Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday…dear me …

Every year I want to write a little about the past year. Most years I put it off and never get around to it…

I turned 27 under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. With a beer in hand, the tower flashed its glorious lights and I knew that midnight had struck and I was a year older.

I spent several days in that deliciously decadent city and since then I have travelled to Madrid and Barcelona, both of which I found so beautiful. Madrid in particular was a real gem because it felt like I had stumbled across a huge secret just for my exploration.

Something I learnt on my trips to Paris and Madrid, which I implemented in Barcelona, was to wear sensible shoes. I don’t suit sandals and never have and I suit them even less when public transport is forgone and you walk tens of miles over a long weekend.

Going to these amazing places was an adventure as you can imagine. Paris because it has always held a special place in my heart as the home of love, Madrid was a new discovery and worth every second and Barcelona for its unique culture and its socialist past.

I was hugely lucky when it came to foreign travel because having not been abroad since 2006 before that my feet were too itchy for me to stay sane for much longer.

As for the rest of the year, well, I have done some incredible things, too many to name in fact. I can’t even begin to run down the highlights because I have truly been spoilt.

In the last year I had my first promotion at work which means I have finally gotten off that first rung of the ladder. I love my job and I know that what I do does do some good in the world and I am exceptionally grateful to those who have helped me along the way. It makes to difference being around colleagues who support you and forgive, all to often, my bouts of albeit commitment fuelled but still not nice rage when things aren’t going to plan. I’d like to think they’d rather work with someone who cared and got angry than someone who was passive and didn’t care but I’m not quite confident enough to call a ballot on it.

For years I have wanted to write and there has always been an excuse but I feel that this year I have worked out that I just wasn’t ready. People tell me I am a story teller, in fact ‘Fantastical Dom’ comes from someone telling me that all my tales are fantastical to the point they have asked my parents about the validity of some of my stories (they’re true!). I see now 27 years of experience has been the building blocks and now as a 28 year old I have to put them together to tell my stories.

There have been as many detractors as supporters over the years but the tables are turning and I am now enjoying great support from some fantastic(al) people. I am eternally grateful.

A writer who I really respect and love the work of told me recently that it’s all a collaboration and that together we can all move forward positively. In a similar vein, Hugh Laurie once said that he realised that there isn’t a finite amount of success in the world and that once he realised that he became a more rounded artist more willing to help others. Without those closest to me especially I wouldn’t be able to move forward. In times of weakness I have people more incredible that I ever imagined existed there to push me forward.

Self-doubt will always be there. In anyone who can be truly great, there will always be doubt. The answer to self-doubt isn’t as easy as ‘getting on with it’, it’s about harnessing the moments of doubt as well as you do the moments of magic, and constantly creating whether in your mind or on paper. It’s about being obsessed and having a relationship with your creative self and when you have that you can get the best out of it even when it seems determined to stop you.

For the last eight years I have said that ‘this year is my year’ and although none of them have been in the ways that I envisaged when I made the statement, they all have been my years. Love and loss and triumph and tragedy are all makers of people and there isn’t very much that I would change.

I am sure you are none the wiser about me after this but I hope that you are a little wiser about yourself and a little more determined to tell your story, because someone wants to hear it…I promise.

Happy birthday to me and thank you for being a part of my life, whoever you are x

I want to leave you with the lyrics of ‘Strangers’ by The Kinks. It’s a superb song and the words are just explosive and it is the last song I listened to as a 27 year old.

‘Strangers’ – The Kinks

Where are you going I don’t mind
I’ve killed my world and I’ve killed my time
So where do I go what do I see
I see many people coming after me
So where are you going to I don’t mind
If I live too long I’m afraid I’ll die
So I will follow you wherever you go
If your offered hand is still open to me
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one
So you’ve been where I’ve just come
From the land that brings losers on
So we will share this road we walk
And mind our mouths and beware our talk
‘Till peace we find tell you what I’ll do
All the things I own I will share with you
If I feel tomorrow like I feel today
We’ll take what we want and give the rest away
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one
Holy man and holy priest
This love of life makes me weak at my knees
And when we get there make your play
‘Cos soon I feel you’re gonna carry us away
In a promised lie you made us believe
For many men there is so much grief
And my mind is proud but it aches with rage
And if I live too long I’m afraid I’ll die
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one.

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