A life well lived

Sam, my Grandad, passed away on Saturday. For the past few months, my family has been going through the raw, uncomfortable process of losing an important person. Grandad was witty, clever and always supportive. His steady presence was accompanied by a love of history, languages, golf and West Bromwich Albion F.C.

I miss – and will continue to miss – his stories. In April 2013, we stayed with relatives in Mumbles, a village at the far end of Swansea Bay that leads to the Gower Peninsula. I’ve written briefly about this place as home before. On this visit, like many previously, we walked around Oystermouth Castle. As my cousins played on a tire swing and Nanny looked across the bay, Grandad and I ventured through the trees. He gestured to the house where he and my great grandparents had lived in the 1950s, enthusiastically describing how he grew from a teen into a cheeky young man with a motorcycle. Before this he had lived in Ethiopia and afterwards he moved to Birmingham. In the early 1980s, his young family moved back to the Gower, where my Mum later met my Dad, an Oceanography student from Kent.

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On friendship and community

I’m currently reading bell hooks’ All About Love, which explores emotional connection in various forms – self-love, spirituality, friendship, familial love and romantic love. So far, I particularly like this sentence:

‘Loving friendships provide us with a space to experience the joy of community in a relationship where we learn to process all our issues, to cope with differences and conflict while staying connected.’

My closest friendships are ones that move seamlessly between silliness and soulfulness – from dancing in the kitchen to talking deeply about life. As well as fun, these friendships involve active listening and calling each other out on questionable choices. Friends have helped me to recognise and rectify instances when I have jumped to conclusions, given unsolicited advice, been overly self-critical or grown distant because of a romantic relationship. My self-awareness has developed partly out of being challenged by these people who know and love me.

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On writing and romance

I recently came across these lines in my 2013/14 journal:

‘I’m finding it slightly strange that I’m turning into a woman capable of professionalism and at the same time I’m just a twenty year old who reads a lot and writes about her feelings.’

More than two years on, I feel confident in my growing professional abilities (hello, team, if you’re reading this) and more open about my creative life beyond work. As I mentioned in this post on self-care, writing gives me space to process my experiences. I find it comforting to note down minor thoughts and grapple with the big picture. It frees up headspace and makes me better at my weekday work. (I’m fortunate that playing around with words is also part of my current job – #comms.)

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