2016, you ain’t so bad…

Without going into the all-too-familiar drawl of how ridiculous 2016 has been for the world, it has felt like there has been a particular wealth of Bad Shit™ going down, so in response to that, and to go out on more of a high than a low I’ve decided to put together a list of all the good stuff I’ve accomplished personally this year. So, here goes…

Got married
On 20th August I became a wife, and got to throw the biggest most kick-ass party of my life and share it with all the awesome people I know. This was by far one of the biggest and most stressful undertakings of my life, and I feel massively proud of myself and the husband for having pulled it off and having hand-made/designed almost everything. We did exactly what we wanted, how we wanted to do it and if we hadn’t then it wouldn’t have been the great success that it was. So, here’s a couple of pics and a video of our first dance, which we choreographed ourselves a 2 weeks before the day (and I pulled off with what I now recognise to be a broken, if not severely fractured, toe!)

Gaming for Others
GFO is one of the things I’m most proud of creating and our annual Easter marathon is the thing I look forward to most each year. Aside from being an excuse to hang out with my friends and play games for 4 days straight, I love chatting with our loyal viewers each year and making a fool out of myself by dancing around on camera to raise money for, in my opinion, the nicest and most worthwhile charity I know of. This year’s marathon was a great success, raising a total of £2205.22 for SpecialEffect and I can’t wait for Easter 2017.

Towards the end of last year, SpecialEffect approached me and the rest of the GFO guys to represent them as ambassadors which was a massive honour, and I’ve done what I can to promote them where appropriate. I also helped them to link their GameBlast17 event with JustGiving to make registration easy for users (which, turns out, not such an easy task) and have been thrilled to help them out any way I can.

Joined B3
Writing and gaming are two things  I love to do but struggle to justify finding time for, so writing about games is literally the greatest thing I could hope to do. Luckily I managed to find a rag-tag bunch of geeks who want me to do it for them and showcase it on their website! It’s helping me to develop my writing style and allowing me to play a load of awesome games I probably wouldn’t have know about otherwise. It’s also massively upped my confidence, and allowed me to jump in head first at EGX this year and get talking to a load of awesome people I may have been too shy to approach before.

Aside from all of this, I’ve gained some great friends to boot – even if most of our conversations are played out via gifs. Go and check out the site over at www.bigbossbattle.com

locked in a cage at EGX

Launched GivePenny 
In January I launched a project I have been sole developer on, have had a massive input into and am hugely proud of. GivePenny is a fundraising platform which puts the sponsorship element back into charitable giving, allowing you to raise money not only through completing events but also through training for them. It’s a hugely flexible system, which is constantly being added to, and adjusted in real-time based on user feedback. You can check it out at www.givepenny.com – it even made the Guardian online at launch!

Been a force for change at work
This year I took it upon myself to try to encourage the company I work for to be a bit more charitable, as we are a co-operative. Towards the end of the year I managed to get us organised enough to get involved in Wear it Pink for Breast Cancer Now and we raised just shy of £200 in a day.

I ran for a position on the board which I unfortunately missed out on this time round, however I received a lot of positive and encouraging feedback and have become more involved with trying to make changes where I can. This has included board proposals to change inefficient internal processes, as well as allow myself and my colleagues time for professional development not tied to client-facing work. I’ve stood up for myself and others when I’ve felt it appropriate in order to create a better working environment all round. I also helped to organise the company’s 10th birthday celebrations which was a great success and a fun time!

boob cakes for Wear it Pink

Every year November rolls around and I toy with the idea of trying to write a novel in a month, but undoubtedly chicken out before making a start. This year I actually managed to put fingers to keys and hammer out a good few chapters of an idea I’ve been rolling around in my brain for a while. Although I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, I did better than I ever have before, and the practice of making myself sit down and just write for an hour a day was massively cathartic.

Learned angularJS and laravel
I’ve invested personal and professional time into expanding my professional skills and have managed to learn and implement angularJS in order to build a commercial hypbrid app for a client, and have the basics of Laravel down and am pressing on with it daily. I had begun to feel like my professional development had stagnated towards the begining of the year, however, pushing myself to learn again has sparked an interest I thought I had lost.

source: http://devhumour.com/media/trying-to-learn-any-programming-language-100

Quit choir
This was something that I had been wanting to do for a while but couldn’t quite admit to myself. As much as I love being in a choir, the one I was in was not right for me. It had become more of a job than a fun thing to be a part of, and was requiring far too much of my already busy schedule in order to simply keep up. Although I commend them for putting the effort in to achieve the results they were looking for, when it came down to it, the style of teaching being employed was not appropriate for me. I imagine I will take it up again at some point in the not-too-distant future and am open to suggesting for choirs in and around Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon/Leamington Spa!

Joined tap
This was again something I’d been wanting to do for a while, but I’d failed to find the right group. I had previously been travelling over to a group in Worcester once a week, but it wasn’t really clicking (pardon the tap-based pun), so when my friend Sarah approached me with an advert from someone she works with for a group nearby I jumped at the chance. Aside from getting me out of the house and actually doing something active once a week, it’s a great laugh and means I’ve got a fun hobby to replace what was lacking at choir.

So that’s my list. There are definitely a tonne of things I’ve missed, and just looking through my photos to get pictures for this post I’m grinning at a bunch of ridiculous and hilarious things that are down to knowing such brilliant people. So I just want to say a massive thanks to anyone who has helped fill this year with good times – don’t you dare stop doing that next year.

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