Wow, so thats it, 2011 has gone. Well and truly gone. Its the eve of the first day of 2012, and my head is still in last year. Partly I think because I worked through the night this year for the ‘New Years Eve’ so have not felt like I have truly said Goodbye to one year, and Hello to the next.
Having said that … its true to say that New Year never usually means much to me. Usually for me August signifies the end of one 12 months and the start of another, and usually at Greenbelt I have a little space and time to reflect on the old, and think of the new and go from there. I usually blog at length about it, however this year GB was a rather different weekend for me, and I didnt do the whole ‘end/start of the year’ thing.
So here I am … joining in with the trend that most people follow … at the same time as most people too … thinking about the fact that a whole year has gone by … and thinking about welcoming in another 12 months.
I dont think I’ve ever felt a year fly by so quickly before … I dont know about anyone else, but I feel like I blinked and it went.
I also don’t think I’ve ever had such a year go by that seems to have been relatively calm. Gasp. Some of you reading this will probably be agreeing totally. The last 12 months seem to have been the tamest that have been going for some time … granted, some blips and I thank wholeheartedly those people who love me and stick by me through those blips, who answer their phones any time 24/7 and who hug me when its needed, and offer me coffee when its needed, who give me wise words when its needed. Who do more than they’ll ever know to sustain me, and make me feel loved.
Anyhow … where was I ? oh yeah, 2011 … reflections of 2011 (i prefer to reflect instead of calling everything a highlight, even though many things about to be written would be considered highlights, although some wouldnt),
so, starting the ball rolling …
* Seeing Glee live !! Ok, there we go, if I have yet to admit it publicly on these pages or my tweets, I am a Gleek, uhuh. I dont care what you say … Im proud, and I had an amazing weekend in London in the middle of the year with some girly friends seeing Glee live at the 02. It was mega amazing!
* 2011 has been the year I have finally managed to win (for now) the battle with the smokes. Something I consider a huge achievement. I hope those of you who know me well stand beside me in agreeing that it is an achievement. Ive always been an adamant ‘i love smoking’ person. And to be honest … having tried to stop a few times before, its been a real challenge and battle, partly because most of me didnt want to stop, and a small part of me knew I had to … (for reasons I’ll mention next). So, for the time being, and for the last 6 months or so, Ive been a non smoker, and Im adjusting to life now (it took a while to get used to a different routine, to get used to not going out with friends on breaks at work/pubs etc)
* 2011 saw me having several Asthma attacks. To someone who doesn’t (or didn’t) have Asthma, they were big shocks, and pretty scary! Two very serious ones requiring professional emergency help (NHS – I am VERY grateful!). I now have a regime of inhalers, am am monitored closely by my GP at present. A recent chest infection crippled me, and meant I ended up on steroids and really struggling. Its very hard to describe what having an asthma attack is like. Having problems with your breathing when you are in your mid twenties is a pretty scary thing. Most mornings for a while I was waking up sounding like a 90 year old woman who had smoked 100 fags a day … so being diagnosed as asthmatic contributed greatly to stopping the fags.
* April 2011 saw a pretty big milestone in the life of Fragmentz … (other than going to Spring Harvest – i know i know, but yes I really did!) April meant 3 years since I tried to die. At the time I wrote a blog which you can find here …. its been 3-years and I also very recently wrote another blog called ‘I wanted to die …’ which you can read i wanted to die Both of these blogs talk about this openly, so all I will say here is that i’ve been alive for over 3 years after I intended not to be, and I am glad i am!
* April also saw me go to Spring Harvest. Er yeah. I did. Uh huh. Thats right. Why? Erm, I am not entirely sure, apart from the fact that when I agreed to go/said I wanted to go, I had had quite a bit to drink and the person egging me didnt think I would, so being the kind to do alsorts just to prove a point found myself mooseying off to Butlins Skegness no less, over Easter to spend a week with happy clappy Christians who mostly smile and pretend that life is grand. Thankfully I was in a chalet with someone (a very groovy and cool meffodist minster) and her friend who I knew a little. They were truly two amazing woman and I had a fab week spending time with and getting to know them both much better than ever before. I also found myself incredibly challenged. I found the entire week a challenge, but not in the way I was expecting. I had gone expecting to spend the week wound up and annoyed by peoples smiles, cringeworthy stories and optimism and a general ‘lets all be christians for a week and forget the real world exists’. I expected to somewhere along the way get into a row with someone over their theology, and to walk out of a talk/meeting after getting so pissed off I just wanted to go and smoke (I was still smoking at that point, leading to a hilarious moment of leaving my chalet to go for a fag and getting locked out therefor having to track down friends in the big top whilst wearing my funky bright butterfly pyjamas … well they found it funny anyway). I half expected to go home halfway through the week to be honest. However, and I wish I had blogged about this at the time really as I could write forever on it … all of my expectations were smashed. I met some superbly down to earth normal people, who were very willing to debate and argue out (rationally) their views whilst understanding my points of view and not just casting me as someone who does not understand. I engaged with some intelligent people who were willing (including SH leadership people) to chat/discuss/think about things on my level, and I found the Zone concept brilliance. I went almost daily to the ‘discuss and debate’ zone, and although the group was small, Jools I think his name was, the guy leading that space was brilliant. I also had the joy of meeting Rob GT who I tweeted with for a while, and that was great too. Two other things stand out for me about Spring Harvest. The first was that every morning (not being a good early riser) Id stay in the chalet doing my make up, having a cuppa and a smoke (out the door of course) whilst being able to listen to the morning preacher do his thang via the tv screens they stream into your accommodation. The guy Malcolm Duncan is a legend. I dont really know who he is, or where he is from to be honest, I do follow him vaguely on twitter now, and had never heard of him before, however he was witty, funny, engaging, and most of all honest. I liked his willingness to engage with the 3000 plus people if not more? by having a ‘text number’ and then using the first part of his time slot to discuss/answer questions and thoughts that people would text in from the day before/on the topic he was preaching on. I thought this was great and a real gem of a way to engage a) with technology and b) not set himself a part as such from the people he was teaching. Anyway, I remember listening one morning to some of the questions, and one came up … that someone had texted in to him the night before … and I honestly dont recall what the question even was … thats the irrelevant bit to be honest, what I do remember though, is him standing there in front of his little book holder thingy (what do you call those things they put their notes on?) and saying ‘I dont know’ … I nearly spat out my tea. Hes the preacher right. Dont they know everything? (ok, so I know they dont know everything but isnt that the usual perception that is given about these people? ) So, to hear this guy on a big stage simply say ‘ i dont know’ to something was, for me, astonishing. and Refreshing. I was like ‘yesssss’ at last! someone at one of these events who is normal! and down to earth, and willing to not speak out of his arse to satisfy people who would expect him to know. He didnt. He was honest. And left it at that. The other thing that left a lasting impression on me about Spring Harvest was the fact that they appeared to, for some topics at least, have people leading talks/seminars who knew what they were on about. I mean, who really knew what they were on about. I attended the seminar that was being run on mental health issues. As most of you know these issues are close to my heart. And I had been bet a tenner by a friend that I would not stay for the whole of it, because I’d get annoyed by the usual ‘christian’ response that gets bandied about when it comes to such things as this like ‘just pray’, ‘you need saving’ ‘have more faith’ and so on … Thing is, that these things are usually addressed by a well meaning person who is perhaps speaking because they have church authority behind them. By that I mean, they are probably a church leader/minister/pastor or someone with some kind of title which makes them important and therfor able to have an opinion on everything and anything. What I found refreshing about the Mental Health one I attended was how sensitively and well done it was actually done (I stayed for it all!). The speaker, who, oddly, in fact very oddly I turned out to know from a previous life, of when I used to volunteer for the youth/young adults stream at another christian weekend event in Lincoln (years and years ago i might add!!) was Dr Roger Bretherton. A very well qualified physchologist. Who lectures at a local Uni on the topic. And who is obviously also a Christian. It meant so much to hear him talk on the realities of life with mental health illness, and the normal stuff, as well as bringing in the spiritual/christian element in a very non judgemental way. I went away with lots of food for thought. All in all SH was a huge week for me because it challenged me. It challenged my attitude. My attitude towards God, other Christians, learning, my life, my past and my future. I really hope I am able to make it in 2012 – (sorry for the essay there about SH!)
* 2011 also saw various other things happen such as meeting Dan, who bless his heart didnt turn out to be Mr Right, despite his insistence. Thankfully after a few difficult and interesting moments with that story he got the message.
* 2011 saw me change jobs, wahooo. I still work for the same company, at the same place/site, with the same patients, however I am now the Activities Co Ordinator and cover alot of the Pastoral Care that takes place in my work place with the patients we care for who are all very ill and nearing the end of their lives. Its an incredibly challenging role, that often has many ups and downs, and can be very emotional however after spending quite a few years as a team leader there, working many hours/shifts and having much responsibility I am enjoying the freedom of regular hours, most weekends off and being able to have quality time doing what I love – communicating and trying to ensure people have the best quality of life possible.
There have been many many other moments I could document about 2011 such as getting to know lots and lots of new people, meeting new people, getting to know people I already knew but just much better.
When I started to write this, I didnt think I would have enough to fill out one blog, let alone run out of time and space to fit everything in … I hope your still awake and have not fallen asleep yet !!!
there is more to write about the last year and I also want to write about some thoughts ive had on the year ahead too … but I think I am going to do this in two parts … so for now, I’m signing out, but I’ll be back soon with Part 2