If you had asked me in June to write my “new year”post, I think it would have been short and a little rude, consisting mostly of “get stuffed 2013, don’t let the door hit you on the way out” and a lot of swearing.  Surprisingly, as I come to the end of the year, I’m finding myself feeling quite differently.

2013 brought some difficult times – my dad’s first anniversary, some very busy and stressful times in work, a huge increase in the number of migraines I’ve suffered with, and of course, my house fire. In many ways, this year has been quite trying. It would be pretty easy to get bogged down in all that sadness, and there were times when I did, but I’m happy to say that I’m finishing the year with a renewed ability to look on the bright side of life.

Though work was often stressful, we achieved an awful lot, and I’ve made some great friends too, and even through all the stress, we managed to have some fun 🙂 I’m so grateful for the people I work with, they really are an excellent bunch!

I finished three years of study for my MSc, and despite all of the other things going on in my life, I managed to pass (and according to my feedback, pass it well). I’m going to graduate in 2014, and I know it’s going to be an amazing day. It wasn’t easy keeping up study during everything else, but that just makes me even happier that I did.

I suppose that the biggest event in 2013 has to be my house fire. In one fell swoop, I was left standing in only the clothes I had, and every penny I had put into the house, every hour of sanding, painting, working; all gone, just like that. For a long time, it was hard to see any happiness in this situation. Dealing with the insurance company was a deeply stressful and sometimes miserable experience, and watching all my belongings be boxed up to be thrown away, and my house be torn to pieces and dumped into skips was painful and upsetting.

It would have been very easy to just sink into a pit of despair, but I am truly blessed with the people I know, and they (you) dragged me out of it. I can’t even express how grateful I am to everyone who kept me going throughout the whole process. Some people came to bring me clothes when I had none, others, a sympathetic ear when the reality of it all came crashing down upon me. A few wonderful, generous people sent me gifts to try to lift my spirits, and they really did. I consider myself very lucky to know so many good people, both in person, and online.

My house had to be rebuilt almost entirely inside, and though I can’t recommend “catastrophic house fire” as an upgrade plan, I have had a great opportunity to restore my house, and make it really beautiful. Almost every job I had planned to do or save for in the coming years is done, and I have a lovely home to share with friends and family, and build a life in.

I am lucky, too, to be sitting here in my new house, writing this post. But for a phone call that fateful night, I would have put my dishwasher on, and gone to bed, where I would almost certainly have succumbed to the smoke that filled my house so quickly and completely. If not for a phone call, I would very likely have died. It’s a pretty sobering thought…

All told, this year has been far from plain sailing, but I feel so very lucky to have people around me to help me get through the tougher parts, and help me celebrate the good parts too. It has been a year of highs and lows, and with the help of my family and friends, I’m choosing to focus on the highs, and leave the lows in the past. 2013, you weren’t so bad after all.