Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014: A review of my year

Happy New Year one and all! 2015 is finally upon us – a significant year for me for a couple of reasons: I am going to reach the grand old age of forty in 2015 and it is the year in which Marty McFly travels to in Back To The Future Part 2 (yes, I know everyone is going on and on about it).

Here are my highlights of 2014:

I did a fair amount of travelling over the summer, mostly for pleasure but also for some serious stuff. In the summer I went with the family to France for a spot of Eurocamping. It was great fun and very relaxing, although slightly overshadowed by my looming trip to Uganda. A brief stay in Yorkshire for my dad's 70th birthday came afterwards and then I was off to Africa to work for Edith's Home. I won't go on about that (you can read / watch stuff here, here and here), but needless to say, I was pretty travelled-out by the time September came around.

Seeing as I've only read three books this year (yeah, I'm not a great person for reading books but I do try) there isn't much choice: a bit of culture with Moby Dick by Herman Melville, chick-lit from Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding and decent contemporary fiction in Perfect by Rachel Joyce. In terms of the best of the three, I would have to go with Moby Dick, I think. Yes, it's a literary classic (which makes me sound clever and cultured), but it is quite an extraordinary piece of writing - mainly because it's several hundred pages of writing about Whales and not much else. I must say though, it's also got the most anti-climatic ending I think I've ever read. Having ploughed through several hundred pages I was most disappointed when I got to the end. Not fair, Melville!

I've seen a fair amount of films this year, although I can't remember all of them to write down (so I'm only mentioning some of them). Many of them I saw weren't actually released in 2014 because ... parenting, so I'm including ones we rented as well as those I saw in the cinema.

Thumbs Up
- The Lego Movie (hilarious and brilliantly executed)
- The Drop (a decent character-driven story with good actors and no flashy CGI nonsense)
- Edge of Tomorrow (Tom Cruise in standard saving-the-world routine, but still a good yarn)
- American Hustle (clever, funny, not quite was I was expecting)
- Safety Not Guaranteed (an amazing gem of a time-travel movie)
- Captain Philips (Tom Hanks on top form in a terrifying tale of modern-day piracy)

Thumbs Down
- Godzilla (a bit boring and disappointing really)
- Robocop (the original film did not need a reboot)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (comic book movies ... meh)
- The Anomaly (Noel Clarke tries doing some kind of Matrix movie - and fails)

2014 saw a big change in my work situation after I returned to freelancing in September. I'd already been doing it part time since the previous autumn but this was full-time-out-on-my-own kinda stuff. Things were pretty quiet for the first couple of months but it has picked up a bit now and I'm hoping it will continue in the New Year. I recently did a '16 personalities' test and it says that people with my personality type 'are more likely to, despite their aversion to controlling others, establish their independence by either finding a leadership position, or simply starting their own practice'. So, basically, I can prove I'm not really cut out to work for someone else – I'm much better suited to going it alone, which is nice to know.

The kids are growing up fast, and I'm conscious of this fact every day. Thankfully the sleep deprivation has diminished (although there aren't many nights when I actually sleep all the way through), but I am still constantly tired and often feel overwhelmed by this parenting thing. How would I have coped if we had more than two kids? Beats me. I guess you just get used to what life throws at you (well, most of the time).

Church, faith and stuff
In September, we welcomed our new pastor to our church and it has been exciting hearing about his vision for the future. His passion is to see us connect with the local community on a deeper level and a lot has happened already in realising this goal. There is much to do, however, and I think it will require a lot of hard work to transform the church further. Still, I'm optimistic about what's to come and looking forward to playing my part (whatever that may be).

On a personal note, I have struggled with a number of issues around faith including evolution, gay marriage and the accuracy of scripture. I am not a creationist and I am not a right-wing fundamentalist, but neither am I a loose-living' liberal (at least I don't think I am, anyway) and I'm trying to find a sensible way through such thorny subjects. Unfortunately I'm one of those people who desires a straight answer that is final and complete with no fuzzy edges or ambiguity. Thanks to the internet, however, there's always a comeback, retort or counter-argument lurking somewhere to throw doubt on any point of view – so it's not easy.

If my faith was as simple as proving 1+1=2 there wouldn't be a problem. The good thing is that the Christian faith isn't as dogmatic or rigid as some might think, and there is plenty of room for doubt and questions. I think I just need to keep that in mind when wrestling with the tricky issues ... and accept that I'll never know the answer to everything.

2015 and all that
The next twelve months are pretty much a blank sheet at the moment, which is unusual for me. There are a couple of things to look forward to, but I don't anticipate any life-changing events. Wifey and I are off to New York for a few days to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, which is exciting, plus I've got my fortieth birthday to celebrate. I don't want a big party or anything – I'm done with all that stuff. I'd rather just mark it with lots of little nice things over a few days.

Other than that, well, I shall just have to wait and see.

So that's my first post of the year. Hopefully I shall be writing a bit more frequently than I have been of late, but then I always say that!

Happy New Year to you and may 2015 treat you well.

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