End of Year Life Round-Up

Life in General

It’s been an extremely busy year. I’ve taken on additional projects at work and my job has had me travelling around to London, Liverpool and all over Wales. We moved house in the summer, which was worthwhile, but stressful. We didn’t get time for a proper holiday and that’s left us both feeling rather burned out at the end of the year.

Highlights were moving to a nicer flat in a more convenient area, and spending time developing new hobbies like fossil-hunting and bird-watching. I saw kingfishers and green woodpeckers for the first time, which was magical.

Lowlights were the mouse infestation at our old flat (horrific!), and my tooth breaking. That was very painful and cost me a small fortune in dentistry.

I’ve been doing quite well in relation to mental and physical health. I’ve taken up yoga and have worked regular, moderate exercise into my routine. I find this very helpful, especially for my mental health. The bouts of difficult emotions and negative thoughts, that have plagued me since 2017, have also visited less often this year, although I’m still struggling with some things.

Books & Music

I read 48 books in 2019. I suppose I could push myself to finish a couple more before New Year and make it a nice round 50, but I don’t think I can be bothered. I read a lot more poetry, which was one of my main reading goals for this year, but I’m embarrassed by the lack of diversity in the authors I read and want to do better on that in 2020.

I didn’t listen to as much music as usual, mainly due to moving and everything being in boxes. My top albums were By the Way I Forgive You, by Brandi Carlisle, Possible Dust Clouds by Kristin Hersh, Negative Capability by Marianne Faithful and Small World Turning by Thea Gilmore.

We went to a few good gigs. A local folk festival turned out better than we expected and introduced us to some great bands. We saw Kristin Hersh (electric trio) in March – we take every opportunity to catch her live – and Thea Gilmore, which was fantastic because I’ve been wanting to see her live for years.

Stage

The cultural highlight of the year has to be seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre. It was just a wonderful, innovative, joyous production and I’m so glad we made the effort to go. I also saw a production of Romeo and Juliet which was okay, but didn’t quite take off.

I went to a couple of musicals, Avenue Q which is fun and Les Miserables, which I’d never seen before and wanted to experience.

Film

I didn’t see many films this year and feel pretty out of loop. I disliked The Favourite. Everyone else seemed to love it, but I found it a horrible film on almost every level, though I concede that the performances were amazing and it’s worth seeing just for that.

I enjoyed Captain Marvel, despite not being much of a Marvel fan.  I also loved seeing Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor again in Terminator: Dark Fate. It really was so empowering to see a woman in her sixties who actually looks her age being a total baddass. However, I didn’t think the film overall was up to the standard of Terminators 1 and 2, which was a shame.

Television

The most memorable thing was binge-watching the entirety of the BBC Great British Bake Off on Netflix, which tells you a lot about what this year has been like. As an added bonus, I can now engage with my colleagues in debates about ‘bin gate’.

Next Year

I definitely need to improve the old work/life balance. I enjoy my job but I really need to make more space for creativity outside of work.

Mental health will be an ongoing focus. The last two years have given me quite a scare honestly; I had no idea how fragile my mental health was until it really came under fire in 2017, but if there’s anything positive to be taken from this, I feel that I have a far more realistic assessment of my situation and therefore a place to at least work from.

I also want to do some longer-term planning in terms of my career, housing and financial situation. We’ve spent so long veering from crisis- to crisis that we haven’t had much of a chance to focus on the longer-term. Now that things are reasonably stable (fingers crossed), we may be able to think longer-term.

I’m going to re-vamp my blog and social media presence in January to see if I can get it all working better for me – and more reflective of where I’m at now – so there will be some changes.

Summer Retrospective

Summer was pretty stressful. I had dental problems and we moved house in August. The mouse infestation at our previous flat was just awful and has made me quite jumpy and hypervigilant in my living space.

We’re much happier with our new place, but we took it unfurnished and that’s turned out to be more work than I anticipated. At least it’s nicer than our old flat and located in an area of the city with better air quality and closer to nature. I still can’t quite believe that I can walk to the sea in half-an-hour and watch cormorants roosting, not to mention the nearby wetlands, where we saw a kingfisher and a water vole just the other day. So, overall, good outcomes, but I do feel like I’ve had very little time to myself and, perhaps unsurprisingly, my anxiety has been back.

The cultural highlight of the summer was a trip to London to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Gwendolyn Christie at The Bridge Theatre. I thought it was a wonderful production, probably the best Shakespeare I’ve seen. It was just so gorgeous and inventive. We had tickets for the pit, so we got the full immersive experience. I won’t attempt to describe it, but you can watch the trailer for the cinema release if you’re interested.

We took a trip to St Fagan’s Museum of Welsh Life which we do periodically because we like pottering round the exhibits. I saw Avenue Q with a friend for her birthday. I’ve seen it before but it’s always fun.

I had a go at #20BooksOfSummer and managed to read fourteen books. I thought that was pretty good, considering I don’t like reading challenges. I did it to make a dent in my TBR pile, which it did. I didn’t keep up with posting about the books, but I’m hoping to write about a few more of them over the autumn.

So, that was my summer. I’m hoping life will calm down over the autumn and winter.