Welcome to Part Two of my 2016 wrap-up! Part One was all about writing and reading, but this one’s more of a collection of candid ramblings about – you guessed it – life, health and happiness.
To be honest, there weren’t too many big life developments throughout 2016. As I mentioned before I dropped off the blogosphere, I was taking some internships while working at a bookshop, working for Writer’s Edit, and trying to get my freelance career up and running.
Apart from the internships, which I finished halfway through the year, things look pretty much the same now as they did throughout 2016. I had hoped to be well and truly finished at the bookshop by now, able to rely on freelance income without the necessity of a ‘side job’ to keep me afloat financially. Alas, I’m not quite there yet.
I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately, and in particular, how I don’t make very much of it. I’m aware, of course, that the industry I’ve chosen is not the most lucrative. Nobody pursues a creative career for the money. But that doesn’t change the fact that you need it.
I’ve found that while ever I’m worrying about trying to bring in more work and more money, though, I can’t focus on doing anything creative. I feel like I have to be spending all my spare time focusing on work, and can’t really justify spending time on my own writing, for example. It’s been really hard to keep things in balance, to maintain my creative identity and my dreams.
I have this grand vision of how I want my life to look: managing my own days, being my own boss, balancing my work and my creative pursuits, taking charge of my future. Some days, that vision seems very far away. But at the moment, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about this year. I’m feeling like it could hopefully, finally, be the one where I make it happen.
If and when it does, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Image via Kaboompics
While things haven’t changed or progressed as much as I’d like between last year and this one, there’s one thing I’m glad has remained constant, and that’s Writer’s Edit. Since starting out as an Editorial Assistant right after I lost my job almost two years ago, Writer’s Edit has become such a huge part of my life. I’ve learned more, worked on more rewarding projects, and had more fun than I ever dreamed when I first applied for that temporary intern-style role.
I’ve now moved from Editorial Assistant to Editor, and am so excited to be continuing with Writer’s Edit into the future. In 2016, we achieved all sorts of wonderful stuff: launching an ebook about publishing and the final volume of the Kindling anthologies; publishing plenty of great articles and reaching plenty of great milestones; and making some truly exciting plans and developments for the future (stay tuned for more on those).
But the most life-changing thing that’s come from my involvement with Writer’s Edit isn’t the professional development and opportunity it’s afforded me. It’s the two incredible, lifelong friends I’ve made in Helen and Kyra. More on these incredible women in the ‘Happiness’ section below.
Image via Kyra Thomsen
Back in October, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. To be honest, I actually considered the diagnosis a good thing. It was a relief to finally be able to put a name to what had been making me feel pretty terrible for a pretty long time; it felt great to be finally doing something about it by seeking treatment.
After diagnosis and a treatment plan, I was responding to my new medications really well and feeling better than ever. Nate and I went on a holiday in November (more on that below); I came home feeling happy, healthy and refreshed, ready to see out the rest of 2016.
And then… My body turned on me completely.
At the very end of November I came down with what I thought was a simple cold/flu. But it dragged on, and got worse, and dragged on, and got worse. Whatever infection I’d picked up also set off my other condition into a flare-up, which meant a truly horrible double whammy of symptoms. I’ll spare you the details – suffice it to say that for three straight weeks, I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life.
There were endless visits to the doctor, sleepless nights, countless needles, tests and tests and more tests, different types of drugs… I simply couldn’t function as a human being, and I wasn’t getting any better. It was not a fun time.
Anyway, as Christmas crept closer, I was finally put on some medication that made me feel better for the first time in weeks. But that came with an interesting set of side effects in itself, and my recovery was slow. In fact, it’s only been this last week or so that I can say I’ve felt like I’m back to my normal self (or as close as I remember ‘normal’ being, anyway).
Image via Unsplash
Now that I’m well again, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about just how important my health is.
We all take our health for granted from time to time, and sometimes it takes a period of illness like this to serve as a wake-up call. I generally take pretty good care of myself; but now, having experienced such a period of absolute debilitation, I’m going to redouble my efforts.
Having spent almost a month not being able to do anything, learning how it felt to effectively lose that whole period of my life, I want to aim never to take my health for granted again. I want to take full advantage of being lucky enough to enjoy a properly working body (well, almost properly working!) full of life and energy.
I’m going to manage my condition as best I can, and set myself up for the best possible health with more good food, more exercise, more time spent outdoors, more living.
Bring it on, 2017.
Despite the less-than-ideal December I had, the rest of 2016 was pretty great. There were a lot of things that made me happy – my incredible partner, amazing family and wonderful friends being the main ones.
Here are two of my top happiness highlights from 2016…
A holiday with Nate
After not having been on a proper holiday for almost two years, Nate and I took two whole weeks off together in November, and it was the absolute highlight of my year. First we camped in beautiful North Haven, then road-tripped up to Byron Bay, somewhere neither of us had been before.
We spent time at the beach and by the pool, went on hikes and drives, read books, visited breweries, lighthouses and waterfalls, ate lots of good food, and just generally spent some super lovely quality time together. Then we had a few days just to spend at home before we both returned to work, which was lovely, PLUS we finished it all off with an awesome night at the launch of Kindling III.
Best. Two weeks. Ever. I love this boy with every bit of my heart, and I can’t wait for our next adventure.
Adventures with Helen and Kyra
These two girls, seriously. I don’t know what I would have done in 2016 without them. I can’t quite express how much I appreciate having them by my side as we all try to make it in this crazy world of writing and publishing.
But even more than that, I appreciate their friendship. They’re two of the wisest, funniest, most wonderful and supportive friends I’ve got, and for that I consider myself so, so lucky to have become so much closer to them over the last year.
From a road-trip to a publishing festival in Canberra, to Kyra and Justin’s beautiful wedding in Robertson, to an actual Harry Potter party at a club in Sydney, we had a LOT of fun together in 2016. And there are plenty more adventures on the way!
This year, all three of us will be focusing on bringing our first fantasy novels into the world, and I couldn’t think of two people I’d rather take that journey with. I know there’ll be plenty of love, laughs and most likely wine involved along the way. <3
So what’s coming up in 2017?
As well as working hard to make my dreams come true and all that jazz, here are a few things I’m particularly looking forward to this year…
- Nate’s and my five-year anniversary, which we’re planning to celebrate in Melbourne.
- A ten-day trip to California with my beloved sister Liv.
- A writers’ retreat/girly weekend with Kyra and Helen.
Yep – it’s already shaping up to be a pretty lovely year, I think.
I can’t wait to see what else it has in store. :)