10 things to be grateful for in 2019

God, what a year, eh? There’s been a lot of bad stuff going on in the world this year which, frankly, terrifies me, and there’s been a lot of chaos in my life too. Things have gone in waves and a lot of the time I’ve felt I was just lurching from one thing to another, just trying to keep afloat. But of course there’s been good things too, and as usual, this is my time to remember the stuff that was good – the bad will pass and while it can be worth learning from, it’s not a source of joy to remember it, which the good stuff is. So here’s my 10:

  1. Djelibeybi. He’s always in this list, isn’t he? And that in itself is a good thing, obviously! Every year, it seems, he is more loving, more supportive, and this year I suspect has been a big challenge for him – I’ve been away so much and when I’ve been home I’ve generally been scrambling with a deadline, which has often been the next trip. I’ve not always thanked him enough for everything he’s done, sometimes let the stress of the other stuff overwhelm me and he’s got the short end of that stick, but he’s continued to be amazing, even while dealing with his own trying stuff this year. I’m a very lucky girl indeed and will try harder in 2020 to make sure I look after him as much as he’s looking after me.
  2. All my other lovely people. It would actually be very easy to make this entire list be my amazing friends and family, and I know that my BA colleagues and my supervisors also feature regularly in these lists, but they do continue to make my life brighter, more interesting, more challenging and more delightful. It’s also been a good year for patient collaborators – fun times with Amy and Jenni – and far-away friends – Misha in particular. Hurrah for Skype and Google Hangouts!
  3. HEP7004. OK, so that sounds like a drug number or a product code or something, right? What a weird thing to be grateful for! What it actually is is the course code for the MA Research Development module I’m taking this academic year. I may only have been working on it for 3 months – not even halfway through – but this module is one of the best things I’ve taken on in a long time. I set my objective to be ‘leadership’, as in positioning myself as a leader rather than learning how to manage people, and already the work I’ve done on this has paid off in spades – I’m understanding my anxiety better, working on techniques to manage it, being more confident and assertive in my working relationships, taking up more opportunities and even starting to initiate my own opportunities. So far this has resulted in: my first application for an academic job – which I didn’t get but was useful to do, and not getting it then meant that I was available to apply for the perfect flexible, part-time, work-from-home job which I am now employed at, being accepted for my first solo conference presentation, putting myself forward for my first solo gig opportunity (the nature of which is still TBC, but I put my hand up and it’s looking like I’ll do something for the event) and making the first steps towards commissioning other composers to write pieces for me to perform. Pretty good, eh? And I’m making some nice PhD friends along the way too!
  4. Amazing work-related travel. At a time when we can’t really justify travelling without a specific reason and haven’t been able to for a few years now, I’ve been to Denmark, Norway and Manchester for gigs, plus several times back to Suffolk for residency periods and performances, presented at conferences in Ghent, Antwerp and Cambridge, plus of course the obligatory many trips to Bath!
  5. Our album got finished! OK, so in the end it didn’t really launch with the fanfare I’d hoped – things got a bit mixed up and I feel that without a physical object it was kind of hard to make a real song and dance about it at the events we had – so reliant on people remembering to look it up when they get home – but it’s out there now and given that the goal was always to be findable on Spotify, iTunes, etc. that’s a pretty big deal.
  6. My parents are doing pretty well, thank you. After the awfulness of late last year, they’re both pretty well and only plagued by minor ailments, like my mama having decided to water the garden tangling herself up in the hose, falling over and breaking a rib. Frustrating for them that these things do keep happening, but the big scary stuff seems to be being kept at bay, thank heavens, and I’m hopeful I’ll get to see them mid-next year.
  7. Christmas at home. We’ve not had Christmas at home for the past three years, so I’m really glad I put my foot down and insisted on it this year. Djelibeybi then said he’d like it to just be the two of us, which I was a little uncertain about, but I have to say it’s been awesome. We’ve had the loveliest time, and given that we’re both recovering from the flu, anything else would have been a bit of a nightmare. So grateful!
  8. Djelibeybi’s special birthday. Djelibeybi got to have his special birthday celebration that he wanted with so many of his family here from Australia. A real landmark event and I’m just so glad that he got to have it.
  9. Increased confidence as a sewist. It feels like I haven’t really done much sewing this year (certainly I’m low on winter tops which I need to rectify and my stash of fabrics has become ludicrously large) but I’ve had a few firsts that I’ve been pretty proud of (see sewing post soon) and which have made me see how far I’ve come and that I’m really not a beginner any more. I still hate anything to do with adjusting and cutting out patterns, but that’s more of a tedious chore than something that I fret I’ll mess up – mostly I’m feeling that I’ve got the skills to do most things, just so long as I take the time to really think it through and check everything, and don’t try to rush anything to a deadline. Hurrah!
  10. My parents’ network of loving and supporting friends. A number of years ago I realised I had a big choice to make – either I could stay here and follow the chance to get really good at what I do and make a career at it, or I could go back to Australia and make do with a normal job and let my dreams wither and die. I thought very hard and realised that the first option came with guaranteed guilt over abandoning my parents, but the second was very likely to come with misery and resentment. So I chose the first one. I try to keep in touch and visit as much as I can, which is not nearly enough of either, and so I’m so grateful to my parents’ wonderful friends and neighbours – several of whom keep in touch with me too and who I know I could rely on to act in an instant to help if I couldn’t get hold of my parents and needed someone to go round there. It is such a comfort to know that they don’t need to rely on government services to get to medical appointments or buy groceries when they’re not well. Huge blessings upon all these people for just being wonderful human beings. Thank you!

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