Waving goodbye to 2021

Hi everyone, how has your festive season treated you – what did Santa bring you? – I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve eaten my body weight in food over the last few days. I have been a “fairly” good diabetic!

As we all gear up to say our farewell’s to 2021, I always like to take a moment to reflect on the last 12 months. My achievements. What I have learnt. How i have grown as a person.

If you’re a long-time reader, then you’ll know I like to stay true to who I am and what i am feeling in that moment. I have in past year’s wrote a New Years post and thought about making it a little bit of a tradition. However, it’s never felt like the right time to start especially in 2020, and still doesn’t feel very appropriate for this year either.

Unfortunately, consequences of the pandemic once again paved out another year for all of us in one way or another. As we head into another year of uncertainty. No matter what happens, I know that we’ll support each other, just like we always do.

So, I want to delve into the last 12 months of personal growth and new opportunities.

As I waved off 2020 I entered 2021 hopeful and optimistic about the year ahead. Unfortunately that was short lived. If 2021 was a song, i feel it would be ‘you spin me right round baby, right round’. Stuck on repeat for another 12 months.

In regards to my personal life, I felt like it was stuck on pause, if I learned anything in 12 months It was I wasn’t as independent as I thought I was. I listen too much to others and their opinions on how I should live. I knew that I needed to make some changes. I had to rethink and take control of the clutter in my head. Especially my future and where I wanted to be.

I didn’t want to reinvent myself or anything. As I like who I am. But I knew I really needed to take lessons i had learnt and listen to what I wanted and not what others think is best. Getting out of the rut, not only for my future, but for my happiness as well.

The first quarter of 2021, started as it turns out, as it means to go on the with a small needle jabbed into my arm, second jab was in April and boosted in October. Then a long awaited video I had worked on with the OU and NHS was finally released. I was extremely proud to be apart of with others. I Joined my friends two incredible humans on their podcast LABLED to have a girly chat. That lead to a few other podcast appearances.

March I really noticed the start of creating those changes that I knew I needed. It gave me that extra push to carry on. Taking delivery of a new power wheelchair made the world of difference especially as it took 3 years of fighting. Over the last 12 months I have been interviewed by some incredible journalists from various media and radio shows local and national over different disability related subjects.

My campaigning has still been very strong in my life. The government was still dragging it’s heels on giving any real answers for better housing for disabled people and their families within the housing sector. Changing Places toilets campaign saw a £30m government funding for local authorities to opt in, which became instrumental in leading me back into the working world part-time in July as a changing Places support officer for changing Places consortium under Muscular Dystrophy UK.

I also started campaigning more locally in my home of Milton Keynes, which has giving me the opportunity to work very closely with MK Council and the counsellors for better accessibility – even speaking at one of the meetings on the importance of Changing Places toilets.

If there was lessons to learn and one way to describe the last 12 months, it would be a year of pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Going back to work after 20 plus years and into an office based job was a scary thought it’s nothing I had done before, as my background is from the pub trade – but hugely rewarding at the same time. I’m happy to report it feels a lot more natural now sitting at my desk at home logging on. And my work colleagues have been extremely supportive and welcoming which made it easy to settle any anxieties I had.

I think the take away point in whole, is how incredible broadening your horizons can be. Yes it’s scary, but I never would have found myself doing something like that if I hadn’t have grabbed with all four wheels a new opportunity.

Talking of stepping out of my comfort zone, a couple of times though out the year I presented or was a guest speaker at a few conference’s either by myself or in the great company of a friend. Virtually as well as one in person. It was such a rewarding feeling to speak about projects that are not just close to my heart but things I’d worked hard on for many years.

I got my first wheelchair accessible vehicle in September, Which is giving me a new lease on life. And so much more freedom than I ever thought it would, just being able to see my mum and Brother in person for the first time in years. Going food shopping even going with my husband to pick our Christmas tree even if it was 7 ft.

The year has also been filled with freelance writing opportunities, something that I will never will take for granted. It still blows my mind that I probably wouldn’t be doing any of that if it wasn’t for this little corner of the internet that I love to call ‘My Life, Kerry’s Way’. I’ve wrote a variety of articles for: Habinteg, Milton-Keynesia magazine, Access rating, Gm Coachwork and Leonard Cheshire to name a few, as well as featured in several articles for the BBC. and Sky News on different areas of accessibility throughout the year. I am incredibly grateful for the level of support I get when it comes to my writing, and for the opportunity for me to talk about something that I’m very passionate about.

Even now, I still pinch myself when people take the time to let me know that they have read and learnt something from my articles. It’s something I never thought would happen. And having my work published in print is a feeling I’ll never quite get used to.

This year I was extremely humbled and elated to be nominated and a finalist for the ITV National diversity awards for positive role model in disability. The awards are in February in Liverpool. Yes, I do have my outfit the hairdresser is booked and so is the hotel. Fingers crossed it goes ahead.

In terms of my blog, I think I have found more of a voice i’m less writing on eggshells and been more open and honest than I’ve ever been in my posts on topics that I’ve never discussed in depth before. long may that continue. Yes, it’s been a mix of opinions but I love that. Not everyone is going to agree with how I feel about things. It’s always rewarding for me to hear other peoples opinions, it’s how we all grow and learn.

I would be lying if I said 2021 had been full sunshine and roses, I have struggled to find that balance; both in terms of managing my MD and fatigue, and now working. To not do too much. As much as I want to do everything, there is only so much I can do. It’s okay to say no. Which I still struggle to do but getting slightly better!

However, those tough times have given me the determination I needed. Giving me the opportunity to pinpoint what’s important to me and what truly matters. 2021 has shown me that when your passions come together, it can create something truly wonderful. I am surrounded by truly wonderful, supportive group of people, both online and offline. It’s been a year of highs and lows, but my family and friends have given me unwavering love and support. I’ve also had the incredible pleasure to be introduced to some new people this year, yet it feels like I’ve known them all my life.

I may read like I have everything figured out. But between me and you, that’s far from reality even at 42. I have more room to learn and grow trust me. It might come across like it has been an easy year of ups. I spent much of the year chasing things I never thought would be possible. A lot of hard work, growth, determination and incredible support from family and friends has got me through this year.

Whether 2021 has been a great, successful year for you or you’ve spent it taking one day at a time, be proud of yourself. The last two years have been unpredictable and full of uncertainty, yet here you are. I’m proud of you.

Until next year!

Thank you for all your support throughout what has been yet another difficult 12 months for all. Thank you for returning here time and time again to read what I have to say. Thank you for all the interactions – every like, comment and share it really does means the world.

Here’s to 2022.

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