There’s a plethora of the best of 2018 coming through the Facebook feed and I thought it only right honour the blog and write about the achievements of the year.
I was also talking to acquaintances when one commented that I had had a great year and stopping to think for a moment, I realised, goodness, they were right.
Earlier in the year
At the start of 2018, I felt quite lost. Directionless and wondering after a very challenging few years personally what I was meant to be doing career-wise. Worried I would be consumed with the feeling of failure and the sadness that goes with that.
I also started to feel angry, really angry, about the various things that have happened in my life, that I have had said about me over the last few years and I so didn’t want to become bitter and resentful of the circumstances I found myself in. I became determined to use that anger for better. Sounds like it was an easy choice to make. It wasn’. And something that I have had to work on daily to make sure I didn’t become consumed by that black hole.
It’s not to say that 2018 hasn’t been without its challenges. The anger, as mentioned above. Health-wise I’m still banging my head against a brick wall trying to get an official diagnosis for hypermobility – which explains a lot of the physical difficulties I’ve encountered over the years. I have various ailments still playing up. I lost a tooth but was brave enough to do it under sedation rather than a general anaesthetic. The episode of me fighting the sedation and trying to keep my eyes open while trying to talk to my daughter afterwards still provides the family with chuckles. Probably the dental staff too when I asked why the treatment room had suddenly gone a rather bright orange (it was the safety glasses if you’re curious).
Now with my daughter firmly rooted at school, I was looking around while coming out of the haze of depression and dealing with anxiety. Career-wise has taken a knock while life took over. I’ve struggled for a long time with what title that wraps around the multitude of skills acquired over the span of my adulthood.
I started off the year ambitiously at the beginning of the year in terms of ideas. There was the idea of setting up a podcast for HelloLittleLady, a shop, to write a children’s picture book and do an exhibition.
My, how I laugh at myself now.
Each one of those is a project in themselves and I wanted to do them all – at the same time.
Good grief. No wonder my head was spinning.
Important lesson learned for sure.
Hello Little Lady – The Main Highlights
It really is only when you look back do you realise what you have achieved. Business coaches that I follow online all tell of the importance of looking back and seeing what successes you’ve had over the year. This year it seems ever more important to do so. Here are the main highlights:
- RoadMapping workshop – solidified the long-term goals for HelloLittleLady. The two-day workshop was physically exhausting but was fundamental in getting clear on what I would love to create for the dwarf community.
- Recorded a couple of podcasts – not published, but gave me the confidence to start talking and connecting with people again.
- Writing Children’s Book workshop with Lynn Huggins-Cooper, that provided a lot of food for thought and I end the year hankering to write more.
- Savvy Solos Business Club – I’m a freelancer and joined this wonderful network and training group for self-employed people who work by themselves in the North East of England. One of the best decisions I made this year. I hate networking for obvious reasons and it took me a while to build up the courage to go a training session, but Nicola, the owner of the group and Digital Sparkles, managed to bring me out of my shell and put me at ease with the social anxiety. I was even featured on the blog in the Lads and Lasses We Love section! The group are a lovely bunch of people too.
- Little People UK – Convention 2018. As the programme details of the event passed through my Twitter feed I realised I really wanted to join the weekend. I’ll be forever grateful to Sammy Davis for helping make it possible.I hadn’t realised how much I needed to meet and socialise with people who have similar experiences. Being able to be safe on a dance floor is priceless. Making new friends and catching up with old friends. The icing on the cake was getting to meet Sinead Burke and see THAT Burberry dress. I came away from that weekend feeling I could take on any of the negative attention that comes my way. If only such things could be bottled up.
- Northern Blog Awards – HelloLittleLady blog being shortlisted in the Chronic Illness and Disability category (link) and the subsequent trip to Manchester was an enlightening experience and bit of a confidence boost in my blogging activities. It was lovely to get away for a break too.
- You’re Just Little – photographic exhibition. This one of the achievements I’m most proud of this year and will stay with me for some time. While the impact of the exhibition was beyond what I could have imagined, I provided myself with much-needed proof to myself that I could pull a project of significance together. Even the local MP attended the opening evening, with over 50 visitors over the run of the show.
- Reiki – Level 1. Becoming attuned to Reiki Level 1 – Shodan with the wonderful Liz from Inspire Holistics. The Universe nudged me to work with this universal energy. It’s helping a lot with the anxiety.
- Heart-Mapping Workshop with Sarah Seed – realising that I’ve not been particularly happy and I’m now actively working on making new goals and dreams.
- If you’re not in a happy place, feeling lost, wondering what your purpose is, find a project to work on. Something that you feel comfortable with, but also pushes you too.
- Going out of your comfort zone is overrated and for people with Dwarfism, it is not a sentiment that will motivate us, more likely to go into hiding further.
- The profound impact a photograph can have on a wall – on myself and on others.
- Find people who understand your difficulties and will support you to achieve anyway. These are gems, keep them close.
- Realising the magnitude of the gaping hole of dwarf art and lack of support to even attempt to allow people with dwarfism to control our own narratives through arts, culture and the media.
- Feeling like I’ve contributed to the conversation around the representation of dwarfism in some small way.
- Gratitude towards the participants in the exhibition – for the impact it had personally and on those who visited the show.
- When living with difference, it’s important to connect with people who are going through similar experiences. Chatting to someone who ‘gets’ it is a relief, can be cathartic and makes you feel more connected.
- You won’t necessarily get the support you hope for from the people who purport to help. Keep going anyway.
- Isolation is the dream-killer, not your attitude as noted by Barbara Sher, is true.
- Resilience will only occur when you are ready to be resilient or life has knocked you so much and you look back and realise, regardless of how crap, broken and weary you feel, you’re still standing.
- Anger is a good motivator for positive change.
- Awareness doesn’t always need to be shouting about how hard life is. That becomes tiresome even for the most receptive. Creative ways of challenging prejudices and ignorances often have a greater impact on society.
Looking Back – Reflections
I have a feeling that 2018 has been a foundation year. One where I clawed myself out of the black hole and learnt that I am far more resilient than I have given myself credit for.
This year I gained some semblance of confidence and raised my self-esteem that has been on the floor for far too long. Met and made lovely new friends and expanded my network. Put myself out a little more than I was comfortable with. Faced my limitations and realised that crappy feelings and self-doubt are something that likes to keep me company. Felt like I have regained some of that lass who would walk head first into new experiences.
Gratitude and Thanks
There are many people I would like to thank for their support and friendship over the year:
- Carrie, for a non-stop talk, class road trip to Manchester.
- Kelly Oliver Dougall from Cygnet Careers whose chat helped me realise that I wanted to concentrate on HelloLittlLady.com.
- Nicola Little from Savvy Solos Business Club for her direction and support.
- Kathryn Barnett from Spectrum Cultural for her mentorship, providing the space and opportunity for the You’re Just Little exhibition to happen.
- Caroline Mitchell from Sunderland University for her ongoing support
- Jay Sykes for letting me talk about the exhibition on Arty Parti.
- The contributors who participated and submitted photos to the ‘You’re Just Little’ exhibition.
- Lynn Simpson – support and promotion on Phoenix FM, Dublin and general fabulousness.
- Sammy Davis from LPUK for the opportunity to attend the convention.
- Liz Cairns from Inspire Holistics for her friendship, support and Reiki.
- Cara Reedy of Infamously Short – for her top-notch fashion advice and friendship too!
- Donna Francis – a listening ear, podcast guest and supportive friend.
- Simon Minty – for giving his time and encouragement to practice podcasting.
- Family and friends who have shown support through the difficult times.
Well, I think that’s enough from me. I go into 2019 with a glad heart and quiet optimise at what can be achieved. How about you? What have been the highlights of the year for you? Any new years resolutions?
Wishing you all the best for 2019 and thanks for all the support! It’s appreciated!