New Years – a reflection.

New Years Day – a time when most people set their resolutions for the year, and, more often than not, work really hard to achieve them and give up within three weeks of the start.

Not so for me.  I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, per se. Those I do make are never in January, and are always usually around the time of my birthday instead. However, this year, I’ve got a list of things I want to have achieved by the end of the year, so figured that today would be as good a day as any other to sort the list out.

New Years is always quite an introspective time for me anyway. I don’t do so well with Christmas generally, for several reasons, and New Years is usually the marker for the end of those two weeks. One reason being the lack of sunlight. I do tend to feel worse when I don’t get outdoors as much, and deep winter usually means I go out before light, and don’t leave work til it’s dark again. Another being that Christmas generally holds a fair few bad memories, which I try and avoid and ignore by just not thinking about it much, and not being very sociable. It’s no big secret that Christmas was always a time I generally spent on my own with good reason! Every few years, I try and break that, and be sociable, only to find that it doesn’t work.

So I usually end up spending that time thinking about the year gone, what went well, what didn’t and whether I made the best out of the situations I faced (invariably the answer is a mixed bag of yes and no) what I’ve learned and what I aim to change for the future.

2012 was indeed a mixed bag. Started the year off in hospital for 2 weeks on morphine for severe pain which they failed to identify any cause of, leading to 5 months off work, me being quite depressed at times and wondering what the hell was going on. However I came through that, and went back to work in May, aided by a LOT of pain medication, which over the next five months, I weaned myself off. Still have bad days, but I’m no longer pumped full of opiates, which is definitely a good thing!

Being off for so long meant I had a lot of time to think about a lot of things though, and was able to start questioning things, and looking to what I planned to do, and change my perspective on some things too.

I took up hobbies I’d previously let fall by the wayside – photography being one of them, which led to some interesting projects being undertaken. I also started back a little more seriously on the music side of things, and tried drawn art again.

Balanced with the not so good, was some awesome stuff too. I lost a couple of people along the way – which hurt more than I care to let on, but I also gained some awesome new friends, had closure on a couple of situations, and opened my eyes to the possibility of stuff by choosing to just go with things and take more of a chance.

This led to an awesome holiday in Septembertime. Plans were loosely made, and then changed, and didn’t work out as they had been changed to, and IT DIDN’T MATTER. We went to Whitby, got lost on the roads around York and didn’t get there til dark, and it didn’t matter. Illness struck, and we accommodated, improvised, and ended up having an awesome walk along the coastline, went to the cave bar, found some amazing rock formations and talked.

Somewhere in the second half of the year as well, I appear to have changed my attitude to myself. I’m pretty sure in part this is down to the fact I changed the people I surrounded myself with, but it’s something that’s been a long time coming, and thanks to prods in the right direction, I’m going into the new year with a new job, moving back to Sheffield, almost fully divorced, and able to close that chapter of my life, and for the first time in a very long time feeling excited about what life may bring.

So, 2013. What do I want to have done and when by?

January – Move house. This one is a no brainer for deadlines. Handed my notice in at work, and have until the end of the month to finish the move. It’s going to be busy as all heck, and any help offered will be accepted with no arguments (yep… unlike me, I know.)

– Roleplay – I decided in December to take a break from all games, and this is still in effect, with the exception of some one on one Cthulhu, which I’m hoping can begin in January if this fits with the GM’s plans too.

February – New Job begins. The start of three months of training. February will also be about finding a routine again. Not overloading myself, but not sitting back either.

March     – Get back to counselling.  Part of the decision to move, and not immediately find somewhere on my own was so that I would be able to afford to go back to counselling. Something else that came up in the latter part of last year was just how much I still seem to be ruled by things that have happened, and whilst I’ve come a long way, I still have some way to go.

April        – come up with ways to get extra money to pay off my debts. Simple enough there

May          – if not already, start looking at houses/flats. Training for the job will also be over now, so I’d be able to take a week off to move/decorate, and will hopefully have money saved to furnish/buy what’s needed.

I’m not looking much further than that at the moment, because setting a rigid timetable defeats the point.

However, I would also like to achieve the following this year – at least £1000 in savings, go visit my friends both in UK and abroad. Not waste any more time. I’ve wasted too much time in the past. Now is the time to live. And this is the year it begins, and I believe in it.

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So today I went out and about

I went and took my camera to York and spent the day exploring and taking photographs. Much better than sitting around the house and doing nothing, or worse still moping about things I can’t change. That’s probably a bit harsh, as I wouldn’t do that, but I could have certainly spent the day being rather introspective, hidden away and contemplative.

Still had time for some of that anyway, it turned out, whilst I was busy sorting out getting said photos off my phone and my cameras memory card, but now I need to try and sleep. So I’ll just leave these here….

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.451935894845513.100083.100000873207161&type=1

Would be very interested to know what you think about my pictures… what you liked what you didn’t so I can improve on them for next time.

Art: A reflection of a perception, or the baring of the soul?

Today (6th August) has seen me head out into Newcastle. Not a place I go to often anymore, as, quite frankly, aside from the people living there that I know, there isn’t really a great reason to go. If I want to go and see things, then I’ll go out to Durham for the day, as I feel like I’m going out somewhere else, and if it’s just generic window shopping/picking stuff up then Sunderland has most things I would need (and those it doesn’t have, Durham does, for the most part).

However, there was a reason behind today’s trip and that was for culture. First stop was the Laing Art Gallery – where we had a look round a couple of exhibitions, but in particular had gone to see the Quentin Blake section (http://www.quentinblake.com/en/). Forgive me if this is patronizing, but for anyone who doesn’t know – he’s the chap that illustrated for, most famously, Roald Dahl’s books, and is still going strong, even now he’s 80. For me, he’ll always be a bit of a lesson in life, I guess, as he doesn’t conform to ‘conventional art’. It’s been said on more than one occasion that his influence is seen in some of my sketches (although it’s VERY rare I’ll allow someone to see one of my sketches in the first place!)

For me, I’ve never had much confidence in my ability when it came to art. Surrounded by friends, and family members who were absolutely amazing at more traditional forms of art, where I, quite frankly, sucked at it, was not a good place to be…. I never really knew that there was more than one way to ‘do art’ – until I stumbled on this chap’s work. He certainly didn’t have the finer features of the face down perfectly, or everything in proportion, and no-one seemed to mind…

So basically I got to thinking about the way in which society perceives art – what classes as ‘good’ art? I don’t think it’s the same thing that I, or a fair few people I know would say it is. For general society, conventionally ‘good’ art is aesthetically pleasing, neat, coloured, safe. Occasionally you’ll get someone like Banksy come along who upsets the status quo and becomes the darling of the media for a while, but over time we return to the conventially accepted norm.

For me ‘good’ art is anything which I can see has something of it’s creator in it. Whether it’s a particular method used, or just the perception you get from it. No more more less. Art, for me, should be a reflection of your perception of life, whether it’s a portrait, an abstract, a landscape or something of the imagination – for why should the realm of imagination be any less real or valid than those things we can see!