Christmas Singing, Last Christmas & Taco Bell!

This weekend has been a really lovely one and for that I am thankful. It has made me feel joy, as well as having some time to relax, eat food I love and sing some Christmas songs too – both to the elderly where I work and in the choir at church. In recent years this time of year has often been unpredictable emotionally for me and so I try year on year to make the most of it and embrace the good times. I have no idea if or how my grief might be triggered at christmas time, so when I have these moments at this christmas season; where my heart just feels so full, my mind lighter and my joy bursting, you bet your life I embrace them and sing and dance to old favourites.

I feel such gratitude that I can once again see light in my life at christmas, and that I have more confidence and a grateful heart than I used to.

Last month I turned 35 and “mid 30’s” kind of scared me a little – especially as my dear husband kindly pointed out that I am now nearer to 40 than 30 (Wah!). Saying that though, age doesn’t particularly bother me as much as it used to, as I see how much greater life becomes and how I am better coming to know myself with each passing year. And keeping that perspective in mind, has made me rather happy and content. Even so, I do still see my birthdays as a time to self analyse and assess my life/goals etc and celebrate what I have done in that year of life (as well as seeing where i might like to be in life by my next birthday). I love birthdays as they are big milestones and celebrations to me, a gift that not everyone is fortunate to have. And so I enjoy the time to both have fun and indulge in the things that make me happy in life, as well as reflecting on what I want to do with my life in the coming year to embrace the time I have here.

I won’t ever “get over” that my daughter died weeks before my 30th, which meant that this time of year and my early 30’s have been far stranger and harder than I could have imagined (they have also been greatly blessed, filled with adventure and wonderful opportunities too). Because my early to mid 30’s haven’t been the easiest years of my life and I have struggled with who I am after that massive heartbreak, I felt lost for the first couple of years at least. Recently though I have felt a shift and despite that pain, I have also see a lot of change in me and this has created growth within me (which I am now very grateful for). My 30’s so far have certainly been a trying and emotionally broken time, but they have also offered me time where I have learnt to love myself more, accept all parts of me and really know myself. From my 20’s to 30’s I have seen a greater awareness of what makes me happy, what makes me hurt and why I feel what I am feeling each day. I have learnt to put less pressure on myself and to know when to rest and have a guilt free break from regular life. I have learnt to not compare myself so much and live my life in my own way, being comfortable in my skin and with who I am – it has been empowering as well as a struggle.

And, that is why I am thankful here at 35 – for what has grown within me out of trauma and difficulty.

It is all of that growth and awareness that has helped me to see the joy in life again. Smile again and be excited about life and this time of year again (even though some hard days still come).

On Friday night I was excited to kick off this awesome weekend with a date night – we finally went out for my 35th birthday (Hooray!). All I wanted to do this year was go to the cinema with my love.. a couple of pouches of chocolate, a diet coke and then get some grub on the way home. And so we dropped the kids at grandma’s and we went to to see ‘Last Christmas’ (have you seen it?). I really really liked it. It was so funny and had a brilliant soundtrack. I especially loved the message of being you and how overrated “normal” is. I also loved how when we accept ourselves more, especially the broken parts, we can move forward with life and we can offer more and lift those around us. I suppose that struck a chord with me as I have really seen the truth in that; both as I have learnt to accept the parts of me that carry heartache or grief these last 5 years, as well as the parts of me that I love. I have learnt to let them live together and there peace has been. I have been able to see how great I am and have confidence in that, and let me tell you guys – when you love you and see your greatness amazing things happen in life. Knowing myself and acceptance of what is, has been the greatest gift of my early 30’s.With that, seeing what I can offer the world and others has changed how I see things and made me happier and more grateful.

I think I loved the film so much because it wasn’t just generally a really great Rom-Com, but last christmas for me, really emphasised life lessons of my early 30’s and helped me smile at how far I have come from 29 to 35. I love going to the cinema and it was such a lovely film and treat to be together – holding hands and hanging out!

From there we had a walk down Humber street (trendy art quarter) and then had the not so tacky taco bell for dinner, followed by Churros! I walked into Taco Bell to see “Live Mas” (live more) illuminated on the wall and I smiled to myself and wanted to shout “Amen to that”. It was another joyful moment of my night (not to mention Tacos and burritos for dinner – whoop!). I have been SO excited to see Taco bell popping up over here in England, because when I lived in America back in 2006 – 2007 one of my fave things was to Cruise through Taco bell drive through on our way home and get a couple of dirty 99 cents Tacos.

Taco Bell was budget food, a little tacky but super tasty and it was our go to comfort food!

Fast forward to 2019 and we are finally getting Taco bell popping up here in Yorkshire (Hallelujah)! It’s all rather exciting to be able to get it again and feed that 20 year old part of me. Only, I find it a little weird that over here it’s a trendy establishment and the 99c tacos are actually £1.79 – it’s an outrage! But as we are limited on “Mexican food” over here Ill pay it (reluctantly) and smile knowing I can once again have access to Taco bell for some tasty fast food.

Saturday I worked all day, but yesterday we went as a family and sang songs to some of the elderly where I work – it was really lovely and made us and them feel joyful! In the evening, after we had lunch at ours (I made a big pot of Italian minestrone soup – yum!) we had an evening of singing and musical items at church for christmas. The theme was all about lighting the world for others and how we can each be a light to others – however dim or bright we might be feeling – we each have something to offer. Singing the songs of christmas with others in the congregation and in the choir, and also seeing Ethan play piano duets with his grandma really lit me up and me feel so proud! It made my heart so full and thankful and I really felt excited for Christmas time. It brought that lovely spirit of christmas to my life – hope, joy and light.

If you are reading this and are struggling, I want you to know that I know all too well how hard christmas can be or birthdays too when life sucks. I know how broken we and life can feel and how darkness tarnishes the things others see joy in. But I also know that we are not meant to stay in the darkness and that as seasons change and times passes, our hearts will see the joy of the season again – just give yourself time and be kind to yourself. Remember that we are each lights in this world in our own individual ways – even broken ways. I remember seeing on pinterest that “glow sticks need to be broken to shine brightly” and that really helped me to do my own thing and remember that I could be a light in my brokenness and in spite of my own pain. I soon realised that being broken opened up more of my light and helped me to shine brighter and feel deeper than I previously had. I really think that is so true of many others too.

I never imagined 5 years ago that at 35, singing christmas songs, a film at the cinema followed by taco bell for my belated birthday celebrations, and hanging with my lovely husband, would make me so grateful and happy for my life and this time of year. I never thought I would have the perspective I do now. But I realise that time allows us space to grow and time to accept all parts of ourselves. And, with that time, I can now see that in spite of our pain, grief and the heartache within us, there is also a lot of space for more light, more joy, more gratitude, more feeling and more life to live… and I find that there is something refreshing, empowering and joyful about that knowledge and prospect – that all can exist together.

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