Looking Back at 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the end of a year must be in want of a reflective blog post.

My gut reaction on looking back at 2011 is a big, fat meh. I’ve been juggling exhaustion, depression, low self-esteem and a troubled faith (with bigger repercussions on other aspects of our life than you might expect) and as a family we’ve gone through the wobbling first steps of a new business in its infancy.

So I think I’ll do what any decent procrastinator worth their salt would do. I’ll make a Little List.

5 Worst Things about 2011 (in no particular order)

  • Family struggles. In February my father-in-law lost his mum almost a year to the day after he lost his dad. Being an only child he and my mother-in-law had a lot to deal with alone and although we tried to give them some support it was hard to watch them going through so much from a distance. Obviously, it was also a loss for Andrew who has only one remaining grandparent now. And my own grandpa has been ill, having recently started on chemotherapy for a lymphoma which has been suspected for well over a year.
  • Coming to terms with not having a regular income. Andrew’s going self-employed is great (see below) but it does take some getting used to.
  • Being completely and utterly KNACKERED. Sorry, there’s no more poetic way of putting it. All the years of sleepless nights finally caught up with me this summer and left me in a semi-permanent fog of exhaustion.
  • Rejection, rejection, rejection. Well, ok, maybe that’s a LEETLE dramatic. I usually deal very well with rejection, especially the nice ones (of course), but for some reason this year a couple of rejections led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth and thrusting pen and paper away only to reach for it sheepishly a few minutes later.
  • Babies being poorly. Not seriously, but they have seemed to have had one virus or infection after another. Emily was left very shaken after a nasty bout of chicken pox back in the early summer, and since Daniel started school it’s like he’s stewing in a little petrie dish, brewing up ever more interesting variations on a cold so that our house is solely responsible for the majority of the world consumption of tissues.

5 10 Best Things about 2011 (in no particular order)

  • Andrew’s new business. Finally he’s able to do what he’s good at and manage himself and he’s thriving on it. It’s the most wonderful thing to see someone you love SO MUCH doing what they were made to do. And getting recognition for it too; he’s had some amazing feedback from his clients. Business is coming in strong – so strong in fact that he’s not been able to do the work on his own website! – and looks set to grow in the first few months of 2012. If you want to see a couple of examples, check out Gillian Philip’s website, or The Inkwell Group. If you ask nicely I’ll even get some of his book covers that he’s designed to show you…
  • SCBWI. Yeah,yeah, I know I’ve gone on about these before (here for a start) but seriously, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has been an absolute godsend to me this year. I have found kindred spirits to meet once a month (and more in the interwebz) and chat, discuss, support, critique and encourage each other and it has kept me going and given me an indescribable boost.
  • Podcasting. My In The Wishing Chair series has brought me into contact with some lovely people and I feel very privileged to have talked to them. I’m hoping it continues to grow next year.
  • Liberation. Yes, I had a rocky time faithwise. BUT on the other hand, it’s sort of given me permission to be open to other ideas, ways of thinking, philosophies that I was, if not closed to, not exactly receptive either. I’ve also learned to be happy in the fact that I have so many different interests and hobbies (see here) and I’m really looking forward to developing my Happiness Project (see here – interestingly, one of my most visited posts by a long way. I guess that search for happiness touched a common chord).
  • Emily developing her character. True, that character sends me to despair and back again at times, but she is so vibrant and alive, it’s amazing to see. And frightening to forecast…
  • Daniel learning…well, everything, really. He’s astonished us with his numberacy, he’s amazed us as he’s learned to read, he’s bowled us over with his curiosity and he’s had us in stitches with the turns of phrase he comes out with. I’ve said it before but nobody can send me to the edge of despair then bring me back to joy like my children can. Life MAY be a rollercoaster; parenthood unquestionably is.
  • Some Life, Somewhere. I published a book! I keep forgetting about this actually but when I remember I get a little skip of happiness. I did it! And I do love going and having a wee look at my reviews *shuffles bashfully then puts up link as if I wasn’t planning to all along* LOOK HERE…
  • Teh Interwebz. I’ve kind of fallen out of love with facebook (it was good for a while, FB, but it just couldn’t last. It’s not you, it’s me…) but it’s still got a place in my life, but twitter is actually a big part of my life now. I’ve made good friends and new friends and strengthened old friends- you know who you are. And it’s led me to some very lucky opportunities, both for myself and Andrew’s business.
  • Writing. I’ve got a confidence in myself that I didn’t have at the start of the year, as well as a deeper awareness of my trouble spots. Not to mention the support networks of SCBWI and the internet – see above.
  • New Year’s Eve. As it turned out, 2011 wasn’t as bad as I thought. When it was bad, it was horrid, but when it was good it was very, very good. But I’m still glad to leave it behind and go into 2012. The difference is that where I was going into 2012 in a desperate, despairing rush to get out of 2011, I’m now going into it with hope and enthusiasm.

Thank you for reading my blog this year. See you on the other side! *blows party hooter and raises a glass*