So my friend Storm recently recommended a book called ‘Wintering’. She explained that the idea behind it was that at some stages in our lives we are forced to winter. Meaning to lay low, rest up, stay indoors, go to ground, batten down the hatches. To hibernate. ‘Wintering’ may be necessary because of an illness in the family, recovering from an injury, maybe studying for a big exam, or preparation for something important like a job interview, saving for a car or an audition. All of these examples share the commonality of sacrifice, patience, diligence , and trust that by committing and accepting these things, the outcome will be far greater. But this year, 2020 was the year of ‘wintering’.
I like that term. It’s relatable and in some ways comforting. Because every winter we know that feeling, when it gets so cold that we wonder will it ever possibly warm up again. As we throw on another scarf and that extra thermal jumper, we can’t help but wonder if we will ever feel the rays of the sun on our backs again. Or walk down the street with only a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops on. But alas, every year as the days pass on, the mornings get brighter and the wind feels warmer. We find ourselves slowly peeling off the layers of clothes and searching for the summer wardrobe that we put up in the attic, because we truly doubted that they would ever be needed again.
Similarly with 2020, we may have had times of feeling stuck or isolated. That feeling of missing out that just kept on giving, and wondering if ‘normality’ would ever resume. Sitting in our houses all over the world, watching more TV than we ever have before, waiting for the daily updates and wondering how long our patience would last. I remember that feeling. It came in about September and my heart and soul felt weary. It was music, connection through writing, and the knowing that we were all indoors together that helped me through that month. No matter where you are in the world know that you are not alone and that your patience, resilience and every effort this year, is your new super power. Be proud of your wintering. Because it’s not easy but it’s part of your story. No matter how many miles apart, it’s a story we can share forever as a people.
But now we are here, we stood together every step of the way and it looks like there is a light appearing at the end of the tunnel. I’m proud of being part of this era, who practiced patience and consideration for others, for a full year. An era of people that sacrificed their plans and their urges to party, socialize, holiday, work, travel and hug loved ones, in order to protect the lives of the most vulnerable. We are the wintering generation. Our stories of this time will be almost unbelievable to future generations. This is why I love writing. It’s like a time capsule that captures a moment or a feeling, in a paragraph.
Here is a poem I wrote back in March when this all began.
One day everyone went inside.
Not just their homes but their minds too.
Not because they wanted to but because something greater than them
for the first time in their lives called on them to do so.
To stop for a moment, to be still and maybe even bored for a moment.
To let go of control for a moment and to think outside the box that they
had become so accustomed to, for so many years.
Life stood still, cities were silent,
all that could be heard was the sound of the water,
the trees and the animals.
Fear tried to take hold of the people, but the human spirit was greater than fear.
Instead the people united, sending virtual hugs and
words of inspiration and hope all over the world.
Grannies and Grandads learned how to use FaceTime and Zoom hangouts,
and spoke to their families more than they had in a decade.
Worry tried to take over but the determination and willpower of the people was too strong. Instead innovation, creativity and connection flourished more than ever before
encouraging people from all over the world to grow together.
They became a community once again.
As a nation, as a continent, as a planet, they acknowledged each other
as equals for the first time in a long time.
No one was exempt from being indoors and for the first time in forever
the people stood in solidarity with one another,
regardless of money, race, gender, creed or nationality,
to combat something they could not see,
in order to protect the most vulnerable in their society.
We recently spent a week back in the West of Ireland where the lyrics for the album were predominantly written. It was cathartic and magical to go back to the exact spots where certain songs were born, and listen to them again, only now, as a finished piece of work.
As we drove into Clifden in Connemara I felt a sense of nostalgia, because it can be easy to forget what has happened, what you have changed, learned and created, in a year. For me, going back there was like looking through a photo album of the year from January until now, but now as an observer. So much change and so many new experiences.
The orange, green and mustard coloured landscapes that greet you at every winding turn in the narrow country roads, of Ballyconneely, reminded me of where my inspiration lived during that time when I was writing. The welcoming faces of the people in the West instilled a confidence in me as an artist, that I had not experienced in Dublin, previously. I’m still not quite sure why but I think it’s because so many artists live there. Music for music’s sake, not for money. That does wonders for the creative mind. There is always a sense of magic and otherworldly inspiration in Galway. I took lots of videos when I was there and I will share that with you all here on Patreon soon.
Another update since my last blog, is that I recently took part in an eight week mindfulness and consciousness course. It took place every Sunday for two hours on zoom with a small group of people. It has been one of the most unexpectedly enlightening things to have happened in 2020. What we thought was going to be a two hour online lecture has turned out to be one of the most eye opening courses and journeys I have been on in my life.
The course teaches mindfulness and consciousness through meditation practice. Something that I always found hard to do before. I never understood meditation and I always felt that I didn’t have enough time to sit still for 30 mins! I still find 30 minutes hard but I am building it up every day. I can now say that I am loving it! My only thing is that I wish I had discovered it sooner. There have been times in the past where my mind would race and I would find it difficult to slow it all down, particularly when on tour and performing, and I used to google search how to be more present and stay in the moment. When meditation would appear I would immediately dismiss and continue searching for another answer. So I’m sharing it here in case it is helpful to anyone reading.
The secret to it is to start small, a two minute guided meditation, and then build it up. There are lots of guided videos on YouTube. At first it may well feel like a waste of precious time but as you continue to practice each day you will notice a sense of peace that guides you through the week. I hope to speak more about this on a future podcast with my guide Brendan, who is teaching us.
As we approach Christmas, I just want to wish you, all the the happiness and light, during this holiday. This year I will be spending it at home with my parents and my grandmother, which is so special. My dad is already planning the Turkey and mulled wine, and I am in charge of the starters. I think I’ll get some crab from the local Harbour and make a crab salad. My mum sets the most beautiful table every year with her granny’s linen and fresh flowers that will fill the room with their perfume. And then we will sit around and catch up on the year. I think this year just looking at their faces and laughing and being in the same room will be the best gift of all. I will be thinking of you all and giving thanks to the incredible support each of you have shown me.
Nollaig Shona a chairde agus athbhliain faoi mhaise x