Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yearly wrap-up!!!

I'm currently in Canada with my family - which isn't really being on holiday because it's more like coming home - to my other home.

Over the past four years (exactly to the day on 7th of January) I have been a resident of the UK. My time abroad has been incredibly eventful. Earning British Pounds and being given UK holidays (Seriously, 'unskilled' workers usually start with 21 days holiday a year. 21 days! NOT including statutory holidays!) has allowed me to travel more in the last four years than I did the five previous.

This last year alone I visited Calgary, went to Japan and finally saw Pema Chodron talk in New York State, which involved a few days in New York City, of course.

My mum with her first copy of 'Wise at any Age'
I also published my very first book, a dream I've had since childhood. I still sometimes catch myself looking at the single copy of Wise at any Age which sits on my bookshelf and think: 'Wow! Not only did I write that, but I also illustrated it, designed the cover and did the entire layout.'

It was a true labour of love and one of which I am incredibly proud - as are my family. 

This was also a year of study to facilitate a career change. I began the year extremely unhappy in my work, feeling bullied and completely restricted creatively. So I quit. I studied graphic design at Central Saint Martins and I began doing Lynda.com courses with gusto. I upgraded my computer and in a few weeks I was taking on design clients. In a few months I was employed part-time as an in-house designer for the UK's second largest occupational charity. And now I'm the Brand Development Manager at the Charity and I have a steady flow of freelance clients for whom I make logos, cool custom shoes and fun social media branding. 

Where the sidewalk ends...
The bike path one block from my family home
The speed with which life changes is incredible and whilst most of this year has been extremely positive, uplifting and something to be proud of, I have had a few personal blows which have been emotionally extremely difficult.

The flooding in Calgary when there is 4,000 miles and seven hours difference separating me from so many people I love so dearly was incredibly challenging. It was heart-warming to follow the many hashtags that popped up on Twitter to help inform people of developments, evacuation notices and where to go for shelter and food. Seeing where the sidewalk ends just a short distance from the home where I grew up was extremely odd. It was one of those events where there is a collective realisation that we cannot control anything and all we can do is take care of each other.

The other upheaval has been the end of both my brother's and my marriages. I won't go into it here as this isn't the forum for it, but I have to say it's been a fabulous way for the two of us to bond as we nurse our broken hearts.

There's a line in a book by Joan Didion which I feel suits this experience of life: 

"Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." 

Some changes are bigger than others. Some are more painful and some are full of joy.

This year I finally stopped dreading the question: "What do you do?" as I could finally talk about a career that I love.

I also stopped being someone who was married when that was someone I'd become very comfortable and happy being.

I can have a conversation in British sign-language.

I have six credits towards a masters in Psychology, which may not seem like much but it's something!

I can tell you the similarities and differences between Tokyo, London, Paris, New York and Sydney.

I finally get to say I'm an author rather than writer, because my name is on the cover of a published book.

And I can honestly say that I am happy. Because I am loved, because I love myself, and because I am so lucky to be alive to experience all the sorrow and the joy the world has to offer. 

Happy New Year.

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