Wednesday, 24 December 2014

2014 in Review

Earlier this week I saw a cool blog post on Into Mind, entitled ‘Your Year in Review: 50 Questions To Help You Reflect, Appreciate and Get Excited For 2015’. The questions are thought-provoking and made me question what I really want out of next year, as well as what I could realistically achieve, but also what I’ve learnt from 2014.
Of the 7 goals I set for myself this year, I actually achieved most of them – although I didn’t beat my 2012 time, I did run Basingstoke half marathon again. I haven’t dyed my hair since November 2013. Maxx and I went to Berlin in June. My French is improving incrementally, but this is something to continuing working on next year. I did get a permanent career job in publishing in May, but finally realised I should be a teacher so left after 5 months. Ernest and I went to one showjumping event this year – I fell off in the warm up and did a very ‘interesting’ round of jumps after that. The one goal I didn’t achieve was getting to 18% body fat. I’m not going to dwell on that though, as I am so bored of the phrase ‘body fat’ by now that you must be too.
Anyway, the first 40 questions from Into Mind are as follows (the final 10 will come in another post):
1. What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
That I held a tarantula. This will come up in more detail in a later question.

2. If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?
Busy, emotional, fun.

3. What new things did you discover about yourself?
I can do a lot more - physically - than I thought I could.

4. What single achievement are you most proud of?
Running the half marathon without walking (well, I did for 30 seconds but apparently that doesn’t count) and raising over £400 for Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare.

5.What was the best news you received?
One of my oldest friends had a baby this year, whom I met on my birthday; that was really special. Another of my friends got engaged. My mum was told by her Master’s supervisor to enter her dissertation for a prize awarded by BALEAP (The British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes) – she doesn’t have the result yet, but to be good enough to enter was really exciting as this is a globally recognised association. I’m proud of you Mindy!

6. What was your favourite place that you visited in 2014?
Potsdam, Germany.

7. Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
Organisation. At one point I was teaching at the Uni, teaching in the evening, studying on two courses and, of course, riding as many times a week as I could.

8. Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
Maxx. Poor man.

9. Which new skills did you learn?
I learnt so many new skills on my CELTA course, such as how to do a thorough needs analysis and how to plan lessons (properly, with stages and everything). I also mastered how to make a great frittata.

10. What, or who, are you most thankful for?
My family – this includes pets, of course – and friends. I have the best group of friends I’ve ever had.

11. If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
A dramatic comedy? Does that exist? There were some funny moments but also some less than pleasant ones.

12. What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?
Know when to get involved and when to keep out of someone’s business.

13. Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
I haven’t overcome my fear of spiders but holding a tarantula at Longleat Safari Park certainly helped. I was petrified – shaking and tearful etc, but it was revelatory in a strange way. I never thought I could do it, but just decided in that moment that I was going to.

14. What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
I don’t think I can answer that. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with my family this year, and gotten closer to my cousins as a result.

15. What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Well, this can be in two parts. It was really exciting and somewhat relieving to finally get a job in publishing, but it also showed me that my passion actually lay in teaching. Becoming a self-employed language teacher was also rewarding and a little scary – self-employed at 23!

16. How did your relationship to your family evolve?
My brother and I became a lot closer this year. We text, Viber, Facebook and Snapchat all the time now and I’m so, so happy. He’s such a big goof.

17. What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
Anna Karenina portrays mental illness in an enlightening way – her transformation from a mysterious, vibrant woman to bitter, rejected lover was alarming. She wasn’t entirely likeable by the end of the novel, but the depiction of how depression can alter someone was truthful.

18. What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?
“You’ll make a cracking teacher, you have the goth edge to warrant interest, strict when necessary and silly when appropriate. You’re like if Doctor Who, Professor McGonagall and Sherlock Holmes had a tri-parent baby.” 

19. What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Washing my hair was more enjoyable as I didn’t worry about the colour fading.

20. What cool things did you create this year?
I made my grandparents a calendar, mostly using pictures from when we went away as a family earlier this year. They love it.

21. What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
There were lots of different things to be stressed about, such as starting and leaving a career, studying, becoming self-employed etc. But there was a lot of contentedness too - passing my CELTA, competing again, spending time with family.

22. Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
Holding a tarantula, going on a rollercoaster – Air at Alton Towers, and going bouldering. All of those involved fear!

23. What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?
Going to Longleat with the other members of the Fantastic Four (Maxx, Becky, Andy). It was a brilliant day out and really fun being squashed in my car, driving round the safari.

24. What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
Training to be a teacher. I had a TEFL, but now I’ve got a CELTA and a lot more experience with different nationalities and programmes of study. I’m also doing a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE), which will be helpful when applying for University lecturer roles (although I need a Masters as well).

25. Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
It sounds stupid, but when I gained body fat I thought I'd never lose it and I'd be unhappy with my appearance forever. I've since lost bf again and am just being more balanced with my diet.

26. What experience would you love to do all over again?
The whole Longleat day out and the Berlin holiday.

27. What was the best gift you received?
Having all my family with me. I’m extremely lucky to still have 4 grandparents.

28. How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I don't think my outlook has completely evolved, but I'm learning that it's OK to not do 500 things in a day and to not beat myself up when I'm too tired to finish everything. I'm starting to be more realistic about what I can, and should, achieve.

29. What was the biggest problem you solved?
Deciding which career I really should be doing. I wanted to work in publishing for so long, it was hard to admit that perhaps it wasn't the right thing for me after all.

30. What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
When the camels surrounded us at Longleat and stole the plastic bee off my car aerial, or watching Becky dismount Ernest. I think it was the accompanying noise as she fell.

31. What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
Although I reeeeally like my new blouse from M&S, I think I’ll have to go with my CELTA and PGCLTHE courses.

32. What one thing would you do differently and why?
I don't think I could react any differently to my Aunt and Uncle splitting up, but I would have tried to accept it sooner.

33. What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Running the half marathon.

34. What activities made you lose track of time?
Riding and hanging out with the Fantastic Four.

35. What did you think about more than anything else?
My Aunt and Uncle, Ernest, losing weight/body fat. Personally I find the latter a bit sad…

36. What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
I've learnt more about the Plantagenet dynasty this year through reading for pleasure (yep, I’m a nerd); that was interesting.

37. What new habits did you cultivate?
After a ridiculously busy November, I've tried to fit less into my day / week. This is definitely something to work on in 2015.

38. What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could?
Hmmm...  don't take on too much and accept that you can't control everything.

39. Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
Yes - my Aunt and Uncle split up. I used to stay at theirs every week, all through school and college, and I went on holiday with them. I was a bridesmaid at their wedding. It’s been utterly crap, not only because of the emotional fallout, but losing someone I was really close to and who was a really important part of my life both as a child and adult. Sometimes I still can’t believe it.

40. What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
Hmmmm… training to be a teacher or becoming self-employed.

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