd have learnt as much about (or from) life; knowledge that has helped me grow into who I am today, whoever that is! I wouldn't have the friends I do - I wouldn't have met Jess, or Em, or gone to camp and have the family I've made there. I wouldn't have met 'Team Chariots'...I might not even be at Warwick, and giving back to the wonderful Starlight, which I can't comprehend.

So today, as a kind of rebirth (given that we mark it annually as a family - we're odd that way!), I'm going to reassert my goal for my twenty-second year: to live, to laugh, to love, to act, to sing, to walk, to dance...and to give thanks (and not worry) with every (literal) step. I've always preferred being early to late, but methinks from now I'll just do my best to be on time, and have fun whilst I'm at it.   

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Day 246 - reflection

I was uncertain whether to post this for two reasons: firstly that it necessarily requires a little back-tracking to before I had a blog, and might seem unrelated to my goal, and secondly that it might come across as a tad sentimental. Nevertheless, the start of a year offers a chance to glance back as well as forward, and I've been doing quite a bit of both. As for sentimentality...you'll just have to bear with me.

So. Here goes.

Three years ago today (on 6th January 2010, through the generosity of Starlight Children's Foundation) I was lucky enough to meet someone who, utterly unbeknownst to her, had pulled me through a rather tough patch - and I was able to thank her for it. This meeting gave me the strength to finish my A Levels, so much so that I now find myself at Warwick University, planning to walk to collect my degree.

You know all that. What you don't know, however, is that last night, almost exactly three years after I met Keira, I did something my eighteen-year-old self would never have dreamt to be possible. I stood for ten minutes (!) as I gave my first ever standing ovation for the absolutely wonderful cast of Chariots of Fire at the end of their final show at the Gielgud - and I felt truly privileged to be there to support them.

It was magical, hugely emotional - and, as I said, something I wasn't sure I'd ever do. So I thought I'd post today about two things: faith, and inspiration.

I don't mean faith in the religious sense, necessarily, though that's all well and good. (I'm agnostic myself, but I have plenty of friends who subscribe to a plethora of different beliefs, along with plenty who resolutely do not.) I mean faith in the sense of self-belief, self-confidence, self-trust; a knowledge that the journey you're on is an acceptable one and that, as long as you stay true to yourself and (sometimes literally) put one foot in front of the other, everything will turn out okay. I don't have much of that, or at least I haven't for most of my life - though I'm beginning to see that that needs to change. Not because I want to be bolder, or filled with more bravado, but because my being constantly enveloped by self-doubt isn't helping me one bit...and it's certainly not helping anyone else.

There are times, such as last night, when I quite literally take a leap of faith, and it feels wonderful. I jumped down two steps, with Mama's help, then stood at the bar of the balcony to clap the hardest I've ever done before - and nothing hurt. My sciatica had disappeared, my spasms were gone, and I know exactly why. I was so caught up in the emotion of the moment, and the desire to give something back to these people who have been so very supportive, that I didn't have time to be anxious. I just went with the flow, and I flew higher than I ever imagined I could.

I'd like to be that way all the time, but I still have far to go; so now to inspiration.

Firstly, my family - especially my stalwart mother, always behind and beside me, often even grabbing the loops of my jeans to prevent me tumbling off whatever precipice I currently find myself on. I love you all, and only wish the world wasn't quite such a big place, so I could see each of you every day.

Secondly, my friends - Jade, Paul, Ruairi, Howes and Ingy, who never fail to make me chuckle, even from as far away as New York. All the fabulous Fam of the Warwick English and Theatre 2013 cohort, indeed the whole of the English Department. Warwick Writing Society. Eileen and Caitlin, two girls I can't believe I've only known since year eleven, because it feels like a lifetime. Jess Hunter, roommate, soul-sister and best pal. My class at Treloar. Shannon and Tena, the three musketeers since we were six.

Finally, my dear Charioteers - a group of people I can't thank enough. You probably won't acknowledge what an inspiration you've been, however many times I tell you, but I'm going to try again anyway - despite being informed by Sam last night that I wasn't allowed to, or he might cry. (Well, you all certainly made me cry, so I think it's only fair I get my own back!) To watch a show in which the cast have invested so much effort and passion and have created such a family, and then to be invited to share that passion and to become a part of that family, has been the most amazingly inspiring experience. I shall be eternally grateful, and feel truly blessed to call you my friends. You should be very proud of what you have done in the nine or so months since Hampstead. Thank you.

Thank you all. So very, very much.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Day 241 - Resolve

Today is my Gramma's birthday. It's also the beginning of 2013 and, as such, leaves me seven months until I can give her what I hope will be the best present - a picture, or even a video, of the walk I'll take to collect my certificate and graduate.

So I thought I'd blog about that somewhat elusive phenomenon known as resolve. Not only because today is the day most of the world makes resolutions, though that does mean it's apt, but because it feels important to acknowledge that the thirty-one days of December (during the greater part of which month I have not posted, for reasons I hope to make clear) have rather tested my ability to keep my own.

Having promised to provide you, my dear readers (if you are still out there), with a sort of virtual advent calendar in the lead-up to Christmas...well, you shall find out I did not. If I am to be candid, and to break the erroneously-termed 'brave face' I wear as a mask, I shall confess it is because there was little in the way of a daily treat to share. That is to say, not much occurred that those outside my immediate family would call progress. Due to anxiety last term concerning a combination of academic work and the availability of helpers at uni for after these holidays, my sciatica made a reappearance that seems to have been strong enough to override a great deal of the effect of my botox, which has in turn increased the anxiety.

Nevertheless, I know enough about the over activity of my mind to be aware that panic solves nothing, and have therefore resolved not to let it crowd out my logic. Optimism is my natural tendency - it always has been - and it is my intention to remember that this year. For this girl, however premature, my birthday falling on the thirteenth has rendered it a lucky number. I've fallen far deeper into the Slough of Despond than I find myself today before now and, if I got out of it then, I can pull myself out of it for 2013. Walking isn't all there is to walking - there's standing, and even sitting to find your balance, and I sat on my own completely fearlessly over Christmas Day and Eve.

Above all, though, I can understand that things happen for reasons - and that my sciatica, coupled with health-related incidents involving other members of my family (from which everyone is recovering but which I feel it is inappropriate to discuss here) can serve as reminders to put our bodies first, to let them guide us, and to trust that (if we work, take courage, smile and laugh) the goals we wish to achieve will come to fruition...however far out of reach they may seem.

So I hope you'll all be here to join me on this next leg of my journey - you've certainly been here when I've needed you most and, for that, I shall be forever grateful.

Happy 2013!