Another year over: My 2015 in review

At the end of every year I used to write a list of all the things – good and bad – that had happened during the preceding 12 months.

It was a test of memory, some years, to scrawl that list in the back of a journal, on Open Diary or a blog. But I found it a good way to reflect in a quick way on how things had changed.

In the last couple of years I seem to have fallen out of the habit and going with it was any attempt at making resolutions. Realising that the same ones kept recurring I figured trying to live consistently well rather than a once-yearly push might be the way to go.

Last year for me was a year where weird became normal, things I’d been working toward for a long time started to come to fruition and where beautiful possibilities seemed to bloom on every branch. I was very lucky in 2015. It was also a year of healing for me and so I end it feeling pretty happy with what happened personally and professionally and really, REALLY, excited for 2016.

As a bit of reflection and as a way of capturing some aspirations (silly and serious) for the year ahead, here’s my looking back list – I’ll publish a looking forward list of aspirations in a bit. This is a self-indulgent post but I’m making no apologies for that today.

I hope your year is happy and bright, full of good health, love, laughter and success of your own defining. I hope you hear music that makes your insides flutter, read books that make your brain turn cartwheels and that you get to stand under beautiful skies. All the best for 2016 whatever you hope it brings.

My highlights of 2015:

  • Leading the Digital First team for Nottinghamshire County Council. It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to help build the team and then lead them through the first delivery phases of Digital First for the Council. This time last year the team didn’t fully exist and so it’s a real joy to me that we came together, gelled well and worked hard and fast to deliver a new public website, a new schools portal and a few microsites too. I’m really proud of my team as individuals and grateful to them as a group for all they’ve achieved – the awards we won at UXUK and Digital Experience UK were well-deserved. I can’t wait to see what we can deliver in 2016 before the project ends in May.
  • Digital First also gave the opportunity to work with the Insight Lab, Shake Social and the inspirational Ann Kempster. It’s been a privilege to have learnt more user experience techniques and discover possibilities through the work they did.
  • A massively important thing was undertaking formal coaching with Carl Haggerty. I won’t ever be able to thank him enough for going on that journey with me. It in a space of months healed some old wounds and (I think) let me be in a place to allow all the other opportunities to come my way in the rest of the year. The hardest but most worthwhile of  conversations.
  • There’s been a lot of highlights with Louder Than War in 2015 – at the start of the year we launched the new website and finally fixed a load of problems we’d been struggling with (thanks Include Creative for work on this) and then in September I became Editor. This came on the back of a sad farewell to Guy Manchester but I’m looking forward to seeing what he has planned in 2016. We also launched as a magazine and it’s been thrilling to see the first two issues (circulation of 25,000) sell out and reinvigorate people about a passionate and in-depth music press. Big love to John Robb and the whole LTW family who continue to make the website exist day after day and to the band’s, PRs, labels and readers who give us a reason to keep doing that.
  • Noble and Wild had a funny old year. I put on just one show – Chris Helme, Liam Walker and Paul Tabor at the Hairy Dog – then had a summer of occasional, hilarious and random conversations with Chris before ending the year warming up to work with Team Love in the first bit of 2016. I think next year might be a bigger year for N&W!
  • I wrote my first novel, The Winter Passing and as a result also did my first reading as an author at the wonderful Geek Girl Brunch in Nottingham. I hadn’t planned to write a book in 2015 so it was a beautiful surprise. Followed by an even bigger one when I completed the first draft of my second novel also. I’m looking forward to setting my first book off on a big journey in 2016 but also tidying up that second novel and drafting a third.
  • Events wise it was great (but full on) to do the early work for LocalGovCamp but the real praise goes to the team who picked it up from me and made it into a great day – well done again to Phil Rumens, Nick Hill, Diane Sim and others. I was also thrilled to present the keynote at WEBBOS in Stockholm – not least because it made me face a fear and get on a plane for the first time in a decade. A wonderful event in a gorgeous city that has made me remember there’s a big world to put under my feet.
  • I won a Lifetime Achievement Award! I am still a bit gobsmacked about this but delighted to have my work across all areas of my life honoured in this way.
  • At home I celebrated 10 years of marriage to my absolute soulmate Michael and saw my youngest son start school. We started making some big changes to our homelife in 2016 and we’re happier for it, phase two of the plan looks likely for 2016.
  • I’ve laughed until I’ve cried with my girl gang, made some new friends and re-acquainted with some old ones too. I am very lucky.
  • I also had dinner at the House of Lords; lost at tattoo roulette and got inked again as a result; went to some amazing gigs; spoken to some wonderful humans; listened to some amazing albums and found at least two new favourite record shops (Vinyl Tap and Inkwell) and one new favourite open mic (Ruby Tuesdays). And while I still panicked about a load of things and people that didn’t need panicking about but generally felt less anxious than previous years.

But the biggest thing that happened in 2015 was that I really started to discover and live by the power of the Reckless Yes. It made a lot of these opportunities happen, it led to the thrill of a billion more possibilities around them. Saying YES is scary and often shadowed in self-doubt but I haven’t regretted a single Reckless Yes in 2015.

Let’s see how many more 2016 brings…
~

You can find me on Twitter – please come and chat!

I am editor of Louder Than War – find my words about music on the site here. We have launched as a magazine and you can find us in WHSmiths – issue 2 out now – or order online here.

I offer music PR, live promotion and digital communications at Noble and Wild – our website,on Twitter and on Facebook.

I also write fiction under the name Riley Reynolds – find out more about my books or chat to me on Twitter.

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