Morning all and a very happy new year to you!
I came across a challenge called 'Looking Back on 2013' on Tumblr last week, and thought I'd give it a shot to see what I could remember about the past year. I'm not sure who originally created the challenge, but I will give you a heads up and tell you there are thirty-six questions, so the post is a bit of a long one! I won't hold it against you if you don't make it to the end!
For those of you who want to join me, let's look back on 2013...
1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
As a blogger, I was provided with some fantastic opportunities and collaborated with some wonderful brands for my first sponsored and paid blog posts respectively here on my blog. They were both exciting experiences for me.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'm not a fan of making big New Year's resolutions, because past experience has taught me I rarely see them through! I much prefer making lots of little goals, like the ones I've set for my 101 Things in 1001 Days list. I started a fresh list in 2013, and managed to accomplish a fair few goals. I'll be continuing with the same list this year.
I suppose my main goals for 2014 are to read more books, be a better blogger, work on getting myself better, and to get out and about as often as I can.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, not that I can remember.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully no, but my family had it's fair share of serious illnesses.
5. What countries did you visit?
I didn't manage to leave the country, but I went to live with my sister in Portsmouth for a while, on and off, during the first half of the year, so I was at least able to explore an unfamiliar county.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
I would like to have a better quality of life in 2014 than I did last year. I would love to be able to get out of bed and out of the house more often, have a little fun once in a while, and regain some of my freedom and independence. I don't want a lot, I'd just like to feel a bit more 'normal' again.
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched up on your memory, and why?
I'm terrible at remembering exact dates, but there are a few days I shall never forget. The days when we lost two of our beloved pets. The Holly dog was helped along to doggy heaven, after a heart breaking battle with cancer this time last year, and my old Honey Bunny went to the big warren in the sky last Spring. She'd become blind, deaf, and frail from old age and at eleven she was far older than most bunnies live to be. It was the kindest thing to do, but it didn't make losing her any easier. I will also remember the days I did my first paid and sponsored posts here on the blog, working with some fantastic brands, and a few days of fun and concert madness I had with my best friend!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Making it through another year of life in constant pain without falling apart. And also, my first sponsored challenge with a fashion retailer was a surreal and incredibly exciting moment for me. It was something which I, the extremely shy fat wall flower who spent a life time hiding from cameras and untagging herself from photos, never imagined she'd do. Never. It was a surreal experience, that's for sure, but in a wonderful way.
9. What was your biggest failure?
To me, I feel my biggest failure was not making any improvement or progress towards recovery from my disc injuries. Of course, I gave it my best shot and pushed myself as much as I could. I had a handful of physiotherapy sessions, and continue to follow the exercises at home but I think it's apparent that physiotherapy isn't going to fix me. With little help from the NHS, I need to remember it's out of my control, and lack of improvement shouldn't be seen as a failure.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, I spent 2013 battling constant pain from multiple disc injuries and living a challenging life on hiatus, although the injuries are ongoing from 2011. Instead of making improvement last year, my situation got a little worse, and I found myself inflicted with nerve pain in my left leg, and poor circulation (caused by the herniated discs) turning my legs purple and giving me pins and needles in my limbs. I also had to have operations on my big toes. I'll spare you the ugly details, but the issues were another result of my back situation, and caused me many months of pain before the problems were taken care of.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I think I made the right decision when I treated myself to my fox print dress by South for Very. I've worn it dozens of times this Autumn / Winter and I adore it so much I've just bought a back up in the sale! My double bed was another worth while purchase that I made for the sake of my back. It was just £89 on sale, and my parents bought me a memory foam mattress, which have made such a difference to my comfort, sleep, and pain levels.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I was proud of my little sister who graduated from uni this Autumn, and also of my best friend who confronted a burglar at her home.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled?
I think appalled in an understatement in this instance, but Ian Watkins'. (Of course I'm talking about the ex-lead singer of Lostprophets, and not the innocent man of the same name from Steps). You all know what I'm talking about here. I'm so sickened, disturbed, and horrified by what he's done and who he is, by what the two women involved allowed to happen to their children, that I can't even type it. I've never been so sickened by anything in my life, and wish he'd been given an entire life sentence, or better yet the death penalty. He deserves to rot in hell.
Lostprophets had been one of my favourite bands for over a decade, and I doubt I'll be listening to their music ever again. I just hope there aren't more victims we don't know about.
14. Where did most of your money go?
On dresses, make up, and Christmas presents.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Getting to see my best friend, and going to see Boyzone perform live together. I don't think I'd smiled so much in years!
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Probably something from Fall Out Boy's album Save Rock and Roll, because I couldn't stop playing it all year. I'm going to go with Young Volcanoes because it's the one I played most out of the eleven.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
(A) happier or sadder? About the same: happy!
(B) Thinner or fatter? About the same, give or take a couple of pounds.
(C) Richer or poorer? Probably a little poorer. Damn you, overdraft!
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I'd managed to read more books. I'm making that my mission this year. I would've also liked to have got out and about more, but I guess that one couldn't be helped.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I wish I'd got off the laptop more to read and try other things like crafting.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
I spent my Christmas at home with my Mum, Dad, two sisters and brother-in-law and it was lovely. The house was filled with chatter, festive music, lovely presents, and good food, and it was such a nice day. I spent the weeks building up to the day keeping myself busy with a few Christmas projects, as well as getting all the usual stuff organised, and I'm sad it's all over for another year. It's my favourite time of the year!
21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Only with my dress collection. That counts, right?
22. What was your favourite TV programme?
I continued my love affair with The Big Bang Theory, and I also got hooked on Under the Dome... although, I struggled to follow the story line after a while, as it's so different to the book. The book, by Stephen King, is one of my favourites, and well worth a read.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Not that I can think of. I don't really hate anybody; I may dislike a few people, but hate's a strong word. Life's too short for full-blown hatred.
24. What was the best book you read?
I just recently read Divergent and Insurgent, the first two books of a series by Vernonica Roth, which are probably the best books I've read since The Hunger Games (which I also enjoyed rereading last year). The books are based around a dystopian world where society is divided in to five factions each dedicated to a particular way of life, and each year the sixteen year olds must choose which faction to conform to for life. The idea is so imaginative, startling, and thought-provoking that I couldn't put them down.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn't really discover many new bands, but I played Fall Out Boy's album 'Save Rock and Roll' on repeat all year as if my life depended on it. I hope to branch out more and discover some new bands to listen to in 2014, because it's been a while since I strayed from my old faithfuls.
26. What did you want and get?
To make it to a couple of concerts with my best friend. We saw Ronan Keating in January, and Boyzone in December, and I'm proud to say I made it through both shows! It took me weeks to recover from both outings, but they were worth the pain, and I'm glad I got to do something fun and something normal for a change.
27. What did you want and not get?
A miracle cure for my back pain, and recovery from my disc injuries. Oh, and a holiday. But, perhaps next year...
28. What was your favourite film of this year?
Catching Fire. I managed to see it at the cinema twice, and loved it even more than the first Hunger Games film. I was impressed that the film remained true to the book, which almost never happens. And also, Liam Hemsworth!
29. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Making it to a couple of concerts! I can't even explain just how much those concerts perked me up. I was left smiling for weeks after each.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I wore what I liked and wasn't led by trends. My style was all about colour, cute and quirky prints / patterns, a gazillion dresses, bold eye make up, kitsch accessories, and a plethora of beautiful bags.
31. What kept you sane?
My best friend! She kept me smiling with texts and Facebook messages; talking about everything and anything and offering me an ear and a shoulder when I needed them. I couldn't have got through the year without her.
Blogging also kept me sane; providing me with something to do and to think about every day, no matter the hour. It provided me with a distraction, a challenge, a purpose, and a means of preventing boredom. I honestly believe things would've been much harder in 2013 without my little blog to keep me sane.
32. What celebrity / public figure did you fancy the most?
As always, all members of Boyzone. What can I say? They're all gorgeous tattooed men with Irish accents; need I go on? There's a long list of others, but I'll leave it with those guys.
33. What political issue stirred you the most?
I'm struggling to remember what the big political show downs were in 2013, but I know I became quite agitated over NHS cuts and the changes to support for the sick and disabled. The country is obsessed with getting people back to work, but yet they make cuts to health care which is already stretched as far as it can go and seem unwilling to help people when they're at their most vulnerable. People don't need the additional stress when they're already going through a life-changing illness or condition.
34. Who did you miss?
I missed my pets which passed away in 2012-2013, and I still feel like there's a big hole in my life now they're all gone. I missed my best friend who lives on the over side of the country, although we managed to get together in January and December for a catch up and some concert madness. I miss my friends. I miss a lot of people.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learnt in 2013.
Life is far too short! It's far too short to waste; we should make the most of every day and do all the things we want to do in life, because we never know when our lives may change forever or our time may be up. It's far too short to be unhappy. If you're unhappy with your life, it's time to make some changes. I wasted far too many years hating my life, and being utterly miserable, and I regret not finding the courage to do something about it sooner.
36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Waiting for the end to come, wishing I had strength to stand, this is not what I had planned, it's out of my control..." "This is not the end, this is not the beginning." It's from Linkin Park's Waiting For the End, and I think it sums it up pretty well.