It’s a well-known fact that the interim answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42

[as a writer far better and funnier than I once shared]

which, coincidentally happens to be my age in this past year. Today, I leave that year behind and, as always on birthdays, look back and forward to assess where I am right now – which moment I am choosing to live.

So, what happened in the year when I was the interim answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything?

Firstly, it was a year of transformation and rebirth.

I stepped out of the corporate day-to-day, determined to live something closer to my ideal ‘portfolio’ life: enjoying my family in more moments, writing, making music and doing work

[to pay the bills]

that I honestly love, without having to pay the organization-political tax of employment.

Taking all that in reverse order. I formed my company and completed my first major consulting gig – cool work with an open client, helping the people, teams and overall organization enjoy more of their everyday, getting work done. And no political backlash from colleagues who feared change

[which had been my reality for nearly 20 years]

It really doesn’t get much better than doing what you’re built to do for someone who wants it done.

Making music. Well, I make music as Monkey68 both alone in the studio and as a three-piece band. I entered my 42nd year somewhat perturbed because our drummer at the time had decided to move to AZ. This gave unexpected downtime, just at the point where I was planning to get a lot of development underway. Luckily, we found the quite wonderful Tony, who brought a truly-enhancing vibe to the band and haven’t looked back since.

[We played last night and it was, by far, our most enjoyable and enjoyed gig as Monkey68. Easily.]

In the studio, I finished off a number of songs that had been lurking and some new ones came along which reflected more of what was happening in the year – more on that further down the page.

In writing? I set out with a clear plan to redraft Family Rules ready for publication and – at the great suggestion of Mark Henning – posted each chapter online as I did so. The work took longer than expected

[doesn’t it always]

because of what happened in the course of the summer and autumn.

In May, my Dad fell very ill. We almost lost him. I won’t share more than that, but it was a very close thing. After months in hospital, he is now out and recovering, a true miracle. Several trips back to the UK and much focus and discussion on the nature of family and love, all at the time that I was publishing a novel rooted in the fictional breakdown of relationships within a fractured family – it was an intense period.

I sang of what was opening up as I watched death come so close to my dad. Thankfully, he turned the corner in August.

Which is when my back finally gave in.

I had been fighting lower back pain for several years and it finally pole-axed me. Except now, I was listening. And as I worked with a somatic coach and massage therapist, the pain migrated from my shoulders, to my lower back, to my hip, thigh, calves and finally out through my foot. This physical reshaping

[I regained about an inch in height]

removed the last vestiges of my corporate self – and oh, didn’t he cling on as I waved him goodbye – which had formed over 20 years of sitting and hunching, swallowing down all the compromises and things I wanted to say but which were deemed organization-politically incorrect. The biggest compromise? My own denial of the extent and potential of my artistic self. Like emerging from an abusive, toxic relationship, I came back to myself – a little broken but ready to stand.

Over the autumn and winter of my 42nd year, I became me again.

I spoke of what was happening, what I was realizing about myself, what I’d been denying for two decades – I am built to share my vision, my voice and my care.

I published Family Rules.

Surprised myself by gathering poems published in the year or so before as Garbled Glittering Glamours.

Played out with Monkey68, performed my first solo show on this side of the Atlantic, as well as participating in the Garde Arts ‘Take the Stage’ event.

Most of all though, in becoming me again, I opened myself to be in each moment, loving and present. Speaking with my family over virtual miles, taking the girls up to the school bus, shovelling snow with Jane

[just another of those togetherness things which are so welcome]

re-learning what I’d always known, even if I lost sight of it for a little while: the secret to life, the universe and everything.

All you need is love… Love is all you need.