Have ‘a year’

2016 is ending, which many will be delighted about. There’s a weird thing that we all do where on one day out of 365, we look back at the previous 365 days and judge ourselves. Lots of people are posting achievements, happy moments, sad moments, words of wisdom, and hopes, dreams, and goals for the next 365 days.

I read somewhere that:

‘it’s okay if the only thing you did today was breathe’.

I would like to extend that to this year.

It’s okay if this year you ‘just survived’. It’s okay if you didn’t achieve your goals or complete all of your plans. It’s okay if you didn’t graduate, if you didn’t change the world, if you didn’t get the promotion you wanted or finish a race you wanted to run. You have still achieved something this year – you have smiled, laughed, and loved. You have brightened someone’s day, made someone smile, and made a difference in the lives of those around you.

If this year you have been in hospital, had a family member in hospital, received a new diagnosis, lived with an old diagnosis, taken medication, had an operation, had tests done, or put up with a mind or body which seem less than impressed with being alive, then I’m proud of you.

If you have had a baby, got a new job, graduated, moved house, passed an exam, received a promotion, got married, got engaged, learned to drive or raised money for charity, then I’m proud of you.

If you have taken a picture of a sunset, felt the wind in your hair, cuddled a puppy, taken the bins out, watched TV, read a book, hugged, text a friend… done anything at all that involves being alive, then I’m proud of you because at the times it can feel like there is hatred stirring all over the world and things can feel very bleak, and if you can continue to enjoy and appreciate the little things, and remain kind in the face of all of that, then you’re doing well.

I hope that 2017 is kind to you all. I hope that it brings you the things that you want. I hope that it provides you with family times and time with friends. I hope that you receive love and laughter and that you treat yourself with all of the kindness and compassion you deserve. I’m not going to tell people to have ‘a good year’, because I think that can feel out of reach a lot of the time. Instead I’m going to say have ‘a year’.

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Little Things

As my life progresses I become more and more aware of the importance of appreciating the little things in life. Cliché as it might be, it improves my mood and helps me feel calm. Being someone who enjoys a bit of macro photography, I have a tendency to notice things that others sometimes miss, but lately I haven’t been finding the time to get out and about in the fresh air (blame essays…).

This week has been one of ups and downs. There have been some incredibly-exciting-squee-yay moments (like getting my first blog published on Huff Post) and some incredibly-not-so-great-meh-blergh-cry moments (like the other night). It’s been a weird one because for the past few weeks I’ve been a desk hermit; my life has revolved around waking up, essaying and sleeping. Then this week I’ve suddenly had some free time, no structure and a very long to-do list. I expected to be incredibly happy, very excited and seeing all the friends I hadn’t seen in far too long once essays were over but the reality has been different – having free time has given me chance to stop and think (never a good thing!), and I’ve felt really lost without having essays to focus on (not really complaining – I don’t particularly want any more right now but you know what I mean).

Today, after a week of a failed sleep routine, too much TV, weird food combinations and a bit too much sitting wondering what to do, I decided to sort it. Being like this doesn’t do anything but make me feel rubbish, I miss the best bits of the day, and all in all, it’s a bad plan.

After waking up too late (again), completing my morning run, writing a shopping list and doing all those other fun things, IDSC_7330edit decided to grab my camera and go on a walk. I don’t do this often enough. It feels self-indulgent and there are always others things I could (and arguably should) be doing.

I found my sunglasses (wahay, summer!), shoved on some dungarees and made it out of the door. I walked up through some fields, found some buttercups and started snapping away. It occurred to me that I wasn’t sneezing or wheezing and my legs hadn’t swelled up which was something to be majorly grateful about (modern medicine is wonderful). It was so amazing to have a gentle breeze, hear some birds, feel the grass moving in the wind and welcome a sense of peace.

A man walked past with four dogs – two spaniels and two black labs. We spent about half an hour chatting about photography and dogs. I stroked his dogs and they were so lovely, soft and affectionate. There was no agenda, no rush to be anywhere and I will probably never see this man again, but it was lovely to stop and chat for a bit.

We parted and went our separate ways, but it got me thinking; these are the things which make me happy and content. Being with people, the sunlight, dogs, my camera, the smell of a spring field. They fill me with a sense of peace and the knowledge that whatever happens in my life, these little things which will always remain. They will always welcome me back.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in my life in the next week, never mind the next few years and beyond. Hopefully I’ll graduate, I might be able to afford a house (probably not, but we can dream) and get my own dog. There’s a chance I’ll get a job (please be kind to me job market). I might meet someone who I want to spend my life with, or I might not. I’ll probably make some new friends and drift from others. Mum will probably pass away, hopefully nobody else will. The kids I’ve babysat will start taking their GCSEs and A-Levels and I’ll wonder how I got so old. There will be happy times and sad times. Times of distress, anger, joyfulness and excitement; lazy days and busy days; car trips and cycle rides. There are so many things to look forward to as well as the unavoidable difficult times.

I need to remember that though bad happens; there is also a lot of good. That even if I’ve neglected them for months on end, the fields will always welcome me back. Most importantly, if my life gets busy to the point that I don’t have time to stop and smell the seasons, it’s time to stop and revaluate things, because that is not a happy life and it’s not a life I want to live.