Sunday 31 December 2017

New Year musings

Here we are, once again, on the brink of a new year and wishing a fond farewell to the year that’s passed. 2017 has been a challenging year for the world generally with worrying political situations, the loss of some well loved figures, and more terrorist attacks than I care to count. I hope for a more peaceful and kinder 2018.

Personally 2017 was quite an eventful year with its ups and downs. I want to take this time to reflect on the good times, the positive changes, the places that took my breath away, and the books that captured my imagination. If I were to sum up what I’ve learnt this year in a sentence it would be to take care of yourself and find time for the things (and people) you love. I’ve done this professionally this year, switching my focus from the daily grind to explore ways to find a more fulfilling life. That’s not to say I’m not working hard, in many ways I’d say I’m working even harder, but if you find the right focus for that work it can make you so much happier. Another thing that has become so important to me is yoga. I’d never done it before this year but now have a daily practice, mostly under the guidance of Adriene Mishler through Yoga with Adriene. Honestly, this has been one of my best discoveries of the year. If you want to strengthen your body whilst also tending to your mental health I can’t recommend her Yoga Camp series highly enough.

Other big news – I finally put pen to paper and got some words down for my first novel. I signed up for NaNoWriMo to give me a push in the right direction, and it definitely worked. I may not have officially ‘won’ NaNo but I have words on a page that weren’t there before and a much better writing routine. As far as I’m concerned that is a win. I also engaged with the group of writers around the world taking the time to create. This was a wonderful encouragement and source of advice as well as giving me a genuine feeling of joy thinking about the mass creative output happening throughout the month.

Travel has been a highlight of the year. Within the UK I had opportunity to spend more time in beautiful Cornwall as well as the chance to visit Haworth once more, a place that feels something like my spiritual/inspirational home. I was also lucky enough to go to France once more and enjoy the natural beauty of the Alps in autumn (whilst eating copious amounts of cheese). The big trip, however, was Australia. I was fortunate to travel around the east of the country and experience some breathtakingly beautiful places, including snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. More on all of this if I ever find the time to write up more detailed posts from my travels.

Reading-wise I continued with my tradition of reading books written or set in the countries I visit, which this year also included taking the plunge with books in French, which I'm still working my way through. Bill Bryson’s Down Under entertained me, but may have convinced me that I would likely die while out there (I returned mostly unscathed I’m happy to report). I also caught a glimpse of the desert through Robyn Davidson’s Tracks and Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lyndsay provided some atmospheric mystery to spark my imagination. Overall, there haven’t been any great stand-out books for me this year. Good books certainly, but none that I remember completely absorbing me (excluding the re-read of Wuthering Heights of course). There are more books in my to-read pile than I would have time for this year so it could go any way, but I definitely intend to read my first George Eliot soon.

It was a strong year for exhibitions – when in Melbourne I thoroughly enjoyed the Aardman exhibition at the ACMI. It was fun and playful and showcased some incredible talent. Closer to home, the Opera exhibition at the V&A and the Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library were definitely highlights. See my full posts for why. Both still open, so it’s not too late to enjoy them. A smaller offering from the National Portrait Gallery, The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt left a big impression. It was wonderful to see sketches done by such masters, and honestly the experience improved my own work. As for what I’ll be visiting this year – Winnie the Pooh at the V&A promises to be delightful, and Tate Britain’s Impressionists in London looks promising.

As always, let me know what you’re reading, what you’re visiting, or where you’re travelling. All that’s left to do now is wish you all a very happy and healthy 2018. See you on the other side.

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