Goodbye 2013 Hello 2014 Winds of Change Continue to Blow

Goodbye 2013 Hello 2014 Winds of Change Continue to Blow

Hello my old friend. I’ve had a wonderful ride here and the past year has been one of change, challenge, camaraderie and catharsis. Enjoyable yet disconcerting, 2013 has been an amazing followup year to 2012. Events that took place in the year prior to ’13 are still resounding in me and their long term affect has yet to be realised. Still, at this point, the beginning of another new year, sees me bidding goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. It is already apparent that the winds of change will continue to blow and that my “tumbleweed” like lifestyle  will keep bouncing from one exciting event to the next.

A short recap is in order. I’ve discovered that writing professionally is possible. My earlier queries about getting a paying writing job from blogging were proven to have answers in the positive. My blog, which kept me busy in a most tumultuous time in my life, did indeed lead me to paid work. A job that allowed me to further develop a style, that is constantly changing/adapting, and that nets me thousands, and in a few cases millions, of people who read my printed words.

I am able to write about the things that interest me and for the first time in my life I have found that “perfect job” the one that I would do for nothing, and indeed have done, that actually pays me for my labor of love.

The only drawback is that I have ignored you, my first love, with only the smallest of inputs in the way of linking to my articles. Do I feel guilty? Most assuredly. In my neglect, you have gone on to pass the 100,000 mark in terms of page views. Followers continue to support your existence and the count surpassed 800 quite some while ago.

I also have little time to read the wonderful posts of those whom I’ve followed since the beginning. My loss completely. These bloggers have often taught me new things and entitled me to a point of view that I may never have considered if left to  my own devices. I miss you all, my dear WordPress family, even those who have never quite agreed with my ramblings.

But management of one’s time is itself time-consuming. Working professionally means that little time is left over for the more fanciful musings. Even reviewing films falls under work now. When faced with the reality that the most views an article about a recently viewed film on my own personal blog will never go over a hundred, as a rule, and that one reviewed on my professional site will/can get thousands…

There is no real contest. We write to be read. When I started, I was, and still am to some degree, happy just to write. Later, when I found that readers responded well to my ramblings, the focus shifted. As it naturally would. But…I am not saying goodbye to my blog, just 2013. I wish to continue stopping by occasionally writing; not just linking to my other articles. Saying hello to 2014 means following the winds of change, which continue to blow incessantly and moving my life forward. A life that, until recently, I thought was pretty much over.

Another huge leap; a life changing episode, has again become part of my life. I cannot yet get into details of this latest event yet.  I can, however, say that it looks like after four years of, sometimes, life threatening actions that have put me in a place I never dreamed of being in my life, that I am reaching a crossroad that, regardless of which route I take, has brought me to yet another new beginning.

I will not ramble on. I stopped by to say again just how much I love all those folks who have followed, supported and interacted with me. The members of the blogging community who took me in and gave me…what? A place of belonging? A forum to tell stories or formulate thoughts? A place of refuge, when things in my real life got too difficult to face alone?

The answer is yes to all the questions listed above even the incompletely constructed ones.  There have been those of you who have definitely changed my life. Marilyn over at serendipity and Natasha at Films and Things are just two examples of folks in the blogging community who have brought much to the table and shared experiences with me.

I reget deeply that I’ve not had time to follow all the folks who have take the time to follow my blog, just as I feel guilt for not delivering more in the way of written recompense. I will, however, promise to keep dropping in and adding my “two cents worth” on a more regular basis and not just provide links to my “paid work.”

Saying goodbye to 2013 via my little blog, has given me a chance to say how much you all mean to me, and if I didn’t mention you by name, it is only because of the time. It keeps moving, you see. It marches forward resolutely while, if you believe in physics, moving in all other directions at once. I’m moving on a path that I never dreamed possible and I hope to let you all know how it turns out. For now, I’ll stop at saying hello to 2014 and with a little prayer: May your new year be filled with winds of change that continue to blow in  your favour.

My Summer Vacation
Author

Michael Smith
United Kingdom

January 1, 2014
Norwich
Norfolk

My Life in 2012: Rock on 2013…

I sit here with the silence of the house ticking like a murmuring death watch beetle and I rack my brain on what to blog about today. I’ve already cheated a bit by just posting my 2012 statistics up that WordPress so helpfully provided me with this morning and not wanting to be too lazy, I’ve decided that I need to do a “proper” post.

As usual, I do have a blog-post that I should do, that lovely chap Rich over at Sunday Night Blog has nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. I will do a proper thank you to Rich, but I wanted to do a link to his site just to show that I had noticed and do appreciate his thoughtful kindness.

But the silence surrounding me is a little un-nerving. Usually if I am alone in the house, I have the next door neighbour’s kid running up and down the stairs and across the first floor (that’s second floor to you relatives of Uncle Sam) in his concrete over-boots. His shoes must be made of concrete because he is a little teeny chap who cannot weigh more than a couple of stone (if that).

*a stone, by the way, equals 14 pounds*

And yet this one little chap sounds like a herd of elephants thundering in stampede across the floors and up and down the stairs whenever he is at home with Mum or Dad. The fact that the house next door is empty is a blessing, just one that I’ve only had the pleasure of when Meg and I first moved in here. And before you ask, yes we were here before the heavy footed neighbours.

Meg has gone off somewhere to celebrate the New Year with friends and I am left to my own devices. Re-reading this last bit makes me feel like I should be fiendishly rubbing my hands together whilst hatching some world dominating plot. But, no; this is me I’m talking about here. I have no immediate or long-term plans to take over the world. I have no wish to do so and, more importantly, do not have the capability to.

So I have reverted back to staring silently (there is that wonderful word again) around the living room and wondering if I really should think about taking down and packing up the Christmas decorations that were only put up on the 23rd of December or if I should get the Hoover out.

*again for those relatives of Uncle Sam, Hoover equals vacuum cleaner (which I’ve only now just discovered that I have been misspelling for a lot of years)*

I can never manage to look this happy when I Hoover…


Since cleaning up or pulling down decorations both require something resembling physical effort, I have decided that I will do neither. I will instead finish up this blog post, edit it and publish it. That is about as taxing as I want to be taxed. This being the last day of 2012, I don’t want to ruin it by being too over industrious. So instead, I’m going to reflect, only in the most broad terms possible, over my year.

My 2012.

The year  has been a very strange one.

It has been a year of injury, pain, surgery (times two) and rehabilitation; along with discovery and shocking revelations. It has also been a year where I have worked hardly at all. There are those I work with who would claim that I don’t work when I do show up, but that is another story. Counting the time before my work injury and the time I spent “returning to work” I have only been “at work” for just under two months this year.

But 2012 has also been a year of meeting new folks and making new friends, Marilyn, Gary and Tyson just to name a few. There are loads more friends that I’ve met via the auspices of WordPress and their wonderful blogging community. I have been blessed with support and well wishes from lots of you and that has helped me to get through the more “agonising” and maddening aspects of my year.

2012 is also the year that I finally realised that my daughter Meg was a grown up. She stepped up smartly to the plate, bat in hand and hit a home run with how she dealt with my near death and all the vagaries that went with it. She has also been there to help me deal with the work side of things and its ensuing trauma.

The most amusing aspect of this entire year (apart from the amount of time it took me to realise that I was having a heart attack while smoking three cigarettes and drinking two cups of coffee) is that I had my heart attack while I was returning to work. A scheme that allows you to increase your work week hours on a steadily increasing rise. Deliciously ironic.

When I was told I was going to receive an ill-health retirement certificate, apart from being shocked (I’d been told you had to be practically dead to get a medical retirement certificate, which is what an ill-health retirement is) I already felt that I’d pretty much already been retired for the whole damn year.

Of course that was on full pay. Now of course, when the dust settles, I’ll be on less money; a  lot less money. I am still reeling over the ill-health retirement deal and scrabbling around to find out what I am entitled to. When I called the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) the earliest they could see me was the 15th of January. Rather than panic, I’ve been doing the, “I’ll just ignore it and it’ll get sorted when it gets sorted,” approach.

I’ve not ignored it completely though. It interrupts my sleep on a regular basis in the form of disturbing dreams. The last of which had to do with living in the world’s largest cardboard box and getting into a tizzy about where all the furniture was going to go.

Photo courtesy of paksil.blogspot.com

It is nice to know that on the last day of 2012, I can take a break from spinning all those damn plates and not care when a few of them come crashing down to the ground. Like Scarlet O’Hara says, “Tomorrow is another day.” But in this instance tomorrow is not just another day, it’s another year. A year where my son is going to be marrying his beloved (lovely girl) and “good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise” Meg and I will both be attending.

It is nice to have at least one thing to look forward to in the New Year.

Until then, or at least for the rest of today, I am going to put off doing anything that could possibly be related to work or industry. I’m going to procrastinate my way right up to the New Year.

I am going to leave you with Happy New Year Wishes just as soon as I’ve finished my cup of coffee.

New Year’s Resolutions: Maybe One or Two

I am not overly fond of New Year’s resolutions. Like 9.9 tenths of folks, I never keep them. I would love to hold up my hand and shout, “Yeah! I’m that point 1 tenth dude that always keeps his resolutions!”

But, I am not.

We all do it. We make commitments that we do truly intend to keep. The impending excitement of another “new” year with all its wonderful windows of opportunity is just too much for us to nonchalantly ignore. We have to step up smartly to the plate and give it our best metaphorical swing.

Who knows, we might just hit a metaphorical home run? We may just live up to that forecasted event or goal that we just know can be met in this new virginal year. After all, the New Year has got to be better than the old one right?

It is always easy to look back at the end of each year and not count our blessings, but count our disasters and mishaps. And (according to the media to some extent) that is normal.

Every year the newspapers and news channel on TV and the internet do “lists” of everything that transpired in that extant year. There is usually more than enough celebrity death, freak weather and mass death to fill up several pages of newspaper or reels of film. I am not saying that all recaps of the year are vulture-like ghoulish recaps of human misery, but there are enough of these lists to make it appear so.

There are some lists that focus on the sentimental or good things that have happened before that great big ball can descend on Times Square at midnight. Some are fun. The “best” film or film moments, for example, are always entertaining, but these do not hold the record for unhappy events nor do they make you yearn for a New Year to “make things better.”

As it gets ever closer to the time when that big ball will finish its descent and mark the beginning of the New Year, more and more of these lists and resolutions will be made public. Of course some folks will not tell anyone what they are hoping to achieve in the new year. Wise choice, the less people who know, the less you have to squirm when you haven’t accomplished this new goal.

The ball just before it drops…sound like puberty doesn’t it?

According to Wikipedia (that all-knowing “Mr Peabody” of the internet) New Year resolutions have been around at least since the Babylonians built their tower. Roman’s also participated; presumably their first New Year’s resolution was to not crucify the son of God again…

Either way this resolution to be better, to do better, to act better has got to be a good thing. Despite the old adage that states, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Surely it is better to have good intentions. Who doesn’t want to be a better version of themselves? Like the song says, ‘Oh Lord please don’t let me be misunderstood.’ Hopefully our good intentions are not misconstrued or misinterpreted. We cannot control that, but we can control how we go about these improvements.

Most of us don’t make any resolutions that involve huge change. We say we’ll stop; smoking, over-eating, binge drinking, messing around, et al. And most of us will fail. I know that I have said for years that my first resolution was to quit smoking in the New Year. *I don’t do the other things listed above.*

This is the first year that I know I will be able to succeed at this 2013 resolution. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. I had my last smoke on 30 August this year. Thus far, apart from the odd nostalgic yearning, I’ve not wanted another cigarette, cigar or pipe. I don’t even smoke the electric cigs any more (too damn expensive).

So I know that I will be able to keep and meet this one New Year’s resolution. While I’ve been writing this blog post I had another “no brainer” resolution pop into my head. Since I cannot one hundred percent guarantee that I’ll accomplish my first resolution (after all, I have an addictive personality and we are all just a bit self-destructive when it comes to smoking), I have one more New Year’s resolution that I know I can keep.

Are you ready?

My second New Year’s resolution is to not give any credence to  Mayan prophecies, like…say…the end of the world.

Happy New Year everyone!

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The Fourth Star on my Blog of the Year 2012 Award and Gifts for All!

That’s right; I’m closing in on the New Year with a snappy 4 star award from that great lady, Marilyn over at Serendipity. It’s actually just one of several that Marilyn has bestowed on not just me but several other bloggers as well. To say that my award cup runneth over would be an understatement.

I am going to list all the awards that she chucked my, and the other folk’s, way in the order that I like them in! I know, I’m funny like that. The next award that (and to be honest it is my very favourite just because of its title) is “The Don’t Do A Damn Thing Award…I Just Like Your Blog.”

This has to be my all time favourite award because (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before) I am lazy and anytime I can get something with a minimum of effort required on my part is an epic win.

The next one is the Reality Award, not to be confused with the Realty Award which is a different property all together…Sorry I couldn’t resist!

As you can see, it’s a pretty big award! But wait! That’s not all. For a limited time only, I’ve also been given the:

Not too small either, is it? Plus, the:

Another award that falls into the not very teeny category; and finally:

For the record, I’ve gotten the Liebster Award twice now and both the Inspirational Blogger and Versatile Blogger awards twice as well. Wow. I’m gonna need a bigger blog…

Marilyn states in her blog post that she used to search far and wide to find bloggers who would fit each category of blogging award being “passed around” (my phrasing, not hers. If you want to see her phrasing, follow the previous link titled blog post). She included the rules of the Blog of the Year 2012 and goes on to say just wing the rest.

I am going to go one step further and say, “Just wing it guys and gals; just wing it.” Furthermore, in the nature of these awards and in the sharing spirit of the season, if you are following me…Accept as many or as few (or hell, don’t choose any of them if you don’t want I’m not a bully) of the awards that you would like to see on your blog roll of honours.

The only requirement for accepting is that you follow me already. *See! I told you I was lazy!*

But laziness is not the reason I’m giving the awards this way. Any of you who have read my blog this year will know what a “rollercoaster ride” my life has been. I’d like to pay back the favour that you folks have done me by reading, liking and commenting on my little blog. So please accept this little token of appreciation.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukah) my friends and neighbours in the Blogging verse; and may your New Year be happy and full of opportunity.

Merry Christmas from my family unit to yours!
Merry Christmas from my family unit to yours!

Triggers

So Christmas has finished, in my mind at least, I’ve never celebrated the “12 days of Christmas” thing. We started taking down the decorations today. The tree is the last decoration standing at the moment. With my work schedule, it will be late in the week before we take the tree down and put the bits and bobs back up into the attic.

The funny thing is, we started talking about taking everything down two days ago! I suppose it has something to do with the total lack of Christmas spirit this year in our reduced household. Moving just before the festive season really left no room for presents or for much in the way of celebration. This I suppose was due, in part, to lack of immediate funds. But mainly, I think, it was down to triggers.


“Triggers” are things that set us off, or set us up, if you know what I mean. I was introduced to the phrase via the Mental Health Team where I work. I had always thought it was an overworked and over-relied on term that was used to explain a multitude of sins. I’ve had a change of heart.

My daughter and I were discussing these triggers the other day.

It was after an argument interestingly enough, about the laptop and my “umbilical” attachment to it. She had asked me, quite reasonably, to put the lid down for a minute while she finished telling me something. I was, as usual when I’m on the computer,  just half-listening. I was cruising the net – that’s spelt facebook and twitter – and I reacted in a remarkably bad manner. I was furious that she would dare to ask such a thing of me.

I don’t mean that I worked up to this emotion. It happened instantaneously. After apologising for my stupid behaviour things went back to normal.  Then a short while later, I said something about the state of her room. Nothing serious going on in there, just a surplus of clothing that hadn’t been put away. She blew up and pretty much tore a strip off me. Again,  apologies all around and things back to normal.

We discussed both situations later over tea. I explained that I knew where my reaction had come from. Her mother used to complain every time I got the laptop out. My daughter then realised that her reaction had stemmed from her mother’s complaining constantly about the state of her room. I then mentioned triggers and the reaction that they have on us. We both concluded that we needed to be aware of the trigger things and try to avoid reacting to them when they popped up.

I have now come to the conclusion that our “lack” of  Christmas this year – although I must add that we did do a Christmas video this year and had a lot of fun doing it – was as a result of the trigger of last years festive season. Last year was the first time we had not spent the holidays as a family unit. It was strange, uncomfortable and awkward. I honestly believe it set us up for the overall downer that was Christmas this year.

We are now looking forward to the new year and have high hopes that it will be better than the last two years. I think we have a pretty good chance of succeeding as well. We just have to look out for triggers. Everyone has things that “trigger” a response from them. These responses or reactions can be good or bad, we just have to learn to recognise why we have them and how to avoid them if they are of the bad variety.

So that is my wish for everyone in 1012. Learn what your triggers are and change how you react to them. It will help make you a calmer person in the end. It will probably be the one time in your life that it’s okay to be “trigger happy.”