It’s New Year’s Eve, and my only plans for this evening involve a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and a kebab. Suffice to say, I’m not a fan of going out on NYE so will be doing what I’ve done for the past 21 years, I’ll be staying in.
It’s not so bad. Being single means I have absolute control over what I do, watch and eat, so there is zero pressure on me to be the life and soul. There’ll just be myself and Dexter (although Dexter will, no doubt, remain in his pit and surface for sporadic feeding), and I think Ben, my eldest, will be out for drinks with his friends. And that’s how it should be.
I’ve seen lots of round-up posts from fellow bloggers, and there’s lots of talk about how crap 2016 was. And it was for lots of reasons, but as I said in last week’s Slimming World update post, for me, it was pretty good. So here are 10 reasons why 2016 was great:
- One of my first trips of the year was to Bologna, with my lovely blogging friend, Alice from Project Wanderlust. I was there to review a hotel (Hotel Touring if you’re ever in Bologna) and I dragged Alice along. It was SO much fun. I was at the beginning of my weight loss journey but indulged in lots of pasta, strawberry tarts and pizza in bed. We wandered around the food quarter taking gazillions of photos of fresh produce and drank beer in the sunshine – until one cheeky beggar came along and stole our crisps. #CrispGate.
(THESE BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS ARE FROM ALICE – A NOD TO SPRINGTIME AND WHAT ADVENTURES WILL COME OUR WAY NEXT YEAR!)
- My Dad was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the beginning of this year and it’s meant so many doctor and hospital appointments, endless prescriptions and lots of pain – it has meant seeing Dad go from a super active 74 year old, one who played golf and darts every week, who was a keen gardener and an all-round top Dad, to someone who was a shell of himself. I don’t want to dwell too much on it if I’m honest because it has been pretty upsetting for all of us, but I’d just like to say this. He is so much better now than he was. The combination of medications has finally improved his health, he’s mobile again and doesn’t need his walking sticks (we were on the brink of getting him a wheelchair), and he’s even started playing darts again. The aim for 2017 is to get him back on the golf course. It has also brought us all closer together, something I’m very thankful for.
- As you know, my weight loss journey began on Boxing Day 2015, but was really implemented on January 1st, 2016. It wasn’t a case of making a New Year’s Resolution per se, but New Year’s Day meant a fresh start for me. My mindset really was just one of making this the year to focus on myself, and all that that entailed. To not feel guilty for putting myself first for once (I mean obviously, parenting stuff aside), and although I won’t go as far as saying, “I found myself,” I will say that I learnt a lot about myself this year. I learnt what I was capable of, how strong I was, and how it’s OK to admit that things weren’t always this good. I’ve opened up more to you all which, in turn, has meant indirectly opening up to my family, something I think we’ve all found hard to do. I don’t avoid mirrors anymore, I’m not permanently exhausted, I’m enjoying exercising and am loving seeing how my body is changing. All in all, 2016 marked the beginning of something … (pardon the pun), huge, and I couldn’t be more thankful that I didn’t think it was too late for me and just went ahead and did it. No regrets.
- I found a new job in April, and not just any old job, a job that seems perfect for me. It’s based from home so working in my pants is the norm, my bosses are based in Italy, a country I have grown to love, and I get to go there every year, the work is varied, interesting and for once, it feels like I’m making a difference to the business.
- Talking of Italy, I was lucky enough to visit Italy twice this year – first with Canvas Holidays to a place near Venice with my lovely blogging friend Amanda and her family, and then to Pesaro to experience one of my boss’ retreats. It was there that I’ve made friends I’m still in touch with, where I first experienced gelato with hot Nutella and where again, I ‘spoilt’ myself with a week’s worth of TLC, just for me. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to be able to just devote time purely to yourself. I mean, Christ, the juggling of childcare etc was a minefield before I went, but I’m so glad I got to go. As an aside, mentioning how I was going to handle the childcare situation, as a lone parent, on Facebook sure did show me who my real friends are … and who they’re not. I honestly didn’t think I’d get so judged, but when you put parts of your life online, you open yourself up to that shit. A lesson learnt. But God it was painful. (And just so you know, my eldest stepped up and looked after Dexter, bless him.)
- I’ve grown to love my home this year. It is still undecorated, and is very old-fashioned, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I feel safe here and that to me is worth more than having a neutral coloured carpet. I’m looking at the twinkly lights on the Christmas tree as I type this, the lounge is warm, and we’re all really happy here, and when you’ve lived in a house that is full of resentment and anger, just being somewhere where you don’t have to tread on eggshells is amazing. If I could afford it, I’d look into the possibility of re-decorating but until then, I’m going to enjoy the peace and quiet. (Well, that was until those oiks kicked the wing mirror off my car outside my house.)
- I was asked to write for Princess Cruises’ Journey magazine this winter, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled, especially as it was a full page, complete with byline AND bespoke illustration of me. I’d love to be commissioned for more pieces like this next year so watch this space.
- I’m STILL single, but that’s OK too. I’ve had a couple of dates this year, which clearly didn’t amount to anything. But I did meet one really nice American bloke on my birthday in London, and that holds a special place in my heart. And who knows … our paths may yet meet again one day. But if they don’t, that’s alright, I honestly don’t know if I’m destined to ever settle down again if I’m honest. Online dating gets harder and harder, as my Facebook friends will attest to because they see the screenshots, and I don’t know what the answer is moving forward. But I think it’s so important to be happy in your own skin before finding love, and that’s where I’m at – primed! (Haha, romantic!)
- I started writing a book in September. I had hoped that I would have finished a first draft by Christmas, but I’m nowhere near that. But I did start it and I’m happy with the content so far. It’s been a massive learning curve and I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to throw yet another ball in the air, and I haven’t done too well. My main priority goes family, work, fitness, writing … so the book has fallen to the bottom of the list. I like to think I’m Superwoman, yeah, I’m not, so something has to give. But I’m confident this book will all come together this year.
- I’ve found a calmness this year that I haven’t really experienced before, and it’s something I intend to pursue from now on. I hired a cleaner, I withdrew from toxic acquaintances and only did things I really wanted to do. I’ve tried not to leave things until the last minute anymore because I know that as much as I work well under pressure, it’s not good for me. I surround myself with good, like-minded people. I’m working hard at building relationships with my family that my ex threatened to destroy. I eat well. I sleep well. I work hard. I play hard. And I think I’ve finally found a successful (for me) way to live. I’m not rich, on the contrary, I’ll never own my own home again and my car is now covered in duct tape. But I am content, like really content, and you can’t put a price on that.
I’ve thanked you, my readers before, for being part of this blog, but I’m going to thank you again. You’ve contributed to a really wonderful year for me and I won’t forget it.
Whatever you’re doing this evening, have an amazing time. HAPPY NEW YEAR!