Thursday, 21 December 2017

What Did I Learn In 2017?

There was a time when I genuinely thought that 2017 was going to last forever.  It kept dragging on and on, relentless in its awfulness.  Then suddenly, it changed, became great and then bam:  here we are, almost at the end of it.  Time really does fly when you're having fun (and drags like HELL when you're not).

As is customary here on this blog, I figured it was time to pull up a chair, get comfy and look back over the highs and lows of this year and work out just what I learned from it...

1. I have the most fiercely loyal and protective family ever.

I already knew my family were awesome, but good grief did they come into their own with their protectiveness, this year.  

From trying to make me see that there was someone in my life behaving fairly atrociously, to picking me up when things got really bad, this lot were utterly unwavering in their support.  Even when they weren't sure my decisions were spot on - such as back in June, when I told Mum I was going to send a message to a friend I fell out with last year, in the hope that with open, honest communication on both sides, we could work things out - I was still given the support to try, in full knowledge that my family would be there to help pick up the pieces if it didn't result in anything good (it resulted in silence, which was exactly what Mum had worried about and I learned just how good her cuddles are when I feel utterly dejected).

A loving family welcomes those who are special to you into their lives, as well as your own.  They also know when to pull up the drawbridge.  

I have a family that will protect me against all odds.  From frankly unhinged trolls online, harassing me across all forms of social media, to people I loved and cared for who've caused me pain, my family know when I need them on side and they are always there to bat for me.

So, to them from me, THANK YOU. x

2. YouTube has become MORE than just a hobby...

My goal for this year was to reach 100 subscribers.  If I passed that target, I thought 150 would be amazing.  I'm at 173 and whilst that might sound tiny to some people reading this, to me, it might as well be a million.  

I can't believe anyone actually wants to watch my silly videos about me and my life, but I am so, so grateful that they do.  Planning, filming and editing each video gives me a ridiculous level of joy - plotting scenes and sketches, learning new techniques in order to create a special effect and polishing each video during editing to make them as shiny as possible - it is way more than just a casual hobby.  It's a passion.

Yes, my blog has suffered a bit.  Each video takes at least an hour to plan, usually between an hour and two hours to film and then often as many as five or six hours to edit (sometimes more), so it does eat into my writing time.  Add to that the fact that I've begun recapping Grey by EL James for the 50 Shades Is Abuse campaign (each recap takes around 4 - 5 hours and you can catch up with them here if you'd like), whilst also working at my day job and trying to fit in something that resembles a social life, and you will hopefully understand why I've not been writing quite as much.

But in my YouTube Channel, I've found a new passion and a new creative outlet.  It hasn't replaced writing in my affections, necessarily, but they are equal bedfellows.  One of my personal goals in 2018 is to try to find a better balance, so that I blog a little more often than I have, this year.  A new video goes live on my channel every Sunday though, so if you're a little lacking in blogs to read, you can always hop over to YouTube and see what I'm up to!

3. Friendship heals all wounds.

There were times this year, when I rather dramatically described myself as having "no friends."  I'd lost my core group - the ones I thought I was closest to - and I figured that was it: I was alone.  Being proved wrong has been the best part of this year.  From my oldest friend Clare always being at the end of the phone and up for fun days out, to the fantastic Tracey, encouraging me to try new things and taking me out on adventures, I feel utterly surrounded by people who I am proud to call friends.  And (along with my family) it has been these amazing, funny, kind and supportive people who have placed a massive bandage on the wounds caused by the first half of this year and who, in doing so, have helped me to heal.  Rather than having "no friends," I am exceptionally lucky to have so many brilliant ones.

And as for the one who kick-started the total transformation of my year?  Well, Tracey has proven to me that friendship heals all wounds and that a really good friendship can weather a storm.  I love every minute we spend together and I can't wait to have a girly treat day together as soon as this blog is posted!  You're a treasure, Trace.  You've made the latter half of this year amazing and I reckon 2018 is going to be EPIC. ;-)

4. Despite firsthand experience AND training in it (for work), I still sometimes need help recognising abuse...

If you've been reading this blog for a long time, it's highly likely you've read the story of how I realised my last relationship had been abusive.  I had been sitting in a counselling session - sessions I'd started because I was convinced I was a terrible person and needed help to better myself - and had been talking about my "poor" ex and how he couldn't help his behaviour and I should have tried harder to help him, when the counsellor simply handed me a leaflet for an abuse charity and very gently told me to call them.

Fast forward more than five years, I certainly didn't expect to be sitting in another counselling session - again, sessions I felt I needed because I was a bad person and I needed to be "cured" - talking about this "poor" person in my life and how they couldn't help their behaviour and how I needed to try harder to help them and to put all my issues secondary to theirs, when the counsellor stopped and me and asked: "How is this any different to your relationship with your abusive ex?"

It came as a shock.  I pride myself on recognising abuse and knowing what to do if I spot it.  I educate other people on it, for crying out loud!  And yet, as soon as the words were out of my counsellor's mouth, it was suddenly blatant.  And once again, I hadn't seen it until it was pointed out to me.

That lesson was vital.  You might think you know what abuse looks like, but don't take it for granted.  Abuse can happen in any form of relationship, to any person.  You, me, anyone.  Never ask a person why they allowed abuse to happen to them.  It could be happening to you right now and you might not have any idea.

5. Always try new things and be prepared to give second chances.

In the last few months, I've tried a few new things.  Yet, one of those things wasn't really new at all.  

Anyone who knows me even a little bit, will know that I am a frustrated diva without a stage.  I love to sing.  Any excuse to sing in my YouTube videos and I jump at the chance.  Karaoke is a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine and I spend half my life wishing I lived in a musical.

So, when Tracey suggested we do a five week singing course, culminating in a concert, I jumped at the chance, even though it had been years since I'd sung in any kind of choir.  

The course was run by Moor Harmony, a ladies barbershop chorus.  Weirdly, I'd actually been to a Moor Harmony taster session many years ago (we're talking probably at least seven years, if not eight) and decided, for various reasons, that it wasn't for me.  But all the same, I figured it was worth another shot.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

Those ladies - each and every one of them - are superstars.  Everyone was so welcoming and friendly.  The fabulous Musical Director, Lesley, was so incredibly enthusiastic and supportive.  The atmosphere each week of the course was just one of enormous positivity and, quite frankly, joy.  I would walk into a session and wish for every minute to last just a bit longer, so we could all have more time to sing and laugh together.

I genuinely cannot thank everyone from Moor Harmony enough, for the friendliness and encouragement they gave all of us on the course.  And it speaks volumes about their warmth and inclusivity that most of us who did the singing course have said we want to go back in January to become full time Moor Harmony members - myself obviously included!

Singing is such a mood-booster.  Even on a bad day, I could walk into a session with the chorus and leave floating on air.  It took minutes, if that, for a huge smile to crack across my face, each week.  If there's anyone reading this who is even slightly tempted to join their local choir or barbershop chorus, I can only say: DO IT!

Spot the Emma.

So, that's that!  Another year, lessons learned and fun times had.  There were more things I could have written about here, but five seems like a good number to end on.

However your year has gone, I hope you can take some positives from it.  I wish you all health, happiness and success in 2018 - here's to spending it, together!  You're all smashers. x


  1. Nice article, also thanks for reminding me that I better start working on an article on my own blog about the lessons I learned this year. I really enjoyed writing it last year so I'm going to continue it.

    I see where you're coming from with the YouTube thing, it's easy to get hooked onto making them if you have the right equipment and it becomes a routine and a passion. I could never get into it. Sometimes I make videos on my Instagram and FB but I could never do YouTube, the community just isn't for me. I think it's a good idea to find the balance between writing and doing videos in 2018 because it gives your viewers a variety of things to expect from you. Have a merry Christmas. :)

    1. Yeah, I get a lot out of reviewing my year, it’s become a tradition.

      Ah, the process of planning, filming and editing a video is what hooked me on YouTube. It’s the creative process that I love, although to be fair, I have made a few friends in the community. You kind of build your own community, through your own subscribers and the channels you personally subscribe to.

      I’ll always upload a video per week, but fitting writing in between that and working, writing novels/children’s stories and spending time with friends and family is hard. I’ll have to keep focused on some sort of schedule, perhaps, but I never want blogging to feel like a chore (that’s why I’m having a month off from the bedtime stories in January). So when I get the urge to write, I will, but I don’t want to force it, if that makes sense.

      Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018!


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