large (19)I feel like I have learnt more about myself in the past year than I have in the last 26 put together.

I started 2015 on what can only be described as the lowest I have ever been. I had no job, my relationship was hanging on by less than a thread and I was suffering quite severely with anxiety and low self esteem. I looked to the year ahead and couldn’t see past March to be honest. I felt as though everything I knew about myself was wrong, I didn’t know where I was going to be by the following January and, when things were really bad, I didn’t care.

But here I am. With a job I don’t love but I need, not for the money but peace of mind, a relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything and a healthier outlook on the future.

Cliché or not, I genuinely can’t believe how much can change in a year.

Back in January, those closest to me kept saying that time was a healer and that things would change. They would remind me that nothing is permanent and that I wouldn’t feel this way forever. As you can imagine, I didn’t believe a single word of what they said. Instead, I chose to just bury my head in the sand and carry on with things by ignoring the stuff that was bothering me. This, of course, only made things worse. Until I decided to hit the reset button, chill the f out for a bit and start again.

And then just like that – or rather, six, quite long, quite difficult months later – on an ordinary day in December as I walked home from work, I realised that I didn’t feel sad, anxious, hurt or disappointed anymore. In fact, without knowing, I had grown in confidence, I was happier, more optimistic and driven than ever, but I didn’t feel these things outwardly, overwhelmingly or life-changeingly. I felt them in the most beautiful way possible: I simply felt okay again. And that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve when I hit the reset button back in July. I just wanted to feel like I was in control again and – finally – I do.

So, although I have friends who are joining me on a high of happiness at the close of the year – from engagements and career moves to pregnancies and new relationships – I also have those around me who have recently lost loved ones, who are caring for those who might not be with us for much longer and those who are nursing not broken, but completely shattered, hearts. And it is to those people who I am dedicating this New Year’s post to. Because I was you this time last year, waiting for midnight, hoping for a fairy godmother to appear and wash all of my troubles away with her magic wand. So, although you know as well as I did that she’s never going to come, I am here to remind you that, over the next few months, your luck will change, that there is still time to fix whatever it is that is broken and that by this time next year you will look back and almost be grateful for what you’ve just endured. It will take a few months of cutting yourself some slack, a dash of hard work and a whole lot of me time, but I promise, you will get there.

So, whether you’re excited, apprehensive or nervous about the coming year, be sure to surround yourself with the people you love tonight and give thanks for the things you do have, because that’s really the only thing that matters in this life.

See you in 2016 for another adventure.

Happy New Year.

The Dawn

large (15)If you’re not fussed about the forthcoming 365 days, or you roll your eyes at those looking for a fresh start, then count yourself lucky; it means that you’ve probably had a decent year. For those of us who haven’t been so fortunate, midnight tonight is more important than Christmas Eve, Cinderella losing her slipper and the Super Bowl, all rolled into one.

I now sympathise with those who secretly hope, as the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, that something will happen to make them forget the past and magic a whole new them. I haven’t understood this ideal until now because I haven’t ever wanted to do either of those things, but this year is different.

For those of you who know me or follow my blog, you’ll know or have picked up on the fact that 2014 hasn’t, shall we say, been the best. Between bad choices, unavoidable familial catastrophes, a lack of creative umph and a steer in the wrong direction, it has all been a bit bleak, culminating in a tremulous blow on November 30th which served to ensure that my year, would in fact, end on a downright low.

After the final whistle, as I sat on my bathroom floor surrendering in floods of tears, I knew I had reached rock bottom with a big, hard thud. But, alas, what happens when you hit rock bottom? Things, thankfully, start to look up. And in this case, I started to look at the positives: I regained a good friend this year; I finally got to see New York; I’ll turn 26 in March; I have tickets to that long-standing festival in Somerset and my birthday falls on a Sunday which means there is a high chance of an epic brunch and a cycle along the river in springtime (following a night of gin and debauchery, of course; I’m not that old). So I guess things aren’t all bad and the horizon is looking warm; sunrise is soon.

It hasn’t helped that I’m not the only one suffering; the whole world has taken a battering it seems: missing planes, deadly viruses, famine, war, sex trafficking in the North, an abysmal World Cup, hacking scandals, violent protests; riots; Black Friday; Frozen being legal and X Factor just not giving it up.

So after this gloomy year that most of us have had to endure, why don’t we, for once, stop history repeating itself? Instead of letting go of everything that went wrong, or taking for granted what has gone right, learn from it all and take charge of your own story; this time without making the same mistakes twice. My resolutions this year are simple: drink more water, be more creative and do things that scare me, as often as possible. Be brave, be kind, don’t be afraid to be hopeful.

I’ve started to realise that 2014 and the negativity that it brought with it was just a dress rehearsal for the year ahead. I’ve gotten rid of all the bloopers, the lazy, half-arsed run-throughs and am now ready for opening night. Which, for me, will be midnight on December 31st. Or after dinner on the 1st, once I’ve eaten off my hangover.

So today, take the time to freshen up for the show of 2015: exfoliate your skin, trim those beards and sort your lids out so we can start the year as fresh as can be; looking great, feeling optimistic and sure as hell a lot more savvy than this time last year.

So until we meet again next New Year’s Eve, with more lessons we’ve learnt and happy memories to share, here’s to the next 52 weeks. They’re yours for free. Own them, and enjoy them.

Happy New Year.