2013 – a reflection

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time to look at all of the wonderful things that happened in it, and be thankful.

As we say hello to a new year, it’s very easy to say ‘Good Riddance’ to an old one.  A lot of people do it, and have real reason to. Even if I’m that way inclined, I try to be more retrospective than that; focus on the good things each year, and see what I can learn from the not-so-good things.

I also try to look ahead to the next 12 months and make some hopes for what’s to come. 2014 is going to bring a lot of changes for me. Some I am planning, and I guess some that will come along and surprise me.  More than ever, I think a positive outlook and some courage will be needed!  I think I’ve made a good start on that this past year.

I finally made it to NYC after years of wanting to. I visited in April, on my own, having never met anyone there and with no firm plans of where to go, what to see and who to talk to.  It was a little nerve-wracking, but I had the most INCREDIBLE time.  I met some wonderful people and can honestly say it’s the best trip I’ve taken to date.

That wasn’t the only trip I went on this year. Having been bitten by the travelling bug, I carried on my travels of last year and visited Barcelona, as well as taking a second trip to NYC and calling in on the beautiful and exciting New Orleans on the way home.

I’ve also done quite a bit of UK travelling this year, partly down to Lindy-Hopping and performing for Lindy-Hoppers. I am very grateful for those opportunities and hope very much for more of the same in 2014.

This year, I sang at Hullzapoppin’, Manchester Lindy Exchange, Cambridge Lindy Exchange, Leeds Swing Exchange and countless other events. I danced at the London Swing Festival, and Girl Jam, as well as across the Pond in NOLA and NYC.

I met some incredible people through my dancing, not least the lovely Americans, Stateside!  I even hosted one Mikey Pedroza for a Teapots and Twirls in November after meeting him in Hull in May.

With a couple of little breaks for Jules to get married and have a baby, Teapots and Twirls has had a very successful year – we’ve hosted 3 workshops with visiting superstar teachers, all of which I got to demo with. I can honestly say, despite the immense amount of work it has taken, that I’ve really enjoyed running and planning the lindy workshops and Tea Dances that I have this year.  I also had Cam and Loz to visit in the Summer, too!

High Spirits, having started the year performing at Jules’ and Tom’s wedding, have gone from strength to strength, and I am very lucky to have such a talented and dedicated, and friendly, group of singers in my choir. We have performed at every Teapots and Twirls event, as well as a handful of other events, the highlight being singing in ‘Bring The Happy’ at Leeds Town Hall in December with Hope and Social and Invisible Flock to a sold out audience! And then, of course, our Carol Crawl just a few days later.

I was able to invite 4 of my school’s students to join my choir at ‘Bring The Happy’, which I was very happy about.  I have really enjoyed working with the students in Bradford this year. I performed in the Steel Pan group this Christmas, as well as accompanying 2 of my students on Piano in the Spring Concert (which was terrifying, but I’m glad they performed!) I also introduced lindy hop and Charleston to the Year 8s by organising a workshop for them in April! I love my department there, and the support I get from both staff and pupils, I have realised, is not something to take for granted.

I took on a new school in September and put in a private pupil for an exam for the first time in November, maintaining my 100% pass rate for ABRSM exams. Hooray! It’s been a successful year for Miss Smith in that respect.

Apart from choir-leading and singing-teaching, I have of course been singing lots with my bands, and recorded an album in February with my swing band, The Apple Jacks. They have been a joy to work with, and I was happy to be able to finally get back into the studio with the lovely Gavin and make some more music.  I also got played on Radio 4 (an a cappella piece) on Christmas Eve, which was rather exciting to hear!

The Honeybirds has been my other big musical project of 2013, and we’ve had a great year; we’ve busked, we had a great reception at Haworth 1940s weekend, played some lovely gigs and will be recording an album in February 2014.

I feel truly fortunate to be able to do what I love, and have such wonderful friends in both my work and non-work lives.

2013 saw the wedding of one of my dearest friends and the lovely Molly, as well as fun times with many of my friends, old and new.  Friendships were made, renewed, repaired and resolved; all of which I can be grateful for.

This year also saw the arrival of my niece, Emily Edie, which was a great cause for joy in my family.

Leeds has continued to provide me with a wonderful place to live and work, and even if I have seen hardships and sadness here this year, I will always hold it as a great place to be.  The people here are ruddy marvellous, I can assure you. 🙂

And so I guess that concludes my summary of 2013 and all the things I can be thankful for; it’s certainly been an exciting and successful year, on the whole.

*raises glass*

Here’s to 2014; may it be successful, exciting, smile-inducing and full of happiness.

Whatever it brings for all of us, I hope that the positives outweigh the negatives, and it leaves us full of gratitude.

Tessa  x


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