Every year I write a little post about the Highlights of my year.
I have no idea if anyone reads them, but I’ve spent this morning looking back at the last few years and I’m struck by how few of my yearly highlights are things that I planned for or could have predicted. Of course the flipside of those unpredicted Highlights are the unpredicted lows, the ones that don’t make a positive end of year post and that terrifying realisation of how fragile the life you’ve built really is, that it can be overturned in a moment by something you never even considered.
An example from this year is my sprained ankle. A pretty minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but in one simple, unpredictable moment I fell and went from being an active new Roller Derby player, about to start training for a second Half Marathon to being laid up, off contact and running for 8 weeks and a long journey back with an ankle that still aches and stiffens up 6 months later.
For most of my life I’ve suffered with Anxiety that has sometimes been crippling. On a more minor, every day level, it means I hate to plan and look forward to things because of the fear that something might happen to take it away. I can’t count the number of momentous and amazing events that I have totally ruined the run up to by worrying that something hideous will happen to me, a member of my family, and/or the world to take it away.
Looking back at those Highlights, and the year just gone, has made me realise that for every unpredicted catastrophe or bad experience something marvellous can rise from the ashes, or you can simply turn a corner and find something else amazing waiting for you there. I can’t promise that in 2015 I won’t worry about the unexpected anymore, or that I will find looking forward to things a breeze. If only it were that easy, but I hope maybe I can temper some of that fear with a little more excitement about the unexpected GOOD things that haven’t happened yet and remember that for every bad thing that can happen to ruin something you’re looking forward to, there’s something good that can happen to make something you’re dreading into a dream.
Just typing that makes me anxious, as if hoping for good things means bad things are more likely to arrive and punish me for my hope. If I have one goal for next year, it’s to let go of some of that fear and REALLY take life as it comes, rather than just pretending I do to avoid making plans that make me anxious.
Now we’re done with all the heavy New Years introspection, I thought I’d take a look back at the Highlights of 2014, both expected and unexpected!
Hells yeah. This is a perfect example of both one of those amazing, unexpected curveballs life can throw you, and of something I ruined the run up to with anxiety! I was totally allowed to tell everyone I was going to Las Vegas courtesy of the rather amazing Lenovo, upon whose wonderful product I am currently typing this blog, but I was so convinced that something would happen to ruin it that I couldn’t bring myself to let anyone except my friends and family know until I was actually there.
I never thought I would travel to the US, let alone Las Vegas and stay in a fancy strip hotel. I never thought I would do it alone, and that made me feel pretty badass (though I’m sure other people do it aaallll the time) and I rode a Roller Coaster, ate breakfast in Dennys and drank Manhattans with Microsoft.
I had a rotten cold and nearly missed my flight home, but it was a fantastic experience and Lenovo will always have my undying love for it.
Meeting Jimmy Cricket
A weird one, and one I didn’t really think would be a Highlight until it happened! I have very fond memories of seeing Jimmy Cricket in Blackpool when I was little, and when a planned visit to my Parents happened to coincide with him appearing at their Club for a St Patricks Day Dinner I decided to go along. I not only met Jimmy Cricket, I shared a table with him and his wife at dinner before the show. It was a lovely evening, he was funny and friendly, and it left me with a real warm glow.
That One Amazing Weekend
Back in April a little flurry of those wonderful unpredictable opportunities that blogging throws up all came together that resulted in my having a weekend that is DEFINITELY in my years highlights.
It started low key, with a free meal in a local La Tasca, I mean, a free meal and Sangria in a restaurant is a pretty awesome thing to happen all on it’s own, but that weekend just got better. The next day, by the virtue of cheap advance booking, we travelled down to London First Class on the train, I blooming love first class train travel, where I went to do some more “work” with Old Spitalfields Market. This “work” involved being given a budget to track down my best finds at the So Vintage Market, and being treated to lunch and TWO cocktails at Las Iguanas. After that I popped across to Seven Dials where Triumph had invited me to check out their Pop Up and get measured for a free lingerie set (that set never actually got delivered, but never mind, the experience was great!) and then, when I checked into my hotel for the evening, Oh My Days, we were given an upgraded room thanks to Mr Chicks Holiday Inn Priority Club status that included access to a Club Lounge with unlimited free food and drink. Once I’d pinched myself to make sure I was awake, I finished the amazing weekend by having afternoon tea and drinks with some wonderful Vintage ladies at Landgirl 1980s hen party.
Totally a Highlight of my year.
For the first time ever in my years Highlights is a thing I actually planned and happened. One of my goals for the year was to pass my Roller Derby Minimum Skills and play my first public game.
I passed my skills almost a year to the day after my first Roller Derby session, and my first game happened 4 months later at the end of September. It wasn’t an easy ride, and for a while I thought my worst fears about having things snatched away from me were all coming true, but despite a year plagued with injury and illness I made it and it felt pretty good.
I’ve now played 3 games, all of which were Highlights, but the last one, our Intraleague bout at Christmas which I also nearly ruined by spending the weeks coming up to it anxious about not making it and obsessing about getting ill (rolls eyes), was pretty special.
Going Back to the Future
Waaaah! This is another one I have to thank the amazing Lenovo for as a technology company packed me off to a 1950s themed event where technology was strictly not allowed! The Secret Cinema screening of Back to the Future was a properly magical evening. Even with my tickets and travel covered by Lenovo it wasn’t a cheap night out, but watching Doc Brown slide a zip wire down to the Clock Tower IN REAL LIFE is an experience I’ll never forget.
It also reminded me why I so welcomed the arrival of digital photography and instant preview.
All. The. Cocktails.
I’ve never drunk so many Cocktails as I have in 2014, with the launch of Norwich Cocktail Week going better than I could have hoped. I was amazed by the enthusiasm and support of the local bars and am really looking forward to making it happen again, even better, in 2015 (yes, looking forward, and not feeling anxious about it. Ok, maybe a little anxious)
I also created my own Summer cocktail for Waitrose, which was kind of a cool thing to get the chance to do.
Celebrating 7 Years Self Employed
Yeah, the anniversary of this happens every year, but 7 years feels like a good number, and it’s a perfect example of one of those unexpected great things that can happen from the sucky things. The awful job that made me miserable and ruined my confidence wasn’t one of the greatest things to happen in my life . Being unemployed a month before Christmas back in 2007 with no idea where any money was coming from wasn’t a great feeling. I had no money and I’d never even heard of blogging really. I had no idea where it would take me, and reaching a milestone of 7 years successful and working for myself is a highlight that needs celebrating.
Running in the Rain
My goodness was that weather awful! Just 6 weeks before this years Norwich Half Marathon I was doubting whether I’d even be able to make it all the way round at all, let alone run it, because of what will ever after be known as “my stupid f#*king ankle”. Not only did I run it, but I ran it in rain that meant over a 1000 people who’d signed up decided to stay home in bed, and therefore I beat them all.
I have no idea what lies ahead for me in 2015, but I hope whatever the triumphs and disasters of the year ahead I can treat those two imposters just the same, and I hope you can too.