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2019: A Year in Review

As I type this, I’m two weeks away from the best decade of my life.

But before I dive in, I mustn’t forget the lessons that this year has brought me.

This is 2019: A Year in Review.

The beginning of this year felt like a fresh new canvas. I’d written books, worked in my dream role and left to pursue full-time education, which meant I graduated in Sept 2018 as a mature student with a shiny degree. I’d conquered my childhood goals and every single one felt like a miracle itself.

But 2019 arrived and I had something I didn’t have before: certainty. I had already proven to myself many times that my anxiety was a liar and my passion was the truth. I’d learned that following my intuition about people and projects would steer me away from weak foundations, and guide me towards building my own firm structures.

I’d conquered my biggest dreams and I’d need time to think of new ones, and that was totally okay. I know that my creative mind thrives with a bit of rest, so I decided to ease up on the creative goals and work on some life ones instead.

This year I wanted to do just three things: move house, buy a new car, take my children abroad on holiday.

This is what I accomplished

1. I moved house in June 2019.

I almost didn’t expect this to happen as smoothly as it did. I lived in a house for five years, the longest I’d lived anywhere in my whole life. The walls had born witness to the timid mouse that entered and the roaring lioness that left. The laminate flooring had felt the wrath of my children, pounding their way across it as they grew older, taller and heavier (all that sass weighing them down!)

I moved there because I wanted to escape from a tormentor and I wanted a fresh start. I needed a new beginning for me and my tiny girls, and somewhere where there were only good memories shared. It was everything we needed in 2014 and it was a solid foundation on which I rebuilt myself and became the mother my children deserved, and also the woman I knew I could be. Read more about it here.

But we started to outgrow it. It had served its purpose and it was time to move on. It sounds so simple, but I really did just decide to move. I rent privately and even though I work, I had no savings and no concrete plan on how to fund a deposit for a new rented property. I briefly scoured the letting sites for low cost houses in any area, because I didn’t know where I wanted to move to. All I knew was that it was time to move.

I listened to the Universe and was reminded of what worked before. I wrote an ad on Gumtree, outlining our needs as a family and what we were looking for, and in 48 hours we had a response. I viewed the house just days later, met the owner and felt a connection. She showed me around the house, received my honesty with warmth (I literally said I have no deposit but I love the house and I work and can pay for it) and I moved in a month later.

2. I bought a new car.

My trusty Toyota Yaris was a big part of my life. Bought outright for just £500 at some dodgy city centre dealership, it gave me freedom. I think every woman should learn to drive, even if you choose not to own a car, it’s just freeing to know how to drive one. My girls were still quite young and we’d spent a couple of years on foot and getting the bus, and it was exhausting. The car made life easier, trips to Asda were smoother and visits to family increased because of the ease.

But I didn’t look after it, not really. It was a rickety little buggy that had miraculously survived my driving, and not trustworthy enough to go on the motorway. I wasn’t the most confident driver when I first had that car but I became confident in it.

When I moved house this year, my MOT was due on the Yaris. I knew it wouldn’t pass it, knew it would cost me more money than the car itself was worth. My partner at the time encouraged me to look into car dealerships and get a finance option. I flatly refused because my terrible money management in my early twenties had guaranteed me bad credit, so I’d spent years paying it off and not applying for anymore. But he was determined I try and so I did.

Less a month later, I’d found a car I could afford but wasn’t sure I was in love with it. I looked at it with disbelief because I didn’t believe I’d get the finance for it. I sat opposite the car salesman as he processed my details and was the most surprised when he said I’d been accepted for finance. I was even more surprised when I drove it away, getting to terms with a newer model, a sleeker model and a loyal drive.

And do you know what I’ve been doing since I had this car? Driving on the motorway. Short trips around the Midlands. Long trips to London. And I haven’t been nervous. I’ve been on fire.

3. I took my girls on holiday abroad.

My children have abroad many times without me and I really wanted to take them away with me. I can’t begin to explain to you how hard it is to be a single parent and watch the other parent do the things with your children you always wanted to do together. I struggled with that at the beginning, when I quit my dream job to study and didn’t have the funds yet to meet my ambitions. I wanted to give them everything but I couldn’t, not for a while.

My children have holidayed to Turkey, Paris and Belgium, have become seasoned travellers in comparison to me. I loved to see the holiday photos and hear their excitement when they came home. I wanted to be part of that, so at the beginning of this year, I saved. I was in a relationship and we both saved each month until we had enough to book an all-inclusive holiday later in the year.

A couple of weeks after I drove my new car home, we flew out to Fueteventura and I had my first holiday abroad with my girls. It was so special to experience that with them and I will cherish the photos and memories forever.

The tan, my friends, has long gone.

You’d think I could leave it there as 2019 being a good year, but I can’t.

This year has brough forward some challenges I never prepared for and some changes I never expected, and it seems right to make space to honour them too.

1. I became a member of Writing West Midlands Room 204 Writers Development Programme

This is especially epic because it wasn’t part of my 2019 plan. I was aware of the programme and longed for the recognition I thought it would bring me, but didn’t apply for years. One of the criterias is that you aren’t studying a writing degree, so I couldn’t apply until I had finished mine.

I submitted my application, along with a piece of writing, and forgot all about it. I never expected to be selected and instead expected to apply until I finally was invited onto the programme.

But a few months later, an email arrive that caused me to squeal with excitement, and you can read all about it here.

(c) Paul Stringer

If you’re a writer and interested in learning more about Room 204, applications are currently open and you can learn more about that here.

2. I unpublished my books.

Imagine, you’ve dreamed of being an author for most of your life and you manage to self-publish your books. Then you decide to do a whole Creative and Professional Writing degree, which completely transforms the way you write and the way you look at writing. You return to aforementioned books and decide they’re not representative of your (new and improved) skill and style, so you decide to remove them from your portfolio and start from scratch.

And that’s pretty much what I did.

3. I ended my relationship.

I was in a happy and healthy relationship for little more than two years, when I realised that it wasn’t right for me. I could spend time getting into why that was, but ultimately it was a combination of realisations over this year that prompted this. Once I have an epiphany, I can’t just un-know it, that’s not how my self-development works.

He was and likely remains a good man, and I a good woman, but we didn’t quite fit together. Not even for anything he had or hadn’t done or said, or anything that he was or wasn’t. The woman that I was at the beginning of the relationship was better suited to him and would have happily stayed with him forever. The woman that I’ve become knows you can’t fit a star in a hole made for a square, and she needs something different.

Overall, it’s been a year of healing, lessons applied and growth.

I’m leaving this decade feeling stronger, focused and more vocal than ever before. This year I strived to thrive, but now I realise it’s freedom that I want.

This year I’ve excercised the freedom to express how I feel and it’s been met with consequences I didn’t expect. This year I’ve pushed myself to try pathways I haven’t walked for years and it’s led me to destinations I could only hope for. This year has seen me quite literally move out of my comfort zone and forge a new beginning for myself and my children.

I could write so much more about the obstacles and challenges I’ve faced this year, and the unexpeced moments of clarity that caused me to cry. But I won’t.

We don’t give energy to dead things in 2020, sis, and we’re starting that from now.

How’s 2019 treated you?

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