From the Robin Wood Tarot

Christmas is where I mark the year just ended before preparing to greet the New Year to come.

Since leaving England just before Christmas four years ago, I can’t help measure my progress against my state as it was back then and this year is no different.

That first year, my cousin Janis said, I was like a ghost, a shadow.

I felt like Alice. Too small for the task I had undertaken.

When people asked me why I’d left England, I’d start to tell them.

“Well, I’m not English. I was only living there because my husband was English. And when he left me… ”

Then my voice would drop to a whisper. I simply couldn’t utter what I’d done in anything bigger than that.

And the face of the kindly stranger, whether it was a mother at Kate’s new primary school or the woman in the real estate office who took my rent money, would look at me strangely.

Eventually I realised it looked a lot like awe.

And it seemed to me like the strangest reaction of all. Perhaps what I expected was pity. I don’t know now. It all seems so far behind me.

Since I washed up like an exhausted shorebird it seems like my biggest task has been coming to terms with the awful disconnect between small, scared me and the huge courageous thing which I undoubtedly did.

Small, unassuming Philotheca is for letting in praise and acknowledgement, for accepting life’s gifts as your due.

Four years down the track and I feel less daunted by what I did. I feel less like Alice, suddenly tiny and afraid of drowning in a sea of my own tears.

“I wish I hadn’t cried so much!” said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. “I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears!”

My returning confidence makes me think of little Philotheca humbly opening her petals to the warmth of the sun.

I do not yet have the perspective to fully absorb what I did, but I’m getting there.

Part of that process is each year to compare my state of well-being with that first year. And once again, as in each year so far, I am stronger and happier and more my own size.

That’s in spite of some pretty big knocks in the past 12 months, from my beloved dad dying to all the snot and trauma of the Great Long Distance Love Affair with best friend and perfect guy Jason.

Why’d you have to wait until I was on the other side of the world before you said anything? How could I have stood so close to you for all those years and not seen what was in your eyes?

Is there a rational way through the blithering blinding pathways of love?

If Tom Robbins can’t help with this one, no one can.

Still Life with Woodpecker

In spite of the idiocies of romance and still too much crying in the air, the Wheel of Fortune turns right now to a good place for me.

I finish the year with a sense of completion, of a difficult period behind me. There’ll be the odd bit of mopping up yet to do, but the hard work is over and, as far as the whole Jason thing goes, it must run its course I suppose.

And no doubt there will be a lot more barking at the moon before it’s done.

As part of my review of the year, I was totting up my assets and enjoying the marvellous – and unfamiliar – experience of having a bit of cash in the bank, a healthy credit card and all my outgoings covered.

Enough really is plenty, but is it the right time to be buying a bookcase?

The Wheel of Fortune and Philotheca said a loud and clear yes.

It’s a small reward for a job well done and a good way to celebrate my good fortune.

Times have been hard. But right now, they are not. Time to learn how to accept my good times with the same bold spirit as my bad.