Call for Guest Writers 2024December 28, 2023
Guest Essay #2January 19, 2024
Guest Message #1
by Karen Jones
The end of the year was recent, and it’s good to review it and my experiences of it– as is my custom. As I get older, years are not good, or bad, they’re far more subtle, although, on the whole, at the end of each year, I usually look back and find it was a good one, simply because being alive is such a gift, and, if it has been awful, I’m demob happy, because I’ve survived, and there’s a brand new battle to get ready for just on the horizon.
This year has had some amazing highs, and some desperate lows. I’ve been a taker, this year, probably more than I have ever been before. I’ve had to learn how to both accept, and ask for help. It hasn’t been nearly as bad as the old me would have imagined. I’ve felt loved and supported (I’ve also felt desperately lonely, while knowing I’m not, if that makes any sense). I’ve seen how kind people can be, and in a world with so much pain, with a genocide occurring in plain sight, I have not had to relinquish entirely my faith in humanity. I wish I could tell you about the million kindnesses I’ve received, that have kept me going, made me strong. I have some amazing people in my life, and I’m grateful for that.
The most profound experience of this year was, without a doubt, the week-long Camino from Sarrià to Santiago de Compostelabin September. I learned more in a week than I’ve learnt in years. That experience gave me the tools to deal with all the difficulties that this year has flung at me, without drowning, and with hope and excitement for the future. It taught me to really enjoy the present. If I’ve learnt one lesson this year about staving off anxiety and depression, it’s firstly to walk (or cycle) as much as I can, and connect with nature, and secondly, when thoughts start to get out of control, rein them in, and bring them back to the present moment.
This year, I didn’t set goals, or objectives. Which is probably just as well, as nothing turned out as planned. I think I only managed to read one book. My concentration has been awful, and my Spanish is getting worse, not better. I cursed my way through sewing something for my daughter’s 18th, and haven’t sewn or cooked much at all, all things I was previously passionate about. I haven’t had much to give this year in terms of emotional support. I probably haven’t been a fabulous friend myself.
This year has been about learning to value myself. It’s been a year spent outside, enjoying nature. It’s been a year enjoying time with friends. And it’s been a year of developing a passion for Spanish cinema.
But most of all, it’s been a year of creating an imperfectly perfect family unit of three, thinking tentatively about our respective futures, and seeing how each of us can start to dream, and make those dreams come true.
Karen moved to Spain from UK in 2018. She qualified as a lawyer a long time ago, has two adult children and two dogs, and enjoys making quilts, writing, and hiking. And getting up early to see amazing sunrises.