Lucy Letter 


She’s known me my whole life. She used to sleep 3 feet above me. She’s my best mate and she’s also my sister. 

This year my sister Lucy has committed to writing and sending #LettersOfGratitude to some special people in her life. I very gratefully received mine a few weeks ago. At the time I wasn’t in a great place emotionally. I was raw, very tearful and had a really sad heart. So much difficult stuff was going on and as much as I knew her words might lift me up, I just couldn’t open her letter. 

I popped it away and it sat unopened. Until today. 

It’s a beautiful letter that I will treasure. 

It just so happens that my sis currently needs a little bit of cheering up and as luck would have it, it’s also National Letter Writing Month. What better way to mark the occasion & hopefully bring a smile than to reply to her brilliant letter right here? Sorry you don’t get to decide to read this when you’re ready sis…

Look at me breaking ALL the celebration rules (it’s meant to be a handwritten letter…I’m SUCH a rebel) 

Dear Lucy

I read your letter today & I cried. 

By the time I had finished I was almost deee-hyyyyy-drated. 

It feels like we’ve cried together so much recently and I know that sadly there will be a few more tears & challenges to come. But equally, we share just as many laughs and adventures and this is probably what I love the most about having a sister like you. 

Lucy & Kate’s Top 5 Adventures

1. New York, New York. When we thought EVERYONE on the Staten Island ferry would be wearing Statue of Liberty dress-up tat (literally no-one else was) We looked so ridiculous that other tourists asked to pose for photos with us. My bra had also just set off the security alarms. We were lucky to be given clearance to board. Our bagel-filled bellies ached from laughing so hard. 
2. Vegas baby Vegas. Existing entirely on vodka, Celine Dion, red bull, wings & ‘slaw. Partying with an American Idol winner. Momentarily falling asleep in the midnight Penn & Teller magic show (and waking up to gunshots) “We’ll sleep when we’re dead!”
3. Dublin. Sliding down the bannister at the Guinness factory after a few pints of the black stuff, then heading straight to the Jameson’s whiskey tasting. 
4. Paris. Our picnic & photoshoot at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Singing Daft Punk. Wearing stripey tops. Buying berets. (Fair play, we always commit to embracing local culture) 
5. Not all of our adventures are far from home….Remember accidentally making our way into a VIP drinks reception behind Ronan Keating and his wife? “Act natural. Drink the champagne.”

We have so many happy memories to look back on & I know in the years to come we’ll make so many more too. I absolutely love spending time with you and no matter where we are, we’ll always have something to talk about, laugh at and some mischief to make. 

You might have wanted a telephone instead of a little sister. You might have resented having me tag along to all of your dates (1984-1990) You might have threatened to cut all of my fingernails off whilst I was sleeping. But I hope that by now I’ve redeemed myself and we’re all good? 

I’ve learned so much from looking up to you. You taught me dance routines to the Fame album in the front room. You told me all about periods in Cardiff Bus Station. You made me reluctantly play schools with you for HOURS. (I deserve career credit for this) You stuck glitter stars on my face & introduced me to eyebrow plucking & Lipcote. You made me sing the other man parts in Stay (when we both know I was the better Barry Manilow) You let me pop your bubblegum when I wasn’t allowed to have it. You let me hold your thumb when I couldn’t get to sleep. You got us backstage at my first ever gig (Chesney Hawkes, Newport Centre, 1991. I’d shouted out in a quiet ballad part like I’d seen on the Karen Carpenter TV movie because I thought that’s what people did at concerts….and you didn’t disown me) 

You were the first person I called when I found out I was going to be a Mum. 

And when my living room flooded. 

You have always stuck by me, cheered for me, supported me, counselled me and motivated me. And I hope you know that I’m always here to do all of that for you in return. I am so lucky to have you. We all are. 

I will always laugh when I’m wearing no make-up and people think you’re my Mum. Even more so when it means I get a free Under 15s breakfast at the Premier Inn and you book an urgent appointment for Botox. 

I admire the way you always knew what you were going to be when you grew up (I’m still figuring it out for myself) I admire the way you have brought up your two gorgeous boys single-handedly and given them the very best of everything. I admire how sassy, kind, generous, caring and loving you are. I admire your dedication to our strong little family. I admire your loyalty, commitment & passion for inspiring children to be the very best they can be. I admire the huge impact you’ve had – and continue to have – on thousands of little people whose futures are significantly better because of you and who will never forget you. I admire your expert cartwheels and am secretly jealous that I’ve never been able to pull off gym-elastics in the same way you effortlessly do. 

Thank you for my letter. Sorry it’s not a handwritten reply. Hope you can forgive that. Your wish for me is everything I wish for you too. Happiness, health and love in abundance. Someone to adore you, appreciate every bit of joy you share with the world & always have your back. (Plus do the bins & pick up milk on the way home….and at 50% of this you’re even easier to please than I am!) 

Here’s to all our future adventures, to laughing, dancing & growing old together; to always having a shoulder to cry on & to never ever forgetting the words to Starmaker or the routine to One Step Further. 

Love you always

Kate x 

New Year, New Family Tradition?

It’s the perfect time to stop, take a breath, reflect back on the year that has passed and think about our hopes for the next.

 

Time whizzes by so fast and depending on the lens you’re using, the phrase “It’s been a tough year” rolls off the tongue far too easily. Has it? Has it REALLY though? Have you forgotten some of the joyful, incredible moments in your sweeping analysis of the last 365 days? I bet you have. I bet you’ve had some tough times but some absolutely amazing ones too. How can we make sure we don’t forget them?

 

For that reason, on New Year’s 2010 we started a new tradition of documenting these annual highlights and hopes in our family book. My awesome sister Lucy gets full credit for this wonderful idea and beautiful family record.

 

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Each New Year the book comes out, a fresh page is turned and we write. We write with gratitude and hope.

 

First it’s our highlights of the year, a really positive way to remember the good stuff. Chatting with my Mum & my sister at Christmas (when our thoughts turn to The Book) we all agreed that we love going through our previous years’ diary or calendar to help us recall everything that has happened and how we easily forget some of the really brilliant stuff. Bringing it all together in one place is such a positively powerful thing to do. We have great lives and we do our best to enjoy each and every day of them. (OK, maybe not EVERY day of them…) But it feels so good to remind ourselves of this.

 

It has been a challenging year for us as a family living with Dad’s dementia. We started this tradition long before his diagnosis, but perhaps this is why our memories are even more precious to us now?

 

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There are seven of us & we all have a different approach to our highlights, some write LONG essays with lists of events & anecdotes (…possibly me) some also document news stories that have particularly inspired them (I remember my Dad wrote about the rescue of the Chilean miners one year) and some write about just one great thing that happened (F was only 7 when we started the book so his early entries are quite amusing)

 

However we all approach it, the idea is the same – great stuff has happened this year & we don’t want to forget it.

 

I’ve even included haircuts I’m particularly proud of – it doesn’t have to be DEEP… (2011 – The Year of The Fringe. Good times.)

 

The highlights pages are then turned & it’s time to write about our hopes for the year to come. Not resolutions. Not awful restrictions or rules to beat ourselves up with, but what would we like to see happening in the next year? What would we like to MAKE HAPPEN in the next year?

 

This is always the really funny bit to look back on when The Book appears again at the end of the year, I know I’ve personally had some corkers…quite how I thought I’d be looking out on a healthy crop of allotment vegetables grown by my own fair hands – when I can barely summon up the motivation to mow my lawn – is beyond my thinking. What on EARTH?! The veg patch definitely didn’t happen, but the laughs looking back on it certainly did, as well as so many of the other hopes we’d written about.

 

We give ourselves the time to focus on some goals for the next 12 months (or in the case of my son, literal goals as he hinted MASSIVELY that his dreams wouldn’t come true unless he went to a Manchester United game at Old Trafford – of course it happened – oh yes, we’ve seen some clever uses of the power of the book!)

 

This time last year me & my son were living in a cold, damp, old house. It was filled with love but just wasn’t making us happy. When writing my hopes for 2015 I decided that we’d be moving house this year…but maybe not quite as soon as it actually happened…We viewed our new home on January 6th and paid the deposit on the 7th. We were moving! (Still no veg patch though….)

 

They’re not all as massive as moving house or changing jobs. “This year I will spend more time doing XXXX” is a great one and gives us the chance to think about how we’d like to be spending our next year on the planet. Watching our boys becoming men & thinking about their future is just awesome. Watching our parents growing older, less so.

 

By far, my favourite part is when it’s my turn to write and I take the chance to sneakily read back over the last few years of our family. So much has changed. Our kids are growing up. Our parents are growing older. Our lives are taking so many twists and turns it’s often hard to keep up. I always read it before I write a word.

 

Every curve in our handwriting represents that moment in time when we stopped to think about the good stuff. Every page tells our story. It is something we will treasure forever.

 

All you need is you, a pen and a book (ours has sequins….obvs, we’re a razzle-dazzle kinda bunch…but any notebook will do)

 

Our book tells our story. We are grateful and we are hopeful.

 

Maybe this year you’ll start your story? I’d love to know if you do.

 

Happy New Year x

 

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