Bear with me folks as I embark on my blogging journey, trying to work out what the hell it is I might have to say that some of you may or may not want to read. Truthfully, anything and everything could be covered here, if what goes on in my head and generally comes out of my mouth is any guide! And I hope it feels natural, like a conversation rather than an essay, albeit with slightly better grammar, and possibly the tiniest bit more PG (That’s NOT a promise people, so be warned!) What I’m mostly hoping for is discussion back from readers in response to my ramblings, so please, please comment…even if it’s just to say ‘hi’ or give a thumbs ups, thumbs down.
So here goes…
To kick off, being as we’ve all just been birthed into a new year, I thought I’d write something deep and reflective about the year that was 2019, for me at least. I may be kidding about the “deep and reflective” bit, we’ll just see how whimsical vs philosophical I get…or possibly could be sizable portions of shite, who knows? That’s the fun bit right?
2019…for me, kicked off with a personal resolve to make it my “year of yes”. I’ve spent the last few years working too hard, trying to raise kids as a single parent, stressing about anything and everything, and truthfully spending precious little time on my own wellbeing and happiness. Then in late 2018 my father died, and it threw my life into sharp perspective. My dad although possibly ignoring his physical health at times, certainly nurtured his interests, hobbies, passions and looked after his mental health. Revisiting his life while gathering information for his eulogy, and sorting through my own grief, I was struck by the vast and varied things dad achieved during his time on earth. It made me put my own life under the spotlight, and I found the last several years to be lacking in the things that I had always loved: writing, reading, painting, drawing, music. I’d sacrificed a lot of friends for a relationship that ultimately failed and made the classic mistake of putting my kids’ happiness and wellbeing before everything and ignoring my own. Which, as anyone who has experienced this knows, is ultimately self-defeating. My kids needed me to self-care and be responsible for my wellbeing and happiness, so theirs’ can fall into place much more easily, when their primary caregiver/s isn’t perpetually stressed and miserable.
So 2019 was the year for me to look after myself first, and trust that my kids could take care of themselves a bit more (a lot more as it turned out!) And by committing to saying ‘yes’ to more things I guaranteed myself a little more ‘me’ time. I discovered, the thing with saying ‘yes’ (or ‘no’) to things is… it can be quite addictive. You’ve just got to have the yes and no in the right order. Saying yes to gigs, art galleries, exhibitions, catching up with friends, dates (good lord THAT could have a blog on its own!!) opened up a whole new world of experiences, happiness and enjoyment, rediscovering lost passions, reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, being reinvested in the world. It was, and is, a heady experience.
And I rediscovered music, opening up a whole new set of doors for me, not least the fabulous music scene we have in Melbourne, but also the past – my dad’s old favourites, that shaped mine and my brothers’ musical tastes, and also my own obsessions from the seventies and eighties (the teen years) and everything before and beyond that I loved. I have created the best Spotify playlists I can tell you – and boy have they taken a beating this year!
I went to lots of gigs, LOTs and LOTS of gigs, drawing in old friends and new to come along and experience the joy with me. And oh what joy it has been! Music has always been the background to my own creativity, and so once I started to re-engage with music…my muse came roaring back and I have been writing my little heart out. Page after page of writing books filled with my fevered imaginings, sparked by music, by people, by the world around me. I existed for most of the year in a euphoric cloud, and I noticed it infected people around me, as joy does, inevitably. (The reverse is also true and negative feelings also bring others down…but in 2019? – uh, uh nope!) My kids in the main benefited from this new happier, relaxed me, with the occasional blip on the radar generally the result of Year 12 stress, or the absence of dinner cos mama was off at a gig. Minor stuff, part of life and character and independence building for my children. (for those of you who don’t know…I have three delightful offspring, one who turned 21 in 2019, and 17-year-old twins who were in Year 12 this year…so not little kids in any sense of the word; my son at 6ft 5in, is a virtual giant!) There was the odd panicked phone call when I was out…mainly around whether the cats had been fed (?!) or ‘urgent’ requests for cash transfers or uber eats…nothing life threatening.
I should also tell you that I kicked off the year by taking extended leave…in fact commenced in Nov 2018, just to give myself a well-earned breather from a full on job, space to grieve for my father and reconnect with the me that was trapped inside behind a bucket of baggage and self-imposed misery. THAT was a great thing to do, and I recommend it to anyone who has been in a job for a long period of time (or several long periods of time)…give yourself a break, it can’t be all about money, and also…you don’t need as much money as you think you do! And spend it on stuff that makes you happy, enriches you –NO that is not necessarily the latest technology or newest car or designer clothing.
I’ll share with you 3 things (out of the many) I spent money on that made me indescribably happy this year:
- An exhibition: Revolutions Records and Rebels. A whole lot of reading, listening and thinking came out of the Revolutions Records & Rebels exhibition (and the resultant book purchase!) I am still blown away by the sheer enormity of what happened around the world during those years between 1966-1970. And no small amount of envy in being too young to be a part of such a vibrant time, although I’m also happy NOW that I’m not ten years older!
- Records from Crate Digger Record Fair (@Howler first Saturday every month). Vinyl from this fair (and Basement Discs, my other favourite go-to for several reasons) have given me some really happy moments…I really do feel sorry for the generations who didn’t grow up with vinyl, such a different experience all round – the crackling sound of the needle on vinyl and time spent pouring over every inch of the record sleeve, absorbing every detail…you can’t get that kind of pleasure with other recorded musical mediums.
- New felt pens and writing books (quite a lot as it turns out!) The writing that followed…well there’s no point buying all those pens and writing books if they sit in a cupboard unused (and I have done this over the years, trust me!) Nothing is quite as satisfying as filling a page with words from your imagination. Many people have said to me ‘why don’t you use a computer or typewriter for writing?’ HELL NO!! It might work for some but for me (and Nick Cave incidentally) pen to paper is easily more satisfying for the soul and the imagination.
I can hear my friends all saying, but what about the music, the gigs? How could they not be in the top 3 purchases…and yes, some serious coin has been spent on live music this year for sure! I have been to a lot of STELLAR gigs this year, beyond amazing – new artists, old favourites, I’ve had a wonderful time!! So now you know what my NEXT blog will be about…come on, there is no way I could fit my thoughts on all the brilliant music I’ve heard, the lovely musicians I’ve seen and met, all the fabulous friends I’ve experienced this with, into a few paragraphs!! Next blog peoples…all about the music!
So clearly I’ve had a great year…mostly. Work, when I returned in March 2019, was less so…probably because my workplace had changed, and so had I. We’d outgrown each other. After a mostly unhappy seven months, I took myself off on leave again, this time for a longer period of six months and my personal journey continues in 2020…all the more exciting because this time I have PLANS, and also…it’s a new decade.
2019 was my “Year of Yes” so what will 2020 be? Well…I sense a revolution in the making, my own personal one. But also I think the world is ready for a revolution. Politically, musically, culturally, environmentally…bring on the changes. I’m ready. Are you?
Thanks for reading. PLEASE comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my 2019, read all about your 2019, and maybe start a discussion on what our hopes are for 2020.
Peace and love,