The Year in Review: highs, lows, triumphs and tragedies of 2011
It’s the very last day of the year and I thought I might do a quick run through of how the year has been for me.
Travel: countless trips with students to London, Cambridge, Norwich and so on. Enjoyable, as I get time to wander off, as well as get to know some of the teachers, visiting leaders and students better, not to mention colleagues. For the travel job, I’ve done only the four trips this year. Paris in January, Austria for ski in February, Poitiers and the Futuroscope in April and Bologne and Northern France in June. All eventful. I blogged about my failure to learn to ski, and also about being detained at Border Control because of stowaways under our coach.
Teaching: the school moved in March and so I had to start cycling to work. Not something I enjoyed much at first but it got easier. I don’t know how many kids I’ve taught this year but I keep in touch with some of the special ones. Next year, I don’t know how much work I will get as there are serious issues with the location and also because the Olympics are ruining the summer school (long story)
Physical Health: after starting the year in hospital hooked up to a drip of anti-biotics, I guess things could only get better. They’d only managed to excise half the wretched thing that was causing me to go into labour every month and bleed like something from a horror film so in May, they finished the job. I’m still getting silly amounts of pain, but nothing that makes me pass out or need opiates to cope, so a win. I began having terrible migraines too this year, on a far greater frequency and severity than before, and was sent for a brain scan. I am happy to report that they pronounced my brain normal! I tried several medicines before finding a natural remedy that I take daily that has reduced the migraines back to former level.
Family and friends: this year my daughter managed to finish her degree in History with a high 2:1, and starts her Masters in February. Very proud of her. My husband continues to work hard at both his day job, his kung fu and also as assistant priest locally. My parents seem frailer than they used to; something to watch and pray about. Friends? Well, I lost a dear friend this year but not to death. I do not understand why and it hurts me still. Being as I am, I need closure and the abrupt, unexplained ending of what had been for me a meaningful friendship of several years leaves me anxious and worried that I have done wrong somewhere. Endless searching of my mind has not resolved this. Perhaps with time, I will. In the place of that friendship have come a host of others, and for that I am deeply grateful and I look forward to getting to know these new friends better as time goes on.
Mental health: I’ve suffered more lows this year than usual, and corresponding but brief highs. The last couple of months, I have found it increasingly hard to socialise, both online and in real life. I’ve found it hard to reply to comments here, which is sad because I love getting comments and often treasure what my readers say. There is something wrong in my head, and I am feeling very tired and hopeless at times. So I apologise if I have failed to respond to a comment or even an email.
Books: this year, in June, I put my first published book Strangers and Pilgrims onto Kindle and was delighted to discover that is has sold quite well. Not a best-seller, but a steady seller. It’s been on various of the top 100 lists on Kindle, including literary fiction, spirituality and it spends a lot of time in the top 100 for personal transformation, which amused me as I put it there by mistake not realising it was for non-fiction. Considering I’ve always said the Wellspring is a real place, I do think this is apt. I also put out a book of meditations, using fragrance, and made this free to download. I intend to add to this and put a version up for Kindle next year. In October, I released my second book, Away With The Fairies, originally entitled Fish Out of Water, and was gob-smacked when it sold a copy before my Kindle dashboard told me it was LIVE. This has appeared on the top 100 for Women’s literary fiction several times. Again a steady seller, but not a best-seller in the true sense. It ought to be available as a paperback some time soon via Amazon. I’m preparing a couple of things for publishing next year: a novel called Square Peg, which is based on our experience of Theological college, and is also the first appearance of the inimitable Isobel from Away with the Fairies. I am planning also three collections of writings with the Tightrope theme, using material from this blog. I’m at over 600 posts now, and I plan to collect the short stories into one volume, poetry into another and the essays into a third. While most of the material is available here for free, finding it all collated into volumes where you can find what you want quickly appeals to me. All I need is to figure out how to do a Kindle book with a table of contents and we’ll be off.
Writing: I finished the third book in a series back in April, and have been stuck ever since, nibbling away at two other novels, one a sequel to Strangers and Pilgrims. I’ve written a number of short stories, poems and a lot of articles, but it feels like the joy and delight that writing novels brought me has gone away. Some of this is down to the heartache of this year, some to my baseline depression and some is down to the sheer grind of trying to promote my books. It takes up a lot of energy, not automatically time, because shouting about my books, my achievements does not come naturally to me and I hate doing it. This is why when someone writes a review of one of my books I am doubly delighted. Even were I to be published traditionally, a mid-lister like me would be expected to do a lot of the promotion herself.
Spirituality: I started the year with a retreat at the Julian Shrine, which helped. I think I need to do it again! I’ve been to a fair few places on mini pilgrimages and have been finding synchronous events and meaningful coincidences that give me some hope of a better future. I want to spend more time meditating in the various ways I find work for me and also learn more about my own soul-journey.
Anyway, there’s a brief summary of some of my year. I shall write a post soon about my hopes for 2012.
I’d like to wish all my readers a very happy New Year and every blessing for 2012, and also to thank you all for the support, the kindness and the love I have felt from you. I am conscious of being really quite withdrawn the last few months and just want to say how much I value all my visitors, both those who comment and those who stay silent.