I did that! 2017 edition

Greetings on the last day of 2017 all! I know I have been absent from this space for most of this last month. I was swamped with work, then away, and then Christmas seemed to take over all my time. I do hope you’ve had a good month.

2017 in a nutshell


As has become tradition, this is my ‘I did that!’ list for 2017. As I have said in the two years previously (you can read those lists here and here), I like this practice of reflecting on what I have actually achieved these past 12 months or so. It gives me time to worry less (always a challenge) of what I should be doing in the next 12. I did read (on Instagram) that some people find this practice quite upsetting, because they don’t feel like they have achieved anything during the past year. Well, for the record, I am with you on that. It is how I always feel when I look back. At first I can only ever see what has not been done, what is still outstanding, and how much there still is to do. But eventually, with some time and patience, some things I am proud of do reveal themselves. If you are feeling that way – that nothing is ever good enough or done – don’t worry, you are not alone. It is totally acceptable to feel like that too. Ignore all the lists and other people’s achievements. Have a glass of bubbly and just be content to be.

This has been a tough year. Some of it has been extremely rewarding – I switched jobs and absolutely love my new one. (Unfortunately it is fixed-term research so I am already on the job market again, applying for new jobs that begin in the next academic year. Shout out to anyone who might have anything education and research-y going!) My job involves a lot of travel, which I love because it takes me to many places I have never been and also involves a fair amount of seaside visits. But being away from home most weeks is tough, and I have spent many a weekend asleep, catching up on rest.

It has also been a challenging year health-wise. I had surgery to fix the stabilising ligament (ACL) in my knee. Recovery has gone well but it took me out for a fair few months. I am also still battling endometriosis. The doctors have yet to identify what exactly is wrong. I have an appointment on Tuesday so hopefully will have a better plan of action then.

So it has been a mixed bag of goods really. I am quite looking forward to the changing of the year…

All that said and done, here is my list.

1.) I endeavoured to strike a better equilibrium of work demands with the rest of my life. This may seem like an odd way to start but not working all the time is incredibly difficult for me. It is a legacy of my doctoral studies, and is also connected to my tendency towards perfectionism and over-achieving personality type. I actively tried to have at least one whole day off a week throughout the year, where I did not do any work. I prioritised spending time with A, and tried hard to be present and in the moment when I was with family. (Sometimes I failed at this entirely – I spent the weeks I was on sick leave, recovering from my knee op, finishing the manuscript of my book.) As if I needed reminding, I read this article yesterday that warns that “what is lost in a world of total work is the very possibility of our experiencing meaning“. This remains part of my list of things to work on in 2018.

2.) I finished the book and submitted the manuscript. It is now in production and should be out sometime early next year. YAY.

3.) I had a paper published in a well-respected journal. Huge sigh of relief. I cannot describe the weight that left my shoulders when I got the email confirming this.

4.) Despite all the health challenges, I prioritised doing exercise and keeping fit in a way that gives me joy. This has meant a lot of yoga and a fair amount of swimming. I have found exercise is a good way to disengage from work, particularly when I am traveling as it helps break up my day so that I can do some relaxation in the evening (and then sleep better). I have discovered the sheer joy of cold water swimming, managing a bracing 13C before deciding I was done until the spring. I now seek out swimming pools and yoga classes ahead of my trips, so that I can plan places to swim/attend yoga classes. As a result, I have a list of wonderful pools and studios across the country! (My current favourite is Newquay where you can go to Ocean Flow Yoga and do an intense yoga class before washing away the sweat with a dip at Fistral Beach.) Now that my knee has been fixed, I am back at running. I used to hate running but how I have changed. I love the rhythm, the sounds, the meditative trance I have to slip in to in order to make it all the way to the end. I have managed to run solidly for 25 minutes (I am doing the Couch to 5k plan) and the sense of achievement I have at the end is wonderful.

5.) I started a new project to introduce ritual and routine into my life: 52 weeks of sourdough. Most weeks I am trying to make either sourdough bread or something that uses a sourdough base – babka, cinnamon buns, croissants etc. I am not quite consistent in making something every week, but I keep returning to the making and baking, and that is what is important.

So that is my list. How was your year?