I started preparing this a few weeks ago, revisiting my posts from 2015 to get an overview of the year. It didn’t take long to realise just how much my life has changed in such a short space of time.
Indeed, 2015 has been the most frightening, busy and truly incredible year of my life.
Instead of setting myself the usual list of resolutions that I knew I would inevitably ignore, I gave myself one mantra that I would follow: this was the year I would take the risk. And I did just that, making the decision to quit a ten-year permanent, secure and successful teaching role and start out on my own.
I was terrified – I’d never been without a job since the age of 16. My post about it was shared thousands of times and is my most viewed post of the year. I received hundreds of comments from teachers all over the world who had done or were planning to do the same thing, and his made me feel a little more secure about my decision.
It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made – I now deliver regular freelance music workshops, supplemented with supply (substitute) teaching at my former school and private teaching. I have no responsibilities, other than to ensure the students complete the work that is set. No reports, parents-evenings, data and progress analysis, marking, coursework… Before I would often do 60-80 hours a week, now I can choose my hours, and when I go to work, I leave when I’m finished and that’s it. I now sleep reasonably well at night, I have a more active social life, and my anxiety and panic attacks are pretty much gone. And even better, I can live quite comfortably on the money I am now earning.
I’m incredibly lucky, and couldn’t have done it without the support of my Headteacher – it was she who actually gave me the idea to go freelance when I initially told her about my decision to resign and has been instrumental in offering both freelance and supply opportunities since September, and I will forever be grateful to her for giving me the confidence to believe that being self-employed was actually possible.
And, of course, The Bloke and my Mum have been my rock throughout the whole thing, and my family and friends have been incredibly supportive.
It’s been a year of excitement, travel (finally managing to visit Barcelona in September), friends, films, amazing food. My relationships with my some of my family members has strengthened, and we’ve been able to enjoy being together as a unit. I got my running shoes on and completed the Birmingham half-marathon, all 13 miles of it, raising £500 for charity. (and I’m not the only one – Sue’s son made an incredible achievement in August in the Para-Tri Traithalon, which was a huge inspiration to me) I’ve attended beautiful weddings and had some truly fantastic nights out. My sister gained a degree in Law. My other sister and her boyfriend moved in together. Some of my friends have got engaged or had children. I got to spend time with The Bloke’s enormous family (who are hilarious) at his mother’s 80th birthday. I now have the time and the energy to do all of these things, which is something I didn’t a year ago.
In the online world, this little blog continues to be the best form of therapy I’ve ever had, and has gone from strength to strength. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the community better and forging friendships that mean an awful lot to me. I’ve laughed, cheered and cried when reading countless posts over the last twelve months.
And it doesn’t stop there. After monetising it in January, I’ve been able to add sponsorship. I now regularly get invited to review restaurants in Birmingham, and have started to do product reviews. Thanks to Elena at Fabulously 50, I’ve discovered the joys of Pinterest. Andrew, who I met through WordPress, helped me train for the half-marathon. Jolene’s emails make me smile, and I was delighted with her daughter’s book she sent me for Christmas. Austin still refuses to acknowledge the true game of football. The hashtag I started last year – #SundayBlogShare – has now grown to such an extent that it trends for hours each week , not just in the UK, but all over the world. The Eurovision Song Contest has taken on a whole new level after spending it in a Twitter party with Hugh and Steve. And best of all, and the highlight of my blogging year, I got to meet some of my favourite bloggers and make new bloggy friends at the Annual Bloggers Bash in London in August during which I was very kindly given two awards, which I am immensely proud of. I have a surprise lined up in that I have my own set of awards to give out at the beginning of next year, which I’m very much looking forward to doing…
Of course, there are always a few elements of sadness, especially at this time of year. Most notably, a number of my friends and bloggy friends have lost family members and friends, including my oldest friend who’s mother was incredibly dear to me. A respected former colleague passed away. I’ve witnessed The Bloke and a number of my friends and former colleagues experience job uncertainty, with some of them being put in the awful position of losing their jobs. I’m hoping that 2016 will right some of the wrongs that have been done this year.
I wanted to say thank you for everything, to every one of you who has been there with me throughout the last twelve months. Thank you for your reblogs, shares, tweets and pins. Thank you for your kind words, your encouragement, support and your friendship.
Happy New Year, and here’s to a successful, healthy and wonderful 2016!
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.