January

Have you become accustomed to writing 2020 yet?

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I usually dread January.  Once the New Year is celebrated, the sparkle of Christmas comes down, packed away for another year.  The days are short, the nights are dark and it feels soooo long!

On a purely personal level, 2019 was a hard year and I was glad to see the back of it. Then 2020 started with news of the death of an extended family member.  Dealing with the death of someone you care about is always difficult.  When it happens at the end of the old year and the start of the new, it can be hard to see any light ahead.  But Spring is only around the corner.  Along with the news of a death, came the news of an impending birth.  The circle of life continues.  So, my new year’s resolution is to hug those I love a little tighter and more often this year.

January gets its name from Janus, the God of beginnings in Roman Mythology.  New Year, New Beginning.  Janus has two faces, one to look to the future and one to look at the past.  For how do we know where we are going, if we do not know where we come from?

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Think of all the new starts over the centuries, the new beginnings in the month of January.

On January 1st 1502 Portuguese explorers landed at Guanabara Bay on the coast of South America and named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January).  Five hundred years later Brazilians still speak Portuguese although Brazil was never a colony.

On January 1st 1801  The Act of Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  Amended in 1920 by the Government of Ireland Act, which partitioned our country.

On January 1st 1892  Eilis Island opened in New York harbour and over 20 million people were processed through its doors until it closed in 1954, 3.5million of them were Irish.

On January 1st 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was founded.  The British first established a penal colony at Syndey Harbour in January 1788 with the arrival of eleven ships with 788 convicts onboard.  How many of them were Irish?

On January 1st 1958 The EEC was formed by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxemburg and Netherlands and then on January 1st 1973 Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined their ranks leading to the launch of the Euro on January 1st 1999, although Britain held onto their sterling and at the end of January 2020 will leave the Eu forever.

Where you born in January?  According to http://www.fatherly.com January babies are more likely to be famous because they are more creative and have superior problem-solving skills.  People born in January include Elvis Presley 1935, Edmund Burke 1729, Martin Luther King 1929, Benjamin Franklin 1706, Muhummad Ali 1942, Mozart 1756 and Lewis Carroll 1832.  Happy birthday to all you Capricorns and Aquarians.

Deaths in January included Queen Victoria 1909, Winston Churchill 1965 and Al Capone who bizarrely died from syphilis in Miami in 1947.

On this island, who can forget the massacre of Bloody Sunday, 30th January 1972 when fourteen innocent people were gunned down by British soldiers in Derry.  That day led to countless more years of suffering and bloodshed and will forever be a black day in our history.

On a lighter note, New Years Day is the most celebrated holiday around the world and rightly so.  On that day we have a full unblemished year ahead of us.  A blank page where anything is possible.  The first day of a new year,  and this year, of a new decade.  A day to be hopeful.  A day to dream.  A day to start again.  Let’s make those hopes and dreams and new years resolutions sustain us through the darkness of January and February until the start of Spring and new life.

January

Now that New Year’s Eve is over and the month of January is underway, it might be a good time to think about the year ahead.  I love the idea that the year ahead has so many possibilities.  It may be good or bad but most likely it will bring a mixture of triumphs and tribulations.  We just need to figure out how we are going to deal with whatever 2019 has in store for us.

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I had a look back at my resolutions for 2018 and I managed to keep some of them, like spending more time with my father, like reading two new novels per month, like establishing a writing schedule.  Okay, I didn’t lose the weight or learn the language but maybe those tasks are for this year.  What I did learn to do is to look for the positives in life.  So this year once again my virgin diary sits in front of me and the possibilities of 2019 beckon.

I don’t expect 2019 to be the best year ever.  There are trials and tribulations ahead but there is also the anticipation of happiness and joy.  I wrote last year that you won’t find joy unless you open your heart to it.  It is found in the most unusual places.  In the smile of a loved one as you listen to them attentively, in the taste of good food lovingly prepared, in losing yourself in the imagination of others, in the taste and smell of sea air as it blows the cobwebs from your brain and energises your soul, in the satisfaction of a job well done.

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The old scouting motto springs to mind ‘be prepared’.  It is good advice, to be prepared for whatever life throws at you in the year ahead, prepare yourself to roll with the punches, prepare yourself to enjoy the here and now and above all to look for the positive aspects in life.

Happy New Year.

Week 1 of the Year of Possibilities

Start each day with a positive thought

Week 1 of my Year of Possibilities has been eventful.  New year resolutions are now decided upon and written down.  One resolution is to spend more time with my father and so far, so good.  On New Year’s Day, we went on a day trip to Howth outside Dublin.  A little over an hour’s drive from us, it is picturesque, with a delightful pier full of fishing boats (and pleasure boats and yachts), beautiful cliff walks, excellent restaurants and views to inspire.  It was cold when we set out, but the skies were blue, and we hoped for the best.  The minute we parked the car we felt the force of nature.  The cobwebs were definitely blown away as we faced into the wind at Howth harbour.  I was struck by the number of people battling the elements on the first day of the New Year.  Maybe like us, they were anxious to shake off the old year and welcome in the new with renewed vigour.  There was a mixture of accents and languages, all wrapped up in heavy coats and gloves, all admiring the view from the harbour but not foolhardy enough to attempt any cliff walks.  Himself had to go back for the car as Dad and I took shelter behind a wall against the wind which threatened to whip him, and his walking aid, into the sea.  Once Dad was safely ensconced inside the car, with his beloved pipe to keep him company, himself and I took a few minutes to enjoy the view out to sea until heavy drops of rain plopped around us forcing our retreat to the relative safety of the car.  Dad suggested hot whiskies and we drove the short distance back to a bar overlooking the harbour.  Even with the rain lashing off the windows, Howth looked picturesque from our vantage point, with a hot drink in hand and a delicious bowl of chowder served up with fresh soda bread.

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On Day 2 of my Year of Possibilities my other half and I set off to the midlands, just the two of us.  Our Christmas present to each other, two nights in a hotel to rest and recuperate from the excesses of Christmas and New Year.  The Adult Retreat at The Hudson Bay Hotel was perfect.  The rooms are delightful, large and airy with a huge bed, great views of Lough Ree and a bathroom fit for royalty.  Our booking included an evening meal in their L’Escale restaurant and what a treat that was.  The staff were knowledgeable and friendly.  The food was beautifully presented and cooked to perfection.  A wonderful experience.

We are now back home, refreshed, renewed and ready to start our New Year in earnest.  We have both decided on a ‘dry January’, or rather part of January as we are starting a few days into the month and ending on the 27th.   Hopefully, the absence of alcohol will aid in weight loss as well as wallet gain for us.  Both badly needed after the excesses of the season.  I dread taking down the Christmas tree and lights tomorrow.  Once the twinkling Christmas lights have been packed away the magic disappears, and the dark encroaches on our spirits.  Outside it’s cold, dark and dreary and spring seems so very far away.  Usually, I hate this time of year but this year I am taking a different approach and have vowed to use these short days and long nights wisely.  I aim to rise each morning with a positive affirmation and during the short days banish all negative thoughts as soon as they occur.  In the evenings a cosy fire and a selection of lamps and candles will banish the dark shadows and a good book always has the power to entertain.  I’m looking forward to following through on more of my resolutions in week 2 of my Year of Possibilities.