Year In Review 2011

It’s been a funny year. It’s been a mixed year. It’s been a year of ups and downs. Mostly it’s been a pretty good year, though there have been times. Yes, there have been times…

I started the year catching a flight back from Lismore to Sydney. I’d been in Lismore for about ten days visiting the family. The night before I’d gone to Tropical Fruits New Year’s Eve Party. It was okay, I guess, though not really “my scene”. A little too much doof-doof music and party-drugs for my liking. The first thing I said to a friend on arriving back in Sydney, was “I won’t be doing Tropical Fruits again”.

Tropical Fruits NYE at Lismore Showground
Tropical Fruits NYE at Lismore Showground

No, this year on NYE, I will find myself back in Perth, which is where I lived in 2004. I’ve travelled a fair bit this year, actually, including a couple of visits to Brisbane (February, October and November), and a couple of trips to Lismore (April and December), and a trip to Crookwell (in October) for a wedding

The biggest trip, of course, was my trip to Stockholm in July/August. As with much of my travel planning it was a spur of the moment decision based on a cheap air-fare. I remember coming home on a Friday night and clicking on one of those “cheap airfare emails” you get, and discovering a flight with Air China return for $1474. $1474 return to Stockholm in the middle of summer was a bargain too good to resist. And so even though I had no real plans to travel to Sweden this year, I booked my flight as soon as my travel leave was approved.

Stockholm Pride on Expressen
Stockholm Pride on Expressen

It was a memorable trip in lots of ways, though mostly because of my accommodation. When I travelled in 2008, I was a “backpacker”. When I travelled in 2010, I was staying in hotels. This time around, I found an apartment that was well-priced, clean, and not too far from the centre of Stockholm. The combination of these three things meant that I could relax without the need to change accommodation on a regular basis. Even though I was only there for three weeks, it was great to have a “home base” to wash clothes, go to the supermarket and so on, thus taking away some of the usual travel anxieties. On top of that, my friend Graeme was also in Stockholm which added to the “home feel” of things.

Alcazar performs at Stockholm Pride
Alcazar performs at Stockholm Pride

In the back of my mind, 2012 has always been the year in which I went to live in Sweden for a while. Maybe six months? Maybe a year? I’m reasonably sure that’s a goal I can’t/don’t want to realise for 2012. The reason why is purely financial, in that I’m in a reasonably good “earning cycle” right now, and would like to keep on earning money for the time-being, rather than spending it. On another level, I’m still not happy enough with my Swedish language skills and figure an extra six months of study is definitely needed. In my mind, I’ve pretty much firmed up that I would like to live there for six months, arriving in March and leaving in September or October, as that’s the time of year which seems to suit my temperament best, I think.

Stockholm Pride 2011
Graeme at Stockholm Pride

In some ways the trip to Sweden this year was more “life-changing” than I anticipated it would be. I met a guy in Stockholm who helped remind me I’m still attractive, despite getting older. “Don’t worry, he likes the old ones”, his friend told me. What has proceeded is a period of my life where I have been pursued by a couple of potential suitors. There’s been no one amongst them who I’ve felt similarly attracted to, which is a bit of a shame. But nonetheless, I think it’s been nice to have a reminder that I’m not exactly over the hill.

Although I’d like to think it’s because I’m an interesting, fascinating individual perhaps it’s because I’ve lost a fair bit of weight this year? Having weighed as much as 105kg (overweight on a 175cm heigh frame) I managed to get back down to a healthier, though still overweight 85kg by May. And then by June I was down to 82kg. By late August, I realised the key to my own personal weight loss has been giving up (pretty much) soft-drink. “You must have drunk a lot of soft-drink?” people have said when I’ve offered that reason. The answer is partly true, along with bad eating habits, too much alcohol and a lack of exercise. Who would have thought the combination of those few things could lead to obesity? :):)

In the back of my mind, I think the weight loss may have also been because it’s been a couple of years of thinking about my own mortality and that of others. Gloria died eighteen months ago, and this year, a close friend has had ongoing health problems. Thinking ahead, at the age of forty-five, I went to a financial advisor for a mid-life top up discussion, and soon afterwards decided it was time to make a will.

It’s also been as year of transitions. Work-wise, for example, it’s been an amazing and satisfying year. I started the year with a new job, and then with a request to take on some additional duties (with extra pay), and I’ve found both challenges really interesting and rewarding. I think my new job(s) really play to my skills and experience too. There’s some things I’m quite good at, and other things I’m not so good at, and it now seems like I have job which is 85% of the former and 15% of the latter.

Also this year, we wound up the art collector’s group called “Hawkesbury One” that I’ve been involved in for the last decade. In June, we had an exhibition of our collection at the Newcastle Regional Gallery. Towards the end of August, the group wound up officially, as per our original agreement. It was sad in many ways, but as with all things, there’s a time to move on.

Hawkesbury One

Transition years are like that, aren’t they? You gain enthusiasm for some things and lose entusiasm for others. In the last few months of the year I’ve found it difficult to keep up my studies in Swedish. A whole bunch of work commitments got in the way of attending class for quite some time, and then without the motivating factor of attending class, I haven’t been practising as much as I could or should. I’ll be returning to class in January which I’m looking forward to very much.

In the last few months of the year, I also lost a bit of enthusiasm, for maintaining this blog. For the last three or four years I’ve been writing something every day. However in the last few months I’ve sometimes struggled to write something even weekly. Mostly I’ve been either too tired on arriving home from work, or feeling I don’t really have anything interesting to say. I will endeavour to keep writing, as it’s something which gives me a great deal of pleasure.

I also put this lack of enthusiasm down to a couple of bouts of depression this year. It’s something I’ve lived with most of my life, and mostly I keep things in check, and I never really talk about it. But from time to time, I don’t feel so good about myself, and as my personal self-esteem plummets, I tend to lose a bit of interest in many things. Things seem to be back on track at the moment, which is good.

In a few months time it will be exactly ten years since I started this blog. My first blog entry, on April 27, 2002 was as follows…

It’s late Saturday night. I still haven’t packed, I still haven’t organised the house, but I have set up an Online Diary, so I can record all of my thoughts and feelings while living in the Northern Territory. I hope this period will be a significant one in my life. A real turning point. The last few months I’ve felt a little directionless. I hope this will give me the strength to make a new life.

The entry was reference to the fact I’d been “dumped” in the weeks prior to Christmas, which apparently is quite common.

Thankfully I don’t feel that way anymore. Well, not always :)

Best of all this year? The family is starting to talk about stuff.

3 Replies to “Year In Review 2011”

  1. I didn’t realise you had been blogging for so long. That is quite an achievement. It’s good to read that you are feeling better about yourself than you have in the past. That is probably assisting your weight loss achievement.

  2. Thanks for sharing your year in review. I’m glad you’re still blogging and happy that we got to meet up at the Stockholm Pride Parade. God forsättning James!

  3. Thanks for your valuable tips on Stockholm! I am a great fan of that city too, and have also stayed at various b&b:s, hotels, apartments and hostels. But I agree with you totally that renting an apartment is probably the best option. I stayed with Checkin Apartments and was very pleased. There are also other agencies that I’ve heard are good too. Already looking forward for my next trip to Sweden!

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