2022 - A Year Of Music?

9 January 2022


Over the past few years I have always seemed to struggle to find a start point for a new blog post, and although as you read this you won't know it, I've hummed and hawed about what image to post and what to write over the past few days, and mostly thought that I shouldn't bother posting anything at all. That latter part is now blown away, so here I go...

I should first of all say hello and wish any visitors / readers 'all the best' for the coming year. Personally, I find it very hard to feel optimistic about the coming year, what with the ever-changing covid situation and the ongoing issues around climate, pollution and destruction of the natural world. So, that's a cheery way to start this off - if we're not all doomed by the virus, the raging fires and floods will mop up the rest of us. Got that? Right. Good. Let's get on with it then.

I've been fairly open on here (to an extent) about the fact I've experienced difficulties with mental health and various physical health issues over the years. I've also shared snippets about the involvement I had in dealing with care and the social care system on behalf of my Mum over the last 10+ years, and the impact that had on my own health / mental health. A handful of people who know me personally will know more, but most of it, the challenges, the conflicts, the battles you have to have within the system, the way things have truly been and felt to me have remained locked up in my own head. Hence my own struggles.

It all took a very different turn over the last year having lost my Mum in December 2020. I say 'very different', but the demands, the nature of the care I could provide and her own circumstances changed over the course of that time, which I suppose is only natural and is the very nature of life. What never changed during the entire time was that I always wanted her, and told her, that all she should focus on each and every day was living her day to day life as best as she could and I'd look after the issues around that - care, health, finance and welfare etc. As long as she could find the strength and will to push herself into getting up each day (or as often as she could when her condition had deteriorated) the rest would be looked after.

Her last 3 years were spent at Sue Ryder Deeview Court in Aberdeen. It provides a home and care that specialises in people with neurological conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis or Huntington's and those with long term brain injury. She had moved there after spending the best part of 7 years at Coronation Court, a very sheltered housing complex in Peterculter just outside of Aberedeen. I will be forever grateful that these were the 2 places that were able to be secured for her to live in during a very difficult period of her life - and although there were ups and downs and challenges throughout, I don't think there is anywhere that could have done better for her.

The last year of Mum's life was difficult all round. Of course, the pandemic was in full flow and restrictions made things very, very difficult. I didn't get to see as much of her as I usually would, I couldn't keep tabs on her health and care as well as I could in normal times and between her health deteriorating both physically and cognitively, she couldn't engage in video calls like many take for granted. The odd sneaky visit to speak to her through her bedroom window and regular notes, cards and packages of treats and DVD's helped us through, but then she took ill with pneumonia in November and that was one fight too far for her. In reality, she had fought off so many illness and infections on top of her M.S, it's amazing she managed to keep going as well and as long as she did.

For me, losing Mum wasn't just losing Mum. I'd lost her in slow motion since her diagnosis almost 30 years earlier. M.S is different for everyone. Mum experienced a slow and steady decline across her entire being over a number of years. I've described it before to feeling like being in a constant and steady state of grief. I think that because of that, and because I'd had to have open and honest and frank conversations around health and death over a long period with her, I was already prepared in many ways when her time did come.

What I haven't been prepared for, or did I even consider, was how would her not being here impact on me. Not in terms of grief, but in terms of having spent so long trying to build myself into being her support, her voice and fighting her corner, I totally neglected my own health and well-being. I alluded to this when I put together my 'What Now?' mixes / blog posts. I can only liken it to be stuck at sea without an engine, without paddles or sails and no compass. No sense of direction, no idea where I am really and no clue as to what to do. It has had the effect of shining a light on the things I neglected for a long time.

What I do know is that I want to be able to focus on getting myself feeling better. Of course, the general meaning of that is improved health / mental health. But that doesn't just come about by just thinking about it. I know it means I've got to make changes. I know some of the things I want and need to improve on, but the fall down for me is how to get the ball in motion. I have some loose goals in mind, which I won't talk about, but they're there. It is a vicious circle though. No confidence, like rock bottom zero, and a tendency to lack any belief in myself - there's a lot behind that mindset, which I'm not going into here, but safe to say we are all a product of our own life experiences and relationships. I generally am on my own. I don't have a social circle or the cosy friendships I used to see people have on Facebook or if I happen to venture outside into the real world. I don't have a tight knit and caring family / extended family. I have a less than helpful set of experiences dealing with GP's for my own health needs. I rarely see or speak to anyone, so talking myself out of things is second nature, and ruminating about life experience feeds that.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I had loosely thought about trying to commit to doing a mix/selection every week of 2020 and try to find a way to tie that in to a fund raising effort for Sue Ryder, who like all charities have really struggled and been hit very hard during the pandemic. Of course, I think about it (and lots of other things), build it up in my head and then spend even more time convincing myself that I won't manage to do it, nobody is interested in any case and what would I achieve. So, although I want to do things, I end up convinced I can't, so don't.

I have to find a way to change that line of thinking. I may not manage to do what I set out to do, but the only guaranteed way to fail at anything is to not start in the first place.

So, I'm not exactly sure how it all all work, nor if I will manage to do this, but I'm making a start. It's likely that if I can stick with it things will evolve over time (I also want to do the Kiltwalk - but need to find the strength / energy *and kilt).

I've started by setting up a Just Giving page - I've created a graphic (at the top of this post) and linked that up to the page. A small version is permanently located on the side menu.

I've got my first couple of mixes in the bag. The first should have been posted last week if I hadn't talked myself out of it, and the second would be today (Sunday 9th), but both will be posted today. Just pretend the first one was posted last week please.

The intention is to post a new mix / selection each Sunday of 2022, aiming to be at least an hour in length. They won't all be mixes some will simply be selections of music from my record shelves, they will vary in genre, but I hope to make them interesting in any case. Some may have themes, some may be related to issues going on the world at the time, or they may have no meaning or theme at all. I won't be posting commentary on it - it's up to the listener to think about whether there is any theme or meaning. Each mix will have a number, counting down from 52 and will use photography that I have taken myself. I will still provide linked up tracklists and encourage listeners to support the artists and labels, but there will also be a link to my just giving page and I hope that if anyone does listen and enjoy the selections, they may wish to chip in something to my fundraiser.

I don't expect this to do much if truth be told. That's not being defeatist, it's more just because the numbers of listeners on my mixes has declined a lot over the years - possibly due to the way people consume music these days, but me engaging less on social media in recent years probably hasn't helped much either. But to be honest, as much as I'd love to raise lots of money for the very worthwhile cause that is Sue Ryder, I also have to think about this as something for me to focus on and as a building block to the change I alluded to earlier. 

I have to start somewhere. I'm starting here. All being well, I'll be here for a round up in January 2023.

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