Happy New Year – and thank you

Just a quick note to everyone who visited the blog during 2013.

As we launch into another year, I wanted to say a sincere thank you to those of you who stopped by, commented, shared, retweeted or liked the posts. It’s been a busy year on An Cailín Rua, with lots to talk about. I did have great intentions of writing a minimum of one post a month during the year, but fell a bit short in the latter part of the year – but that’s what new year’s resolutions are for, right?

As regular readers will know, it’s been a year of great change for me personally; having  in 2012 made the decision to leave a steady job to face an uncertain future.  2013 saw me starting the year with no income and no idea where I’d end up. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, I know, but stepping away from security and out of the comfort zone felt like a bit of a risk.

I’m happy, however to report that the gamble paid off handsomely. And while the past year has been challenging at times, and laced with a level of uncertainty throughout,  it has paid dividends in terms of new experiences and achievements, both personal and professional, and more time doing the things that I deem the most important, with the people I care about most. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a number of different and challenging roles with some fantastic people, both on a paid and voluntary basis, and feel challenged and motivated in a way I haven’t for a long time. I even managed to get some writing published, which was a  high point for me personally.

While the journey is nowhere near over, and I still have some big decisions to make on a professional level, I feel lucky and privileged to find myself in a position where I have real and exciting choices.

To those of you who supported me in the early days, the wobbly days, the days of crippling self-doubt and the days I felt utterly lost, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement. Some of you are family, some of you friends, and some of you I’ve never even met, but at no stage during the journey did I feel alone, thanks to you. Thanks for reading the blog, and encouraging me to keep writing, for challenging my opinions, and educating me and helping me to develop my own thinking.

Wishing you all the very best for 2014, dear readers and I look forward to your company for the year ahead.

Six months on – a quick update

Regular readers of this blog will know that I encountered a(n early) mid-life crisis in September last year, when I decided to stop living to work, and start working to live. You can see the original and subsequent posts here.

So I jacked in my steady, pensionable job with good promotion prospects, cast myself adrift to carve a different life for myself. One with far less stress and far more happiness. Why? Because life is too damn short to be unhappy. Lots of my lovely followers over on the Tweet Machine have been enquired how life is now, so here’s a quick update.

Has it been easy? No. It’s been stressful, worrying, financially draining and I’ve wobbled. Has it been worth it? Yes. Did I do the right thing? Definitely.

So, after Christmas, I took some time out – nearly 11 weeks in total, as it turned out. I was just starting to panic – really  panic, when I was lucky enough to secure two part-time roles in wildly different industries, but both interesting and rewarding in their own way. So in the intervening months I’ve gained some experience working “client-side”, as we agency staff used to call it (we also called it the Holy Grail) and I’ve also managed to gain some experience in the non-profit sector working with brilliant people in  a brilliant charity, which has provided me with insight and an understanding of the sector I didn’t have before. I want to do more.

There are pros and cons. Cons being that I currently have short-term contracts, both coming to an end within weeks, which means it’s decision time and job-hunt time again. There’s no security, and I’m still flat broke. But – and this is a big but – on the plus side, for now I’m working, and I’m incredibly grateful. I know how lucky I am, and how lucky I was to be in a position to be able to do this in the first place. My personal life has also changed quite dramatically. I have free time now. I’m not constantly stressed or exhausted, I get to see friends, talk, write, travel, cook, watch TV, exercise, – all the things that make life worth living. I’ve had some writing published, and people seem to like it, which thrills me more than it’s cool to admit. I’m quite liking the nature of short-term work. It’s good and interesting to explore options.

Most of all, I’m happy. I wake up nearly every day looking forward to the day ahead. I feel lighter, more carefree. It’s remarkable how many people have commented on the fact that I look happy. (I really must have looked like a big bag of misery before.) I can’t describe how much I value this, having been through some darker times. It’s something I will never take for granted. I’m very lucky.

I didn’t think I was brave enough to throw the cards up in the air, but it’s worked out well. If you’re considering it, know that it can be done, and it may take time to work out, but it will.

So I look ahead, and the future’s not certain, but it looks bright, and exciting, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. The world’s still my oyster.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

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