The end of the year always calls for a time to look back, remember what happened and look forward to the amazing things to come in the next year. I’m a fan of reminiscing, you can learn a lot from looking back and it can remind you of why you’re where you are and nudge you toward what you want. This is mostly for me but get ready for an essay.
This year I’ve definitely grown a lot. I feel like I’ve levelled up in every way imaginable and that process has changed me, making me look more carefully at the things in my life forcing myself to take action if something doesn’t sit quite right. It’s also made me far more confident than I felt before.
A year ago I wrote a post on my old blog site reflecting on how 2013 had gone and explaining my little ritual that I do on New Year: At the strike of midnight I open up the back door to let the old year out and open up the front door to let the new year in, I stand at my front door – welcome the new year and I make a deal with it. Last year my deal was that if I worked hard, the year would help me to make sure that my freelance work got on the ground running. I’ve only started charging for my work this last year so I wanted to make sure I did well.
And now I feel I can give myself a big pat on the back, give 2014 a high five, grateful for what I’ve achieved: I’ve set up my website with the help of brilliant Kim Lawler. I got awesome stationery printed to go with it. I bought the camera I’d been craving to have for the last three years. I somehow landed myself in a job which I hope will teach me a lot and be helpful in the next little bit of time climbing up the mountain. I set myself up for the joys of HMRC with my freelance income – making it feel official, and actually working on freelance jobs… Amazingly I haven’t had to seek out work this year, I’ve just worked on some lovely briefs for lovely people and done well at it. Even if the last two months of this year were utterly crazy with adjusting to the demands of my new job and working on three large freelance projects – I even got invited to a blogger event. The deal with 2014 worked and it’s my greatest achievement so far – Aside from making clients happy, I’m so lucky to do what I love and what I’m good at for my living and it’s why I do this dance of late nights at my laptop – it’s not hard.
This last year has seen some big changes outside of work. I heartbreakingly lost my dog, my little pal who had been with me since I was eleven. I had wished so badly for a dog of my own – looking through the big yellow dog book our family owned and eventually my mum gave in – I saved up the small amount of pocket money I was given every month and out of it came little Biff. He was my best friend, my secret keeper and he would always back me up – through the tough times at school when I was to meak to stand up for myself I got to come home to his happy face and everything would be fine. I miss him so much now it’s ridiculous but I will never forget him or that experience. And now we have Lyyli, a sassy little lady who is helping us get past the pain of losing our little family member, who my mum will no doubt endeavour to dress up at every opportunity for her own amusement.
Another big thing is Mikee and I starting the hunt for our first real home. Estate agents have driven me bananas for a multitude of reasons, but luckily the complexity of paperwork and all of the things we’ve had to go through haven’t – mostly thanks to the brilliant broker we’ve worked with (if anyone wants his number do write to me and I’ll pass it on). We came so close to getting a place in the perfect location and the perfect price but the seller backed out leaving us back in square one again. So we’re starting the hunt again in 2015 and hopefully this time next year we’ll have found ourselves a home – something we can make our own… And that makes me excited for the year to come. We also celebrated our ten year anniversary this year, we’re going to celebrate next year though with a trip to California to visit San Francisco, LA and go to Coachella – super excited for that too.
Talking of festivals, I’m super proud of Mikee. His awesome friend Alex asked him to play violin at a recording session for You Me At Six’s deluxe release of Cavalier Youth, which in turn led to a video recording and finally playing an acoustic set with them at Reading Festival. He also recorded on Lucy Rose’s new album. And played at Bestival with the beautiful Catherine Okada who amazingly got me tickets to attend, resulting in a last minute adventure with some unlikely friends down to the Isle of White to spend the weekend there camping with amazing music and catching up with some lovely people. Hazel also wins the award for the calmest driver I’ve ever been in a car with.
Music wise, this year has been kinda slow with the gigs as I had to prioritise my work. But I went to see Sivu at least three times (go see him perform if you can), Grouplove with my original gig buddy. Cut Copy which was so much fun (we also ate at the same place pre show) their opening act Rufus were great too. I saw Wild Beasts which was a beautiful gig, but tarnished by the fact I was a wreck when I saw them as it was the same day that Biff died – we had to leave early because I was crying too much. We also Dan Croll but we only really went to catch We The Wild opening for him and then also fell in love with Jack Garratt at the same gig – he’s brilliant too if you want to listen to some fantastic music. I also went to lots of Catherine Okada gigs which were lovely, I’ve seem to have always been busy before, but she’s got such a lovely voice and beautiful songs I can’t recommend her music enough.
This year saw trips near and far occur. It’s probably the year I’ve travelled most and I want to keep it up. We started off in good old Finland, Mikee celebrated his 25th birthday by ice fishing in the middle of Kangasala with me and my Vaari, in minus 20 degree weather. We also went for a trip down to Helsinki and explored the quiet zoo and walked on the frozen Baltic Ocean.
I spent the day at the Bluebell woods with mine and Mikee’s families, walking around the beautiful forrest taking photos and entertaining my niece. We also went on a day trip to Port Lympne with my family in the summer which was great – you can see all the way out to the sea while going around in a Safari vehicle to see all of the animals, most of which are roaming freely.
I went to Italy with my lovely friend Christina, we visited Lake Como, staying in Como but then going for an adventure to Bellagio and then Milan. It was my first time to Italy and it was beautiful, hot and full of tasty food. I ate so much gelato that if I kept that up regularly I’d probably turn into it. I will go back some day, hopefully not in the too far distant future.
While Christina was in London, we also went to visit Kew Gardens with my housemate Aaron. I love that part of London, I don’t go very often as it’s quite far but it is beautiful and Kew was stunning, I want to go an explore more in the spring time.
I also had a touristy day exploring London with my brilliant friend Jess. She’s my oldest friend and the one who caused the me and Mikee thing to happen. Having disappeared to Australia for two years it was amazing to catch up with her and know that although we’re different people to who we were when we were eleven, we can still see each other as if no time passed.
And lastly I went to Birmingham for the first time. Probably my first trip out of London to go and visit friends. It was different to how I expected it but I’ll have to visit some more to get a better taste of it… I do now know though that the typical Brummy accent everyone expects to hear isn’t typical to Birmingham though, just the Black Country as it’s called. Though anyone outside of the south of England sounds weird to me.
This has also been the last year of living with my housemate Aaron. I’ve lived with him the entire time I’ve been in London since I moved up for university in 2008, he is part of what makes it what it is. We’ve spent practically a quarter of our lives living in the same space, so I’d say he now qualifies as my family. Now six and a half years later, I’m really sad to see him leave but the time has come, it’s the end of an era with more exciting stories to come and be told at future catch ups instead of in the Bermuda kitchen, the sauna, my room, Christina’s room, Antonia’s room or the living room. I’ll sign this off with a wish for him, for this move to help him find the inspiration to make his dreams into a reality.
For 2015 I have a few things I want to achieve – I am going to keep the details close to my chest again but needless to say through this process of deal making with the welcoming of the new years – I’m learning life IS what you make it. Sometimes lucky accidents happen but these things come about because of good timing and because of you. I’m learning that wishing your life away and being negative doesn’t work – sometimes you’re going to fall down of course – but take some time to sit there, reflect, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get right back on with it because if you have a burning desire deep in your heart the only thing that’s really going to satisfy you is chasing it to the end of the world. I’m keeping my mantra from last year: