So, today is December 31st, 2012. Exactly one year ago I sat and created this blog. Ready to be filled with 365 photos, one every day to record my life as I knew it in 2012. And boy, am I glad I did it. 2012 has been a whirlwind, roller coaster year, I could barely keep up, let alone remember everything I did. Having this to look back on is amazing. I’ve looked back and remembered things I’ve forgotten. Some posts and photos have prompted other memories, hidden behind posts, not necessarily written down. Have I found it difficult? No, not at all. Have I found it hard to keep going, or a chore? Not in the slightest. Have I got bored? Never, how can I, I’ve been documenting my incredible life, both the minutiae and extreme, and everything in between.
So, to start with, I probably should do a yearly total of the [very unscientific] statistics (double counting allowed) which I did in my mid-year review in June:
- Posts about food: 39
- Posts about running/fitness/exercise: 47
- Posts about alcohol/hangovers/going out: 51
- Posts about/including friends/family: 101
- Posts about Film Club: 14
- Posts about the weather: 17
- Posts about travel/Peru: 37
- Posts about work or work events: 18
- Pictures of my bum: 2
- Pictures of my legs: 5
- Most boring picture: Putztag (14th Jan)
- Most fun picture to take: first Film Club – superheroes (12th Jan)
- Favourite picture: too many to choose but top one might have to be Tah-dah! (19th Oct)
- Most meaningful picture: thoughtful (11th Dec)
- Posts with hidden stories behind them: 7
- Post that makes me smile: Dan H, remembering how I made him wait while I ran to get my camera, then made him pose, in front of loads of people (26th Apr) and Shortbus (13th Dec) just because it made us laugh lots, provoked some interesting chatter and made me realise why I love my Film Club buddies
- Most painful picture: running fall (29th Mar)
- Prettiest picture: I love Barefoot beach run (10th Oct) and Ludlow Castle (11th Apr)
- Most difficult post to write: Happy anniversary (8th Jun) and today – The journey (31st Dec)
So, the same trend has followed. The majority of posts are about friends or family, which doesn’t surprise me one bit. I have the best bunch of people around me someone could ask for. From those who have been with me for years, to those I’ve met along the way to those I’ve met over the last year. You’re all awesome and special in all kinds of ways and I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’ve rekindled friendships, made new ones and strengthened the ones I’ve had for a long time.
I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a few days now, and thinking about what to include in it, and what (and how) to say it. There’s so much I’m not quite sure how to write it. Most blog posts have come naturally, what’s in my head ends up on the screen and gets published, there’s no review, no moderation. But this one, there’s almost too much, and it’s all jumbled up in my head. In a way, there’s no need to write anything at all apart from this one sentence: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. There. That’s all I wanted, and it’s happened. That’ll do.
But, it’s been so much more than that. I remember this day last year like it was yesterday. Sitting there, starting this blog I was thinking about the crappy few months I’d just had and how 2012 was to be a new year, new start. I wondered what it would bring, what things I would see and experience. I remember how excited I felt, and the relief to be starting a new year. I remember all the grief, sadness and guilt I felt at ending my marriage and how I wanted to put that behind me and start afresh. But, the overarching emotion I felt 365 days ago was freedom. Freedom to make my own choices, freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Freedom to make 2012 go the way I wanted it to.
I had realised I didn’t really know who I was anymore. Deep down I did, it was still there, but it had got hidden. Day to day? No. I had become Tara. A Wife. I’d spent so long thinking of someone else I’d forgotten about myself. I forgot what I liked, what made me who I am, my hopes, dreams and ambitions. I remember standing in a shop at the end of last year and feeling totally overwhelmed. Thinking “I don’t know what I like. I don’t know if I like this because I actually like it, or whether it’s something ‘we’ would like or whether I like it because my ex-husband wouldn’t have liked it.” I didn’t realise this was happening either, I was completely oblivious. I had changed. Paps had disappeared. So many people now have commented on how different I am. Those that knew me before a relationship have said I’m back to normal; back to me. Those that have only known me in the last few years say how much I’ve changed. Apparently I was quite quiet, subdued. I had no idea. I’m not normally one to be quiet. But I was. Not any more though, and not apologising for that either 😛
I didn’t think I was unhappy, but I knew things weren’t right. But I know now what it is to be happy. Really, truly happy. For me, it’s a sense of freedom, confidence and contentment to just be me. Not to worry what anyone else thinks, and to spend my time doing things that I enjoy and mean something for me. Happiness for me doesn’t come from anyone else, no one can ‘make me happy’; I am in charge of my own feelings and emotions, and I choose how to react to different situations.
Everything in life makes me the person I am, and this and all I’ve done in 2012 has made me the person I am today. I’m a better person, I know that (with a few more wrinkles). I’m 100% happy and comfortable with the person I am today. In fact I’m pretty chuffed; sure, I make mistakes, bad choices and I’m occasionally grumpy, but I learn from it all and move on. I like to think I’m a pretty decent person most of the time. What you see is what you get; I’m friendly and will chat to anyone, always up for a laugh and will bend over backwards to help people. I’m loyal and will do anything for my friends and family. I can’t be bothered with negative people or people that take the piss. And I don’t give a shit what other people get up to.
So do I know who I am now? Yep, I sure do. Who am I? If I were to describe myself: Adventurous. Carefree. Free-spirited. Stubborn. Sociable. Happy. Kind. Positive. Clumsy. Mischievous. Party animal. Whether you’d describe me as the same, I have no idea. I hope so, I like to think that I wear my heart on my sleeve and what you see is what you get. No bullshit.
I was trying to think of all the things I’ve learnt over the year but there’s probably too many because I know I have, but I just can’t think of what they are. I should have noted them down as I learnt them. I have an iPhone for petes sake, it has a notes app. There’s that saying “you learn something new every day”. It’s true, even if you don’t know it. Doesn’t have to be a big thing, a skill or a fact. Can be all kinds of things.
Off the top of my head:
- I know how to make a Picso Sour
- True friends are there for you unconditionally
- Don’t drink more than 1 bottle of wine, it will make you drunk
- Accept you will have memory loss if you drink tequila slammers
- I can hang a picture
- Exercise makes you feel better
- It’s OK to ask for help sometimes
- You can’t make someone do something their heart isn’t in
- Life is too short
- Health is so, so precious
- I like garlic bread
- I DO dance like no one is watching, and I don’t care
- Life is better in your 30’s
- I like my own space and company
- I love to laugh
- I can do anything I put my mind to
- I know all about the Incas in Peru
- I’m a terrible procrastinator
- Opportunities are there to be taken
- Everyone deserves respect
- I wasn’t always wrong
- I can run a long way
- Money isn’t everything
- Success is measured by you, and only you
- Tattoos do hurt, but not that much
- Earth is a big place but it can be a small world
- Some people will never change
- Sex can complicate things, and other times mean nothing at all
- I like champagne
- Pure, unadulterated lust is amazing
- Eating healthily makes me feel better but I can’t get over the pure deliciousness of chocolate
- Everyone has a story to tell
- There’s a positive in everything
- Everyone needs to be looked after every now and then, even me
It sounds a bit wanky to call 2012 a journey, but it has been. I’d like to say thank you to the people who have joined me on it (again, a bit wanky but I don’t CARE). There’s so many of you. Too many to list individually. But everyone has helped me in different ways, and you probably don’t even know it. What you’ve got from me, I have no idea. Hopefully something but maybe nothing. I know I’ve had a selfish year; it was always the plan to have some time to myself and do what I wanted, needed and chose to do, and so I do feel like I’ve not given anything over the last year. Definitely more take than give. And for this I apologise.
It’s said that people come in (and out of) your life at different times, for different reasons. Some stay only a short while, some for a long while and some forever. Life is constantly changing and that includes the people you associate with, whether friends, acquaintances or family. I’ve said it so many times but I’m surrounded by some of the best people ever. For all kinds of reasons. I know lots of people, and I am lucky to have lots of people I can call friends. I’m going to try and mention as many people as I can that have touched my life in 2012, for all kinds of reasons. I can’t mention everyone but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what you’ve done, or that you haven’t had an impact. Every single person I have met or spent time with this last year has had an impact on me in some way. Now, I might miss someone off, and I truly apologise if I do. It’s not intentional, my brain is full to bursting while writing this, please understand. And if I do miss you, please tell me off and I will send chocolate.
So, thank you to (in no particular rank order):
- My family. Always there if and when needed, never prying, never overbearing, never judging. Supportive when needed, without having to ask. Provide food when required. Odd in the nicest way and different to me in most ways. A constant in a crazy year. I love them.
- Best friend Laura. Has known me for a long, long time. Always there, even when she has her own things going on. Not afraid to tell me the truth and happy to listen to me going on. Provides food and Maltesers and makes me part of the family. Makes me watch paranormal films. Makes me laugh. Hope we stay friends forever.
- Film Club. I have never laughed so much as at Film Club. I have watched films I would never have watched, had conversations I would never have had and took photos I never thought I would. Everyone should have a Film Club in their life.
- Neighbour and friend Karl. Unfortunately for him, close proximity to my house has given him the default job of chief Paps-looker after. Makes me cups of tea, feeds my cat, helps me get in my house when drunk, closes my curtains and leaves a light on for me, listens to my drivel and dishes out sympathy, advice and food. Cannot ask for more. Truly appreciate everything.
- People I met travelling. In France and in Peru, and anywhere in between. Everyone has a story to tell, and people are fascinating. Learnt new things, expanded my mind and understand more about the world and people with everyone that I met.
- Police people. I had some truly fabulous work mates from the Police, most of whom I am still in contact with and regard as friends. I have no idea how common that is but I think it’s pretty special.
- Uni people. Thank you to everyone I work with. When times were crap you made the day to day bearable. I laugh so much at work and have met some amazing people. We do some pretty funny things, and have some random conversations. I have literally never laughed so much or as hard when talking about being sick when drunk (Steve and Helen).
- Charley. A gorgeous friend who I feel I take, take, take from, as much as she says I don’t. Tells me straight, gives sensible advice and a kick up the arse when I need it. Provides tea and biscuits in copious amounts. Has a welcoming house where I feel so at home.
- The Fletchers. Listen to my problems, provide food and beer and a welcoming retreat and let me rant as much as I want.
- Boss Matt. Best boss ever. Listens, knows my problems and understands. Has given me an easy time over the last year and been supportive constantly. Always buys me a beer. Top.
- Menfolk. From the mild flirtations to the dates and everything in between. Thank you.
- CD. For the advice and email chat. Kept my pecker up and helped me believe in myself.
- Jane. Fellow positive thinker and all round special friend. Provided support even when times tough in her own life. Makes me laugh. A lot.
- Craig. Running buddy and someone to confide in. Mutual support shared through running and helped me keep going.
- Alex. Top friend. Makes me cups of tea and looked after my house. Shares stories.
- Lis. Provided sanctuary, a breath of fresh air and a bit of culture in London.
And everyone else. Thank you. If it’s one thing I can say for sure, it’s that I couldn’t have done it without you all. As much as I think I am (and might seem) a tough cookie, who can do everything herself and doesn’t need any help, that’s not [always] true. As much as I said it’s not such a big deal, it is. I needed the support, even if I didn’t know it. Everyone needs a little looking after now and then. and you looked after me.
So, what’s in store for next year? I don’t know. Well, I do and I don’t. I don’t want to have everything planned out. That’s something I’ve enjoyed this year. Not knowing what was going to happen, or where I’d be heading. I spent years with it [my life] ahead of me, all mapped out. That’s not me. Not at all. But, I also don’t want to coast. I have some ideas and some plans. Not detailed, but a direction. I’m not going to expand on it, I don’t know for sure yet. But, lets just say I want to make the most of the time I have on earth and not waste a minute. For now, I have my brother’s wedding to look forward to; to watch him and Tanya start their new life together, their adventure. My next adventure, 2013, starts now.
Thanks for following a year in my life, in pictures and words. I hope it’s been entertaining. I’ve certainly loved seeing my life spread out before me in photos. I can see the change in me through them; not only in my hair colour and length, but in the [new] wrinkles, my skin and my body shape. But what has mostly changed, but you probably won’t notice it, is my eyes and my smile, and what that sits behind them. The stress that’s gone, the contentment that’s replaced it, the confidence, the happiness and the spark that’s come back.
As 2012 draws to a close, I have a final message to myself. “You are happy. Happier than you’ve ever been. You made the right decision, and you know you did. Love life. Dare, dream, do. We are here and it is now. Enjoy.”
A year of change.