Onwards and upwards

The beginning is always a good place to start. But that might be too long a story. The quick – and polite – version is that 2017 was a challenging year. I’ll save the elaboration for another time but suffice to say I’m happy to see the back of it and happier still about embracing the shiny newness of 2018. I mean, who doesn’t love a fresh start? New Year’s Day, back-to-school Septembers, first dates, new jobs, the rosy glow of the horizon just before sunrise. There’s a magic in starting over that never gets old for me.

Yet New Year’s resolutions are a tricky beast. Health, fitness, five-a-day, working harder, being kinder, banning screens, quitting booze, mindfulness, thank you letters, remembering to floss, getting your tax return in before the deadline, finding 24 extra hours in a goddamn day… I mean, excuse me while I collapse in an exhausted heap. None of this, surely, is what life’s all about?

In the last few days of 2017 I found myself wondering how I might do New Year differently this time. What if a fresh start didn’t have to mean reinvention, punishment or committing to daily turmeric lattes? What if all you had to do to find inner peace was cast your mind back to simpler times and remember what it was that once made you tick? Once I started thinking, there was one thing that stood out. Before I was a writer, before I was a mother, before I was a wife or a home owner or an orderer of green smoothies and avocado toast, I was a star-gazing teenage witch.

Anyone who spent any time in my incense-scented ’90s bedroom was almost certainly subjected to a spot of amateur spell casting/palmistry or tarot reading. I lived by those cards for most of a decade. They were like therapy before I (or my friends) knew what therapy was. Way back before I’d even considered the possibility of trying to make sense of the world there was comfort to be found in believing in something bigger. Moon phases, magic crystals, star sign love matches and wishes made on shooting stars.

Back then weekends were spent wandering Dark Arches (as the alternative shops of 1990s Leeds’ Granary Wharf were locally known) in search of potions and palm readers, swapping hippie skirts with friends over stolen parental booze and scaring each other to death doing midnight ouija boards in a derelict house on the moors.

Of course, I’m a grown up now. And a journalist. And something of a cynic. Even at 14 I knew the malevolent ouija-conjured spirit declaring my friend’s destiny to be death at 32 was merely the malevolent forefinger of Amy McCave. But in a world where many of us no longer believe in God, a world where life is so fast-paced we barely pause for breath and where we’re too busy taking a photo of the sky to really look at the sky, I can’t help but think that we could all do with a little bit more magic.

So that’s become my plan for 2018. I’m going to tap back into that wide-eyed teenage wonder. I’m going to submit to the universe. I’m going to slow down, do yoga, look for signs, read the cards, burn sage, take a sound bath, commune with nature and fill my house with healing crystals. The inner cynic will be coming along for the ride but I’ve made her promise to keep an open mind. I might even get her to help me fashion a ouija board out of a Cornflakes box and a Scrabble set.*

I won’t be swathing myself in flowing robes or chanting at the moon (err, hello, I’m from Yorkshire) but I will be trying harder than ever to see the good, feel the magic and let go of the things that are not meant for me. I don’t have all the answers. Here’s hoping the universe does? And so begins my year of mystical thinking.

Spiritualism for cynics.

Magic for modernists.

Onwards, upwards and staring at the sky.

*I won’t.

#ayearofmysticalthinking

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