It is time to take a few moments and reflect on the past 12 months.
As the only blogging I seem to do on this site any more, this has become an exercise in contemplation and gratitude that is now in it’s 7th year.
As usual, it serves as a personal reminder of the journey I have taken this year; things I have achieved, places I have been, stuff I have seen, changes that have occurred. However, this year it does seem important to reflect, briefly, on the wider world too.
2016 has been a tough one, globally. With every December 31st that approaches, there’s always an element of ‘Good Riddance,’ but more so this year. Many high-profile deaths have hit the headlines this year, and I don’t think that it’s hyperbolic of me to say that this year has seen hatred, division, intolerance and fear take centre-stage in Politics and Media.
I will not pretend that I am not devastated by the result of the UK Referendum on whether to leave the EU or remain in it, nor that I am not terrified and disgusted by Donald Trump’s US Election success. Both these things bring an uncertainty and a real danger to many people’s lives, and the stability of our societies. I can only hope that people rally, as they appear to be doing so, against the forms of intolerance and hatred that are too often being seen at the moment and realise, as Jo Cox MP reminded us, that we have more in common than that which divides us.
However, whilst it is imperative to be aware of these things, to stay informed, and to challenge intolerance wherever it is encountered, the point of these posts has always been to accentuate the positive and remind myself to practice gratitude, and so I will continue in that way.
Personally, 2016 has brought some great and huge changes for me. Last year, Christopher and I moved house, added a kitten-shaped addition to the family, and got engaged.
This year, we continued to decorate our house, almost lost our new feline addition due to a late-night collision with a motor vehicle, got married and are preparing for another, human-shaped, addition this coming May.
The house continues to take shape, with a new bathroom and most rooms decorated/carpeted. A recent discovery (and very cold house) means that new radiators are required, and hopefully the kitchen will be starting it’s journey to completion soon in the New Year.
On May 29th, Christopher and I got married in my home village among family and friends. It was a beautiful day, and I could not have asked for more. There was vegan curry from Manjit’s Kitchen, vegan cake from That Old Chestnut, a bouncy castle, a Pipe Band, amazing music from a variety of friends, dancing, booze, merriment, good weather and lots of happy faces. My husband continues to provide me with laughter, joy, strength and understanding every day and I love him very much, which is just as well really!
Chris began studying for a new career in Social Work in September, which he is excelling at. This means we are both at Huddersfield Uni for a large proportion of our time.
In January, my workload at the Uni more than doubled and left me working far more than ever before (or at least since my hospitality days!) I have enjoyed it immensely, and it’s definitely worth the tiredness when the students exceed expectations in their performances. This has continued throughout the year and this Autumn saw me teaching and choir-leading more than I ever have before.
My Choir work has continued to take up a large part of my time, and the addition of one or two more choirs this year has been lovely. I look forward to more in 2017! I’ve had a few dance-teaching gigs too, though I have taken a small step back from dancing this year. Still, Teapots and Twirls has had some successful workshops/dances, Hullzapoppin’ remains a fixed event in my calendar and I have continued to enjoy singing for dancers/dances a lot.
Gigs have been great and varied this year. As well as gigs with The Applejacks, a couple of Solo performances and some 1920s-style performances, The Honeybirds have been working on a theatre show (Ladies of Swing), and I created a show focussed on the music of Peggy Lee which I hope to continue to share in the New Year.
Not only have I performed around the country, but I’ve also seen some great performances around the world: Kurt Elling, Sarah Jaroz, The Fruit Trilogy (complete with Eve Ensler Q&A – she’s amazing!) Billy Elliot, Carole King, The Colour Purple, Blackbird, The Humans.. the last 3 (and another Kurt Elling Show) being in NYC!
Travel has featured again this year – Christopher and I visited New York in February (his first time) to celebrate my 30th, and we had a mini-break in the gloriously sunny West of Scotland just after our Wedding Day.
We had planned to take our ‘proper’ Honeymoon in Thailand to visit my brother, his partner, and my new niece, in October but we had to cancel due to news of our own little Bean and the spread of the Zika Virus to Bangkok. So instead, we rescheduled last minute to go back to NYC, where I got to see Cynthia Erivo in The Colour Purple (SO GOOD!!), Kurt Elling at Birdland, visit our lovely friends The Flemings, and spend some time napping in my favourite city (pregnancy made me VERY sleepy at the beginning!)
And so, as the Festive Period draws to a close, I am content in knowing my family are happy and healthy, I am my 3-year-old niece’s favourite (she told me so herself), I have 2 happy and almost fully-functioning cats (poor Bessie still has a limp, and Hendricks still comes and goes as he pleases without bestowing on me the attention I crave from him), I have a very active little Bean inside me (kicking quite persistently as I type) and 2017 promises to bring possibly even more excitement and life-changes than 2015 and 2016 combined.
I wish you all a successful, happy, tolerant, peaceful and exciting new year!