As I get older, it seems time gets faster and faster.  This time last year, I was lamenting that 2015 had flown past.  Comparatively, 2016 has also vanished with pace.  At the start of 2016, I was joined by a bunch of close friends sitting on my back deck for an easy-going evening.  I’ll be doing the very same thing to start off 2017 – and I couldn’t think of a nicer bunch of friends to spend it with.

A lot of people are lamenting that 2016 has been a tough year – and I wouldn’t disagree.  We have had to say goodbye to a great many people who have impacted our lives in some way.  Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher – the list is littered with names that are so familiar, they feel like family.  I also said goodbye to a family friend who was also part of my family.  Brian was a scrapper from way back, but this was a battle against Cancer he was never going to win.  In his last days, he was graceful and humble.  Even though its sad to say goodbye, it was a kindness to know he passed gently.

Cancer is a horrible thing, and I’ve managed to get my sixth dose of Skin Cancer.  I’ll be getting that treated early 2017, so I’ll look forward to telling you all about it as the story unfolds.  2016 has been tough in many regards, but it’s also been productive, busy and worthwhile.  It’s hard to know true joy without having hardship and sadness to contrast it against.

I’m pretty blessed.  I have a lovely home, with a lovely hound who’s asleep at my feet even as I type this message.  I have a loving and supportive partner, who makes sure I don’t take life too seriously.  I am a lucky girl.

Barry and I also managed to get in some renovations this year.  We renovated our double garage, installing and painting some nice walls, to make it less like a dusty carport, and more like a big double-garage sized room.  It seems to be the ideal size for 12 people to have their computers, and have a LAN party.  Turns out, I know a lot of old-school nerds, who were overjoyed at the opportunity to play some old PC games together.  The evening was so successful, they’ve been asking for a follow-up ever since.

AirBnB was quite successful this year – although, I stopped the process in June as I was becoming less and less impressed with the quality of guests staying in my flat downstairs.  I was coming home, tired and exhausted from work, only to find the place left in a horrible state.  It was bitter-sweet that the final guests were possibly one of the loveliest families I’ve ever met.

This year, I was offered a promotion at work, stepping into a new role managing a brand new business unit.  Work wasn’t all smiles and rainbows – and without going into the specifics – a few personalities have made it exceptionally tough for me.  It’s been a street fight from the very outset, but I believe in what we are doing, and I’m learning so much that I know the stress and anxiety are going to be worth it in the long run.  I am learning how to leave work at the office, how to transition from technical to management positions and how to disconnect my teams results from my self-worth. For me, these are difficult lessons, but necessary.  I hope I can get better at this in 2017.

This year, I also got to travel to Las Vegas to attend an IBM Conference, which blew my mind.  Business Class travel is seriously amazing, and I will keep buying lottery tickets in hope that I can make it my exclusive mode of international transport.  (If only!)  The conference and trip was incredibly hectic, and draining, and I returned to Australia completely exhausted.  It seemed that everybody assumed this would be a cruisy junket, but in reality, it was busy and hectic – with very little time to do my own thing.  With that said, I still managed to see and do some simply amazing things.  The Grand Canyon, the Bellagio Fountains and Old Vegas were some highlights I managed to see, despite the crazy agenda.

Along with Vegas, I also got to travel to Japan for the first time.  Unbelievably amazing experience.  Our trip to Japan in June was hectic and full on.  We spent time in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima – We clocked over 200,000 steps in the two weeks we were there – and saw, ate and experienced everything that we could.  From visiting Owl Cafes, to wandering around the Hiroshima Peace Park, we made the most of our time away.

I dragged Barry along to Tokyo Disney, and Universal Studios in Osaka.  Even though Theme Parks are not “his thing”, he was still happy to share my enthusiasm and I’m told, enjoyed his time.  It was his first Disney experience, and yes – I forced him to go on “Its a Small World” – which is even more irritating when sung in Japanese!

I had the opportunity to do and try so many new things while I was over there.  I came back a little bit exhausted yet again, but that’s temporary!

Soon after we returned from Japan – Barry flew off to the US for a month with his brother.  With the pressure of work, and the exhaustion from Japan, I felt his absence significantly.  It was tough going, and I leant on my friends and family to get me through.

With a year being so dedicated to work and stress, I’ve let my fitness slide a little bit. Despite that, I started Park Run while waiting for my shoulder to mend.  We were doing pretty well for a while there, but with work, stress and illness, I’ve let it slide.  I was never really interested in running though.

My shoulder took quite a few months to rehabilitate after surgery late in 2015, but I’ve now started swimming training once again.  As soon as I dived in, and swam my first few tentative strokes, I realised how much I’ve missed it these past 15 years.  I am, and probably always will be, a swimmer.  I’m looking forward to building strength and endurance so I can go a few times a week.

Friends and family have been a big theme to 2016.  From gathering together to watch Game of Thrones, to spending New Years Eve chilling on my back deck, I’m grateful for the people in my life.  Dad turned 70 this year, (70 going on 17!) and it was lovely to spend the weekend with my brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews.  I see them so rarely that it’s always a special occasion when we do get to catch up.

I’ve learned a lot of things from my father.  I’ve learned humour, hard work, persistence and a no-bullshit attitude will get you a very long way.  I am the product of my environment, and both people responsible for my genetic makeup have these attributes in spades.  There’s no wonder I struggle to slow down – the apple does not fall far, as the saying goes!

This year, I tried a few things for the first time – I placed a bet on a roulette table in Vegas. I helicoptered over the Grand Canyon. I saw the Bellagio Fountains.  I had a lovely owl poop on my head.  I had Sushi in Tokyo. I flew Business Class for the first time.  I bought a robotic vacuum cleaner (which is amazing!).  I played a game called Overwatch, and spent more than 100 hours gaming with my crazy friends.

This year was also pretty lean for concerts and theatre.  We saw Matilda in Sydney, and got to see Cirque Du Soleil in Vegas and in Brisbane.  Hopefully I can get in some more live shows next year.

In the end, despite hardships, losses and heartache, 2016 has been a good year. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, and I am very hopeful for 2017.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year!

Jac xxx2016-13-31

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