Looking back and moving forward

The end of 2015 has come and gone with more of a whimper than a bang. I actually missed it entirely through my own stupidity, being sat in an empty train carriage at the stroke of midnight. I had done a good turn but I still felt miserable.

It’s not been a very good year overall: We said goodbye to Lizzie’s granny at the end of January and the fallout has hung over the family for the rest of the year. We lost Marmalade in September which was a punch to the gut after such a nice time in each other’s company at my friend Emma’s wedding in Northumberland. I miss him and still have dreams where he’s come home. I also haven’t seen the best of myself this year in my attitudes and actions.

The good:

I pushed myself more this year and i’ve grown in confidence as a result. I’ve continued my volunteering at Kith & Kids, doing the spring, summer and winter projects, as well as the clubs, fundraising and carol performances. I even trained some new volunteers for the first time. Kith & Kids allows me to express my creativity and I have a ball singing, dancing and generally making a fool of myself in the name of social development for people with autism. I’ve also made some amazing new friends.

I also completed the London2Cambridge Ultra Challenge this year. I walked 100km in a time of 31hrs 53mins 22secs to raise money for The Kaos Organisation. It was a painful but euphoric experience and i’m already looking to do another challenge in 2016, this time for Kith & Kids. I’ve never been a fitness fanatic, but preparing for the challenge and spending time alone with my own thoughts on the long walk was good for me.


The bad:

I feel like, while i’ve grown socially and helped a lot of people this year, i’ve not given the same care and attention to myself or my family. I’ve made a lot of time for my friends – and I will continue to do so – but I know i’ve given less time at home and relationships have suffered as a result. I consider myself a patient and understanding person overall, but I know even i’ve found myself more judgemental and less tolerant of others this year. Not unkind, or at least not intentionally, but I could do better.

I haven’t always shown it – choosing instead to sleep off negative thoughts – however my absence has done just as much damage. There are things i’m unhappy with that I can’t change at the moment, but holding in my frustrations hasn’t helped anyone, not least my own mental health. I need to realise that as much as I have the capacity to listen to others, I also need a sensitive ear myself. I’ve seen out the year feeling drained and stretched too thin.

I returned to blogging this year and i’m really glad I did. I’m writing with more purpose and even attempted a bit of portraiture. I didn’t complete my self-imposed challenge (a picture every day of Advent) but it’s good to recognise I am a creative person and that with a bit of will power I can access that energy.

I’ve started reading more of my fellow bloggers too and i’ve found some wonderful new friends. I love that the internet pulls the rest of the world into my life no matter how far away you all are geographically. I’m fascinated by the life experiences of my peers around the world. We all face the same struggles and celebrate our victories and its good to see that, warts and all, in the words of others.

Someone recently told me that rather than making a single, impractical New Year’s resolution they instead come up with three or four mini goals that they think they can achieve in the coming year. Not pie-in-the-sky or vague dreams, but clear, achievable aims, working towards a larger purpose, be it self-improvement or career prospects.

On that note, let’s have a jolly good go at the following:

Lose the belly 

A combination of a desk job and eating well on my lunch break has given me the start of a little pot belly!

I’ve never been one to worry about my figure and I believe in being happy in your own skin regardless of what others may think (that’s their problem, not yours). That said, I want to feel fitter and keep the slim physique i’ve had with no real effort all my life.

I’m not talking going to the gym every day or going on a diet – that’s really not me – but I want to keep up the walking and do more swimming which I think will make me healthier overall.

Complete at least one other physical challenge

I’m already thinking about London2Brighton and/or the Three Peaks Challenge, but I know I will do something this coming year. It’s just a question of what.

It’s good to have a goal to train for and I want to give back to Kith & Kids this year. Plus, promoting my fundraising gives me an opportunity to promote the work of wonderful charities and raise awareness of disability and promote inclusion.

Start reading again

I want to keep up the social media presence i’ve started nurturing, but i’m also talking reading books. Real, physical, love-that-smell paperback books. I’ve picked up quite a few this year and received more this Christmas, but not read a single one.

Continue creating

Either by doing more drawing (i’m really pleased with how the portraiture turned out) or making something on the computer. I say something because we all know how often I say i’ll make a game. I’m not quite there at the moment but I have ideas bubbling around for something digital. Either way, let’s blow the dust off our artistic skills this year.

Research my family tree

I’m been dabbling with the family tree on and offer for years, but in December I started a subscription to Ancestry.co.uk and am making a proper go of it. I’ve also signed up for a free taster course on geneaology starting in March that will hopefully structure my approach.

I don’t just want to do everything on a computer though: I want to track down where my ancestors lived and go visit some locales and meet up with my family to talk about their memories. I want to collate as many of the anecdotes and local knowledge as I can with a view to creating a book at some point in the future.

How has 2015 gone for you? Have you grown or shrunk in the last year? What does the future hold for you?

11 thoughts on “Looking back and moving forward

  1. E. says:

    The portraits turned out wonderfully – you are very skilled! And I’m still so sorry to hear about Marmalade — when I was a kid and my family’s cat disappeared I would dream about her for months in such vivid detail that waking up felt like losing her all over again. And again with Calypso… it’s not easy.
    I think you have some great goals and excellent causes for the upcoming year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne Donnelly says:

    I love that your genealogy research plans include more than just sorting through documents online. Preserving the oral history of your family traditions is really the fun part, I think!! Good luck and happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rarasaur says:

    I love it. 🙂 I tend to give myself a “word” each year, a habit I picked up from Vernette (vernetteoutloud.wordpress.com) . All the way till the clock struck midnight, I thought my word was going to be “Create”, but I realized I want it to be “Connect”. Maybe I’ll manage a little of both. 🙂

    My BFF lives in Brighton, or works out that way, I’m unsure. My mental roadmaps of any area, including my own, are woefully childlike.

    Loved your post, and your goals, and your portraitures. I am still so very sorry about Marmalade.

    Happy 2016. ❤


  4. Maria says:

    I am in awe of how fully you love your life and I want to be more in the moment this year, trying to worry less. Oral history is SO important so if toy manage to get some, make sure you get in touch with a local museum or archive too!

    Maria xxx


      • Dan says:

        Thank you! I could easily say the same about you Maria: you are so inspiring. Haha, well I do love my life – most of the time – and even when I’m miserable waiting for the train to work I can always be guaranteed one of your cheerful morning photo shoots to brighten up my day😉


  5. Nicole Martin says:

    Your honesty in your writing is unique. I feel many of the same feelings and thoughts as you…nurturing emotional health is very important for people like us!!

    Keep up the posts. I’ll be following you,



    Liked by 1 person

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