New Year’s Eve usually brings with it a look to the future: what do I need to fix in order to make my life perfect. Inevitably, that comes with a few regrets as well, of things I didn’t do the past year to make my life perfect. 2014 was no different: I didn’t lose 100 lbs; I didn’t write a best-selling novel that redefined the fantasy genre; I didn’t meet Rory McCann, and I certainly didn’t become his red-headed sassenach bride.
To be fair, I didn’t set out to do those things – I love food and abhor exercise; I like my fantasy to stay well within the confines that Tolkien created; and I hear divorce is messy, even if it’s for the sake of marrying the Hound.
Besides, I did a bunch of other awesome things that more than make up for my imperfect year:
I travelled overseas.
I’ve always dreamed of travelling – like really travelling, not just going to Las Vegas or Disney World or Seattle (though those trips were really fun.) I mean travelling overseas, experiencing a new culture, seeing things I couldn’t possibly see in Canada. My two and a half weeks in Scotland, and then three days in London, was my first trip overseas, and it won’t be my last. I miss the wild beauty of the country, and the people, and the food (though not the showers), and I know that other countries hold just as much wonder to discover.
I rocked my job.
I spent my one-year anniversary at my job with Alberta Farmer on an airplane headed to an international agriculture journalism conference in Scotland. It was a fitting way to mark my first year at an amazing job that only seems to get better every day. I got to meet my Manitoba colleagues (and travel with my incomparable Alberta colleagues) in Winnipeg; met too many interesting people to count; wrote some strong pieces; and learned a lot. Truly, this is my dream job, and I’ll keep it until they make me leave. Please don’t make me leave.
I volunteered and freelanced like crazy.
2014 felt like the first year I really, truly gave my heart to my volunteer and freelance work. Of course, I’ve been volunteering with Volunteer Central (formerly Volunteer Red Deer) for the past four years, but in the last year, Volunteer Central has rebranded, developed a new website, and taken a whole new direction. With that has come the opportunity for fun new marketing initiatives, which I get to help out with as chair of the marketing committee.
My freelance work has also picked up, and I was fortunate to work on websites, annual reports, articles for Red Deer Living, reports, blogs, and major projects like Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games bid. There’s something so rewarding about getting to work with different kinds of organizations and help them through my writing. It’s made me feel more connected to my community and the remarkable people in it.
I cultivated new hobbies.
As a child, I loved horses. I took riding lessons, read books about horses, and decided I wanted to be a veterinarian so I could work with horses. Over the years, my childhood love of horses has turned into an adult’s respect of the animals – a healthy respect that I paid at a distance. After years of wanting to take riding lessons again but being too fearful, I finally started lessons in November. It’s been a sometimes frustrating but always rewarding and magical experience, and I can’t believe I waited this long to do it. I also gave swordfighting a shot and hope to get back into it more seriously in the new year.
I reconnected with myself.
They say as you grow older, you come into yourself more, and I think that’s true. This past year or so has been the first time in my life I’ve really, truly embraced all of who I am and celebrated it. But it’s been a bit of work. Through practicing yoga, meditating, reading spiritual books, consulting my gut, attending amazing retreats, and journalling, I’ve started to become more in tune with myself and what I want and need out of life. This is something I don’t take lightly; I truly believe it’s been the key to my happiness in 2014. And I hope 2015 holds more of the same.
But that’s not all:
- I turned 30 and celebrated the milestone with some lovely friends at my favorite restaurant.
- I wrote a short story – a whole one that I actually let some people read.
- I tried haggis and liked it. Same with whisky. But only the speysides.
- I got a new dog, who is an absolute menace but I love him anyway.
- I staked-out my neighbour and got him to stop letting his dog poo on my lawn.
- I spent way too many fun evenings with friends, at book club and over board games.
- I tried, and failed, to learn how to run, but then I got a bike, which is better anyway.
- I travelled first-class in a train, the only truly dignified way of travelling.
- I spent an amazing Christmas at a joint Blair-Smith family dinner with all of my loved ones in one place.
- I played the crap out of some amazing videogames, namely Dragon Age Inquisition, which is life.
- I saw a Spice Girls tribute band at the Citadel with the coolest people I know, and it was just as magical as you could possibly imagine.
- I built my very own Hobbit hole. A small one, anyway.
2014 has been an amazing year, even though I didn’t do what I planned on January 1. And tomorrow, I’ll make the same plans – and I hope this time next year, I’ll be just as excited that I broke every single one of them in favour of things that are so much better.
Tell me, friends, what were the highlights of your year?