10 reasons to be hopeful in the heart of the bleak midwinter

December 20, 2016


Occasionally, my car sat-nav fails to acknowledge that roads actually exist.

So just before I took this photo, I was on an ‘imaginary’ road. It was muddy, foggy and dark; there were no other cars and no phone signal (which always makes me a bit nervous).

As I approached this bend, the winter sun broke through the mist, and the shafts of light through the trees caught me by surprise. It was beautiful.

It made me feel so bloody hopeful.

Today is the shortest day of the longest year and hope, in whatever form it comes, is so welcome right now. Because let’s face it, twenty sixteen has been a complete shit-show.

It’s as though we’re in season five of an epic box set and the writers are just screwing with us.

At times I have found myself torn in two between my distress, and a sense of duty to bear witness to the scenes in Calais and Aleppo, the killings of unarmed people of colour by police in the US, the growth of fascism and far-right beliefs across Europe.

Then there was Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood and Leonard Cohen. Brexit. And The Big Orange Baby With The Tiny Hands.

But then I remember that this was also the year me and Mr P graduated, and I spent a lovely, healing week with my Dad and ‘bonus Mum’ Sue. I had my most abundant year in business, creatively and financially. I saw the gob-smackingly beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains (and a bear!), and I spent four days leading a sold-out retreat with the most incredible group of women.

My closest friendships deepened and expanded over many a pub lunch. We had the biggest honey harvest in five years. I got to witness a satanic extraction!

This year there are many reasons to feel hope – here’s my top ten:

The Francis Crick Institute is open! It’s the largest biomedical research facility in Europe (back in my corporate days, I played a small part in helping it take shape). This is where super-smart people are literally curing cancers and other diseases.

Over 3000 people from Yorkshire stripped naked and allowed themselves to be painted blue to take part in a piece of art by Spencer Tunick.

The International Energy Agency expects renewable energy to be the largest source of new power globally by 2020 as the price of renewable energy continues to decrease, while jobs in the sector continue to rise.

Hundreds of people and pooches strolled along a Cornish beach with Mark Woods and his dog Walnut, on Walnut’s final walk before he was euthanised.

Jesse Williams made a heart-stopping speech at the BET Awards.

The BBC created The Big Fix and teams up designers, engineers and scientists with people in need in the spirit of innovation and compassion. I cried with joy at the episode with the 33-year-old woman who has early onset Parkinson’s, as Haiyan Zhang designed a device that allowed her to overcome the tremors and write again.

A clinical trial at Stanford University School of Medicine injected modified human stem cells directly into the brains of several chronic stroke patients, and all showed significant healing with no negative effects – several patients who were previously wheelchair-bound were able to walk again.

There are brilliantly funny humans on Instagram: @textfromyourexistentialist + @poorlydrawnlines  + @gemmacorrell

Democracy is not dead: over 24,000 people signed a petition to stop Kanye West from recording any David Bowie covers.

Women continue to go about their badass business.

In the noise and bluster of what is deemed newsworthy, it’s easy to forget that billions of tiny victories, acts of grace and kindness happen every day.

What about you? What was your best moment of twenty sixteen?


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