2019: Looking back, then forward

2019. It’s been… quite a year. Somehow both incredibly stressful and also the most rewarding year in my life for quite some time. Honestly, I’ve had to really struggle to get through at some points. But it’s also held some of the highlights of my entire life.5456FA1F-29F6-4035-BDF1-2AED40FA9345_1_201_a

I also turned 36. I am officially mid- to late-thirties.

So while I recover the amount of food I’ve consumed over the last two weeks, let’s get on with my now traditional look at the year gone and plans to come.

2019, and things that have been

So. Why has 2019 been so stressful? Well, as life has a way of ensuring nothing is ever simple, the reasons are mixed.

Let’s start with the day job. I’ve been lucky to see my career progress this year, and as part of that I’ve been put on a leadership and management training scheme. It’s a really good course, but it’s been very time consuming. A required 448 hours of tracked work outside of normal work hours kind of time consuming.

And that’s meant goodbye free time. Commuting to work? Podcasts and management books. Free evening? Settle in on my laptop to study. A non-free evening? Still on the laptop.

And while I’ve honestly enjoyed the course and got a lot out of it, it’s been draining. Largely because I’ve not got to do all the things I do to relax in my free time. And that means reading and writing. According to my GoodReads challenge I’ve literally read half the books I read last year. And any time I could have spent writing has had to be given over to studying. So I’ve go so much less done that I’ve wanted to. I haven’t managed to get What They Really Know completed like I planned. However I have managed to plan out and get a good way into A Better Thing We Do.

What They Really Know is getting put on hiatus for a while. No matter how much work I put into it, it’s just coming. Something about it just doesn’t fit. Having had a good hard look at it, I’m thinking the issue may be I’m trying to write two books at once. So I’m taking a step back. Once I complete the first draft of A Better Thing We Do I’ll go back to it. Hopefully by then the ideas I have will percolate in my subconscious and I’ll see what needs doing.

It will be incredibly frustrating if I need to spilt it, but I need to look at it as double the number of books I have on the go rather than falling back on the progress of one.

But there has also been another big thing happen to me this year that has caused additional stress. But this time it’s the stress of accepting and learning to handle seismic yet positive change. The sort of stress I wouldn’t give up for the world.

This time last year Frankie and I had some long discussions about where out lives and relationship were going. To cut a long story short, we decided that we wanted to experience polyamory.

For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy; the practice of loving more than one person. It doesn’t mean you love anyone less. Frankie and I still love each other and are committed to our marriage. It just means that love is non-exclusive.

The example I like to use is how having a second child doesn’t mean you love the first child less. There is simply more love in your life. That’s how I see it. There is simply more love in our lives.

Since this decision I have met and fallen in love with a wonderful woman. If you follow my social media you’ll have seen her. She means the world to me. It hasn’t hurt that she and Frankie get on like a house on fire. They have proclaimed themselves Sister-Wives (I phrase I love because they use it in the Wheel of Time series). Our anniversary will be in March. To be honest, neither of us had thought about this relationship becoming so serious. Neither of us had been polyamorous before, and had expecting thing to remain simple and casual. But the heart wants what the heart wants.9B938B27-9E12-48A8-97E6-BBC56752C4C1_1_201_a

It’s not been easy. This lifestyle change has meant us accepting new people into our lives, which means more demands on our time and energy. And it also entails breaking with societal norms hardwired into us from birth, which means there are few support structures out there. There has been a lot of reading, research, and communication. So much communication. And we’ve found friends in the same scene who we’ve been able to talk about it all with. The poly community – as much of it as we’ve interacted with so far – has been amazing and accepting.

There’s more I could say here, but I think I’m going to put in into a future post where I can focus in more details. Drop me any questions and I’ll see if I can answer them.

And look, I managed to increase my blog posts this year. Most of them are sporadic book reviews, but it’s better than nothing. It keeps this alive, at any rate.

2020, and things that are to come

So here we are in the roaring twenties. What are we expecting in the next twelve months?

So firstly I’m going to get through my training course. I’m hoping to be done with all the coursework needed by the end of January, then the course itself ends in March. Once that’s all done, I’m planning to take all the time I’ve dedicated to studying to writing.

79F69240-D612-45EC-A2D6-2B15A8BBBA44_1_201_aAnd with that freed up writing time I’m hoping to get A Better Thing We Do finished. It’s been so long since I finished a book, but this one – touch wood – is coming so much faster than anything before. I got all the core ideas down and then – with some great help from Frankie – blocked out the entire plot. I’m now about half way through the first draft.

In comparison, it took about over a year to work out where What They Really Know was going, and I’m still not happy with it.

Of course, the whole point of the training is growing my role in the day-job. This last year has made we very aware of stress. I’ve seen what stress has done to people in my family, so I’m very aware of burnout. Hopefully there have been some steps that will make this year easier with work, so we’ll see that that goes.

And, of course, we’ll be seeing how our second year of polyamory goes.

Things change. As the decade ends I’ve begun to feel exactly how true those words are. Looking back where I am now, I couldn’t have seen where I am now. Go back five years, and I wouldn’t have been able to predicte it. Go back ten years and the place I am now would have been completely alien to me. Fifteen years back and it would have probably terrified me.

Let’s just say I’m excited to see where the year takes us.

Onward, to 2020.

 

 

Thank you, my friends.

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Last Friday I found myself on a rooftop bar in London. The night was warm. People were sitting, talking, laughing, kissing, singing, reminiscing, meeting. Some of the people I knew. Others I’d met just that night. Two of them were a couple of the most important people currently in my life. Only one of them I’d known for more than a year.

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And, looking around, I had the realisation that when it comes to friends, I’ve been, and continue to be, incredibly fucking blessed.

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As I’ve moved through my life I’ve met and interacted with so many different people. Some I’ve simply known, others I’ve made more of a connection with. And then I’ve moved on. Life moves forward. Some of those friendships have faded away while others have stayed with me.

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And the most important – the most amazing – part of all of this is that each and every one of these people has played a part in making me who I am. Every relationship. Each interaction, no matter how small, has shaped me. I’ve experienced love, loss, laughter, fear, anger, joy, discovery, every part of the human experience. And I’ve shared all of it with you.

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And as I looked around the rooftop on Friday I realised that I was surrounded by people I consider some of my closest friends, people I know well enough to call friends, and people I might never see again but who have the potential to become one of my best friends I have in the world.

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Just think about it. Every person in your life that you can’t imagine possibly being without was once a complete stranger you just happened to meet.

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How many of the people I met of Friday might I end up knowing for the rest of my life?

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There are so many things in life that are so close to us, so familiar and everyday, that we forgot how important that are. How much magic they hold. Our friends  are one of these things.

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So what I want to say here is thank you to you all. Thank you to every one of you I’ve ever called a friend. To anyone with whom I’ve ever shared an experience or an emotion. Whether we haven’t spoken in years, or if you’ve been by my side for for over a decade. Whether we were part of each other’s lives for years or just a single weekend. All of you are more important than I can say.

So important, in fact, that I rarely even register how important you actually are.