New Year Reflections

Tomorrow sees the start of a brand new year.  It’s just another day but most of us do some kind of reflecting over the twelve months just gone and the twelve months still to come.

2018 was probably my most rewarding year ever.  I had no idea that at the age of 26 my life would basically grind to a halt and that having a daily shower would become so beyond me I wouldn’t manage it for the next 25 years.  So this year to have won my first photographic gold medal, my first trophy, been accepted into the Masters of Print hall of fame, have achieved DPAGB (Distinction Photographic Alliance of Great Britain) and to have given my first public speech on photography feels so surreal it’s like it’s happened to someone else.  I still can’t quite believe I pulled it all off!

Not only that, but my health has been really quite stable with no major relapses despite all of the above.  I wish the bloody menopause was over, but other than that you’ll just have to trust me when I say I’ve had worse years health-wise.  Much, much worse.  Which isn’t to say this year has been without its challenges, some of which I will write more about in the coming weeks, but just that nothing catastrophic has happened and for that I am truly, truly, thankful.

While I was out on my scooter this afternoon walking Bertie, I was thinking about what I’d like 2019 to hold.  My Dad’s health will take precedence over the next few weeks when, fingers crossed, we’ll finally find out what’s wrong with him.  He had his lumbar puncture on Thursday but it didn’t go smoothly – they had 3 goes to tap his spinal fluid without success, and told him he’d probably have to go back and have a guided x-ray, but as it’s a 180 mile trip and he’s already been twice in the last week he pleaded with them to have one more attempt.  So, with him bent over a stool, they had another bash and this time were successful – phew!   So we’re now just waiting for the results.

I do have something exciting to look forward to, though.  In the next couple of weeks I will take possession of a new (well, new-to-me) car!  I’ve gone green(ish) and bought an electric hybrid!! It’s the nicest looking car I’ve ever owned but the biggest reason I’ve chosen a hybrid is to hopefully cut my petrol bill which, living in the countryside and having to drive miles to anywhere, is astronomical.

The next event on the horizon is another photographic distinction, this time an international award through FIAP (Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique) the main photographic body in Europe.  I’ve prepared my portfolio which is ready to be posted off, but I won’t know if I’ve been successful until the end of March.  If all goes to plan I can use the letters AFIAP after my name, as well as DPAGB – I’ll be so posh the Queen will be inviting me for tea next 😉

The biggest thing on my mind as I tootled along with the dog, however, was my current housing situation.  I love my little 2 bed cottage, however now that my photography has become such an all consuming passion I’d like a house big enough to have a small photography studio.  I currently use my spare bedroom, but it’s only 8ft x 10ft and it’s a massive struggle to get far enough back with my camera to photograph a whole person.  I also have an ever expanding set of costumes, props, lights and equipment let alone a huge A3+ printer and boxes of A3 paper  and mountboard which have to be stored flat, so have literally run out of space.

I would actually love a bungalow or single storey cottage.  I can’t believe I’m even saying that as bungalows in my head are where old people live, but the fact is not having stairs would benefit my knackered legs and if I do need an electric wheelchair in the future a bungalow could accommodate that.  The thought of having my bedroom, where I spend nearly all my time, at ground level maybe with patio doors opening onto a little garden also sounds like my idea of heaven and I’m sure Bert would love it too.

The problem is that I don’t actually want to move because I absolutely love the village where I live.  It’s in the middle of nowhere but still only 12 minutes drive to town and my parents.  It has gorgeous views.  I think of my next door neighbours as second parents and look forward to our little chats every day as I walk past their door to my garage.  My dog walker also lives in the village and we’ve become really good friends.  I know everyone, I feel safe here, I’m surrounded by fabulous walks for Bertie and fabulous wildlife to photograph and it truly feels like home.

However, there are no suitable houses for me to buy in my village.  There are a few bungalows, though none are for sale or likely to come up for sale, and even if they did I know for a fact they would be out of my price range.  Which leaves me with a huge dilemma.  The thought of leaving my village, my friends and my support network makes me feel sick but I can’t think of a solution which would get me my studio space and my ground floor living unless I move, and it would have to be way further from town and my parents where houses are cheaper.  I really don’t know what to do, but feel that this year I have to stop living in cloud cuckoo land where I win a couple of million on the lotto, buy a farmer’s field and build my dream home, and start being realistic and making some hard decisions.

Of course, life is what happens while you’re planning it – anything could happen and probably will!   I could meet Prince Charming who whisks me off to his 20 bedroom Castle, or I could fall down the stairs and break both my legs making a move impossible 😉

To all my friends and followers, my wish for you in 2019 is everything you wish for yourself.  I think we all need to remember, though, that although having dreams and goals is important, today is what matters.  Happiness is a choice and doesn’t lie in some mythical point in time when you’re rich, or thin, or healthy, or have a bedroom that opens out onto the garden and an en suite photography studio 😉   The trick is to find joy in every day, then if your dreams don’t materialize you will still have loved the life you actually lived.


6 thoughts on “New Year Reflections

  1. Jean Bell

    Truthful and profound as always Jak. You are the only blog I read and although I hardly ever comment I almost always find you very thoughtful and insightful and relevant. I’m so glad 2018 has been a great year for you. I’m inspired by your final words – the future is important, but we mustn’t forget today. All the best for a happy and healthy 2019.



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