As the clock struck midnight to end 2014, the words of Claire Morgan from the 2011 movie New Year’s Eve kept echoing in my mind.

“… to stop, and reflect on the year that has gone by, to remember both our triumphs and our missteps, our promises made and broken, the times we opened ourselves up to great adventures…”

Indeed, 2014 has been a year of ‘mixed bag’. Of the many highlights, the first one that greeted me (and my husband) early in the year was one of immense loss and grief as we said goodbye to our devoted, loyal, loving Jack Russell baby. Foreboding as the moment had been, it had done very little to lessen our grief and pain. Losing Sasha after eighteen years of wonderful memories was like losing a vital part of yourself; and just like one whose arm had been chopped off, I went about my days afterwards feeling lost and disoriented.

The first quarter of 2014 had also seen me struggle with the new part-time arrangement at work. Even though I had wholeheartedly embraced the change from full-time work, my plans for more manageable work-life balance and devoting more time on my days off on my writing didn’t pan out quite as planned. I had found myself constantly chasing my tail; so much so I had had to do follow up emails and other work on my days off.

Fortunately, the trying moments of 2014 had been more than balanced by the positives. From February, both my husband and I joined the gym, and I discovered the world of ‘Zumba’. I knew I was too uncoordinated to do Body Step, too self-conscious to do Body Attack, too weak (i.e. no core/muscle strength) to do weightlifting in Body Pump. But Zumba… Zumba has made me look forward to going to the gym and prevent me from suffering from Monday-itis.

By the second quarter of 2014, I had managed to secure another part-time job at another College; a move that had proved to be more beneficial not only professionally, but also personally. In this job, I had found myself being able to tick everything on my weekly To-Do list as the clock struck five on Thursday afternoons; had yet to bring work home, or check on my emails on my days off. Being closer to both my own house and my parents-in-laws’, it had meant that I could frequently visit and catch up; something that I thoroughly enjoyed (and hopefully they did, too!).

A chance browsing through Gumtree saw us absolutely smitten with a then six-week-old Jack Russell x Maltese puppy, and in May, Nala entered our lives. Even though in many ways, she shared a lot of similarities with Sasha, this particular little bundle came with her own set of personalities. The girl loved water; whereas other dogs I knew would avoid this like a plaque, Nala would walk into the shower every night, wishing we wouldn’t put her back out. She played fetch really well, devotedly returning the ball to us (unless she was getting tired and in need of a rest). And from 2-4PM, she would ‘drop dead’ and take a nap, without fail.

In September-October, my husband and I, along with some of our family members, travelled to the Philippines, taking advantage of ridiculously cheap airfares from one of the budget Philippines’ airlines. Unlike the last time we went to the Philippines, where my husband and I coughed and sniffled from the third day we arrived until a few days after we arrived back home, we were both in top health. Suffice to say that because of this, this trip became ‘the trip of a lifetime’; one of the best holidays we’ve ever had. We literally shopped ‘til we dropped, ate all the good food the country had to offer (and more), caught up with more cousins and relatives, and took part in more daring activities the beach had to offer than the last time.

How has your 2014 been? What were the highlights from the year that was? Share your experiences on the comment below.