I got to thinking as I was planning this blog. My thoughts were around how you could tell if it’s been a good year. It got me to thinking that it really depends on what you thought your year ahead would look like and what you thought you would achieve. If I think back to the beginning of this year and what I hoped it would pan out like, my thoughts would run a bit like this…. I’d like a year of consolidation in my life in terms of relationship and work. In terms of relationships I’d say I’ve grown and nurtured what I already have which at the start of the year I would have considered a success.
But looking back now and thinking of the word consolidation and looking at what this year delivered, its been anything but. This year has probably had the biggest structural change of my life. The decision to quit a career I had grown into over the last 15 years and to challenge my uneasiness at being alone is a seismic shift in my life.
It certainly wasn’t a rash or rushed decision, being 20 years in the making. However, that isn’t to say it was an easy transition from full time work to full time study at home. It’s something that I’ve gradually grown into. I’m not sure even now if I’d really admit that its something that I enjoy. On the face of it, I see it very much as a means to an end. I suppose I didn’t do the whole gap year thing between university and working and have never even considering taking a year off to travel or anything like that. So maybe what I’m doing right now is my long overdue gap year! Although I’m not sure I’d want to spend a gap year sitting at home studying for a Master’s Degree.
I heard recently that a former colleague of mine had taken his own life, it came as quite a shock in the lead up to Christmas and I’m sure it’s a similar story to experiences others have had. If I could have predicted who might have taken their own life, he would be on the bottom of that list. It put me in quite a thoughtful mood for the past couple of weeks and I have a multitude of questions for which I will never have any answers. Not knowing is not something I enjoy.
I might sound like a broken record but it has made me appreciate the therapy I undertake every few weeks, having someone there who I can reveal my darkest deepest secrets too, the thoughts I don’t want to tell anyone else about and to have someone make no judgement on these. It’s a valuable resource in a world where we’re told we have to think a certain way or hold a certain opinion to fit in and belong.
I still think there is a definite stigma among males about being anything apart from the strong, decisive, dependable image that we attach and expect of males. It still seems to be considered a weakness that we might admit that even we need some help sometime, that we can’t deal with everything that is thrown at us and we might not even know the answer. It’s a shame this view seems to still be held by huge swaths of the population. I can only speak from my own personal viewpoint and experience and say what a difference its made to my life. From understanding myself more, to strengthening my relationships to unburdening myself of baggage that I’ve carried around for many years. I won’t pretend its initially an easy process to open up to a seemingly stranger but as time goes on the process gets easier. In fact, from almost dreading going to see my therapist and wondering what I was going to talk about, I now look forward to it.
A few of my interests have admittedly taken a back seat this year. I haven’t done a lot of competitive running at all which is something I look back on and wish I’d indulged a bit more. That’s in no way to say that I’d ceased running at any time during the year, I just couldn’t really find the motivation to drag myself out of bed on a Saturday morning to do a half marathon. Although I’ve appreciated the extra sleep I’ve also missed the sense of achievement and all the related benefits its brings.
Beer has remained in its place in my life. Through various beer festivals this year, I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie of the industry, the friends and different people I’ve met and all the amazing beers I’ve tried over the year. I’m not sure if its very PC these days to have one of your main interests to be the consumption of alcohol but it’s a lot more than that to me. One of my previous NYE resolutions has certainly kicked in and that was to drink less ordinary beer and replace it with good local craft beer. My home brewing also has taken off, with a batch being made on average every 4 weeks. In fact, for certain periods during the year my beer needs were being completely fulfilled with what I was making at home. I found a consistency of quality finally and I genuinely now enjoying drinking my own beers after many years of not.
One surprise has been the effect of having less money in my pocket after leaving a very well-paid job. Life now means I watch my spending and have reduced it to under half of what I’d previously spend. You’d think I’d be crying out for my old level of spending but in fact I appreciate so much more what I spend my cash on because I’ve justified it to myself over and over again. I’ve found interesting ways of making money go further like taking lunches with people instead of evenings out, following happy hours around town and learning to say no to things. In my past life there were times when I would think nothing of spending $50 on something I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted or not, just because I could. Now that is a major spending decision to me and is incredibly carefully thought about.
This year has involved many highlights from the usual rounds of beer festivals, to going back to the Royal Melbourne show for the first time in 10 years, to Adelaide, Perth, New Zealand and Canada. I’ve continued my tradition of following the Ashes around, we’ve commenced fostering kittens for the Lost Dogs Home and our household has grown by one.
And so as one year ends and another begins, what do I hope for, for next year? I’d like to pick the running back up and complete a half marathon or two, I’d like my two placements next year to go amazingly and reinforce my decision to pursue a teaching career and I’d like to consolidate and develop what I already have. There is that word again, consolidation!
I’m not sure any of us really know what our future holds so maybe its best just taking it day by day, enjoying what we can, avoid doing things that make us sad and look after ourselves and the ones we love.
Happy New Year.