We don't have Thanksgiving in New Zealand - a real loss, I think - but it's still about this time of the year that I suddenly consider everything that's happened to me in the year that was, and wonder how on earth I got to be so lucky. I am thankful that:
1. At the beginning of the year I got to go on an amazing road trip with one of my best friends around a small part of this beautiful country. I don't know how I would have got through this year without that chance to take a deep breath and enjoy nature.
2. My sister and husband and tag-along children FINALLY moved back to New Zealand after too much time abroad, and better yet, they chose Christchurch. It has been so, so wonderful having two small nieces in close proximity to me, to play with, help look after, and adore. They are THE cutest three-year-old and one-and-a-half-year-old girls in existence. No competition.
3. I graduated! And it was more fun than I anticipated.
4. I have been allowed to spend a year of my life doing the most self-indulgent thing I have ever done: Choosing a topic that completely absorbs me, and spending all my time finding out more about it. It hasn't always been easy to do a MA, but it is the most rewarding thing I have ever attempted. I've also had brilliant supervisors, and brilliant co-thesis writers to moan and whinge to.
5. I got to meet the Prime Minister! Incredibly kind and generous people also gave me the means to do the following...
6. Going on a research trip to the UK. I can't describe what a thoroughly awesome experience this was, in every possible way. I fell in love with London. I was welcomed into the homes of two families who not only provided for me generously but also opened my eyes to new ideas, experiences. I saw history. I saw proof that Jane Austen existed. I was free to indulge all my geeky tourist desires. I got to stay long enough to feel like I was at home. Had what I could say is possibly the time of my life. I came back a different person.
7. I also got to visit continental Europe with the same friend I went on a road trip with earlier in the year. We got to see so much variety, so much beauty, and to experience so many things I had had no knowledge of before. Almost nothing went wrong; we finished in one piece; our money did not run out; we chose a good route. The worst part about it was saying goodbye at the end.
8. I went flatting for the first time. It was a very good decision. I have made what I am sure will be lifelong friendships among my flatmates. Where things have not gone quite to plan, or where personalities have clashed, I have learnt so much more about myself, and about how to deal with life. I am quite certain now in my adulthood - in fact, that has been the overwhelming development of the whole year. Obviously, technically I've been an adult for some time, but I've never felt like it. Now I am quite happy to say: I am Woman! Hear me roar!
Goodbye, 2009. Thanks for everything.
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