2014 has been a big year.

At this point last year, my life was a little up-in-the-air, and it was very different than it is now.

I was managing a store and studying part-time. Early November heralded the very beginning of the holiday season, so I was training new temporary staff while trying to finish final papers. I had already decided to go back to school full-time and step down from my current position to facilitate that, but that wouldn’t be until January. My hair was bright blue–this doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but it had been that way for a year and a half.

When January arrived, things changed rapidly. I took two weeks off from work to transition to full-time school, and started working part-time, as a regular employee, after that two-week period was up. This was a big change for me, as I had been managing the store in question for two and a half years and hadn’t been to school full-time for more than five years. It was very weird, but it felt good to be back at school, even if it was stressful. I was used to a fast pace and used to deadlines from work, but this was a little bit different.

From time to time, I like to see a friend of mine for a Tarot reading. I don’t have any real kind of belief system and don’t subscribe to any religion, typically, but there’s something really interesting about Tarot that has me going back to it. I like that, regardless of what you believe, the cards can give you a different perspective that you hadn’t thought of before. One morning in January, I had a reading with this friend, and we talked about my near future–job changes, what the Chinese New Year would bring, and my own personal changes. She mentioned to be aware of the Chinese New Year, as the Year of the Horse brings unpredictability. She also mentioned that I shouldn’t be in a rush to change jobs, and told me to an expect a timeline of a couple of months.

Having such an extreme change in position at my job also felt weird. I was a bit uncomfortable with it, in some ways, so I ended up changing jobs in March–a timeline of a couple of months, as my friend had suggested. I fled to a locally owned and run natural health store that was both close to home, and close to the university. During this transition, I dyed my hair brown–a natural colour–for the first time in a year and a half. I started learning the ins and outs of the natural food and supplement market, but remain, even now, with so much to learn.

I traveled with fellow English students to the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference, where I read my original poems in front of other English students from universities all over Atlantic Canada. It was a great opportunity and a chance for me to self-promote a bit, which proved to be difficult while juggling school with other responsibilities.

The end of the winter semester finally came, and I couldn’t have been happier. It had been a very full and stressful semester, and I was worried about my marks up until the very last minute. I had spring and summer intersession coming up, but the worst part of the year was over. Spring intercession came on rapidly, and left as quickly as it had arrived, even though I was working as well. Spring session also felt like a bit of a blur because I found I was pregnant during that time. Suddenly, I had another responsibility to add to my already long list. Summer intersession seemed a bit longer, as I was also rehearsing for Julius Caesar, on top of working and the pregnancy. Nothing was sweeter than handing in my final paper for my summer course, having just closed Julius Caesar a few nights before, and then going on vacation from work a few days later. Suddenly, I was met with an abundance of free time, and though it didn’t last long, it was beautiful while it was there. In August, I traveled to Bathurst with my husband to be in my best friends’ wedding party, which was both a lot of fun and a lot of work. After a visit with my grandmother in Nova Scotia, I was off vacation and ready to go back to work. Very soon, my final semester of university would follow.

Not everything during this period was positive. My great uncle Gordon passed away in September, followed by my Nana in October. It was a difficult time for our family, having so much to cope with in a short span of time. I attribute a lot of my university time to my Nana, so losing her right before I finished, not to mention before introducing her great-granddaughter to the world, was painful. She certainly lived a full and accomplished life, but despite knowing she wasn’t doing well, I didn’t find her passing any easier. This made October a much more difficult month than it normally would be. Thankfully, my incredible friends threw me a baby shower that was filled with laughs, delicious food (of course), and generous gifts for the little one’s impending arrival.

After rushing through writing papers and exams, from November to early December, the end of the university semester finally arrived. December 10th, one month exactly before my due date, marked my final exam. I went in at 8:30 AM, and shocked myself by walking out at 8:39 AM. In my ten-year (off and on) span at university, I had never written an exam so short. What a glorious feeling. Days later, I got my marks back, and I was officially slated to graduate for February 2015. That weekend, I went on maternity leave. The year had come full circle.

There it is: 2014, the Year of the Horse. My friend’s prediction of it being a busy and uncontrollable year was certainly correct, and while it the busy-ness wasn’t always positive, it’s been a great learning experience and a reminder that I can do pretty much anything I want if I work hard enough. I’ve grown and accomplished a lot, and done a lot of things I can be proud of. Now that I’m on maternity leave and I’m done with school, I will be able to focus on two very important things: becoming a better writer, and being a good mom. I fulfilled my resolution from last year, which was simply to finish my degree before year’s end. Next year will be another big adventure, filled with new challenges. I’ll see you soon, 2015. And for those of you reading, thanks so much for being a part of this year with me. I hope to see you in the new year!

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