It wasn't until I got around to writing this post that I realised what a great year it's been. I've achieved an awful lot, and looking back on it now, for me personally, I consider them fantastic achievements.
I reached 1,000 sales this Christmas, which isn't something I ever intended, expected, or even once thought would happen when I opened my shop on Etsy in 2011, it was just a hobby and one I thought would fall apart after a couple of months, but it didn't. Somehow the dedication and drive just formed and never diminished, even through the Christmas stress.
An art exhibit was also never something I planned for, but that happened this summer, too. It was a highly successful exhibit not just for me, but also for the hosting organisation - apparently one of the most successful they'd had in a really long time which is an amazing thought. And, though it's quite recent, on December the 12th I got a Daily Deviation for my winter collection on Deviant Art, which is another huge compliment!
I finished writing my book and I'm going to start contacting agencies in January when I start writing the next. I don't expect it to be accepted simply for how few agents take on the fantasy genre, but I'm going to self-publish it in that case. Either way, to finish writing, proofing and polishing a book is a huge achievement, even if it's not the first time I've done it, and it certainly won't be the last. I've almost got my plan for my next book solid enough to start writing, and once I begin that I'll start querying agents. I'm really excited about this next book, I can't wait to start it.
I'm presently between a UK size 8 and size 10, which is also somewhere I never thought I'd be, as I was a size 16 five years ago, and not only have I lost loads of weight but I've built up more strength and stamina than I ever thought I would - just like my shop and art exhibit, fitness is never something I thought would ever 'happen' to me. And while my strength and stamina has been improving over the past two years, only in the last couple of months have I started to truly force mind over matter. If I couldn't complete a set of renegade push ups because my arms were weakening, I'd drop to my knees or just stop and breathe it out, but now I push through it and breathe through every push. Now I only stop when my effort matches gravity and, while I am pushing upwards, I'm not actually moving, stuck in chaturanga and the only way is down. Despite a failed push up, it's such an awesome feeling to know that I did push as hard as I could have, and physically could not complete that rep. And I've pushed myself this far thanks to Jillian Michaels' amazing DVDs and instruction in my living room - while some people might find her intense, I've found that her attitude is perfect for me.
Equally, I've been printed in Women's Fitness magazine, I've worked with loads of amazing fitness brands and tried all kinds of new things, and really broken through into the fitness scene - never a scene I thought I'd be found in.
I might still be living at home with my parents, but with my mum's disability getting worse I'm challenged to juggle my own life with my dedication to my mum, and I'm managing it really well. She comes first - she will always come first - but I've not had to give anything up like I did in the past because I'm learning to manage my time better than I ever have, make compromises and get used to working on my shop, book and so on in different settings to make sure I'm always in reach of her. I'm her primary carer for 45 hours a week, and I'm surprised I'm able to do as much as I am. And, to be honest, I'm proud of myself for being there for her. Lots of people would have moved out and started their life, and somehow I'm managing to stay put without sacrificing my own life.
This year everything has been more intense and more demanding than ever before, and I've managed to handle everything brilliantly, in my own opinion. I'm growing in a really positive way, and I've made lots of amazing personal and broader achievements. It looks like 2015 was my year. Now I have to shape 2016 to match.