Happy Birthday to me…


Today, I turn 30. Though I’ve been celebrating my birthday all day, it’s in the next hour that I should really be celebrating. I made my appearance at about 11.30pm on 26th April 1982. 6 weeks early. I’ve always been impatient. I like to think I was anxious to get into the world and start living.

Today, I feel like I’m being born all over again. It is a turning point in so many ways. Not because anything in particular has happened today, but because so many things have happened over the last two years. Today I took some time to contemplate them. To look back at the journey and see the place I’m in now. It’s a good place. A place I thought I would never find. It’s amazing to be here. To know that I kept looking, even when it was dark, for that lingering fragment of hope. And found it. And now it’s lighting up my whole life. And, in that glow, I can see that I’m not at my destination yet. There’s another journey to embark on. Only this time it’s exciting and inspiring and an enticing adventure.

Through the last two years there’s been one song that’s sustained me in dark moments, helped me to put words to my feelings, and filled me with feelings of hope. Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked. I told myself I wouldn’t post a video of it until I felt like I was finally defying gravity. Not when I hoped to be, or wanted to be. When I was actually doing it.

I’m posting it today. And with it, I’m experiencing all the emotions it brings out in me. When I first heard the song, I found it quite sad. “Kiss me goodbye, I’m defying gravity…” There’s a real sense of loss, of letting go, of having to move on however much it hurts. For a long time the chains that bound me to the ground were of that nature. I was holding onto them myself, scared to move on. Filled with overwhelming sadness at leaving anything behind. But you can’t fly if you don’t let go.

Then I felt the fighting spirit, the anger, the need to triumph. “I’m through accepting limits, ’cause someone says they’re so…some things I cannot change, but ’til I try I’ll never know…” I used it to strengthen me. To help me fight, to connect with my own anger and pride in myself.

And now, today, I feel the joy of it too. “So if you care to find me, look to the western sky…as someone told me lately, everyone deserves the chance to fly. And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free…to those who’d ground me, take a message back from me…tell them how I’m defying gravity…I’m flying high defying gravity…”

As Elphaba, the not-so-Wicked Witch of the West, declares: It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.

This is the first time in my life I can do that. I really do have enough faith to close my eyes, to trust in myself, in fate or God, in the universe…in that sense that things happen for a reason…and to leap. I’m not worried that I won’t fly. I know I will.

I’ve been in two gravity-defying places lately. The top of the London Eye (on 12th April) and the terrace of Nottingham Castle (today). It’s a funny thing to be high up, looking down on the world. Part of it, yet slightly removed. It made me contemplative. What I saw was a place full of excitement and potential. Of new experiences, new feelings, new sights and sounds and smells. An exciting new journey into the future. Which isn’t to say I’m just bundling up the past and discarding it. It’s my journey so far. I’m just tidying it away, keeping it somewhere safe, and not letting it weigh me down.

I’ve also been looking at photos of me from the last few months.  There’s some real variety there, I’ve done so many different things. It’s exciting and almost surprises me. And what I notice is that, whatever I’m doing, wherever I am…I’m always me. Not moulding myself to fit with whoever I’m with or the situation I’m in. But being me. And “me” isn’t fragmented, it’s not an effort to make myself whole. I’m just me. It seems so simple. But, for me, it’s taken some time to get here. But it’s wonderful to be here. I’m imperfect, I have lots of faults and I still have lots of fears. But I’m whole and I’m strong.

And because of that, and with the care and support of a few special people, I can finally fly.

Defying Gravity above London!

It only took me 30 years to get here. Let’s see what I can do with the next 30!

Oh, and The Locket and the Flintlock is almost here. I’d love you to read it, you can order it from the Bold Strokes Books webstore and other good booksellers! And check out this site for news of the Bold Strokes Books author event in Nottingham in August!


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