Hello 2013

561252_10151128991805934_1799017796_nI’m not a big one for New Year’s resolutions and all, which is probably why it’s taken me an inordinately long time to write the obligatory New Year post. 2012 was a year of very mixed blessings, so I wasn’t really sure how to round it up. If my life were a book, I think chapter 2011 would be entitled ‘Winning’ – I got married (twice… long story), I graduated with a first. I stayed in touch with most of my friends from university, and most of us got jobs (eventually). It would not be fair to call chapter 2012 ‘Disaster’ but it might be reasonably be referred to as ‘Running out of steam’.

There is a lot to be thankful for – I got my first full-time permanent job, and after four years of living apart, I finally get to live with my husband, who just graduated. My ever patient in-laws have not thrown me out. Brunton number one not only found full time work back at the bank, but has been promoted. Right at the end of the year, I also passed my probation in my new job. Our debts (not huge, but there) from university have been paid off, and we have some savings. Oh, and we have chickens.

It has also been a very tiring, stressful year with a lot of sadness. Coming up for nine months ago now, my friend Burgess killed himself after a long, drawn out battle with depression. Not only was this the first time I had experienced bereavement by suicide, but it was two weeks into my first job. The following ten days were a blur of tearful phone calls to mine and Burgess’ nearest and dearest and retelling the sad news. At the end of the week, my parents and I went to visit my nan, who was recently discharged from hospital. She was a little cross and off colour, although pleased to see us – she had asbestosis and emphysema, and was not a well lady. The following morning, she died peacefully in hospital.

Having never attended a funeral before, I found myself going to two in a week. Without Brunton number one, I would undoubtedly have lost the plot, but in the middle of this grief, he was finishing his finals at university. Cue a long, tedious battle to get his dyslexia assessed and have these circumstances taken into account in the marking of his finals. We have both never felt so tired.

Following Burgess’ death, I took part in a ridiculously long bike ride for the charity Mind and auctioned off my choice of fancy dress. The more money I raised, the fancier it got. I ended up spending several hours out in the pouring rain, dressed as Princess Leia, with a (surprisingly robust) papier mache R2D2 strapped to the back of my tiny bicycle, and I raised over £800 for my trouble. It was a huge highlight to the year out of the worst of circumstances.

Towards the autumn fatigue set in, and so did its friends – panic attacks and stress. Add to this the difficulties I have had in adapting to these changes to my life and home environment, and I find myself doing something I had never expected to volunteer myself for – getting assessed for Asperger’s.

This has perhaps required one of the greatest mental adjustments although I am hoping that the payoff will be increased support and help with aspects of day-to-day life and socialisation that I seem to find harder than other people.

So this year is going to have challenges but I’m calling this year out as ‘Recovery’. The Bloggess, a blogger with a serious fear of the number that comes after 12, is calling this year the library. The library is a nice place to be, where you can quietly prep for next year. This year is going to be spent getting back to normal, and being ready to take on whatever comes next.

As for resolutions – I detest the idea of making a new year different to the last with a short-term goal, intended to force yourself into something you dislike. You want to diet? Then diet. Nobody keeps to that sort of resolution, because it’s something they never wanted to do, and as the year wears on the incentive that the New Year gave is less and less. Instead, I choose to make investments, that is, do things that make me a better or more interesting person. I don’t do it every year but when I do, it’s an enriching enough thing that I stick to it. The aim is, at the end of each year, to feel as though I have done something to be a better person, not just to be richer, thinner or whatever. The year before last I wanted to learn how to make bread for myself – those of my friends who regularly get a fresh-baked loaf can testify to that investment!

Last year I belatedly told myself I had to keep up a blog, and get out and do or learn enough exciting things to fill it. As my readership appears to have expanded, it looks like at least some of you agree.

This year’s investment – keep up the blog, and make new things. I’ve got posts planned for new recipes, at least one film review-come-essay and one or two adventures. I’m also re-learning calligraphy because it is never a bad thing to learn new and interesting skills. Above all, I resolve to take care of myself, enjoy my time in ‘the library’, and get well. Get back to feeling like the old Amanda who was nutty in a good way, and not in a miserable, panicky, fruit-loop kind of way. There is only so much fatigue and sadness that can be thrown your way before you have to stand up to it and say ‘I am better than this’ and move on.

So here’s to 2013 – Recovery.

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