I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve. When I was young (teens and early twenties) there was always this build-up that New Year’s was going to be legen… wait for it.. dary, and it never was, so because there was so much build-up it inevitably ended up being disappointing. There was always a bunch of fancy dress parties, and everyone would get stupidly drunk and some would set off fireworks (such a bad combination, I’m surprised I haven’t witnessed a firework-related accident yet). But as Phoebe said: I think fancy parties are only fun if you’re fancy on the inside (and I’m just not sure we are). The only good New Year’s Eve experiences I remember from this time is when I was with a small group of friends having a low-key celebration.
These days we tend to just stay home, and it’s mainly the fireworks that bother me about the day itself, because – circling back to my first ever post on this blog – I’m an HSP and I do not like loud noises. Neither do our 3 cats. And since people have already been setting off fireworks every 30 minutes or so since yesterday, both the cats and I are on edge. I kind of understand that fireworks are exciting (and the colours and lights are pretty) but here at least it goes on for so long, building up for days and then the whole day and night of the 31st. It scares all the pets, it prevents me from sleeping and it’s expensive and potentially dangerous. In 2017 the damage caused by New Year’s fireworks was estimated to cost 13 million euros, which is quite frankly ridiculous (and that is not even including medical costs for people who have been harmed by fireworks).
In my mid twenties I lived in a quiet area with a view out over the city in the valley below, and I kind of enjoyed spending New Year’s there by myself, as I could see all the pretty lights of the fireworks but they weren’t close enough to startle me. Still I always felt like there was this artificial pressure around the day – not only was it odd to sit by yourself on New Year’s Eve when you were supposed to be out celebrating, there’s of course also the propensity to take stock of the past year’s accomplishments and to make resolutions for the coming year.
I have a tendency to get disappointed when I do this. I feel like I always planned to do so many things but always come up short. I think it’s useful to have goals and focus, otherwise it’s too easy to just let the stream of life drag you along without actively making choices and before you know it another year is over and you wonder yet again where the time went. But I also think I need to put less pressure on myself. So I eschew new year’s resolutions in the traditional sense (being “I am going to lose 10 kgs/I’m going to get a new job/I’m going to write a novel”) in favour of defining some focus areas for the next year. For the past couple of years I’ve used the Passion Planner to help me do this. But, though I found it helpful I also abandoned it halfway through the year both times, so I decided not to indulge this year. I also have a Some lines a day journal that I’ve actively used since February, and the chances of me managing to keep up with two separate journals consistently are just really minute. So instead I’ve decided to have a look at the positive things that have happened in the past year and which areas I’d like to focus on the coming year.
The biggest thing that happened to me this year was getting engaged. And any year you get engaged to the person you love has to be a pretty good year, right?? We’ve been together for 11 years so it wasn’t exactly a spur of the moment decision, and I knew it was coming, but it was still proper romantic. And though there’s no date set for the wedding yet (we’re kinda thinking “go big or go home” so it requires some proper planning – and saving) it feels good to have it settled, to know that it will happen. I don’t believe marriage will really strengthen our commitment as it’s already pretty much as strong as it gets, but standing up before the people we care most about in the world and affirming our love for each other appeals to the romantic in me. And it still feels important somehow. In some respects I guess I am more traditional than I thought.
I have written 65 blog posts (including this one and the posts on my “dad blog“) in 2017, which I have to admit is much more than I had expected. Particularly since I had a 6 month hiatus (on this blog). I don’t have a plan or strategy, I don’t have a lot of regular readers, but for now I have decided to just be happy that I’m writing. I don’t want to scare writing away again by putting too much pressure on it. I have learnt that I have to tread a very delicate balance with my creativity. I need some incentive to do anything, but as soon as I start planning that I need to write x amount of posts or words per week, that I need to get x amount of readers, I need to write the outline for a novel or screenplay etc., it all starts to crumble.
I read 35 books, if my Goodreads tracking is correct. Which is 5 more than my goal, but a whole bunch less than in 2016. But.. I think the most important thing is to enjoy reading, not to frantically read as much as possible. I don’t enjoy reading books really fast, I like to take my time and think about what I read. And I want to remember what I read – which is the main reason I’ve been doing reviews. I have quite an appalling memory, but if I at least write down a few paragraphs about each book it should help trigger some recollection. And if anyone else finds my reviews and general musings interesting, that’s a bonus. I also had a bit of a reading break that more or less coincided with my writing break, as there were a few months where I couldn’t really bother doing anything (yay depression), so I’m still pretty happy with that number. Plus Sherlock Holmes was 70+ hours long.
I managed to maintain a healthy weight (though I’m sure I made a bit of a dent in that by basically just sitting and eating for the past week and a half.. I’ll rally next week) after losing roughly 27 kg through 2015-2016.
I ran my first ever race, and also my second ever race (which was also my first 10 miler). My first race was 14 km, which at the time (in June) was my max distance. It was also one of the hottest days of the year at around 28 degrees Celsius. As a half Norwegian, half Irish person I don’t exactly have a very high tolerance for warm weather. It was pretty rough, I had a very slow finishing time while my pulse was just below max most of the run. But I completed it, and I am damn proud of myself for that. And I wasn’t last. I fared quite a bit better doing the Damloop of 16,2 km (10 miles) in September, and in fact finished the 16,2 km race in 2-3 minutes more than the total time of the 14 km race. I had slightly injured my leg on my previous long run, and though I only felt a twinge during the Damloop it took months before I could run without feeling any pain in my leg afterwards, so while it was a big win for me it caused a bit of a set-back to my running in general. I remember one of my colleagues doing the Damloop back in 2014 and I was so impressed. I thought that it was something that I’d never in my life be able to do. So yeah, I consider it quite an accomplishment.
I discovered 5 rhythms, and have been going fairly regularly for the past 4-5 months. I also did one in-depth 5 rhythms workshop, which I really felt a lot of benefit from and I felt like it helped get my feelings flowing a little again. I really dove into it and challenged myself to be honest and be in my emotions.
Actually, looking at all the above, given struggles with depression and a lot of stress at work, I’m really happy with what I managed to get out of 2017. Writing this down was a great idea!
Now, to look ahead…
2018 goals and dreams
Writing: I want to make an effort to stay in the flow. I want to not worry so much about what I’m writing and just do it. And enjoy it. I have a few half-assed ideas for fiction projects flying around in my head, so it would be nice to sit down and focus on one or more of those for a while, but I’ll take what I can get for now. I need to make time for writing and prioritise it, even if I think I’m being frivolous or wasting my time. And I need to accept that sometimes I’m going to write utter crap. I do kind of miss drawing, which I would say is my main other creative interest, but I really think I need to focus on one thing to get a meaningful amount of work done. That’s not saying I won’t do any drawings in 2018, but it won’t be my focus. Though at some point I will want to get back to that too.
Reading: I think I’ll stick with this year’s goal of a total of 30 books, as though I don’t think the number is that important, it may help me keep up a bit of momentum and keep reading. And I will try and write at least a brief review for each book. I also want to read at least 2 books that are out of my comfort zone. That could be anything really, but maybe a non-fiction book along the lines of Being Mortal, as I found that really thought provoking. Or maybe even poetry. Broadening horizons is the idea.
Dancing: I definitely need to continue going to 5 rhythms on a semi-regular basis, as I can tell that it does me a lot of good each time I go. I also have a second workshop booked for the first weekend of February (a Christmas gift from my lovely fiancé) that I’m very much looking forward to.
Health and fitness: Apart from dancing I need to keep taking care of myself (or start again after Christmas holidays plus 2 colds almost right after each other). I’m pretty good at making healthy and mostly vegetarian meals, but I need to cut down on unhealthy snacking: more tea and fruit, less chocolate, crisps and booze. I would really like to be able to do a half marathon, but the most I’ve been able to do after my set-back in September is 10 km, and I know I have to be patient and build it up slow again. So I’m not going to set that as a specific goal for 2018 – I just want to go running on a regular basis and start making progress again, and then we’ll see.
Cooking/making things from scratch: Over the last few days I’ve really enjoyed cooking and baking for guests we had over. It’s tiring to spend most of the day in the kitchen, but I love the feeling of putting a nice meal on the table and seeing people enjoy themselves with something I made (and indeed enjoy myself as well), have some nice conversation and a cosy atmosphere. I also do really enjoy cooking, baking and experimenting when I have the time. I’d like to try making more things from scratch. Like maybe making my own cheese, or pasta, or making tomato sauce from actual tomatoes. I’m also considering – and have been for a while – growing more stuff in the garden. The problem is that I really seem to suck at growing things. But surely it’s just a matter of paying proper attention, watering and weeding when necessary?…
Travel: I want to visit at least one place I’ve never been before. Which is actually kind of cheating as I already have a trip booked to Venice in April (where I’ve never been before). But maaaybe I can make it 2 places? On the other hand we do have a wedding to save for.
Career: 2017 has been a tough year for work. I’ve not been terribly happy with my job for more than a year now – it’s not horrible or anything, it’s just not interesting, I’m not learning anything new and I’m not getting paid very well. Additionally it’s been extra stressful as there have been lay-offs – which is stressful both because people I care about lost their jobs (and because I’m on the works council I always know about these things in advance and am not allowed to tell anyone) and because those of us who remain are expected to pick up the slack. I work part-time but feel like I’m really doing the work of at least 2 people. The last few months have been particularly rough, maybe also because it’s darker and colder. I’ve had so little energy, I struggle to get up in the morning, I’ve been having colds, lacking concentration, I’ve been hard pressed to do anything outside of work and generally been feeling sad or angry. I have a 3 week holiday now (well, 2 more after this week) and I think it is really necessary to have a proper break from it all (mind you I dreamt about work again only last night and that I was logging in and reading my work emails even though I was on holidays because I had to keep up…). But I also want to spend some time thinking about what I want from work. Not that I haven’t been doing that constantly for at least the past year, but I need to be more specific. Either I need to find somewhere to go with my current job that would make me happier and make it feel more worthwhile, or I need to figure out what is important to me and work towards getting another job that meets most of those criteria.
That should be enough to be getting on with, don’t you think?…