Reasons for Positivity & Gratitude
Every year I sit down mid December and write a ’round robin’ to send out to those few people who are not connected via any of the various social media. This is predominantly, John’s Aunties, friends of mine or John’s parents who were part of our life growing up; and parents of my friends who have been integral in our lives in some way or another. As it’s all about gratitude, I thought you might like to connect too x…
Camaraderie, Community and Reinvention
2020 eh! I am going to try so hard not to use the words ‘unprecedented’ or ‘challenging’, partly because there have just been so many ‘unprecedented’ moments the word is simply meaningless these days; and partly because they are both so overused, they’re beginning to sound glib!!! Although I do appreciate totally why they are referred to so often; my goodness, I think ‘challenging ‘has been the word of choice since the Brexit referendum; and whatever side of that coin you’re on, the fact that 4.5 years on we are still in a state of flux waiting for a decision is something we can all agree we are sick to death of. Just finalise things one way or the other and let businesses and the markets know what is required of them. Everything will be able to re-find its levels. I fear that ‘unprecedented ‘ may be floating around and landing on surfaces for some years to come. The world will never go back to BC19 (before Covid 19); just as relations and some relationships will never be the same as BBR (Before the Brexit Referendum). In the same way that America will never be the same as BT (Before Trump); but let’s hope that despite things never being the same; in each instance, a new normal, and new equilibrium will be found, in which we can all live, if not in harmony then at least in tolerance, safety and peace of mind.
I’m so glad that in January we managed our annual pilgrimage to Essex to spend time celebrating a late Xmas ‘19 with both Renee (John’s mum) and Cynthia & David (my parents). I’m equally grateful that these lockdowns and restrictions to our mobility have happened at a time when technology is advanced enough to enable us to meet, communicate and socialise in different ways. I accept these are less than ideal. Nothing beats a hug and a shared coffee and biscuit from the same kettle and biscuit tin. However at least we have been able to not only speak to, but also see our friends and family via all sorts of different platforms.
Obviously there have been some terrible repercussions of this year but in this letter, I think I want to focus on gratitude and positivity. In fact, I think my words for 2020 will be Camaraderie, Community and Reinvention.
My first gratitude (obviously) is with the NHS, bin men, milkmen, postal services and carers who have all gone above and beyond in keeping us safe and maintaining essential services.
I am so impressed by the way our doctor’s surgery set up a new way of working. Telephone and video appointments, meetings in the carpark, easier access to repeat prescriptions. In fact, there are many practice’s that are improvements on BC19.
It has been wonderful to read about, see or be part of communities that have rallied together and created community shopping services and help for the more vulnerable; and I was lucky enough to be able to play my part in that and regularly shop for half a dozen people in our little town.
Over the Spring and Summer we were so lucky at the amount of fabulous talented musicians who set up in their living rooms to provide ‘live lounge’ musical entertainment at specific dates and times throughout.
Most impressive was the growth, spread and ease of use of platforms enabling people to work from home and hold meetings. It has been really great for friends to hold coffee mornings and family gatherings; even games nights. Specifically, it has really helped people stay safe at work; but even better it has helped many employers realise that their staff can be as productive, if not more productive working from home. This is fabulous for reducing commuting. The benefits of not having to travel to and from work are great both for the environment and for many families. The flexibility of working from home is potentially great for single parents for example especially if the company is flexible on when the hours can be worked
And that first long lockdown when there were no aeroplanes in the sky was just wonderful both for noise and air pollution. The skies were clear, the air was fresher, bird song was lounder.
It’s also been wonderful to see people embracing a more frugal lifestyle, and/or supporting independent and local businesses. As an artist and sole trader, myself, I can only be grateful for local support.
Personally, I have saved an absolute fortune not using the car very much; not going away on holiday; not having to heat the house for B&B guests; wearing makeup less (!!! definitely a plus re face masks !!!) ; visiting the shops less; eating out less; not going to the pub. Off- setting this against a whole Spring , Summer and Autumn without B&B guests; the cancellation of all our wonderful wacky events and the trade they brought; and the SEISS (Self Employment Initiative Support Scheme) has meant that we can still heat the house and put food on the table.
In January I trained as an Independent Celebrant and can now officiate at funerals, vow renewals, weddings etc. Whilst the first lockdown slowed down my opportunities to begin working, it did enable me to have time to create my brand, marketing, website, and business plan. It also presented me with an opportunity to redefine myself and our B&B. We will, by Spring 2021, be able to offer our garden and home as a venue for vow renewal ceremonies, micro-weddings and elopements. Exciting times ahead.
The lockdown was great for John, he even organised (or rather made headway on organising), his garage. John has always been most productive if he hasn’t had to be reactive or fit in time critical demands. It’s allowed him to be creative and he has started making lovely things from old pallets; planters, shoe racks, shelving and storage for starters. He likes his own company and, luckily, mine! The only thing he misses is the Neuadd Arms Hotel and our regular Friday early evening pints with our friends; other than that, he is perfectly happy; only being frustrated by the failings of technology; such as cars breaking down or printers malfunctioning.
If you remember a few years ago I designed a window for Myddfa Community Hall and it was unveiled by HRH Prince Charles. This year I managed to source funding for a second window at the other end of the same hall, and despite lockdowns we have managed to make some very good progress on it. I can’t wait to share the finished article with you when it is installed, hopefully in Spring 2021
I have taken advantage of the additional time to take part in several challenges/courses/workshops online. Bee Heard September Challenge was a fabulous one run by an amazing woman called Dani Wallace. It was all about public speaking, live interviewing, video content and the like. It was excellent. And, bonus I met a bunch of great people. I also took part in a weeklong challenge with Jennifer Constant, the founder of The Celebrant Directory. It focused on sales and marketing techniques particularly for that industry. In addition, I did some work with my incredibly good friend and mentor Dinah Liversidge. She creates a lot of business and mindset content, podcasts and training programs. She gifted me a month workshop with a time management guru and that has been life changing. I’ve since joined her program every month and plan to work with her and the amazing group of businesspeople I’ve met as a result, throughout 2021. So, despite being home bound I have some very amazing new friends in my life.
Spring and early Summer, as in England, were glorious here in Wales. We had a lovely time as a result, bonfires, gardening, meeting friends in the garden. VE day was wonderful; we and our neighbours set up tea parties in our respective gardens and opened the gate between to share our afternoon.
And then there was the calendar!! The 1st of May is International Naked Gardening Day!!!! It popped up on my Facebook timeline with a wonderful Hilda image by the artist Duane Bryers. This pop up coincided with interested I had taken in a fun lockdown distraction ‘recreating famous artworks from things you have at home’. In a moment of madness, I recreated the ‘Hilda’ in my garden. This prompted various friends to pose for naked gardening day and for one to suggest a calendar. In the end 23 friends took lockdown ‘selfies’; tasteful nude poses doing things they were doing in lockdown and so The Naked Truth Calendar was created. Our ‘models’ are ages 23 – 75 and include both me and John!!! (which, for a man who won’t even take his tee-shirt off in the summer is quite something). We chose a mental health charity and one that focuses on body positivity, The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Association, and have so far, donated over £700 to the charity as a result. This in itself is a fantastic achievement, of which we are hugely proud. But additionally, the positivity and sense of wellbeing created by sharing our stories and overcoming our fears to take part in the first place has been wonderfully liberating and uplifting. It was also a great distraction during the lockdown and, again, a fine example of friends and community working together to create something good, both in the making of, and in the sharing of. I love the calendar because each image is accompanied by a real-life story.
Jason is still very much in love with his girlfriend of almost 6 years, Lottie. They met at school and have negotiated University together. This year they both graduated with first class honours degrees and got themselves a dog, Yogi, via The Dogs Trust. Jason is now halfway through his Masters in Mechanical Engineering and applying for jobs. Similarly, Lottie is studying her Masters in Law. They have negotiated the trials of studying and university life with a maturity and strength I am so proud of. Middle son, Graham, with the lovely Carlie are well and truly settled into the Llanwrtyd Community. Graham has a wonderful reputation as a honest, reliable quality provider of expert car repair and restoration services. He has a wonderful workshop overlooking the valley and has built up a great relationship with the landowner to the point that he and Carlie are now estate managers and have lots of projects to manage on the 100 acres of land on which he is based. They are flourishing and it is lovely to have them so close to us. Eldest, David, has changed job and is doing something very senior in the city,! He and wife, Jessica had another baby in June, Angela, and she is beautiful, although we haven’t met her in person
We also have two new addition to the Cerdyn Villa family, our rescue cat, Emmett (named after Dr Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future films). He is adorable and loves to cuddle. And our very handsome cockerel, Genghis
With gratitude, love and well wishes to you all, and a 2021 full of camaraderie, community, and reinvention.