I write this with a heavy heart, and also a sense of relief and huge accomplishment. And a huge smile.
I finished my day job for the year this afternoon. No more work until 5 January – and boy do I need the break. But I finished my day job this afternoon – my dream job, for now. I couldn’t leave without crying – again. I will miss them.
I left with a clear vision of what I want to do with my writing, speaking and appearance activism. And that’s comforting given the unknown of my day job that I commence next year. I am someone who needs certainty. And I am also someone who needs to make my own destiny. So I will. I have a blogging course to create, plus a meet up for Ichthyosis patients and families to organise. And that is just the beginning.
I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve done this year. It’s been huge. Busy. Twitter’s asked us to describe 2014 in five words. Best year of my life. I’ve achieved so much, found my place in this world, have amazing friends around me, and have the love from a man who is one in a million. I have also taken 27 plane trips.
It hasn’t been without its challenges though – I’ve lost friends through broken friendships and death, walked away from a tough situation and been privy to thoughts and assumptions about me that I never thought I’d hear. I’ve also been extremely sore most months and put on a little weight because I haven’t been able to go to the gym. Still, happiness has triumphed.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way – who has read my writing, sent me an email, commissioned me to write, booked me to speak, written me a reference, acknowledged me for an award, sought my advice and experience paid me and thanked me. Thank you.
Here’s what’s happened this year. Can I just add – I did ALL of this on top of my full time job.
January was hot. I can’t recall too much more, but I know it was hot. I was interviewed by SBS’s The Feed about the Reddit experience. You can watch that here.
In February, I was chosen in the Guardian’s Diverse Writers program – where 15 or so writers from diverse backgrounds met with editors from The Guardian to work on pitching. If I am honest, I don’t know whether I accomplished a lot with my paid writing since, but I did have this article about Reddit published on The Guardian shortly after.
I also went to the homecoming of Samuel Johnson from Love Your Sister – it was so lovely to be a part of this event. Connie wrote an amazing testimony for me which I shared at Problogger, and I later met up with her in the Canberra airport.
Adam whisked me away for Valentines Day – we went to a beachside town where we ate expensive seafood and saw koalas in the rainforest.
My online friend, Charlotte Dawson passed away. While I didn’t meet her in person, we talked a lot on Twitter and I was shocked and saddened to hear about her death. I wrote a tribute here.
March was maybe the most milestone-laid month of the year!
I spent April traveling in America and Europe – met some amazing people including many from the Ichthyosis community. I saw my good friend Rick Guidotti – he took some pictures of me and we did a video interview.
I ate a lot. Especially in Europe. And I went to the Louvre and Disneyland. I feel like I have lots more from my trip to write about.
I also wrote a story about our engagement for New Idea magazine – I wrote this in third person, in the plane at around 6.00 am from San Fran to Chicago.
While in Paris, I woke up to the news that I was a finalist in the Australian Writers Centre’s Best Blogs competition yet again. Again, a lovely honour.
I spent half of May in the UK – staying with friends, family and in hotels and hostels. I loved Scotland the most. I got really sick and a bit homesick, and by the end of it, I was glad to get home.
May was Ichthyosis Awareness Month – and I shared 39 stories from people affected by the condition on my blog. So proud and privileged to be able to do this – and especially so thankful for people trusting me to share their stories. Though it was super busy with travelling and editing and scheduling the posts plus the social media while I was traveling. I spent so much time working on my blog in my hotel in Milan in late April that the concierge felt sorry for me not seeing the sites and gave me the internet for free!
When I returned from overseas, Adam moved in! That’s been a big adjustment for both of us, but it’s been most wonderful to have each other.
I also taught two blogging classes at the Emerging Writers Festival for Writers Victoria and Arts Access Victoria (and I’m developing a course from this), and I lectured at Melbourne University.
I bought my wedding dress in June – I was so lucky that my Mum was there to experience this moment with me. We both got teary.
I hosted a Literary Salon at the Emerging Writers Festival – gosh this was fun, and so moving to hear five writers with disabilities read their work.
The taxi driver discrimination of last year had a happy-ish ending – a training video was developed for taxi drivers.
I wrote about Turia Pitt for Daily Life.
And I protested outside the ABC studios to Save Ramp Up – I am quite proud of this screen shot from SBS news!
I also wrote my final piece for ABC Ramp Up – see that on my blog here.
In July, I spent some time in hospital. I was so very sore, and it took me weeks, if not months to recover.
Most of August was spent resting and recovering and preparing for some busy times ahead. I spoke at the Melbourne Writers Festival – on a panel of young memoir writers.
I came back exhilarated but feeling burnt out by blogging.
September was when it started to get busy again. I completed the Blog With Pip course – which reinvigorated my passion for blogging, especially the community aspect.
I also spoke at the ComCare conference (a little about having Ichthyosis and working full time) and at the Scar Project’s On Beauty panel in Sydney.
I met Ariana Huffington (disappointed she doesn’t pay bloggers) and also some lovely women at the Business Chicks event, including Helen Kapalos from Channel Seven, and another wonderful woman who gave me flowers in the street.
And I was a guest at the Girls on Film Festival where I was inspired to write this post about appearance diversity.
In October I was named as one of Australia’s Most Influential Women in the Westpac and Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence. Talk about amazing! I went along to the ball, dressed by Cue.
I also performed in Quippings at the Melbourne Fringe Festival – so much fun.
Before Fringe, I met my lovely sister-in-law for the first time!
I spoke on a panel about blogging for social good at the Cancer Council, and another panel at the Changemaker Festival.
And I was featured in the Daily Mail – my thoughts on scary face at halloween.
November is where it became so busy that it was a blur. I traveled to Sydney and to Canberra.
I wrote this piece on not taking it gracefully on my blog.
I wrote this piece on being engaged for Mamamia.
I won a Yooralla Media Award – then declined in on ethical grounds.
And I was published in Peppermint Magazine.
I traveled to Sydney again and spoke at the Australian Network on Disability cocktail event.
I met the amazing Graeme Innes there.
I wrote about the state and importance of disability media in Australia and called for independent media awards. I also pledged to Stella Young that I will be key in ensuring disability media continues and is recognised.
I went back to Albury and gave a speech to my high school and was inducted into the hall of fame.
And Adam and I set a wedding date – #CarlyHeartsAdam. So in love.
And that’s it – 161 blog posts in 2014, so much has happened. The best year of my life. But also, the most difficult for so many.
How’s your year been? Any goals for next year?
This is my last post for the year – I think. I will draw the prize winners of my giant giveaway on my break. The entries have been so lovely – thank you!
Have a happy and safe Christmas and new year. Talk soon.