Bad, Good, Learnt in 2022 and hopes for 2023

* I have still not been back to Rum and there is lots of stuff I would like to get back over here and people I would like to catch up with.
* I sometimes feel we have returned to the daily grind type existence a little bit.
* Losing Bonnie was a source of great sadness.

* I love where we live and that we all four are still happily living together.
* I have really enjoyed the various trips we have taken this year now things have opened back up again – highlights include York, Inverness and Mull.
* I enjoy my job. I find it very rewarding and challenging, both of which are really good.

* I have been reminded again this year to never take anything for granted, particularly your health. Life can change in the blink of an eye.
* I learned that Guy Fawkes was born in York!

Hopes for 2023:
* I would like to have a trip down Memory Lane this year and take Davies and Scarlett around some of my childhood and teenage haunts.
* I would like to do more trips and short travels again generally including getting to Rum.
* I would like to get a small motorcycle.

Special bonus wish for 2023: An Arctic cruise

* Bonnie dying.
* The state of the world:
* I cannot believe the war is continuing in the Ukraine and feel we are not doing enough to end it.
*Specifically in the UK I hate that we have no control over who our Prime Minister is and that one of last years (!) reintroduced fracking.
* I feel that so many promises made at COP26 have been ignored and not lived up to.
* I cannot believe we still have a gender pay gap and poor working conditions for key workers.
* I feel that we have forgotten too quickly how fast germs travel – hand washing, masks and social distancing are good ways to behave with all sorts of germs and viruses but we have stopped using these simple measures to control things like colds and flu.

*We have done a lot of trips this year. After being restricted for the past couple of years being able to travel further from home again this last year has been really good. Particular highlights include Edinburgh Fringe, York, Northern Ireland and seeing live music / shows.
* Whilst I wish it was not there in the first place I have spent many hours this year collecting rubbish off the beaches. Kilos and kilos of plastic and other human created rubbish which would otherwise still be putting wildlife at risk is not because of my efforts. It feels good to be making a difference, however small.
*Despite lots of disheartening things happening in the world – e.g anti abortion laws I do think that there are positive changes happening too e.g Scottish trans laws, previously small minded and non inclusive places and spaces becoming safer and more open minded and progressive. I am also heartened to see that people are less likely to accept things and more inclined to protest, strike and fight for their rights.

* During my time at my work placement I learned a lot of new crofting skills: fencing, different animal care (goats, horses, larger flock of sheep) and various woolly crafts.
* I have got a stand up paddle board and although I have not been out on it as much as I would have liked it is a new skill and one I enjoy.
* I did some silver smithing this year and really enjoyed it. I have signed up for a further course in 2023 which I am looking forward to.
* I have developed my skills in some techy and practical areas this year too, from IT skills to fixing things.

Hopes for 2023:
* I would like to do some travel in the coming year. I am interested in the possibility of inter railing and other low impact travel options and need to do more research and planning but hope to embark on at least one big travel trip this year.
*I’d also like to do more family trips – making memories with the others is so important and I am looking forward to more of that this year.
* I would really like to learn to play the guitar.
* I would like to attend a Pride march. There is currently quite limited local representation of the LGBTQ+ community so this may require being active in organising one.

Special bonus wish for 2023: I would like to see an apex predator in the wild – a bear, lion, tiger, wolf or similar. I have seen them in zoos but it would be amazing to see one in their natural habitat.


*The state of the world. The climate crisis is so, so pressing. The quality of life for so many people is also dire.
*The saddest thing in 2022 was Bonnie dying, particularly as I was not here when that happened. Her dying was in the best possible way – quick. I had been gone for just a couple of weeks when she died and she was fine when I left.
* Although my trip to the US was really good I also really missed Scarlett and it was strange to be having all those new experiences, particularly ones I know she would also have loved, without her.

*I feel I have accomplished lots of things during 2022 that I had been keen to do: In no particular order:
I visited places, made new friends, experienced new things. My trip to the US, theatre visits, a trip down south and to London, to Rum and to York.
* I really enjoy my job at the Gallery – I feel like I contribute in a meaningful way and have found a place there.
* I have begun to learn the piano – it has been on my list of things I wanted to do for quite a few years but this last year I finally started with a teacher, have practised lots and really feel I have made progress.
* I feel that 2022 has been a really good year for me as a person. I feel I have grown and developed and really found my place; I have found myself in situations I would not necessarily have chosen to be in but navigated them, done my first solo travelling, made new friends and learned new things.
*I have noticed that this year I have really tried to engage and be present and available with friends. This has resulted in friends coming to me for support and advice and I feel both I and they have benefited from these deeper connections.
* I am (today!) celebrating my fourth anniversary with Luka. This feels like a real achievement and together we have grown, learned and are even stronger than ever as a couple.

* I have improved my art in 2022. Working at the gallery and being with artists has helped. I have extended my reach with different materials including charcoal, acrylics, oil pastels, attending an art course, Inktober and various other specific art challenges.
* I am now in year 6 of 7 years of studying for my degree. At the start of 2022 I was midway through a philosophy unit, I have now returned to forensic psychology. The studying is both interesting in the content to learn but also it is creating potential for my future. Referring back to my earlier point under ‘bad’ about the state of the world my studies have gone at least some way towards reassuring me that if this is what students of my generation are being taught then there is progression in our understanding of things, we are improving and striving to be better.
* I have learned more about the interests that I have – I have always been interested in art, film and music and this year I have strived to deepen my knowledge and understanding in these areas. I have also learned more about geography.

Hopes for 2023:
* I would like to have another travel trip – perhaps to the US again, and this time with Scarlett too.
* I hope to continue my job at the gallery and carry on learning and contributing there.
* I want to carry on with my piano and hope that I continue to improve my playing.
* By the end of this year I would hope to be in the final year of my degree. I am not sure whether it will necessarily lead me directly to a career but I can see how it has shaped my thoughts about what I might want to do.
* I have had a really good year and would hope to build on all the things which made it good for another good year ahead.
Special bonus wish for 2023: To make some youtube videos.


* We have a new cat at home (in the US) and there is a lot of friction between it and our other cat which I find really stressful to try and manage. * I have had a lot of study commitments and heavy work load this year. Even when I have not had a pressing deadline I have not been able to relax into downtime.
* I have not found a job which many of my fellow students have. This makes me more dependent on my family for financial support and means I do not have as much independence, freedom and autonomy as I would like.
* I had a run of ill health in 2022 which lasted for several months.
* I really enjoy playing Pokemon Go and one of the early reasons for enjoying it was the sense of community but during this year it has become super monetised which is really frustrating.
* This year I have started to share with some people that I identify as non-binary. This has come with a lot of explaining and sense of responsibility which I find stressful.

* This year I have chosen my major as Social Work and been elected Vice President of Active Minds, which is an advocacy and awareness group to support and promote mental wellbeing within college. These two areas together have really helped me to feel I am working towards something which will both help me contribute and make a positive difference in the world but also help me myself.
* This summer I came to the UK and visited Sussex, London and Rum and Davies finally came to the US. All of these things have been what I wanted to do for so long. It was so cool for Davies to meet my family and friends and see where I am from.
* This year I have really felt that I returned properly to a childhood passion of creative writing. I did a course and have signed up for another next year and really feel my character development and skills in this area have improved. My teacher and classmates gave me such positive feedback and encouragement which really made me feel seen and heard. I also received an award for a research paper I contributed to. I feel my writing has been acknowledged and appreciated this year.
* This year I have felt that I have really taken responsibility for my mental health, actively engaging with counselling, groups and tools such as journalling to help me support myself. It has made me feel empowered.
* The cat we re-homed this year is very receptive to attention and company which is both not something I have experienced with a cat previously and very welcome. I enjoy having a cat who actively welcomes petting and being close to me physically, particularly when I would be otherwise alone.
* Sharing with people that I identify as non binary, while challenging, has also been really affirming. In feeling that I am being authentic and true to myself but also in taking up space, something which I have previously not always felt able to do. To be able to ask people to call me a name, or use pronouns which I have chosen rather than those selected for me has felt as though I am claiming something for me.
* This year I feel I have both widened my social circle but also deepened the connections with old and new friends. This is as a result of a deliberate effort on my part in both in person and online to actively connect with people.
* In 2022 my sister sought inpatient help for an episode of acute poor mental health. I am considering this a good thing as the resultant effects were positive. For my sister the seeking of help and support and acknowledgement of there being an issue, for me the inspiration and recognition that help was available and useful and for my wider family the appreciation of the gravity of the situation and for all of us to witness the support and care that my parents offered.
* In 2022 I have been entertained, inspired and in some cases delighted by some media which has really resonated with me including: The Magnus Archives, Sam Ryder, Mario and The Shawshank Redemption.
* Within US politics 2022 was mid term elections and it was so heartening to see the reactive vote not swinging against the current Democrat administration as often is the case but instead supporting it and protecting LGTBQ+ rights. This has been attributed to both younger voters and a more progressive pro human rights stance.
* Davies and I have been together for four years and this is fantastic! (yay)

* I have discovered this year that I actually really enjoy horror as a genre. I would have previously said it was not for me at all but looking at what I like I really do.
*This year I have learned (although I need to keep reminding myself) that I am not in control of what other people think or my emotions but I am in control of how I respond and react to them.
* I have this year gained an understanding of the breadth of the umbrella term social work and what it means to study and work in it and the support and help available for mental health support.
* I have learned this year about creative writing and the ‘show don’t tell’ style of creating settings and backgrounds in addition to creating characters.
* I took a class of German language which is very much my heritage and although I do not have any particular plans to learn more just now it was nice to make a start.
* I am passionate about geography and have been using a game called Geoguessr which has cemented and increased that knowledge.

Hopes for 2023:
* Planning a path towards independence from home.
* A new experience together with Davies.
* Continuing with my mental health – proceeding with obtaining a diagnosis and the support that may offer.
* Completing a writing challenge.
Special bonus wish for 2023: A big travel trip to somewhere I have not been before.


* I would echo what the others have said in that losing Bonnie was one of the single saddest / worst things about 2022. I miss her presence a lot, particularly at certain times of day as well as every time I arrive home and she is not there to welcome me.
* During a period of a few weeks we lost most of our chickens to a predator. Whilst I know that the risks of a free range lifestyle for them are the chance of a swift end and that they had all had good lives it was still sad to see their numbers reduce so quickly.
* Covid has continued to shape 2022 – both in terms of a low level worry about the mortality and general health of me and those I love but also the ways in which is has affected the world. All of us caught Covid this year and while we were fortunate to have a mild dose with no lasting effects it remains a real and present danger which I fear will not disappear for quite some time to come.
* The others have already touched on what we have termed ‘The State of the World’; from the swing towards eroding peoples’ rights and freedoms, the people forced to resort to strike action to highlight issues over not being able to do their jobs due to cuts in resources, the climate crisis and dangerous people holding power. I generally choose to focus on controlling what I feel I have some power over rather than dwelling on what I have no control over but even with my eternal optimistic viewpoint I have had some bleak moments of reflection on where we are and where we are heading as a human race during 2022.

* I am currently juggling four different work contracts and this blend of various freelance, contract and employed work really suits me. I am learning new skills, enjoying being in control of my workload and feeling that I am doing them all well. I have quite the patchwork CV thanks to home education and remote island life preventing me from being available for work but I am earning money doing things I really enjoy, feel I am good at and in their own small way are making a positive difference to the world.
* As the world has opened up again slightly in 2022 I have really enjoyed getting back out and spending real life time with people. The connections I have with family and friends – old and new – are my most precious and cherished thing and 2022 has offered lots of opportunities to enjoy them.
* Which rather follows on to the travel and trips we managed during 2022. From seeing live performances from Gordon Buchannan, Grace Petrie (several times!), Derren Brown, Welcome to Nightvale, Siobhan Miller, Hannah Gadsby, theatre and cinema trips including Edinburgh Fringe, trips to Mull, Ireland, Sussex, York and having friends to stay. When I look back on the photos of this year it has been a heartwarming mix of all of my favourite things.
* A huge good thing this year has been seeing both Davies and Scarlett thrive. As they continue to find their own way in the world and start to forge independent adventures and lives away from us. In stating how proud of them I am not attempting to take credit but my heart sings to see them flying, to hear their wise words and plans and to still have so much precious time in their company too.
* This year I have made time every single day for Journalling and other creative and mindful recording of things. From drawing challenges, nature connection journalling and running a few courses on creative journalling I have completely embraced it as part of my daily routine and would feel the lack of it were I to miss a day.
* I have to make mention of my wild swimming as another daily pursuit which brings me joy.
* This year I have begun to meet regularly with friends to sing and play music together. This is something which brings me great pleasure.

*I have continued to learn so many new skills through my work and have done various online training to increase my skills in various areas. These include social media / marketing, desktop publishing / design.
* I have learned the importance of carving out specific time for creativity / swims etc. Now that Davies and Scarlett are less requiring of my time I feel able to choose to do things just for me. I see the value and necessity of this so clearly.
* It sounds like a bit of a cliche and I suspect I already knew it but I have been reminded again this year to never stop learning – the more I learn the less I know. I have picked up reference books on a variety of topics from understanding water to issues around race, I have listened to and talked with people who have different world views to mine and taken so much from being prepared to open my mind and hear new thoughts.

* I would like to do more with the garden this year. I know that growing loads of food is always a challenge in this area and while we are happy here I also know we won’t be in this house / garden forever so options like polytunnels and greenhouses, which are essential for extending the season here, are not really an option. I have got some books on forest and perennial gardening and it would be nice to set something more low maintenance up here so I can learn more in putting that into practise even if it is not necessarily me who reaps the long term rewards of it.
* There are some friends who despite staying in regular online contact with I have not seen in real life for far too long. I am determined that this year I will spent time sat beside them, sharing the sorts of conversations you only have late at night, after a few drinks, while in the same physical space.
* I would like to carry on with singing / making music. Doing it regularly with friends in 2022 made me realise how important it is to me and I want to make sure I keep that going in 2023 and maybe take it further.
* Whilst I am really enjoying all of my various jobs I always like to challenge myself to learn more and do better. I am very fortunate to have a high level of autonomy in all of these roles and I want to carry on learning and developing and perhaps helping others to do the same too if opportunities to do arise.
* I am already filling the calendar with trips and bookings. I hope that all of the things I have already planned or am hoping to organise happen and than we are able to attend them all and see those plans to fruition.

Special bonus hope for 2023: Maybe this will be the year I see my name on the front of something in print?

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