I have been squirreling away Santa presents for months, and making the children have as magical a Christmas as possible (including Elf on the Shelf activities, which seemed a good idea when I started it).
But I suppose like a lot of people I'm finding it difficult to get fully into the festive spirit - because, as for many people, 2016 has been such a turbulent year for me.
I have been trying to process everything that happened - being one of those hokey sorts who believes every thing in life is a learning experience - and figure out what way I'm supposed to have progressed through the shit storm that 2016 brought.
World affairs aside (because, seriously? That's beyond depressing) - this year has been a challenging one personally for a host of reasons, many of which I have mentioned on this blog before.
Not least of course has been my decision to leave the relative safety net of my 18 year strong journalism career, to focus on my writing career, my family and my health.
There have been so many (SO. MANY.) personal challenges that I have felt like a reluctant passenger on a very high, very fast, very boke-inducing rollercoaster.
From personal relationships to friendships, to illness of family members, to concerns about challenges facing those I love - it has been one hell of a c year and I'm well aware it isn't over yet.
But it has taught me a number of things, which, if you don't mind, I'd like to share with you now.
- First of all - there is no time-frame for grief. There is no set pattern, no matter what the experts say. It can't be rushed. It isn't necessarily easier if you have had a long time to say goodbye, or even if you also feel a slight sense of relief that your loved one's suffering is now over. You are unlikely to be able to just get on with life. It will hurt for a while. Some of it will hurt forever. It will also surprise you when you least expect it - a song, a picture, a phrase, a smell - and you will find yourself sobbing in public. That's okay. That's the price you pay for loving someone.
- Not everyone is going to like you. That's tough to take at times but there is nothing you can do about it - you will just not gel with some people and some people seem to need to think the worst of others. If someone thinks the worst of you - don't spend your time trying to convince them they're wrong. Chances are you won't change their minds anyway, so spend your time being caring and loving and YOU with the people who see the good in you. You'll feel better for it.
- You don't have to stagnate. Just because you made a decision years ago - and you invested your time and passion to it, that doesn't mean it will still fit, or should still fit for the rest of your life. Make a change - be brave. Things may not work out like you hoped - but the feeling of not stagnating any more is so incredibly freeing.
- It's very easy to get stuck in a negative frame of mind, or become a part of toxic circle. Try to escape it, if you can. It really does damage your health, emotional and physical, so much.
- Progress isn't always fast. Sometimes just staying still, and not moving backwards, is progress enough. Sometimes, you might even backtrack a bit to reset the co-ordinates and move forward again.
- You can find friendship and support in the most unusual of places. Allow people into your life who want to be friends with you - genuine friends, people who genuinely like you for you. Allow yourself to be surprised by new friendships.
- Being scared is no reason to say no. Take chances. Step outside your comfort zone. Fake it til you make it. Sell yourself. It's not being self absorbed or conceited to believe in yourself.
- Hug people. It really does help.
- Tell your children you love them every day, multiple times a day. The world is a scary place right now - no child should doubt the unconditional love of a parent.
- Don't be afraid to go in a new direction - one you never considered before. You never know, you might just like it.
- Some people, no matter how kind you are to them, or supportive you try to be, or how much space you give them, will always be arseholes. Don't let their behaviour make you an arsehole too.
- One of the greatest pleasures in life is seeing your friends succeed - especially when you see how hard they have worked.
- You never know, some day you may just find yourself in a roof garden drinking champagne celebrating the success of one your all time biggest influences.
- You may also, if you try not to be too scared and put some good out there, find yourself hugging Michael Buble in a green room at RTE.
- Good things happen in the worst of times.
Thank you all for reading, for chatting, for laughing, for supporting.