Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here we are saying goodbye to another year. The last few months have been very busy as usual after the lull of the late summer holidays. I usually have a good memory for what was done in what year, but my photos on my smartphone give me a better picture – pardon the pun – on what was going on and what I was doing…where. So here is a whistlestop tour of my year.
I recently have been thinking a lot of the meaning of life since the passing of my mother in 2021, and my mother-in-law in January 2022. They were two great strong role models for women who went the extra mile for their children, hardworking, and both had immense kindness for their close loved ones, family, neighbours and wider community. Despite their kindness – they were both determined and followed through on their commitments and promises. I know I was blessed to have them in my life and I certainly had abundance of respect and love for them. It is very sad that they are both no longer here and I will cherish my memories of them forever.
Therefore, I have been wondering a little bit more than usual on …the meaning of life? I know some of the answers and I am aware that it is a process of loss and acceptance that I am experiencing now. I know that I will be more upbeat again but I certainly won’t waste my time on Earth, or take it for granted. I kinda hope there is somewhere else in the universe that is better than this troubled world.
We were still in the heart of winter, and it was shocking and disturbing when the Ukraine-Russia conflict started in February. It was absolutely worrying if we were on the brink of World War III – and it was heart-breaking to see the destruction and loss of lives. I still remember the profoundly sad image of a child crying as he walked in the freezing cold to refuge in a neighbouring country. There is always conflict in parts of this Earth (I know – depressing), but this felt different as it was all so close to Europe, images were vividly shown on the news and digital channels. The response to support refugees and displaced people were heart-warming, and my community responded positively, as expected. It is sad that we have now gone back to a presumably Cold War era with Russia. I remember the Cold War in the 1980s, and the ideological differences in pop culture such as film and music [e.g. Living in America for Rocky IV, Russians (love their Children too) by Sting]. But this is not fiction – it is so very devastatingly real and wasteful. I just wish life could be better for all those suffering and not like this. Plus power-mad people and countries should just… relax and live peacefully. Yes – peace out.
Spring brought new blossoms and hope with nature reminding us that somethings are beyond our control, and the planet is here for the giving. It is a time of year where I do feel positive with plants and getting my garden ready for summer. I always end up buying plants and this year I made sure I was able to visit the Beth Chatto Garden in Essex, which I have been meaning to visit for years. It didn’t take long to get there and I am thinking of going again in the future.
My first big trip since the start of the pandemic was to go to Trinidad, where I haven’t been to for five years. On reflection, it has been challenging as my mother was unwell during the lockdowns, and I was unable to visit and to go to her funeral. Going to Trinidad was our last official duty for her death rites. It was good to see my close family again and to visit Trinidad. I was able to visit the Pitch Lake – which I have never been to before. I will always have strong connections with Trinidad and still keep abreast of some of the news that I see on social media – so it is a lot virtually closer than 15 years ago! It is an end of era with my mother’s passing…but Trinidad (and Tobago) will remain special to me for always.
Back in England, I visited the seaside, some parts of town and went to the Love Supreme festival. I am certainly not back to my full-on ‘out and about’ as I was before the pandemic. I am less incline to book tickets way in advance for social events, but the only gig I booked was to see Lady Blackbird at the Barbican in November.
I know the reasons for my disengagement – things are expensive, I am not always in town as I am working part of the week, and I have some added work and volunteering, which will be more intense on 2023. However, I am quite happy to listen to music on my smartphone with my headphones, or catch a film on Netflix at the weekend. I don’t expect there will be a magic wand for me to be as socially active for at least another 20 months, when I am likely to have less volunteering responsibility.
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.William E. Vaughan
I only had a few busy weeks at work and some summer activities on my return to London when I had to get ready for my first official in-person SLA Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. The SLA Conference was a highlight of my year as I had always imagined what it would be like. It was less busy than previous years due to Covid refrains, travel bans etc – but for me it was great to be fully there meeting people that I had only seen online or met virtually. I had a ‘pinch myself’ moment – as I realised that I was socialising with these amazing people but as President-Elect…which comes with immense responsibility and commitment. I was so proud to be there! The keynote speeches were inspiring, and it was great to recognise all the work achieved by various individuals and communities. I have a lot of appreciation for the incumbent leaders and Board of Directors – plus it was also great fun! I came away feeling much clearer on what is SLA’s core offering of education and networking to members, partners and stakeholders. I left motivated for my own professional development and our goals for SLA.
As you may recall, I also had my first trip to Florida whilst I was in the USA. I could have gone years earlier but never came round to arranging it. It was great to see the beautiful beaches, architecture and bus tour of Miami. I also was so grateful to spend time with family and meet a few that I have only seen in photographs. I know my mother would have been pleased that I was able to make contact with relatives, and it also made me feel closer to her as she was well-loved by them. I certainly had a great time in Miami and can visit again in the future. I am also hoping we can revive SLA’s Florida and Caribbean chapter – as it is within my remit and there is a gap on professional networking in that area.
Ring out the false, ring in the true.Alfred Lord Tennyson
This year I seem to be busy on all fronts – at work, with volunteering and at home. I am getting even better at time management but I am up late into the early hours. I am not normally a morning person – so this pattern works for me and it certainly has not hindered my performance in my day job in any way. There needs to be some changes in the coming months as there has been a lot of movement and changes on the work front with less persons around to do the work. My way to get around this is to keep my high standards with as little compromise as possible – otherwise things do fall apart. I learnt this from experience! I am hoping to update you more next year when I will be having a once-in-a-lifetime role as SLA President 2023.
The last few months, and year, have really shown a sharp rise in the cost of living – just getting through Christmas recently I noticed a lot of items are at least a third more than they cost a few years ago. I still have a youngish family that is dependent on me, and it seems we are not making any gains as things go up, and up. The last two years we had some home decorating and this costs a small fortune – I would dread to think what financial position I would be in if I was a single parent! I know it is tough for a lot of people and I hope in some way we can continue to help and support others. I honestly wish I had more to give!
As I say goodbye to 2023, I am reflecting on the positives to make sure that I can leave behind any negative energy. I will remember the heatwave in summer and the snowy December we just had (thinking on those in the Blizzards in America recently). I know I will be busy the next year but I will build in time for my own well being. So too, as we turn the page to a new year…do look after yourself and my best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2023!
Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.Michael Josephson