The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Grandma Shepherd

Like everyone else I've been through both good and bad times, but one aspect of my life I certainly cannot complain about it my family. I'd write about them all on here if I could, but I have an absolutely huge family so that would take forever. So I'll have to be a bit choosy.

My Grandma's life story is one that I don't know much about. I know she grew up in Manchester (Moss Side to be exact) with three siblings and at one point decided she wanted to be a nun, but then my Grandad came along and ruined all that. Then they got married, had my two uncles and my mum in St Anne's before moving permanently to their house in Preston, in which my Grandma still lives in 47 years on. And to be honest I know little more than that, which is why me and my siblings bought her a book for Christmas called 'To me from you', a pretty journal with space for her to write her life story for us to read. I'm super excited to read it, as the older I get, the more I understand how much the older generation have to share with us and I have this funny feeling that Grandma has some absolute corkers to tell.

However, what I do know about you, Grandma, is what has happened in my life time. That you somehow helped your three children raise your THIRTEEN grandchildren, having us round for dinner every week and helping us all with homework and school art projects. You and Grandad were always the first port of call should one of us fall ill, picking us up from school and tucking us up in the spare double bed with a glass of fizzy water and plenty of Calpol. There was even the time when my sister fell over and got carpet burn on her forehead and was getting loads of sympathy, so I got all jealous and rubbed my head on the carpet so we'd be matching, and despite being reprimanded you still tucked me into the adjacent bed and played doctors and nurses with us. Then there's all the costumes and dresses and jumpers that you've made for us over the years, a skill which I am thrilled to have inherited, and the copious amounts of encouragement we've always received in any aspect of our lives that you've believed we could succeed in.

In the past few years you've had a difficult time as Grandad fell ill. As a team, you'd always been the rock of the family and even as Grandad's Alzheimer's took over,  you still managed to keep it together. We couldn't go round as much anymore, but still visited a lot and tried to help in whatever way we could. There's no 'right way' to deal with what happened to Grandad, but I know for a fact that although he couldn't say it to you at the time, he's now looking down, immensely proud of everything you did for him and for the rest of the family. The kind of strength it must have taken you to get through that time is one I will always aspire to have.

I'll never forget the time you turned up to my 21st birthday party dressed as the Queen of Hearts. Despite the difficult year, somehow you still managed to uphold the Shepherd tradition of being the life and soul of the party. I know Grandad would have been crying with laughter. Generally, the rule is that you're not supposed to outshine the birthday girl but I think I can let you off considering how amazing your costume was, seriously I was SO impressed.

There's so much more I could say. But basically Grandma, I think you're flipping awesome. I hope that one day, I can have the strength, integrity and gentle nature that you have. You're such an ordinary incredible but are so humble about it, I think it is far too often overlooked. So here's to you and everything you stand for. I love you millions!

Monday, 13 January 2014

I'm not being lazy. Honest!

I know this looks bad. I realise that. But I promise it's not that I haven't been writing about my ordinary incredibles for the past few days. I have, I've just been experiencing some serious writers block and am not happy enough to post them yet. I feel I should always be able to do these people justice and don't want to post something half arsed. So bear with me, they'll be up soon. I promise!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Happy Birthday Peter!

Day 9 of my blog challenge and seeing as it coincides with his birthday, it only seems right to write about my oldest friend who has had a huge impact on my life.

Peter, we met when we were in primary school together. Memories of that age are kinda fuzzy but I like to assume we've been friends since we were five. Up until I was eight years old, we lived about a 30 second walk around the corner from each other and were pretty much inseparable, playing out everyday, sleeping over at each others houses and getting up to all the usual kinds of mischief that little kids often get up to. I think one time we managed to eat every single meal together for about a week and were incredibly proud of this achievement.

As the years went by I moved house to a horrific five minute walk away and despite our new found distance our friendship managed to stay strong. I'd like to thank-you for being there for me through my parents break-up and the messiness of life changing almost completely at eight years old. Even though we weren't exactly the most sentimental pair, you managed to distract me with hours of constructing all sorts of wonderful contraptions out of Lego and attempting to teach me how to play Age of Empires on the computer, which I still suck at to this day. I appreciate the effort though ;)

When we got a little older I remember letting our imaginations run riot in the playground as we visited far off lands and became cowboys and adventurers and travelers, but you'd always get annoyed at me spending longer on choosing my imagery outfit rather than fighting the bad guys. Sorry about that. Oh and there was that one time when Mrs. Walsh tried to separate us in class but we'd just lean back on are chairs to talk instead, leading her to conclude that we had in fact entirely skipped the teenage stage of our lives and were instead comfortably settled as a middle aged married couple.

Double figures arrives and for some reason you stuck by me despite the ridiculous amount of phases I went through. There was the 'mosher' phase when I bought my first Greenday album and wore a pink chain because I was SUPER cool and had no qualms about joining in fights with the boys at school. Then there was the awkward chubby stage where I used to get chased home from school by a group of girls so you'd walk me home to make sure I was OK. Oh the 'emo' phase where I'd only wear black and go a tad overboard on the black eyeliner and blue lipstick. Was my mum paying you or something? I feel like I'm old enough now that we can be honest with each other on that one... No but seriously looking back I was a strange little thing.

Throughout high school we walked to school and back with each other everyday with Alex, making sure we were all up to date with the latest gossip and we'd shared all our unnecessary opinions with each other on events that were absolutely none of our business, with blue tongues from the juice of the 5p ice pops we'd always buy. We'd talk about what we'd say to all those kids who thought they were better than us if only we had the balls to and high five if we ever managed to stand up for ourselves.

I could go on and on with embarrassing memories and pictures from over the years... Drama plays and trampoline times and hanging out on the park in the rain and crawling through hedges and dying my kitchen blue with food colouring and  burning a pizza because we thought a microwave was half the heat of an oven and climbing trees and sneaking into the golf course and that awful time when Ron made us hold hands singing a love duet in that show *shudders*... The list is pretty much endless. 

But what I really want to say is thank-you for being such an ordinary incredible. For the years of being there for me, sticking up for me, saving my life multiple times; for the laughs and tears and all that other cheesy stuff. We may not see each other as much anymore but you hold a very special place in my heart and always will. I love you millions Peter, you're like the little big brother I never had. Happy Birthday you awesome human, I hope you have a wonderful day and I hope to see you sometime soon :) 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sincerely, Amanda Palmer

I'm wrestling with some major writers block at the moment, so the person I've picked from my list today is someone with a rather amusing and light-hearted story to tell. I'll post this short piece today and write a little more on my thoughts tomorrow, if that's OK with you guys? 

Amanda Palmer is a singer/songwriter who preformed at Glastonbury Festival this year. Rather than writing about her singing during the performance, the Daily Mail had this incredibly mature and insightful article to provide on the event: Making a boob of herself!

So obviously Amanda was thrilled and wrote this song in response...

I don't know about you but I wouldn't mess with this pretty awesome woman. I definitely wouldn't have the balls to do what she did. YOU GO GIRL!

Sunday, 5 January 2014


Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track down Frank to ask if I can use his real name in this post. Well I say unfortunately, I suppose that's a good thing really.

I met Frank when I started working at a homeless shelter in South Kensington just a couple of months ago. My friend Josie had been going for a few weeks and could not stop talking about how amazing it was helping out there, just serving tea and coffee and getting to know the guys who would turn up. Frank was one of her favourites and one day, she came home with this heart rendering story to tell:

'So I was talking to one of the guys at the shelter today and he told me something I just didn't know how to respond to. His wife died a few years ago, which was the cause of his depression, losing his job and finally, his homelessness. Since then, he has been sleeping on her grave. He misses her so much and talks about her all the time. One night, he was attacked by a group of guys he knew whilst sleeping in the graveyard. They beat him and injected him with drugs. He doesn't know why they did it to this day... What am I supposed to say to that?'


This story struck me so deeply, I just had to go along to the shelter; guys like Frank deserved to be cared for and loved. It completely shattered all my previous misconceptions about the homeless. He wasn't some imbecile who'd gambled or drank all his money away. Neither was he a gangster or into drugs or any of that nonsense. He was a regular guy who had to face an unfortunate tragedy in his life that rendered him entirely vulnerable to the cruelty of this world.

The next week, I woke up early on Friday morning to head to the tube station with Jose. Whilst at the shelter, I met so many inspiring people. From the lovely, to the little-bit-rough-around-the-edges, the drug addict to the stone cold sober. For some reason the thing that shocked me the most was that all these homeless guys and girls, well... they were just normal people. I don't really know what else I expected. I learned that those who drank away their lives weren't necessarily 'imbeciles' and getting into drugs wasn't 'nonsense'. The pain and heartache in that place is horrifying, but at the same time the love and compassion the guys have for one another is unbelievable.

This is where Frank comes in.

Frank's story is heart-breaking to say the least, but when I got to chatting to him, I learned about the man behind his agonising tale. He told me of how he used to be a personal shopper, which was ironic for a man who hated shopping, and he could even name drop a few celebrities that he'd been assigned to. He taught Josie and I and the other guys magic tricks and numbers puzzles, gave us life advice and encouraged us to stick at our uni courses. He reminded me of the stereotypical silly Uncle, who was always causing trouble at parties and is off winding up the kids rather than chatting with the adults. Upon being asked his life dream, he pondered and replied with smiling eyes, 'Well, I suppose that was to have a perfect wife, a faithful dog and a nice, little flat to live in. But I've had that dream now, so anything else is a bonus really.' One time he even told us the story of how he stopped taking medication for his depression and instead, decided to spend his time and money making other people smile. That, he said, was his medication.

One week, Frank came in and handed a few of us lucky ladies a chocolate bar each (ever the charmer, eh Frank?) An elderly couple had taken pity on him earlier in the week and handed him a bunch of chocolate bars and a giant bag of coppers. So Frank, with only £9 to his name, no home, no source of income, logically brings the chocolate to the shelter and gives it to us staff to say thank-you, whilst donating the money to the church because it would only 'weigh him down'. I don't know about you but it makes me feel guilty about having so much and sharing so little.

The next week, Josie comes home from the shelter (she sometimes does a different day to me) saying, 'Frank has the chance to get a job and a flat'.

It turns out that he has somehow managed to apply for his old job once again and knows a guy who can give him extra time on paying the deposit on a little place. However, the catch is that he has to get the job back to be able to pay for the flat. It's an all or nothing situation. Oh and the job people are only going to get back to him two days after he is supposed to have signed the contract for the flat. So to us, it's looking pretty bleak.

However Frank, pretty difficult to beat down, seems hopeful. 'If I turn up on Wednesday in a suit, you know I've got it', he beams.

Wednesday arrives. I don't think I've ever been more nervous in my entire life.

I can't work Wednesdays at the shelter because I have class on that day, so I'm relying on a text from Jose.

That message actually ends with 'now I've got to get my 27 suits dry cleaned!'

Ask anyone I saw that day and they will tell you I was grinning like a loon. I cried with happiness for the first time in years because a man who deserved everything, got that which so many of us take for granted.

I'd like to think this story speaks for itself. Frank is an Ordinary Incredible for so many reasons, but above all, because he never gave up. He never let life beat him. Two years on the streets, widowed, attacked, hungry and desperate and he came out on top. I'm so honoured to have shared just a few days of my life with this amazing man.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

You're a Goddamn Treasure, Savannah

Savannah is a 17 year old girl with a Youtube channel full of ramblings, songs and stories about her life. SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD PEOPLE. If I consider myself a child still then I hope I don't offend her by saying that it's the youth that we should listen to. Her words aren't profound or revolutionary in the slightest. They're just the common sense that so many of us refuse to listen to. But all you have to do it look at children (now I mean in like the 0-10 age bracket, though unfortunately that bracket is getting smaller and smaller every year) to see that appearance doesn't matter. They'll run around like loons, mud, chocolate, pasta sauce smeared all over their clothes and faces, making friends with anyone who wants to join in with their game regardless of how long they spent doing their hair that morning. And do we love them any different? ER no. We think it's cute that they haven't a care in the world and tell them not to grow up so fast, life is cruel when you're an adult.

So why at a certain age does it become obligatory to care so much about the way you look? I understand there's the whole starting to feel sexually attracted to one another and stuff. But in my personal experience, any relationship I've had that's begun solely based on physical attraction has ended up fizzling out and going sour anyway. Your other half may be initially attracted to the seven inches of slap you've smeared on your face or that tight booby dress you're wearing, but you can't hide your 'real' self forever, physical or otherwise. Because if you like it or not, you are more than just a pretty face. Plus, imagine if you marry someone (I know, scary stuff) and you had to get up every morning to put make-up on before snuggling back down with your spouse, before he/she could see the horrors that lie beneath the shimmer and shine. Ridiculous isn't it?

Oh and I don't mean to leave out any macho types that might be reading this. Same applies to you. You might think that all your potential other halves care about is your muscular forearms and that you can flash the cash, and I won't deny that some do. A minority. A minority so small it's actually ridiculous that they get so much media attention. Most of us just want someone to love us for who we are, someone who can make us laugh and hold us in the bad times. Though thinking about it, isn't that all that anyone wants?

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with wanting to look nice. Just so long as you're doing it for the right reasons. If you think that wearing a dress and heals and sparkly pink lipstick looks wonderful, then go nuts, just as long as you're doing it for yourself. I personally can't think of anything worse to inflict upon myself, but that doesn't mean that I try and force my dress code on my four other much girlier house mates (OK except that one time in my Identity Thief series but she was allowed to get her own back).

Savannah is an Ordinary Incredible because she has had the boldness to speak out for those who are too ashamed to do so; who comply just because society tells them so and are too afraid to just be themselves. She has no PA to deal with any backlash she might receive from sharing her views, no media empire to twist what she's said into something more easily digestible to those who just want to conform. This ordinary, yet beautiful girl had the guts to say what do many of us have shied away from and in her own creative style too. That's why she's incredible.

(If you click through to YouTube you can find the lyrics in the 'about' bit below the video)

Friday, 3 January 2014

Andrew Kaufman is a Superhero

All My Friends Are Superheroes is a book by Andrew Kaufman and is one of my two favourite books of all time. In this story and his other books, Andrew Kaufman brings to life real life issues in a such a quirky and playful way that you can't help but grin when reading them. I especially love All My Friends Are Superheroes as it shines a light on all those talents and personality traits that are often considered 'ordinary' and are therefore overlooked. I would recommend this book to anyone. You can borrow mine of course, but I'd encourage you to buy your own afterwards, so you can refer back to it if you ever feel a bit down about life. Here's the blurb:

All Tom's friends really are superheroes. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding the Perfectionist is hypnotized by her ex, Hypno, to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him...

Six months later the Perfectionist is sure that Tom has abandoned her, so she's moving to Vancouver. She'll use her superpowers to leave all the heartbreak behind. With no idea that Tom's beside her, she boards the plane. Tom has until they touch down to convince her he's there, or he loses her forever...

I'm going to take a guess that that all seems a little odd to anyone who hasn't read the book. I want to point out that this is, without a doubt, a book for grown ups and not just fun a children's story. The basic lesson behind the story is that Tom, seemingly the only non-superhero in existence, is about to lose the love of his life because he fails to see what is special about himself. As someone who is ordinary, what does he have to give someone who is so perfect? Alongside his friends the Spooner, the Ear and the Impossible Man, what does he really have to offer?

Without wanting to give away too much, he has a lot more to offer than he realises. Which is probably true for around about 99% of the population today. Although I think modesty is a great thing, in our society it has progressed to mean self deprecation, rather than just not being a show off. Far too often we hear people talking about what they can't do, what they suck at and wish weren't inherent aspects of their personalities. Since when did it become the norm to hate on yourself all the time? How are we supposed to provide and support those we love if we fail to see how we are good enough to do so?

I read this really good quote on tumblr recently...

'She deserves better, you say. I say: You’re a goddamn coward. What she deserves is an actual person she can connect with. She deserves you, or me or the entire world; she deserves someone achingly real and honest. She deserves a human being equally raw to pursue her and love her and, perhaps, destroy her emotionally, but she deserves all that as well. She doesn't deserve anyone’s sugary fairy tale. She deserves to float freely, with you, or me, or the world, into the very depths of her own psychosynthesis. She deserves to explore the meaning of the word "intimacy", with someone beside her that will care regardless. She fucking deserves all of it. So, pluck up the courage and be with her or leave her in peace but don’t you dare "sell" her your own"inadequacy" as a lie so that, again, you manage to comfort your conscience and eventually come to feel that you love her exactly because you’re letting her go. Because, darling, that’s bullshit. That’s only your own little self-created lie laying behind a much bigger lie; it’s not even properly concealed within itself, you fucking idiot.'

I don't know where this comes from, but I don't think it really matters. I think Kaufman would agree with it at least. What I'm trying to convey is that if all you focus on is your own inadequacies, what do you really expect to achieve in your life? So embrace yourself, with all your imperfections and mistakes. Because life is far too short to waste wishing you were someone else.

Kaufman belongs in my Ordinary Incredibles series for a variety of reasons. From what I can find about him online, he came from pretty humble origins. Attended an ordinary school, in the ordinary town of Wingham Ontario (with the tiny population of just under 3,000) and really made something of himself. Now a radio producer, film maker and writer, he is living proof that it doesn't matter where you come from, just where you go from there. And on a more personal level, he wrote a book that touched my heart so profoundly when I first read it four years ago, that I haven't stopped raving about it since. So thank-you Andrew Kaufman, for your colourful, creative and unique style of writing, and fantastic sense of humour. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A toast, to Jake O'Grady

Yesterday when I decided to take up this blogging challenge, I made the decision to base it on all the ordinary, yet incredible people that had influenced my life. I set to work making a rough plan of what or who I would write about each day: friends, family members, celebrities, inspiring events and so on. I combed through my entire friends list on Facebook to make sure I was going to be writing to the very best of the best; those people who had been an inspiration to my life and through my own self-consciousness, I had not got round to thanking them for what they had done for me. Jake had made that pecking order.

Then later that evening I was served a huge dollop of perspective as I read the sad news that Jake had passed away whilst on his travels. From what I can gather, he was in Vietnam at the time. I know very little about what happened to him, except that some of his very last words to a friend were, 'I love you so much and FUCK IT, if I die, I die happy'. And to me that's all that matters, that such a beautiful human being would die happy with someone he loved by his side.

I don't want to sit here and write an obituary or eulogy about Jake. I didn't know him well enough to do it the justice he deserves. But neither do I intend to strike him off my list. So this is a toast, to the incredible man Jake O'Grady and although he isn't with us now to read it, I'd hope that he'd be looking down from the heavens and smiling, knowing that his love and kindness in the time that I did know him, was not overlooked.


I would like you to raise your metaphorical pint glass of your drink of preference (as anything smaller hardly seems an adequate tribute), to the legend that was Jake O'Grady.

I was lucky enough to work with you, Jake, for the eight month stint I did on the bar at Premier Inn, during my gap year in 2011/12. It was one of the three jobs I'd taken on in order to simultaneously gain some experience for my CV, whilst saving for my upcoming travels around the USA and South America. I was 19 at the time, had zero experience at working behind a bar or in a restaurant and to be perfectly honest, I kinda sucked at my job. I broke corks inside wine bottles and had to ask customers to open them, was always forgetting orders and was such a wuss I didn't dare try and carry more than two plates at once. However, it's fair to say that despite all this, I loved my time working at the hotel, mainly for the people and banter that every shift was bound to contain.

Jake, every time I checked the rota, yours was one of the names I would always look out for, hoping that we'd be sharing a shift, as I knew then I'd be guaranteed that infectious smile and newest crazy life story. I'd like to start by thanking you for taking a genuine interest in my life. You were always so curious, full of questions about my plans for my future and especially interested in my approaching adventure across the world. We often dreamed together about all the places we'd love to visit, how we'd rather travel our entire lives and never have to have a normal, boring job to tie us down. You raved about how one day, you'd be heading off to Australia and then the rest of the world, just as soon as you'd graduated from college and saved up enough money and I am so glad that you achieved that goal.

I'd also like to thank-you for always being there for me. Through the slip ups and silly mistakes (that, let's face it, were far too frequent), where you'd cover my back and help me to see where I'd gone wrong, to that one break down I had where I couldn't stop crying because life had just become a bit too much for me. I know you felt so awkward but that didn't stop you from hugging me and dithering about how to make me feel better. You were always such a gentle person, with a genuine concern for those you cared about. You were also the first person at work I came out to, which seems like a lifetime ago now. I will never forget your reaction of utter shock, ' what, you're bi-sexual? Cool. I didn't expect that', when I attempted to casually drop it into conversation, which made all my nerves dissolve in the hilarity of the situation. After the laughter subsided you told me how brave and strong you thought I was and not to worry, nobody was going to judge me here.

And finally, I'll never forget the time before the Christmas work's do when I'd worked a shift and hurriedly got changed in the staff toilets before heading out to join the rest of the team. I'm pretty insecure at the best of times, let alone on my first night out with a group of people I'd only known a couple of months, all of whom I was younger than, after only having 20 minutes to get ready in the loo. I rushed out past the bar, slightly flustered and ready to down a couple of drinks to calm the nerves and all you had to say was, 'Wow Emily, you're beautiful. You should let your hair down more often.' I have never forgotten that moment and never will, as it gave me the confidence to go out that night and just enjoy myself.

There was never a dull moment with you Jake, whether you were blazing like the drama queen you were about a matter you felt particularly passionate about, or scheming with the guys in the kitchen about how to wind up other members of the bar staff. Whenever I think of you, I see you dancing like a loon with me at Rumes in Preston on my farewell night out, when we were the only two people on the dance floor and in that moment, had not a care in the world. That smile, that give-everything-you've-got-to-everything-you-do attitude and the love that just oozed out of every fibre of your being did not pass me by Mr. O'Grady. Although we haven't seen each other in some time, you've always remained close to my heart.

So thank-you Jake, for making my life just that little bit brighter. And for now, even in your death, teaching me something about really living life. It seems you really did manage to live every moment to the full, right up to the very end.

As a mutual friend shared in a status today, legends never really die. Sending so much love your way lovely, you'll never be forgotten.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Twenty fourteen. Come at me.

New Year. 2014. TWENTY FLIPPING FOURTEEN. Like... what? When did this even happen?

I could easily write one of those traditional 'new year, new me' posts, because lets face it, we all start the new year with high hopes that things are going to be better than last year. That we'll be richer, fitter, nicer, tougher, bolder, more honest, loving, thoughtful, kind, generous... etc etc etc etc. As lovely and encouraging as it is to read things like that at this time of year, I doubt that anyone would read it thinking, 'ooo this girl is really onto something here!', but rather 'how lovely, now what am I going to have for dinner?' and then forget you ever endured five minutes of your life reading my drivel. So let's see if I can come up with something a little more thought-provoking, eh?

Over the years, I've noticed that unfortunately, New Year's Eve is something that has become a bit of an anticlimax for most. You get absolutely trollied with your mates, then wait for midnight, anticipating some profound realignment of your soul or some great epiphany that will change your life and as the second hand ticks over midnight... absolutely NOTHING happens. No divine revelation or spiritual intervention, just another day with your mates like any other. So we eventually crawl home, tired or/and heavily intoxicated, slightly disappointed but knowing that really, it's a little bit silly to get down about it because this is what happens every year, right? Some of us will make a good go at our resolutions for the first week or so; some maybe even for a prolonged period of time. However eventually we begin to realise that going to the gym three times a week wasn't exactly that ground-breaking alteration in our lives that we were hoping for and life for the most part, just continues as before.

Year after year I've found myself thinking, 'There's got to be more to life than this'.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe you're crazy. Maybe we're crazy. Probably... But seriously, am I really the only one? I've spent my past few new year's parties either in tears over a row with a friend or surrounded by the people I love but feeling no more special than I do on any other day of the year. I've hugged, sobbed, drank and kissed my way through to the new year and all with the same outcome - a few pictures from a fun party and one or two anecdotal stories to tell.

Now I'm not knocking parties (although I'm not one for crowds myself) or expectation that things can be better. Especially not the latter. As a follower of Jesus, expecting things to get better is kinda a big deal for me. But we cannot just sit around expecting things to improve in our lives and do nothing about it, believer or otherwise. 'Well duh Emily, that's where New Year's Resolutions come in!',  hear you cry. Well clever clogs, whilst I believe that resolutions have their value and are not necessarily a bad thing (I have a couple myself), I'd like to suggest that perhaps they aren't actually the most productive thing for instigating the change we are longing for. Just bear with me.

For the first time in my memory, I had one of those profound moments that we all long for as the clock struck midnight. I actually spent New Year's Eve in a church, where I was involved in helping out/annoying the tech guys at an event called Shift. Throughout the night there had been lots of singing and praying and preaching about inciting hope and revival within our generation, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed and consider incredibly relevant for both New Year's Eve and the state that the world is currently in. However it wasn't the call for a revolution of love (which I LONG to see in our world) or the beautifully moving announcements of my peer's hopes and dreams for the year to come, that sent the resident butterflies in my stomach into a quiet frenzy, after so many months of slumber. After I'd hugged and kissed those around me, I was so overwhelmed I had to take a few minutes out for myself and hold back the tears. I was so happy I felt like my heart was going to explode, and I thought I'd better calm myself down before inflicting the doubtless lack of respect for other's personal space that I tend to inherit when I get a bit giddy.

To say it's been a difficult year would be an understatement. I've had all the usual heartbreaks, broken trust and misgivings that a usual year brings, along with some extra dollops of severe illness and self loathing, with a side dish of multiple hospital trips with people I love and topped off with the death of the most inspirational, Jesus-like human being I believe ever walked this earth, my Grandad. It's fair to say I've had more low points than high and to be perfectly honest there were points when I doubted I'd still be around by the time the new year arrived.

As I looked around the room, I realised the longest time I'd actually known someone was just over two months, and the majority much, much less than that. In fact, two of the guys, Nat and Simran, I'd met just the day before and already felt incredibly lucky to have shared the new year with them and to be able to call them 'friend'. I'd spent the majority of the night with two very good friends, Gordon and Joe, both of whom I love like brothers despite only knowing each other for a short time. I sat there, allowing my gaze to wander around all these amazing people, digesting everything that I had overcome in 2013. Because, despite everything that had happened, all the hurt and struggle and pain, I'd made it. I'd lived to see the new year and what's more, it was so worth it. Had I checked out early, had I given up, I'd never have met a single soul that I shared that church with. I'd have missed out on some serious love and amazing memories. And even if Gnarls Barkley is right, if I really am a little bit loopy, I really think that proves that there is more to life than we let ourselves see.

My profound moment wasn't life changing in that physical elements in my life have changed, like my bank balance or waistline, it was more a realisation that new year shouldn't be a time when we mull over everything we've messed up over the past 365 days and figure out how to correct the errors, but to celebrate everything that we've been through, both the good and bad. For a while I've been referring to last year as 'the worst year of my life', but perhaps a more apt name would be 'the toughest year of my life'. Even the difficult things teach us something, to value the good times more or how to deal with a future troubles. No matter what your background or belief, we all have one thing in common. We all made it. Yes we made mistakes and it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but we've come out on top because WE MADE IT.

So rather than just nit-picking the things you did wrong over the past 12 months in order to form some impressive-sounding resolutions to share with your friends, I would encourage you to look at everything you did right and continue to build on that. 2014 is our year, 2013 was our year and 2015 may well be our year too. From now on I intend to appreciate the good, the bad and the ugly for what they are - a vessel that has got me where I am today, and I won't even try to express in words just how grateful and thankful I am for that.

As part of my 'building on the good' promise to myself, for the next month I'll be taking part in the 'My 500 Words' Challenge. 500 words, every day, for a month. That's a LOT of rambling.