You’ll have seen it floating about Instagram: Best 9 of 2015 – your nine top-liked photos, put in a nice picture grid to post on Instagram. While it’s a great way to see which posts your followers really liked (food in my case!), I thought my Best 9 photos for me were lacking in any kind of substance: while delicious, the photos didn’t capture any meaningful moments for me this past year. 2015 was a significant year in both good and bad ways, so to mark the past 365 (+5) days, I’ve put together the photos that I think captured my nine most significant moments of 2015.
This past April, my grandpa Leo passed away at 89 years old. He was the only grandpa I really knew, and was such a lively character. After he had had a few trips to the hospital, and through conversations with my mom about my his status, I booked a last-minute trip home to Winnipeg this past February to say essentially good bye to him.
I’m glad I got the opportunity to spend some last moments with my grandpa and to say a proper, tearful good bye. It still hasn’t hit me that he’s gone, and it probably won’t until my next visit home when he won’t be there. This is the toughest part about living away from those you love: life still goes on and you can’t be there for every second of it; the seconds you would take for granted if you lived in the same city or town as your family. Instead, you have to rely on the memories you’ve made to find comfort.
Without knowing it, my seeing my grandpa before he died had quite an impact on my year. It formed many of my other significant moments this year.
While I hadn’t intended on touching down on Canadian soil at all in 2015, I did so for the above-mentioned reason. My main purpose was for grandpa and to be there for my mom, but in the process, I got the chance to see most of my family, reunite with old friends, eat delicious food and reconnect with my first home, my roots home. This trip was very bittersweet: I experienced every emotion possible, and while I was relieved to be returning to my current home and to Pat, I also left feeling fulfilled.
Was 2015 the Year of the Family? It sure felt like it from my perspective. My unexpected trip home allowed me to see so many people in my Canadian family: my mom, my dad, my sister, aunts and uncles, my cousin and grandparents. It’s unfortunate that as we get older, the significant life events of weddings or deaths bring a family separated by thousands of miles together again.
I also got to see my mom twice this past year, as she came for a visit in October. It was great to have her here and to spend time with her. When I go home to Winnipeg, I stay with her but we don’t spend much quality time together because she’s either working or I’m out with other family or friends. Her visit meant concentrated quality time.
I showed her as much of my Scotland as possible, taking her to the Highlands of Scotland, and showing her our favourite parts of our corner of the country. It was wonderful to just have her here, in my house.
We ended 2015 with a visit to Lincolnshire, England to see Pat’s older sister Kate, her husband Gonzalo and their four children. We went down to them for Christmas, so we could have a completely Primal Christmas! They too follow a paleo-primal way of eating, and it was so relaxing and easy to bring food, buy food and make food without having to explain, modify or say ‘No, we don’t eat that,’ to our hosts. It was also just great to spend time with family we don’t see so often.
Buying Our First Home
After MONTHS of searching, calculating, viewing and offering on many houses, we finally bought our very own at the start of 2015. It is such a rewarding and settling feeling to have a space to call our own. Our cottage is very small, but was move-in ready, and we’ve been slowly (too slowly) making decorative changes to it. We also installed an absolutely fantastic wood-burning stove, which heats the house and our hot water, but also adds a cozy atmosphere to our small space.
Good Bye Toxic Job
I never expected to change teaching jobs in 2015, nor did it even occur to me, as the year started, that I would want to leave my previous school. That job was great because I could do all of my teacher work at school and leave it there; this allowed me to have a life outside of teaching to focus on writing, running and whatever else I wanted. I was also able to travel frequently because of an alternative school calendar. But all of those lifestyle perks weren’t worth it anymore when the emotional stress started, didn’t let up, and continued to worsen, constantly eating away at me, at all hours of the day. After going on eight months of it, I had enough. When I wrote the post on leaving that toxic environment, I knew at the time that the stress was affecting my emotional health, and that other future endeavours, like getting pregnant, were not things I wanted to do in such a stressful environment. So I left, and I haven’t looked back since.
Primal Eye Magazine
I guess you could say for me, 2015 was also the Year of the Job. Teaching support for learning in mainstream was actually the second new job of the year; my first was scoring a contract in May with Primal Eye Magazine, the UK’s first paleo online magazine. Since then, I’ve been writing basically two posts per calendar month, about all many fitness, health and lifestyle topics. I started by linking my articles on the website to the blog, then stopped doing it; this is something I’ll resume in the New Year, starting with a back log of unlinked articles.
Furthermore, I’ll also be taking on a new job with the magazine as Assistant Copy Editor, which includes proof-reading, SEO, PhotoShop-ing, and may more serious, online blogging endeavours, which will probably have a knock on effect on my blog too. Stay tuned!
2015 was a great year for reconnecting with old friends from Canada. If you read my post from September 2014, Five Years in Scotland OR My Caledonian Experience, you’ll know that living in another country presents many emotional challenges, one of which being that you initially have no history with anyone. It has taken me a few years of being in Scotland to find good friends that really know me and understand me; previously, this was something I took for granted when I lived in Winnipeg. And now, when I reunite with old friends, we’re past the formalities of a newer friendship, we have so much history and inside jokes, and that deep-rooted feeling of comfort and ‘You know me!’ comes back.
I got many opportunities in 2015 to connect with newer friends in Scotland, but also rekindle friendships with my Canadian friends, and created even deeper roots. In Winnipeg, I saw my friends Sarah from my University of Winnipeg days, Christy from my softball days, Sheila and Emily from high school, and my friend Adrienne, who was my first best friend, and by far my longest friendship – we’ve known each other since we were 6! She’s a flight attendant with WestJet that coincidentally had a layover in Winnipeg while I was there. Seeing all these girls (now women!) felt like home.
I also saw my Coconut Friend Alicia several times: her and her now husband came to visit us last Christmas, I visited her in Berlin for her hen do, and then she came again in August. Despite her being in Germany and me in Scotland, there was an underlying feeling of comfort that I had in knowing that someone with which I have such history (nine years of it!) was closer to me, rather than being separated by an ocean and long haul flight. I think we both found relief and security in that feeling, and it just felt good to be with someone that knows you so well.
This past July also gave me the opportunity to have a mini-high school reunion with my friends Lori, Michelle and Melanie, at Lori’s wedding in Ireland. This was by far the best wedding I’ve been to, and I will go so far as to say it was better than mine….. One of the reasons it was so good was because I got to meet so many fantastic new people, but also because I was able to reconnect with my three friends. I had such a good time at Lori and her husband Andy’s wedding, that as we were driving away from the castle where we had spent three wonderful days talking and laughing with everyone, I began to cry.
This past year has shown me repeatedly that just because miles and years have separated you from friends, it doesn’t mean the friendship is strained or lost. The best part about each of these reunions was that in every meeting, we just picked up where we left off.
Aviemore Half Marathon – recap here
While this wasn’t my first race of 2015, to me, this race was the biggest and most meaningful. My mom was there to see me cross the finish line and her excitement when I did this is something I’ll never forget.
This race was also big because I absolutely annihilated my previously set sub-2 hour half marathon time from the Stonehaven Half in July 2015. My time in this race was a far off dream that I wasn’t sure was going to be a reality in 2015, especially considering I had been ill leading up to the race. But I did it, and still to this day I can’t believe my latest 13.1 personal best is 1:55:46. I also can’t believe that my placing in both my age group and females overall was in the top third of finishers, rather than the bottom third where I used to place. Onwards and upwards!
All the Travel
Two new countries (Ireland and Beligum), and three new passport stamps: USA, Switzerland, and France. Upgrade from Ivory status to Silver status with Flying Blue, (the KLM/Air France frequent flyer programme).
I saw so much and did so much this past year: Berlin for NYE 2015, Winnipeg unexpectedly, skiing in the Italian Alps, Berlin again for Alicia’s hen do, Ireland for Lori and Andy’s wedding, England for Christmas, and Northern France for NYE 2016. While traveling is stressful and in some ways uncomfortable, I never take for granted the memories I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had and the new connections I’ve forged.
A film that Pat and I watch repeatedly is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty for its meaning of ‘life’ – a quote that perfectly summarises my 2015 and 2016:
To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.
And I’m living it 😉
What are some of your significant moments of 2015?