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10 things to be grateful for in 2016

2016, eh? I don’t think there’s ever been a harder year to even think about finding things to be grateful for, but in the face of so much talent lost and the political horrors we all seem to be facing, it’s more important than ever. Yesterday we lost Carrie Fisher and Richard Adams. Three days ago we lost George Michael. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Pauline Oliveros, Leonard Cohen, Pierre Boulez, Peter Maxwell Davies, Neville Marriner, Nikolaus Harnoncourt. I don’t think I want to continue with this list. It’s important to remember these amazing talented people, and in the face of so much sorrow and disappointment, it’s easy to feel that the little things in our lives are just trivial. But they’re also still the things that are important to us as individuals.

I don’t want to remember 2016 as the year we lost a truckload of talent. I want to remember it as the year I started my PhD, the year I started to teach, the year I learned to sew. It’s not all doom and gloom – and, indeed, as I started to compile this list I discovered that 2016 was the first year I’ve done this that I’ve easily surpassed 10 things to be grateful for. I hope you have had as many positive experiences in this otherwise bloody awful year as I have, and that 2017 is also much more positive overall!

  1. Started my PhD!!! I finally made the decision to go to Bath Spa and I am LOVING it. I love my supervisors, I love the campuses, I love that I have never been so ignorant in all my life and I get to spend the next 3-7 years filling in all those holes!
  2. All our stuff shipped from Australia. After 11 years of feeling like we’ve been living out of suitcases (metaphorically) it’s been so good to be reunited with all our stuff from storage in Australia – I don’t feel so mentally divided now I have all my books and CDs and records and DVDs back again and I’ve been loving revisiting albums long-forgotten or never listened to in the first place.
  3. Culling our stuff in Australia. Exhausting and sometimes traumatic, but gosh it felt good to get rid of so much stuff we didn’t need. We still have way too many possessions, but it was a good start. Further culls to follow.
  4. Bastard Assignments. I feel we’ve really made some leaps forward this year. I think the gigs are stronger and that we’re working better together as a team and that the whole thing is just a bit more pro and set up a bit better to support our work as composers.
  5. Friends. This is a bit of a weird one, but I’m sure any expats will recognise this. I seem to have finally reached a point where I have people I can call up and ask to do social stuff with me and they’ll say yes. And sometimes they even ask me! This is awesome.
  6. Spending a good chunk of time with parents in Australia. Not nearly enough, really, but it was good to be there so long and also good to have committed to an annual visit for the future.
  7. The first Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School. OMG that was so great. Throw in a lovely week staying with our Melbourne friends Robert and Lis and enjoying their shiny new house and that was pretty much perfection (glossing over the fact that I sprained a muscle in my derrière moving boxes and was in agony for much of the trip – I still had an amazing time)
  8. Visits to Bath. Exhausting, and my brain often feels like melted raclette in need of a potato by the end of a supervision-meeting trip but that city is just so good for the soul. To combine stimulating conversations with drop-dead gorgeous surroundings and that’s pretty much the PhD ideal, yes?
  9. Taught my first class! I was given a 5-star review by one of my students and at least 2 of my 4 students have their websites up and running now so I’m delighted with how that turned out and am looking forward to the next run.
  10. Sewing. I’ve been teaching myself to sew this year and while there are things about it that I do find frustrating (adjusting patterns to fit me, cutting out fabric, hems) overall it’s been great – it’s faster to see a result than knitting, and a whole lot cheaper and for the first time in my entire adult life I actually have some clothes that fit me, which feels like a not-so-minor miracle.

And that’s not to mention Djelibeybi, who as always has been incredibly supportive and this year has also made some real progress on the house and garden too, which has made life a lot more enjoyable. Lovely, lovely lad. Also that I’ve managed to shed and keep off 10kg and feel I’m on a much healthier path now than ever before. Plus having done Project 365 this year which was a wonderful experience, in spite of not managing anything like every day – but more on that in a later post…

So I hope your 2016 has had plenty of good points about it too. Now to plan out 2017’s goals…

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