2016 was actually good to me
2016 has been universally panned as one of the worst years ever.
It’s not hard to see why.
So many celebrity deaths. So much political upheaval. So little peace & kindness and joy.
Wars, terrorism and acts of hatred have grabbed the headlines and it seems there’s little to celebrate anymore.
2016 has certainly had pretty rotten moments for me too
We began the year farewelling my husband’s uncle, a much loved member of our extended family. Since then we’ve farewelled more family friends and have been hit with further news of diagnoses and bleak prognoses for others.
Meanwhile, in June, the first anniversary of my father’s passing was hard, as expected, but also strangely comforting. It’s easier now to think of him as he used to be, before he fell ill, than the shell of a person he was when he left us.
Here’s to you Dad xNot long afterwards, Matilda broke her arm, a gift for the start of third term. It turned out to be a challenge for all of us, resulting in a hospital stay and follow up surgery just before Christmas. It truly is the gift that keeps giving…
And, I can’t forget that I spent the first half of the year continuing my recovery from my ACL surgery last year. It was slow and frustrating and for a while there, seemed never ending.
However, even though these things are all pretty sucky, this year had NOTHING on the last two.
2014 saw my life explode with my brain meltdown and my subsequent redundancy from my workplace of nearly 20 years. Then my Dad received his cancer diagnosis and underwent a 12 hour operation to have his larynx removed.
2015 was no better. After 6 months of illness and worry, we lost Dad. Then, barely a month later, I tore my ACL and limped around as I turned 40. I struggled making the transition to working from home and felt depressed and alone.
In comparison, 2016 was actually good to me
So many positives came out of 2016 for me, both personally and professionally.
On a personal note, I saw my kids grow and adapt to many changes throughout the year.
Gilbert started his transition from primary school to high school. While he is very anxious right now and was quite upset to say goodbye to primary school, I’m confident he’ll adapt and come to love high school too. We just need to give him the time, space and support to become accustomed to the change.
Delilah had a positive start to her primary school education, loving kindergarten, enjoying learning and making lots of new friends. She has grown up so much this year, physically and emotionally. Her imagination keeps growing and her enthusiasm for play never wanes. She’s one big personality and I wouldn’t have her any other way.
However, it’s Matilda who’s grown the most this year. She’s nearly as tall as me now but it’s her emotional growth that has impressed me most. The way she has overcome the pain of her broken arm, the initial operation, the inconvenience of the cast, her anxiety at it’s removal, the recovery and the second operation to remove the wires.
She really surprised me with her ability to take it all in her stride. It wasn’t all plain sailing, and there were moments that tested all of us, but she showed more maturity than I expected throughout. I’m so very proud of her x
I’m so proud of my three (not so) little bears this year!
I’ve also been proud of my own growth as a person. For much of the last two years I haven’t believed in my ability to go out on my own and work from home. I very nearly applied for another job earlier this year as I couldn’t see how I could make this work. Who would pay for my services? What could I offer others? What did I know, anyway?
Without Nathan giving me some much needed support at crucial moments, I probably would be in another unfulfilling and stressful office job right now. Instead, I finally have belief in myself and in my ability to add value to others. I know I can make this work. I know the only barrier standing in my way is me.
Professionally, I’ve had a huge year. I’ve made valuable connections, been recognised by my peers, have spoken to a variety of groups, drafted two ebooks and have continued to share my thoughts here on the blog.
I’ve found purpose and direction as a special needs blogger. I was terrified making the switch, fearful that I would alienate many of my readers, especially after I ended I Must Confess. However, I’ve had the biggest year I’ve ever had blog-wise, and I feel more fulfilled with all the opportunities ahead of me, which validates that difficult decision.
I was selected as a finalist in the Bupa Blog Awards, the first time the blog has been recognised in any way . This meant so much to me and again validated my decision to pivot the blog towards a special needs focus. I’ve enjoyed the opportunities that have come from this process, especially the chance to learn and network with others.
I’ve been privileged to speak at 4 events and loved the different topics, audiences and people I’ve had the opportunity to engage with. I truly enjoy listening to others, sharing my experiences and being able to open my mind to new ways of thinking and learning. I’ve discovered a real love of public speaking and I hope to do much more in the new year.
Speaking at a CatholicCare autism session in August 2016
I drafted my travelling with autism ebook and have begun another, concentrating on school transitions and autism. I find book writing much more difficult than blog writing and have struggled to focus on completing any of my many projects. However, I’m on track to release my first book early in the new year and I’m proud of what I’ve put together.
I’ve completed other professional writing projects too, receiving positive feedback in the process. I’ve had writing featured on The Mighty, have had a blog selected as Blog of the Day on Mumsnet and have seen many of my special needs posts shared across the year.
Most of all, it’s the messages, emails and comments from other parents, thanking me for sharing my experiences, that make this all worthwhile. I started this blog for me but it’s turned into so much more than a personal account of my life. I have a greater purpose and feel so much more personal satisfaction now I’m actively helping others.
After two years of grief, transition, health issues and self-doubt, 2016 allowed me catch my breath, take stock and see all the possibilities before me. There is so much I still need to do (and my mind is still my own worst enemy!) but I can finally see a path in front of me.
I feel in control of my life for the first time in a long time.
Challenges still lay ahead – the teen years, high school, earning that elusive regular income from home. But I feel confident that I can rise to these challenges. I really, truly believe that everything will be okay.
So, 2016 was actually good to me. Let’s hope 2017 has more of the same in store!
Happy New Year Everyone!!!