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Looking Back, Looking Forward

I've often started the conversation of what I've been up to this year with 'it's been a bit of a meh year', but that's not right. It can be hard

a month ago

Latest Post A Year In Read-View 2022 by Edward Shaddow public

I've often started the conversation of what I've been up to this year with 'it's been a bit of a meh year', but that's not right. It can be hard to see the big picture when you're in the middle of it I guess. In February I started a new job and technically a new career (more on that later), and while COVID put the breaks on my dancing life, I used that time to refocus on myself. This post is about taking time out to breathe and reflect on how far I (we) have come this year, and look up and look forward into the coming year.

The year that was

One of the biggest milestones of the year was finally finishing my degree. After six long years of studying and working full time (running a busy library for two of those years), I am finally a 'librarian'. The last two units I completed were in creative writing and much to my surprise I actually enjoyed them. After struggling through all the previous units (through boredom more than anything), I was able to be creative and even got some much needed validation on my writing. It probably helped that I had somewhat of an interest in the unit and a pretty awesome tutor to help me through it. The question of 'should I do a creative writing course' did come up, but I don't think that will happen any time soon.

Portrait of the author.

As part of my personal growth, I've started indulging in my interests rather than feeling shame or guilt over taking time for me. To that end I've been enjoying watching movies this year, even going so far as to sign up for multiple memberships to cinemas. I'm tracking it all on Letterboxd and writing the occasional review on there, I even wrote a review for local zine VHS Tracking's noir edition. On a similar note I treated myself to a WA Opera subscription this year and saw three amazing operas, it was so good I'm going to subscribe again for 2023.

My other major indulgence of 2022 was expanding my vinyl collection. I'm afraid to count how many records I bought over the year (and their cost), but taking my time to listen to music, clear of other distractions, is worth it. Further to this indulgence, I took some advice earlier in the year to use those things you've been saving up. Let me tell you, my house has never smelt better since I started using all those fancy candles that were 'too good' to use. If you take any thing into 2023 take this advice, use those candles, eat those chocolates, play those vintage vinyl.

"Carla's right. Why didn't you just spend $13 on an MP3, man?"

The biggest thing for me personally this year was getting an ADHD diagnosis. It was something that came out of left field a year ago and finally got formally diagnosed and treated in May. This is something that has changed my life quite significantly, for the first time I have clarity around how my brain works and the tools to help it. I once referred to this change in mindset as the scene from Dogma where Bethany asks Jay 'What gear are you in?' and he responds 'Gear?' I have spent the better part of my life trying to drive an automatic only to find out it's a manual. Looking back over the last two years I realise how much work I have done to improve my mental health and generally improve myself, and I'm proud of that work. While you can never be entirely done with this kind of work, I'm at a good place to just be and put things into practice.

"GEAR??!"

Professional

For years I have been somewhat of a generalist in the library field. Working in technology, library management systems, and emerging technology has a fairly wide scope and I prided myself on being across most of it. My new job as Digital Preservation Officer has allowed me to narrow that focus onto a specific field, but I have found my wide and varied knowledge has come in handy. Digital preservation was exactly the change I needed, it's allowed me to start at the bottom of a field and absorb all the knowledge I can. It's the exact challenge I needed.

This opportunity has allowed me to achieve things, actual measurable outcomes. Since starting in February I've managed to: create a policy document, document processes, review and document our digitisation requirements, consult on mass digitisation projects, give advice, and dive into Power Automate and Power BI, to name a few things. In between there has been countless PD events, meetings, and learning. I was even nominated for a small staff award for all my work! Doing well and being appreciated for it is one of the things I didn't expect in this role but I'm very glad it's there.

Going into the new year I'll be doing a lot more PD events, visiting other organisations, and even doing a short stint as an acting manager. It's a nice feeling to wake up and actually want to go to work.

Looking forward

At the beginning of 2022 I received a beautiful set of tarot cards from a Kickstarter, each card features artwork from a different artist. I wanted a way to see all the art and decided to draw a new card every Monday and use the digital version as my phone's wallpaper. I started taking note of the card in my daily planner and used it as a fun way to keep mindful during the week, something I picked up from Sophie.

"It’s not that I *believe in* tarot, per se; it’s that I appreciate the way tarot invites you to think about your life through a specific lens for a little while, and then discard that lens and try on a new one tomorrow. I also like anything that is mostly about pictures." - Sophie Lucido Johnson

So I thought it would be fun to do a tarot reading for the year to come, I'll leave the interpretation open but encourage you to do the same or just write down one or two things that you want to be more mindful about in the year to come. Look up and around, as a colleague says to me.

The year ahead...in a very abstract and open to interpretation way.

This post is a lot longer than I had intended but it feels good to blog again. I'm going to try and write more stories and maybe even post on things I've learned in my digital preservation journey. I would love to read about your reflections on the year if that's the encouragement you need to write. Or not, it might be another tough year so here's permission to relax and look after yourself, you don't owe anyone on the internet anything.

Edward Shaddow

Published a month ago