I’m pleased to see the back of 2013. It was a challenging year business-wise, and a sad end of the year personally speaking. I hit the Christmas break mentally, physically and emotionally wrung out. The lack of posts on this blog recently are a reflection of that. I seriously lacked all creative ability (except for creating Christmas goodies to eat, which went very well). After three weeks off, where I did a lot of reading, decluttering and helping my husband make a patio, I am back at work and finally beginning to feel a little like writing again.
What was it that made the end of 2013 so hard? Simply, I lost four friends between November 20th and Christmas Eve 2013. Kerri was a school and family friend, and my age. She was one of the cool Gisborne surfer chicks, but she was never unkind to a nerdy geek. I last saw her five years ago, and was lucky enough to meet her gorgeous nearly grown-up daughter then. When I think of Kerri, it’s always as if a breath of summer blows over me.
Lizzie was the mother of one of my daughter’s best friends. She was my age too. She always made my daughter and I warmly welcome in her home. She seemed like a person who embraced life and found the wonder in it, and with whom you could sit down, have a glass of wine and a good chat. I last saw her at her son’s 16th birthday in October, when she was delighted to still be with us and able to join in the celebration.
Toni was quite a bit older, and I worked with her for ten years at my children’s primary school. She was the school secretary and in my role on the Board of Trustees, I got to know her very well. She could be crusty and grumpy and occasionally absent-minded, but we shared common ground in that we both had six children and a sense of humour. My youngest son summed it up best in the card he made for her family when he said “She always looked after me when I hurt myself. She reminded me to use my manners. She was kind.” She died suddenly and unexpectedly.
Damian had been sick for a couple of months. He was a work colleague who began just before I did, and we learnt the ropes together. Damian was dedicated, committed and extremely good at his job. He had a wicked sense of humour, and liked to wind me up by pretending he’d forgotten to do things. I think of Damian as a shot of Irish whiskey with a dash of mischief mixed in. I raised a glass of whiskey to him on Christmas Eve, the day he died, and again on New Year’s Eve, the day of his funeral. He will be greatly missed, both as a colleague and a friend.
So many deaths in such a short time hit me hard. It made me sad. I am generally a happy, positive person, but I found these deaths – each new blow – hit me harder and harder. The period of sadness has really made me think. A very wise person said to me that hard times teach us lessons, and at this time of the year, it’s good to take stock and think about what it is we want from life.
Losing Kerri, Lizzie, Toni and Damian has reminded me that life is short. Things can change at any time. All four of them shared a willingness to live life as fully as possible. They made the most of their opportunities and they really loved the people around them. So with their example ahead of me, here are the things I plan to do in 2014. Not resolutions, as such, but attitude adjustments.
- Have fun. And by this, I mean LOOK for the fun. Find the enjoyment in every moment and roll around in it.
- Be kind.
- Practice gratefulness and mindfulness.
- Make sure all the practicalities – wills, insurances and the like – are in order.
- Maintain the healthier lifestyle I followed for the second half of last year.
- Make the most of my opportunities.
- Love those around me and let them know they are loved.
What are your attitude adjustments for 2014? What have you learned from those people you have lost? And those who are still in your life?