What’s your definition of risk?

If someone asked me if I was a risk-taker by nature, I would say absolutely not. Hell no. I don’t take risks! I’m sensible, logical, practical, and I want an easy life.

Except, if I look at the choices I’ve made, I don’t think it would be right to say, categorically, that I’m not a risk-taker. And the thing I’m about to do next? Well, that is one big-ass risk.

But what is a risk, anyway? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

A situation involving exposure to danger’


The possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen‘.

If I think about how I would define a risk, it would simply be:

Stepping out my comfort zone.

You know, that zone where you feel safe and secure. Where everything is familiar. Where, if you step out of that bubble, you’re faced with the unknown. A place where you can’t feel safe because you don’t have your bearings. A place where you can’t feel secure because you’ve been uprooted. A place that isn’t familiar because you’ve never been there before.

But let me ask you this. How did you find your comfort zone in the first place?

You weren’t born into it. You found your way there through a series of decisions. Many of those decisions will have been decisions you’d never made before. Does that make them risks? Some would argue yes (ahem, me). Doesn’t every decision affecting your life have an element of risk attached? Of taking you from where you are to where you’re going?

You can never be sure of the consequences.

I struggle with the concept of the comfort zone. I know I have one, and I know I like it (clue is in the name) but I also know I want to push myself out of it and into a new one. A better one. And that alone suggests that a comfort zone can only be comfortable for so long. Like a bed.

I remember buying the bed for my flat almost half a decade ago – good lord – and I’d narrowed it down to two. The lady said to me, “pick the one you would most like to crawl into when you get home from work and you’re really tired“. I kept running from one to the other, trying to decide. Eventually, I settled on one. Squishy, luxurious, ever-so-dream-inducing. We’re still together. It’s served me well, but it’s developed a few little lumps (I couldn’t afford memory foam, ok), and you can tell that even the bed is getting tired. In another few years I’ll probably be able to feel the springs.

Something that was once so wonderfully comfortable, after a little while and a little wear and tear, loses its comfort. Comfort becomes adequacy. Adequacy becomes discomfort. 

When you really think about it, how comfortable is your comfort zone? What’s keeping you in it?

And if you pushed yourself into something new, something which initially makes you feel small, scared, intimidated, vulnerable or <insert negative here>, could you completely rejuvenate the comfort you experience?

I guess that all depends on your definition of comfort.

This ‘thing’ I’m doing next. It terrifies me. It’s the opposite of comfortable. My comfort zone is on another flipping planet. But it’s the comfort I believe I can find as a result of taking a risk that spurs me on.

And if I let the fear of change stop me, I’d regret it more than I regret just eating half a tub of Haagen-Dazs. Which is a lot.

So tell me, what’s your definition of risk?


Dealing with doubts


Doubts. The little buggers. Creeping up on us, wriggling around in our brains, leaking into all our positivity by screaming ‘BUT WHAT IF?‘. I have a lot of them.

In some ways, they’re healthy. They can prevent rash decisions, mistakes, and foolish behaviour. But, do they go too far? And by going too far I mean, do they limit me? Do they hold me back from doing the things I should do?

This had me thinking, are doubts actually akin to a conscience? That little voice of reason? Are doubts actually just balancing out the right and wrong choices to make and actions to take? I don’t know.

What I do know is that doubts have to be challenged. Doubts exist to stop us from doing, rather than compelling us to do. I want to be a doer. So, naturally, that means I have to challenge any doubts I have about ‘doing’.

I’ve had to face a lot of doubts recently. I’m still facing them. Part of me thinks I should let them win. They’re right! I can’t do it. It’s a silly idea. But the braver side of me deduces that doubts are not real. Their lack of tangibility equals a lack of reality. In other words, doubts might not come true.

For example, one of the doubts I’m facing at the moment is, ‘It will probably fail, so what’s the point?‘. Well, the point is, it might not fail, actually. If I was to listen to that doubt, I would be repressing the strongest form of myself. I would be wrapping an invisible chain around my own potential.

I would be contributing to my own failure. By not trying.

Not trying means not achieving.

And I will never know what I can achieve unless I try. I think that’s the answer to life, don’t you?

But in order for us to take that small step, or make that giant leap, we have to deal with the doubts. This is the best way I can sum it up:

Those seeds of doubt that have planted themselves in your head? You must starve them of water. You must starve them of water until they dry and wilt and eventually turn to dust. 

Be rational, of course. Doubts only grow themselves in order to protect us. But it is for us to realise when our doubts are growing more than we are. And, in those circumstances, it’s our responsibility to stunt them. To find the strength to quash what is hindering us. Because, if you let your doubts grow, they will transform from seeds into weeds.

And weeds are no good to anyone.

Weeds are spoilers. They thread themselves through all that is good and try to take over. Let them spread too far and the damage will be irremediable. The scales will tip in favour of your doubts and there will be no turning back.

Don’t let yourself reach that point.

You control your doubts, and the effect they have on your life. Not the other way round.

For the love of dad

For the love of dad

My parents have found my blog.

They knew I wrote one, but it only came up in conversation recently when my mum said she had seen one of my Instagram photos. She is definitely not on Instagram, so I racked my brains to figure out how. Ding. Blog.

In said blog, I refer to my mum a couple of times, mainly to say that she’s always right. Because she pretty much is. Luckily I inherited that gene, right Olly?

But dad felt left out. He’s 100% not always right, bless him, so I couldn’t put otherwise. Instead, here are just a few reasons why my dad is, and has always been, a top bloke.

1. When I had detention in school, he would sign my forms for me and agree not to tell mum (sorry mum).

2. He watched almost every game of netball I played when I was younger – that’s a LOT of games – and cheered for me like a champion.

3. When I had a paper round aged 14, he would get up at the crack of dawn and drive me round all of the houses so I didn’t have to cycle. Mum did this for me sometimes, too. Are they legends or what?

4. He could never stay angry at me for long, even when I was really naughty. Like the time I poured yoghurt over my sister’s head, or carved a star into my bedroom wall with a compass (those really are tips of the iceberg).

5. When I decided it was a swell idea to run away from home, he came to find me in the dark. (Young = stupid.)

6. On holiday, he would sing a duet of Wet Wet Wet’s ‘Love is all Around’ with me at karaoke.

7. Once, after he had dropped me off at uni and was heading home, I called him to say there was a spider in my room and pleaded with him to come back and extract it. He did.

8. He calls me kiddo*.

9. He has a 12-string guitar in the loft that he can still play on demand and it’s awesome.

10. On the day I qualified as a Solicitor he told me he was the proudest dad in the world. I know I don’t practice law any more, but I hope he’s still proud.

*although he also once called me a turd.

What snowboarding taught me about falling, and getting back up again

Snowboarding like a badass in Italy

The name Suzanne means ‘graceful white lily’. Well, let me tell you, there was nothing graceful about my last week’s escapades. Last week was the week my arse met the mountains. Over and over again.

Despite my penchant for sporting activities, my parents never thought to shove me down a big white hill on skis when I was younger. Probably sensible. But after spending so long saying ‘I’ve never done that’, I decided 26 should be the age I spend an eye-watering amount of money on a holiday where I don’t even get a tan.

So chaps, that is what I did.

My sister and I were both snow sport virgins, but our other halves were not. They did their own thing in the mornings while little sibling and I spent some quality time with an Italian named Lucio whose favourite phrases were ‘pay attention’, ‘don’t worry’, and ‘how long time ago’. At least he learnt our names though – there was a kid in the class he referred to as ‘boy’.

Anyhow, Lucio was a good snowboarding teacher and, most importantly, PATIENT with us. He must have looked at us falling about like the most efficient dominos and thought ‘what is wrong with these English people’. At one point I toppled backwards and hit my head so hard I cried like a baby. But he just said ‘don’t cry, don’t worry’, and helped me get back up. We held hands. It was borderline romantic (sorry Olly).

In the afternoons after lessons we would meet up with the other halves and they would witness all the progress we had made in the morning turn to s***. I’ve never cried so much on a holiday. I mean, seriously, holidays are supposed to be where happy gets made. At one point I fell so hard on my face my goggles branded me and I may have chipped a tooth. Another time I fell over so badly an actual tantrum happened. I took off my board and stormed down the mountain on foot.

It felt like I kept taking one step forward, and two back. It was immensely frustrating.

And every time I fell, I was more tentative of going again. Because I was scared of falling again.

But this meant I restricted myself – trying to snowboard with tension in your body is literally setting yourself up for a fall. You have to relax for it to work.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see achievements in perspective. At the start of the holiday I could only just stand up on the board, let alone ride down a mountain on it. After four days I was riding down a mountain on it, and occasionally falling over. But instead of focusing on how far I’d come, I was consumed by how far I still had to go to be ‘good’. Good by my standard. Which pretty much means the new Jenny Jones.

This is a flaw of mine. Looking at the negatives over the positives.

But, I started to see, falling over wasn’t a bad thing. Falling over meant I was trying, pushing, myself, and not just staying where I was comfortable. Even though I didn’t want to fall over (it hurt, a lot, and after a few days my body was really suffering), I knew that if I didn’t then I wasn’t getting any better.

If I didn’t fall, I wasn’t learning.

The important thing was my actions after a fall. I could roll around in the snow whimpering like a small mountain goat and thinking ‘I’m rubbish, I can’t do it, if I was good then I wouldn’t be falling’, or I could get straight back up and try again, being aware of what made me fall in the first place, and trying to avoid repeating it.

Apply this to life. Every day, every week, every year, we fall. In one way or another. We bruise, we feel pain, we wonder what the hell we’re doing for life to suck so much.

But the real value we get from those falls is the way we recover. Brush ourselves off, stand back up, tall, and deal with them. Make life better than it was before those falls.

We can learn so much if we let ourselves. If we recognise that falling is all part of growing, and that if we aren’t falling we aren’t trying hard enough.

Remember, if we don’t experience any pain, we can never know how sweet the pleasure of success is.

We can never find our limits unless we push ourselves beyond them.

And despite the five bruises I have on my backside right now, despite the aches threaded through my entire body, despite the mark on my face that is only just starting to fade, I already want to get back up on a mountain and snowboard the best bejeezus I can out of it.

My reversed lent


I’m not religious. That’s not to say I haven’t given things up for lent before, I have (tried). Just not for religious reasons. Yes, I understand lent is about penance and self-denial, but deprivation isn’t what I’m looking for right now. I’m looking for enrichment. That’s why I’m using lent as a reason to add something to my days, rather than take something away.

This year, there will be no commitment to giving up chocolate. There will instead be a commitment to write. Outside of work. Every. Single. Day. It will be tough. Especially as I’ll be on holiday for a week of it.

Lent is about challenging yourself to do without, but I’m challenging myself to do with. To do with a pen and paper or a keyboard and screen. To do with thoughts and words and ideas. To do with taking a blank page and embellishing it in whatever way I feel like. I’m not giving myself minimum word counts to achieve – I’m someone who believes firmly in quality over quantity – but I am pledging to create something, every 24 hours.

Doing this will hopefully bring me closer to the elusive sense of purpose I seek. Seeing things come to life, literally through my fingers, in a few short weeks. Seeing how far I can go. How much I can grow. No more ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I’m too tired’, or ‘Shall we stick Netflix on?’.

Having ambition is one thing, but achieving ambition is another.

The people that feel like home

Six chicks

What is it about the people that, when you are with them, make you feel like you’re at home? My awkward and uncomfortable tendencies can easily crop up when I’m around people, to the point that, sometimes, I would rather just be on my own. But with those certain few, those special ones, when you are with them it’s just perfect. Nothing matters. You can be you, stripped back, flawed, and un-judged.

Since moving to Cardiff I have met some truly wonderful friends that I hope will stick around in this life of mine for a very long time. But, back home, where this life of mine all started, there are five little gems that mean a hell of a lot to me. And it’s not that we speak all that often – I don’t even get to see them more than about twice a year (and that’s challenge enough) – it’s that when I do see them, it’s as if I never left.

I’m the first to admit my hopelessness at staying in touch. I put it off, tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow, and then probably forget. With some people, this means friendship turns to dust. The bond breaks. Because what is a friendship without contact? But with others, it just doesn’t matter. With them, it’s how it always was.

So, I just want to say thanks to you five. You know who you are. Thanks for being awesome little balls of fun, laughter, wine, melted cheese, and love. Thanks for being with me on the ups, and being there for me on the downs. Thanks for making me certain that it doesn’t matter where we all end up, you will always feel like home.

Stress really stresses me out

Outsourcing stress

The word ‘busy’ suitably defines my time at work this week. We’ve been working on a tender the size of my backside (which is pretty big). I don’t know what it is about deadlines, but it always seems to go to the wire. Goodbye zen, hello heart palpitations. One part of this tender involved my first major contribution. Lots and lots of writing, and the responsibility for making it sparkle all on my shoulders. That’s pressure. That’s getting so absorbed in something it takes your heart and soul for a little while. That’s stress having its way with your body through pounding headaches.

Believe me, when the pressure is off I know exactly how to relax. I’m pretty good at closing the ‘work’ door of my brain. But when there is work to be done, and a limited time to do it in, I go batshit crazy. Stress seems to control me. And it’s really rather annoying. Annoying to the point that I actually get stressed out at how stressed I am. Yesterday I left work when I simply couldn’t do any more. My brain had frazzled itself and shut down of its own accord – just like my computer does sometimes. I got home, popped some pills (disclaimer: they were over the counter ones) and put myself to bed to try and beat the pain with rest.

But could I rest? No. I was too tense. Too uptight. And then my brain woke up. I can’t complain too much because I ended up being very productive lying there in a dark room; I managed to nail a headline that I’d been struggling with. But that’s not the point. The point is that when stress does rear its silly ugly head, I let it take over. I let it rule everything. And it’s bad for my health, and my sanity.

At university I got so stressed that my hair started to fall out. I took some stress relief technique classes and, although I’m not sure they helped directly, I did get a better grip on coping with stress. At least, I thought I did. It hasn’t felt that way this week. Maybe I’ve just become better at relaxing when I don’t have things to worry about, and then gone into total breakdown when I do. Whatever it is, stress is not conducive to productivity. A little can be helpful, but a lot can send you over the edge.

I need to learn to take a breath and remind myself that stress is not my friend. So I shouldn’t give it the time of day. When it walks down the path towards my front door, I must try not to let it in. But that is so much easier said than done.

Acknowledging our achievements


I’ve been neglectful of this little blog over the last couple of weeks. There’s no real reason for it, I guess I just ‘haven’t found the time’ to blog, but that’s a poor excuse. There is always time, I just need to utilise it more efficiently.

One thing I did find time for was writing an article to submit to the Huffington Post. The last 12 months have been significant for me for a number of reasons, one being my career change. Ok, my two career changes. Writing about this was, in some way, soothing. Taking thoughts from my head and leaking them through my computer keyboard on to a screen is incredibly therapeutic, and the Huffington Post article was no exception. Those changes were a big deal for me, and my life has totally changed as a result. So to know that I was being judged on that was a little scary. What if the editors didn’t like it? What if it wasn’t interesting enough? What if the writing was too weak?

When I found out it had been accepted for publication I was really, really happy. My thoughts, my words, were going to be available to the millions of readers of the site. That is an achievement. A success. And I’m going to be able to contribute on a regular basis. That is even more of an achievement. I think it’s something worthy of some pride.

Shortly after my article was published, I had a comment from a reader. It wasn’t negative, but it challenged some of my advice (not that I would like to class it as advice, per se). For example, the commenter said that if a person had children, they couldn’t just ‘decide’ to change their career path if it resulted in a drop in earnings. Obviously, individual circumstances determine the decisions we make, but I honestly believe there is always a way to make your life better. It might mean making a sacrifice, but that sacrifice isn’t necessarily a pay-cut. Plus, I don’t have children, so I didn’t have to worry about that when making my decision.

I guess what the comments taught me is that my writing – naturally – relates to my own personal experiences, so I cannot resonate with everyone who might read it. That would be impossible. And to try and write something to please everyone would probably result in a poor piece of writing. I need to feel confident in my abilities to reach out to a particular group of people. A group of people who might be at a similar stage of life, who might have had similar experiences, who might need that something to help them on their way, or who might simply like my writing!

If I am to put myself out there then I need to accept there are potential consequences. Negative reactions and comments that challenge or criticise. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that my writing is out there in the first place, having been deemed good enough to publish. And it shouldn’t stop me from going to find new success.

My own personal achievements still exist, and I should acknowledge them. Just as you should acknowledge yours.

An honest look at 2014

2014 is over. It was a year of changes, choices, risks, mistakes, happiness, tragedy, love and revelations. I feel older and wiser thanks to 2014. Finally I feel I am where I should be. But 2014 has also been a bitch. It has given, but it has also taken away. So despite all of the steps forward I have taken over the past year, I will be happy to leave 2014 behind.


When the changes really started to happen. I quit my job as a Solicitor to pursue something more ‘satisfying’. The law firm I worked for had offered me a secondment in one of their clients, an enormous company which, had I wanted to be a lawyer for the rest of my working life, would have provided invaluable experience. But I was petrified. I didn’t want to do it. Doing it would expose me as the fraud I felt like. I couldn’t cut it as a lawyer and soon everyone would know. That’s how insecure I felt in my job. I left it about 10 days before I responded to the offer. Telling my boss I was turning down the secondment because I was resigning was absolutely terrifying. Ironically it was also the day I received a tribunal judgement for a case which I had argued, and won, for the same client that offered me a secondment. At least I was leaving with a 100% advocacy record.

After I had made my decision everyone kept telling me I was so brave. I wondered if I was just stupid. It turns out I was both. You know that little voice in your head? Listen to it. It’s usually right. And so is my mother, but then I always knew that.


When I was fuelled by optimism and enthusiasm. I was setting up a new legal division at a recruitment company in Cardiff, despite no recruitment experience. I thought the legal experience would see me through. It did, to a point. But I discovered after a while that ‘recruitment’ is just another word for ‘sales’. And I’m no salesperson. When you have psychological issues with the phone, you know recruitment / sales is not your calling. No pun intended. But I persevered. I had made a huge change and I needed to stick at it. It would get easier. I would get better. Right?


When the cracks started to show. There have been many instances in my life where I felt I haven’t really belonged. Like I was an outsider. I’m a friendly soul but I can be socially awkward, and I have been told on more than one occasion that I can come across as cold. It isn’t intentional, it’s just me. I’m very blunt and straight-forward, and some people don’t like that. Anyhow, the recruitment company I worked for was a world away from what I was used to. The people were nice, welcoming, fun. But I knew I didn’t fit in. They were all good at their jobs, so committed and resilient. They didn’t take things personally. I was nervous to make a cold call and if I didn’t get the right results I felt like shit. All I wanted to do was send emails. I was comfortable there, where I could consider my words and construct elegant sentences. I have always loved to write. But sending emails in a recruitment company was not the done thing. My boss told me my emails were written so well he could frame them, but that as a recruiter I needed to refrain from typing and pick up the dreaded phone. This was a slow-burning lightbulb moment, if such a thing exists. Maybe an energy saving lightbulb which takes ages to light up properly. Should I do something with words? Not legal technical words, but creative words?

My cousin also got married in March which was lovely. She looked beautiful. I’ve not been to many weddings so it’s still a bit of a novelty. She’s my age (26) which is a little strange. I’m not bothered about when I get married, I just really hope my grandmothers are alive to see it.


When the cracks turned to holes. I knew things were not right. They were really rather wrong. But what could I do? I had made my bed, I was supposed to lie in it. But I only tossed and turned. I was beyond miserable. I was scared of going to work because of what I would have to do and how much I knew I hated it. I wondered what had happened to the enthusiasm and the positive attitude. I was failing at something that others found easy. Granted, it was a process driven job and I bore easily. But I was still failing. I was astonished at the treatment I received. Rejection is one thing, but being spoken to with a lack of respect and being hung up on for simply doing my job is another.


When I resigned. After a wonderful birthday weekend in Barcelona courtesy of Olly, I realised recruitment was not for me. My boss realised that too. Although I had set some really good foundations for the division, it was not something I had passion for. I had no other job lined up. Going back to law was not an option. My parents told me categorically I couldn’t quit a job without having another one to go to. ‘You have a mortgage to pay’, they said. Well, I ignored them and handed in my resignation. My boss was not surprised. He told me to find something I loved. The question was, what? I had a week of garden leave. I needed to find out. It took me a couple of days to admit to my parents what I had done. And I didn’t even have the balls to call them. I sent an email. Classic me.

Quite by chance, my parents had booked a cottage in Exeter for a week. I joined them to try and figure things out. Fresh air, countryside, time with the dogs. Perfect. During this time, I arranged to go for a drink with a contact I had made a couple of years previous. He was the Director of an advertising company. When I was back from Exeter we met and I explained my circumstances, expecting nothing but hoping for something. Some advice. A work placement perhaps. A few days later the unbelievable happened. He offered me a permanent job.


When I discovered the world of advertising. Starting at the agency was a revelation. Not least because I could go to work in jeans. Jeans! Already it was more me. The people were, and still are, great. I seemed to fit in. I was actually enjoying going to work each day. Immediately I started a large copywriting project for the Welsh Government. That’s a pretty big deal. I felt like I had got really lucky. It was a right place right time situation. Or was it fate? Could I actually have found something I both loved and was good at contemporaneously?


When my whole world fell apart. The month started so well. Olly and I spent a beautiful week exploring the island of Sardinia and my new job was still the best decision I had ever made. And then the worst possible thing imaginable happened. MH17. It took the lives of my witty, wonderful Uncle Andrew, beautiful, intelligent Aunt Estella, and two little cousins, Jasper (14) and Friso (12) who had their whole lives ahead of them and were excited to live them. It’s impossible to put into words how this unexpected tragedy of global magnitude affected me and my family. And it will continue to do so forever. The loss was so enormous. And so unnecessary. I’ve been through every emotion. Disbelief, despair, anger, sorrow.

When we were sure that they had all boarded the plane, and so were never coming back, I went home for a week. It was splashed all over the news and I became PR handler for the family. We were hounded by the media. A journalist from The Times had tracked down our house and was knocking on our door for a story before it had even been announced on the news that Andrew was one of the 10 Britons who died. When we refused and shut the door in her face she sat in her car which was parked round the corner, wrote a letter explaining that it would be better to give the true story rather than have something printed which was inaccurate, and posted it though the door. Again we ignored it. My mum and sister then went out in the car and she tailed them. It was a disgrace. She was one of many. Eventually we decided it would be best to release a statement and a photo of the family and leave it at that. Seeing it all play out on the television was heartbreaking. I bought all of the newspapers the following day, their faces splashed across them. I wondered why I did it to myself.

One positive which came from the month was that I started this blog. It gave me something to focus on.


When I tried to live normally again. Olly was my rock. It was a low place to be and I felt guilty for smiling or laughing. We attended the remembrance service of my family which was overwhelming. And to make things worse my beloved dog Hollie passed away. She was our first dog and was 12 years young. I busied myself with work and blogging. The blog was supposed to be all about good things. Things that made me smile. Positively. Happiness. I wanted to prove that you could find some light in darkness. I baked a little, tried something crafty, went wake boarding. The idea was to make more of life and to ensure that life was a content one.

For the bank holiday we went away to Pembrey with my sister and her boyfriend and played endless games of Articulate.


I genuinely can’t remember anything noteworthy about September.


When I tried new things. At the start of the month Olly’s parents took us to Malta for a week. Sunshine and sea. It was so good to escape. We did three scuba dives which were incredible. When home, in my pursuit of contentment I decided to push myself out of the comfort zone. To discover my inner crafter I started a pottery class at Cardiff School of Art and Design. A very therapeutic activity. I now have the finished results and I must say I impressed myself. All family members got pots for Christmas. I also joined the local circus, as you do. My aerial skills improved but still leave a lot to be desired. I found my discipline though (I think) in the flying trapeze which I will be continuing in 2015.


When I felt like I found my stride. Work was becoming more comfortable in the sense of having a clue what I was talking about. I even bagged my first client. A pretty impressive one. I sort of shrugged it off though but work seemed chuffed, told me I was being too modest, and bought me gourmet pastries which included egg custard tarts. Winning.


When I had some quality family time. Work was really busy. I had a lot of responsibility and quite a lot of authority too. I officially passed my probation which was super news. I know this is where I should be for now and I am so relieved to have realised that. Having said that, when Christmas break came – almost two weeks off! – I was bouncing up and down. Spending quality time with the people closest to me in spirit but not always in distance was a joy. Early morning frosty walks with mum and dad (and Benji the dog obviously), lots of tasty food, more games of Articulate, catching up with my old-school girlfriends, necking vino. Olly and I spent New Year round a camp fire at the top of my gran’s garden with a load of her neighbours drinking mulled cider and eating sausages. Amazing.


Now it is 2015 and I am back to work tomorrow. I’m not dreading it, but I am dreading the alarm. I haven’t really set resolutions, but I want to make it a good year. Put it this way: I don’t want to be in exactly the same place as I am now this time next year. I want to push more boundaries, keep trying new things, see new places, be better at my job, continue sustaining a great relationship, keep old friends and make new ones. And lots of other things.

I can never forget 2014 – 17 July will forever be part of me – but I’m ready for 2015 to bring it on.

New discoveries

New discoveries I do not profess to have a terribly interesting life. I like what I like. I dislike what I dislike. I like cosy evenings in pyjamas reading a book. I dislike spending late nights in seedy clubs surrounded by people who are convinced that to have a good time you should ‘get smashed’. And I’m realising that, as long as I’m happy doing whatever I’m doing, nothing else really matters. If I’m judged for my preferences, I really don’t care. What is the point in spending time doing things I DON’T want to do, when there are so many other things I know I would rather do?

Having said that, I am always open to new discoveries. Food is a great example of this. I used to be an incredibly fussy eater, and I still am to a point, but I am so much more open minded and willing to explore the unknown these days. So even though I know what I like, I am still happy to try something new. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to ever have it again. It isn’t just food though. I like to think I embrace this philosophy much more generally, as and when necessary. For the rest of the time, I’m happy just doing what I do. Being me. Life doesn’t have to be interesting or exciting. Not all the time. It just has to make me content.

I have a rather addictive personality. And by that, I don’t mean it’s impossible to dislike me. It’s probably quite possible. I simply mean that I become quite easily obsessed with things. For instance, if I hear a new song I love, I will listen to it on repeat. I once went a month having cheese and ham toasted sandwiches pretty much every single day. You get the picture. This week I made two new discoveries. Discoveries which fascinated and compelled me. The first was this. This might seem interesting but insignificant. But to me, it was interesting and incredibly significant. Why? When I was a law student at Cardiff University, I was assigned to this very case as part of the Innocence Project. I read Dwaine George’s case files. I went through interview transcripts, legal papers, trial documents. Evidence. I worked in a small team to try and find the inconsistencies and explain them. I’m disappointed to say, we didn’t get far. But then, some seven or eight years later, I discover that this very same man has been set free as a result of the Cardiff University Innocence Project. His conviction has been ruled ‘no longer safe’. He has been a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

I can’t really explain how it made me feel to read about it. I can’t even imagine a situation like that. For an innocent person to be found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit. It’s terrifying. If I knew back then, for sure, that Dwaine was innocent, I would like to think my commitment to the case would have been more substantial. But you can never be sure. Especially as a young naïve student.

This leads me to my second discovery. This is where my addictive personality comes into play. In a strange coincidence, completely unrelated to the above, it concerns an investigation into a man convicted of a murder in 1999. His name is Adnan Syed. He has always maintained that he is innocent of the crime of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. If you recognise these names, you probably know about Serial. Serial is a podcast series narrated by Sarah Koenig, an investigative journalist, who delves headfirst into trying to figure out this case. I had never listened to a podcast series, but from the first episode, I was hooked. I finished listening to all 12 in a matter of days. I love this kind of stuff. It’s a story, but it’s real. I think that’s why it’s been so popular. And you can really feel how much Sarah wants to get to the bottom of what I consider to be a mess of a case. The kind of case where I, perhaps coming from a legal background, thinks how on earth could someone have been convicted of first degree murder based on that evidence. Or, more appropriately, lack of it. I won’t spoil it for you if it’s something you want to check out for yourself (which I would completely recommend by the way), but what I will say is that it is an utterly gripping look into the (American – Baltimore) legal system, people, and memories. So many questions that really suck you in. It’s exceptionally thought-provoking and truly does make me wonder how many miscarriages of justice really do occur. It’s impossible for the legal system to be perfect, to get it right every time, but there are some glaring flaws that I find astonishing. And I’ve sat on a jury myself, so I know the experience from both sides.

I didn’t think I would enjoy a podcast series. I didn’t think it would hold my attention. But my goodness was I wrong. And now that there is a big Serial shaped hole in my life, I will have to discover something else. All ideas welcome.