Guest Blog: Reflections and resolutions for 2017 by Ellie V

Guest blogger Ellie V is the creator of the blog lostinnotation which focused on a year in her journey through the highs and lows of a bipolar diagnosis, while seeking to raise awareness of mental health issues. A Manchester devotee, avid reader, lover of prose in all its forms and a recent convert to running.

There is nothing like the start of a New Year to stir the will to create intentions, big or small, the start of a year, much like the start of a new week, triggers the desire to refresh ourselves, to be the best we can be.

Last year I started using an app called You, and though my use of it, much like the keeping of my resolutions in the past, has been sporadic, I have found it far more enjoyable than any strict laws I have previously placed on myself from January 1.

The app allows you to choose week actions and playlists from food choices to relationships and has a very supportive community. The greatest two things it has introduced to me through the course of the year is firstly, that I should draw up a bucket list for 2016 and secondly, to reflect and be grateful for all that I have been blessed with in 2017, which I have just completed.

So, let us begin chronologically, with events of 2016 by discussing first the bucket list; which is something I came across previously in a semi-amusing film about a pair of single men who were dying and decided to embark on a bucket list together. A great idea for a movie, but with my cleanish bill of health, it felt a little forced as an idea and I dismissed it.

The You challenge however really grabbed me last year, in that it was not to create a list for the remainder of one’s life, but to create a bucket list for the year. I thought it was terrific; it encouraged participants to choose realistic, yet fun and interesting things to place on the bucket list. It removed the obligation and pressure of resolutions, as it was fun and with a whole year to complete, the pressure was off. I have been lucky enough to have friends and family who have made the completion of the list more attainable, a list that I filled, with challenges and desires great and small.

Among flying a kite, going for a picnic, visiting Harry Potter World and seeing an outdoor movie, I included more ambitious goals and desires such as buying a home in 2016.

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There were things on the list that I never completed, for some reason we never made it to Wales to practice surfing on the artificial wave machine, and I never did make that outdoor movie; but here at the beginning of 2017, I can look back on films of flying a kite, (which ended in me landing in a pile of mud, but with the kite thankfully still mobile), memories of having butterbeer and pushing through the gates into the Great Hall at Hogwarts – I might have turned 32, but it was my birthday after all.

The good thing was that doing these things only made me want to do more. I tried to stop saying no to things so much and tried to say yes more. I went on a colour run, developed close friendships and generally felt more positive most of the time. And after years of hunting and visiting what felt like a hundred homes and facing numerous rejections on offers, we finally found the home myself and my partner had been looking for. I believe it was this attitude that has made 2016, despite some difficult times, one of the best years of my life to date.

The last challenge that 'You' set its participants on the eve of 2017 was again not to make resolutions., but instead to reflect on the successes, the joys and the mind healing medicine that were the memories of 2016.

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I started with a small page, and at first it wasn’t easy. It’s not always easy to sidestep the negative, but as they came to mind, others followed until the page was full of tiny writing of big moments of happiness.

The bucket list didn’t get completed, but there’s a new one in the making. I want to do a 5k run and I want to look after myself better, but I also want to look out for new forms of fun and open my heart to all that I can be in 2017. I feel more inspired by my reflections than I believe I ever would be by a list of things I felt forced to give up.