2016 – a reflection

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!

 

Tessa x

 

 

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

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2015 – a reflection

In what is now a little Tessa-Tradition, it’s time to write a reflection/account of my past year. I think this is my 5th now, and will probably be the one that recounts the biggest changes to my life so far.

I began the year 2015 in my 3-bedroom house on the Models in Armley, living on my own with my cat Hendricks, happy in a new(ish) relationship.

I ended my year in our 5-bedroom house in Bramley, living with my Fiancé Christopher, Hendricks, and our not-so-little “kitten” Bessie. But the journey to get here has been far from straight-forward…

My past reflections have tended to focus on my career, which has been going well this year.  I continue with many choirs, teaching in Bradford and at the University of Huddersfield. I have had gigs as far North as Darlington, as far south as Titchfield, East of Hull, in the West of the Wirral and many places in-between. I’ve sung many 1920s songs, taught Charleston at weddings and Birthdays, performed with a Big Band on numerous occasions and enjoyed myself greatly. I also managed to complete my tax return in April (*smug face*), so this January is strangely unstressed, and leaves me looking forward to many more varied and fun gigs in 2016. Teapots and Twirls continues to be ace, and with some extra help, Jules and I hosted our biggest event yet in November.

More than gigs and choirs and tea dances and teaching, 2015 has challenged me in ways I hadn’t expected. It has allowed, and demanded, me to be a strong individual, and a strong member of my relationship with Chris. It has definitely tested my resolve.

All year, I have struggled through coming to terms with experiences in my past that have been difficult, detrimental and defining. I began the year with a realisation that some things are not ok – no matter how long and strongly you excuse them – and are not deserved; that I deserve respect and that I am not at fault. I spent a few months in counselling, and I tried to learn ways to cope with the physical manifestations of these stresses. I also took a related course at sarsvl which was fascinating and beneficial, despite not being able, at this time, to see it through to the end. Through these struggles I made stronger friendships and a stronger relationship, and I am truly grateful for those who have been part of my journey. Thank you.

More literal, physical journeys have been made too. Christopher and I spent 9 days in China this December, travelled in Kenya and Tanzania in April and spent our first anniversary in Poland (it was an anniWARSAWry 😉 ).

It was on our last day in Warsaw that we heard a pipe had burst in my loft and the house had been flooded. Christopher had only moved in 1 month before (February) bringing with him a surprise kitten for my birthday.

Thankfully, our possessions (and cats) were fine, but we needed to move out for the whole house to be dried and renovated; new ceilings, new floors, new tiles, new plaster, new kitchen. After 2 weeks in Africa, we came home and moved out for 3 months to a small house close enough for Hendricks to keep heading back to the flooded place.

During preparations for our return, Christopher suggested we might buy a house together, so we began looking. We completed on September 29th and took the keys of another house that needed completely re-plastering and a full re-wire! 3 months later, and with some paint on the walls, we are very happy! And I don’t intend to move house again for a very long time, if ever.

December brought with it good news and bad:

Christopher proposed, in our new living room, on the 7th – the night before we headed to China. I am very much look forward to the adventure of marriage!

On our return, some bad news from my Sister was delivered. But she’s a resilient type, and I know she’s going to thrive in the face of adversity.

Christmas was a full family affair, with Thai-dwellers in tow making it 21 for lunch – my first Christmas as a vegan; a decision I feel even more confident about each day.

The year ended with the devastating news that my fathers (unoccupied) childhood home was burned to the ground; Woolsington Hall. The incredible location of many a fond childhood memory, it has been as if a member of the family has passed away. I have shed many tears as I try to remind myself that a building’s walls doesn’t hold memories – we do.

And so with that, I look towards creating many more memories in 2016. The year I will turn 30, and the year I will get married (May 29th – eek!)

I hope everyone has a reflective and successful New Year.

Tessa x

 

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010