This time last year I did Susannah Conway’s Unravelling The Year workbook, which is a really helpful exercise that I’ve now done for three years running. It is an opportunity to sit down and reflect on the year that has just passed, celebrating your personal and professional achievements, and working out how you want to build on those the following year. If you have the chance to take a look I’d definitely recommend it.
As part of the workbook, I also chose my Word for 2014, which was Learning.
There were lots of things I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn more about the new place we had just moved to, to learn alongside DorkySon as he started kindergarten, to learn more about my own strengths and weaknesses, and to learn how to strengthen and energise my relationship with DorkyDad.
I can’t quite believe how quickly the last twelve months have gone. But at the same time when I look back at the blog posts I’ve written, the photos I’ve taken, and the memories we’ve made, I can’t believe how much we’ve packed into the year either.
How did the learning go?
Well, not bad.
I signed up for two formal pieces of learning – an online course with the Australian Writers Centre, and a MOOC run by the University of Edinburgh about the independence referendum. The first was really useful for helping me get to grips with the publishing landscape in Australia, for getting feedback on my writing, and for making some useful contacts. But I’m afraid that despite signing up to the IndyRef course with great enthusiasm, and persuading a lot of my friends to do the same, by the time it actually started I’d become so overwhelmed with information on the campaign that I couldn’t face any more of it, and I didn’t participate. Big fat FAIL for me on that one.
I did a lot better with informal learning.
I feel like I’m still learning more about Tasmania every day – sometimes from sitting at home reading a book or a blog, sometimes from chatting to people I know, and sometimes from getting out exploring with DorkySon and DorkyDad. We have done more daytrips, short breaks, festivals, concerts, meals out, and museum visits this year than we ever have before. All three of us are bursting with love for our new home, and feel so lucky to be living in such a special place.
DorkySon has done amazingly well at school this year. He has settled in more quickly that we imagined he would, and it has been absolute privilege to support his learning in the small way that I have. When we sit reading a book that he has brought home, or practicing his letters, or working on some art project that he has been inspired to do, it is the best feeling in the world. Being a parent right now is the most fun it has ever been.
DorkyDad and I have had a good year together. We celebrated our seventh (SEVENTH!) wedding anniversary. We have a few lovely babysitters who DorkySon likes, and we have been taking full advantage of that – it is nice to remind ourselves that we are a couple as well as parents. But we have also enjoyed plenty of evenings on the sofa watching crap TV, early nights with books, and weekends pottering around in the garden. We cannot think of a single thing to give each other for Christmas this year, which is the best indication I can think of that we are both content with what we have.
Finally, I have learned plenty about myself this year. It has taken 30 years, but I have become fully accepting of my introverted self. I’ve become more aware of my health than ever before – I have learned that carbs and sugar really make me feel like crap, and that big sleeps, exercise and drinking lots of water make me feel great. (Not rocket science, but, y’know…) I am doing pilates and discovering that my body is much weaker and tight and screwed up than I thought it was, but that I get greater satisfaction than I could ever have imagined in making it strong, and that it’s okay to need help to do that.
2014 was a funny old year. In contrast with the upheaval of 2013, it was quite a gentle twelve months, all about us settling in to this new place and taking it easy. But it was also about all three of us pushing ourselves, working hard, and being brave about doing new and difficult stuff. It was a good one, and I will be sorry to see it go, but I’m also excited to see what next year brings.
For some reason I’m having a hard time choosing a word for 2015.
We know already that there will be some big changes. DorkySon will be stepping up from three days of school to five, which is going to be brilliant when he adjusts, but he’s going to be exhausted for the first spell. DorkyDad has some huge work stuff coming up, including a lot of international travel. And I’m seriously feeling the pressure to start making some proper money from writing rather than just doing it for fun. I need to pitch more, procrastinate less, get better at dealing with rejection letters… all that.
I want my word for 2015 to be something strong, something that communicates the need to push outwards and to challenge myself… but not something so strong that it becomes aggressive and scares me back under the duvet.
For the first time, Susannah is doing a week-long email workshop on choosing your word, so I’m hoping by the end of this week I’ll know what it is. When I do I’ll share.
In the meantime… what would yours be?