Which was the triumph of the year?
I don't know that it was a very triumphant year, as such. That's okay. Not every year can be. It was a good year, still.

Best trips of the year:

I went hiking in the mountains by myself, five days in Jämtland. It was hard and wonderful; I was strong, experienced and capable.

I went to Grövelsjön with my mum to visit my aunt and uncle and do cross country skiing and it was the best. I've wanted to do more skiing for a long time. I loved it so much.

Liam and I went to the UK for a two week roadtrip, just like we did in 2022. As always, quality time with our UK friends is simply magical.

Best weekend of the year:

I loved having Rachel and Fergus over from the UK in late summer. That (four day) weekend was the perfect blend of daytrips and hanging out and chatting and being quiet in comfortable company.

Katy's and Nick's wedding weekend in Edinburgh was lush - first, their wedding celebration with a cèilidh (how is a cèilidh always just the most fun it is possible to have?!) and then Katy's birthday the day after, with a hike up Arthur's Seat, and brunch. It was all so full of joy.

Honourable mention: We went on a choir weekend with one of my choirs and it was a JOY. It only gets a honourable mention, because I woke up with a cold on our first morning there and working as a choir teacher with a cold is a bit miserable ... But despite that I had a wonderful time and my choir is the best and how did I create this life for myself where I get paid to do this?

Best daytrip of the year:

Lyme Park! What a magical day!


But also, almost every day I spent walking in nature around Gothenburg with friends throughout the year. Three examples:

Leg 5 of Bohusleden, Jonsered - Angereds kyrka, on the first day hot day of the year, in May (and including my first swim of the year)

A snowy walk around Surtesjön

A Thursday in October at Björkö (and including my last swim of the year)

Best party of the year:

Bal-boo-ahh! Dancing and lovely people and Halloween and more dancing and cocktails and decorations and fika and more dancing. It was perfect.

But also, the smaller, sometimes calmer gatherings, with time and space to talk and laugh and be. Space for all the feelings, the quiet, the silly, the mundane. These gatherings charge my batteries. Five examples:

The autumn dinner party Lisa and I planned and threw at hers

Anna's birthday dinner

Our balcony party on a warm June evening

Dinner with Liam, Anna and Henrik

Lisa's adventsmys

What was your greatest success workwise?

Work is going so well. So well! My choirs keep growing, and on top of that, people occasionally want me to sing the blues for them or take photos of them or teach them singing. It's all a success as far as I'm concerned, getting to do what I love because just enough people are willing to pay me for it. :)

Which gig was the most fun?

Sunday night at the Blues Spot in Strasbourg, especially the last set, was absolutely electric. What an honour it is to play with Marcus and Gustav, to create this music with them, to create this magic with them and together with every single one of the dancers dancing to our music. Such an honour.

Project of the year:
I started a vocal ensemble!!!!! I've been missing singing classical(ish) music together with others for a while, and mentioned this idea to my friend Jonathan in June. He was interested, we asked some singers we know, and in the autumn we started rehearsing. It makes me so so happy just thinking about this gang of eight lovely humans that I'm getting to know. They are such brilliant, brillant singers and people; I can't wait to invite you all to our first concert at some point in spring! (The only thing I'd change is that I've had so many colds this autumn and winter that I've missed probably half the rehearsals at this point, which is really annoying. Here's hoping spring comes with more consistent vocal health for me.)

Hobby of the year:

You know what, it's got to be dancing. Balboa is really having a moment in the Gothenburg scene right now and it's SO FUN. As a local teacher it is such a joy to see more and more newbies finding the dance, and loving it. It's got its own momentum now, rather than just being a companion piece to lindy hop. I love dancing it and I love teaching it. I've been neglecting my own learning and development lately though and I look forward to doing more of that in 2024.

I also started learning a bit of house dancing this year, and I'm not great at it but it's SO COOL. (This clip has my teacher in it!)

Speaking of hobbies, I was going to say that this has been a relatively quiet year without much travelling, and when I checked I realised I've been to Copenhagen twice, Oslo, Grövelsjön, Edinburgh twice, Leeds, Brownhills twice, the Peak District, Manchester, London twice, Helsinki, Strasbourg, Bohuslän, Jämtland, and Stockholm twice. :) So yes - I really do love travelling, and I wanted to mention it, but it's not a hobby in itself as much as it is a means to get to do more of my hobbies.

Three songs of the year:
There was only one song of the year this year and that was Andrew by M Fields. A brilliant, brillant song, on repeat, I have loved that song so much this year. (Also it's so incredibly dancey.) (And then also the rest of his music, and then all of Beatenberg (M Field's band) as well.)

Best book you read this year?
I have finally found my way back to reading this year! And that was through the simple means of reading only romance/ feelgood and fantasy. It's been a really great way to get myself to read more - just reading what feels really easy to me. I ended up reading 21 books which is a more normal number for me than the 8-12 books per year I read during and since the pandemic (it was definitely during the pandemic unemployment that I lost my reading focus, which I've since struggled to build back up again).

I had a whole summer of Mhairi McFarlane, read all her novels in the span of a few weeks, and absolutely loved it. I feel like we're finally in a place as a society where the romance and feelgood genres are accepted as "literature" at least in some ways (whatever that means)?. I think those weeks of binge reading Mhairi McFarlane, especially during the summer when I could read while travelling, in the mountains and by the sea, was my best reading experience.

However, I think that my favourite novel of the year in the end wasn't romance, but urban fantasy (set in 1920's Washington, D.C. - such a delight), and it was The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope. Unputdownable!

Any new mountain huts visited?

Yes! I can now add Vålåstugorna to the list of visited mountain huts.

Which clothes did you wear?
Ughhh don't talk to me about clothes. I didn't feel very comfortable in anything this year. I just wear the same old rags until they fall apart. Ughhhh.

Were you happier or less happy this year compared to before?

Gosh, I don't know. There have been ups and downs. Most years I have a good sense of what the "average" of the year has been, but this time, it's been such a clear divide between things in my life: Everything in my life has worked so well this year, except my romantic relationship, and that's due to mental illness that I can't do anything about. And it dulls everything.

What made you sad this year?
Liam's depression. What an absolute slog this year has been, in that sense. It's a lonely feeling to be in a relationship with someone who loves you (don't worry - he definitely loves me), but doesn't have any energy to actually be in a relationship. I'm worn out.

There's hope: Liam got his diagnosis a few weeks ago. He has moderate ADHD, inattentive type (what used to be called ADD). They believe that his anxiety and depression are likely caused by having to manage undiagnosed ADHD for so long. Meds might help him - they help a lot of people. Or they might not. We'll see in the new year.

Also, the state of the world. Constantly, repeatedly.

What made you feel good this year?

Moving my body. Friends. Time spent in nature. When I can combine all three, I'm at my very happiest.

What was the biggest surprise?
CAFFEINE PILLS. Wow people just WOW. I didn't know caffeine pills existed! You can laugh, it's fine. But seriously, I've had this conversation so many times where I talk about the "sleep at dance events" thing, and people will say "but just have some coffee?" and I go "but I HATE coffee" and that's been the end of the conversation, every time.

You see, I go to a dance event or another, and I always want to be able to dance much longer than I'm able to stay awake. (The number of times Liam has searched through venues at the end of dance nights to find a couch in a corner where I've inevitably fallen asleep <3) I have a Very Fixed Sleep Schedule. And that's great! I sleep seven to eight hours per night, and I wake up by myself when I'm rested. I'm almost never tired in my regular, everdyday life. But the thing is, I want the exact same hours every night, weeknight or weekend. Which is a problem if you want to go to a dance event and dance until three, or four ... or seven in the morning. But this summer at Spoonful, I was talking about it with Anna and Kate and they said "try caffeine pills" and I went "????". I tried it that same night and it worked perfectly. Since then that's been my go to every time I want to stay up longer than midnight, and people, it's a DREAM. I take four or five pills over the course of the night, I go to sleep as normal when I want to, and wake up as normal the morning after. IT'S MAGIC

Best buy this year:

This may be recency bias because I bought it just a few weeks ago, but wow I love this coat! I have finally found the perfect coat (long, extremely puffy, not down, not black or brown or gray) and I will NEVER BE COLD AGAIN.

Who meant the most to you this year?

Liam is the love of my life and the light of my soul and the silliest person I know and also the best human.

Did you meet any new people this year?

I MET MY NEPHEW EYVIND for the very first time!!! And what an absolute joy it is that he exists now. I hope to see him again soon. Just remembering holding his little hand makes my heart go all soft.

What did you do for your birthday?

Waffles at home with a bunch of my dearest darlingest friends. And then later at night, when most people had already left - behold my authentic reaction (screenshot from a video) when I opened a present and found this tote bag with a map of Sweden's national parks that Anna-Karin hand made and hand painted for me. What.

Did you do something you've never done before?

I started going to the gym. I STILL don't want to, almost a year later, and I have to force myself there, but I go anyway ... at least most weeks. And it's good for me. And ... I can't say that deadlifting 73 kg on my birthday in October wasn't exhilarating. :)

What do you want to do next year that you didn't do this year?

I think the main thing that's missing from my life right now (that I could actually do something about) is friends to travel to nature with. I know people who claim to want to come with me to the mountains, or skiing, or to national parks, but when push comes to shove they choose to prioritise other trips and interests. And that's fine! I totally get that not everyone is passionate about the same things that I am. But I lose valuable planning time when they hum an haw about whether to come with or not. So I've decided to stop bugging my friends about it, and find other, new people to travel to nature with. I haven't figured out how exactly I will find those people. :) But hey, when 2023 started, I wished for a vocal ensemble that I didn't know how to find, and now I have one! So it can't be impossible.

What was the best thing about 2023?

It's always the people.


Det blev en kort jul i år! Så kändes det för mig. Vi var ju borta i nio dagar i december, och även om vi firade för-jul i England var det mesta andra vi gjorde där inte särskilt juligt. Och sedan kom vi hem och blev sjuka och sedan åkte vi till Snowball. Det är inte ett klagomål, för december var en fin månad. Men den var inte så julig. (Jag tar igen det med extra mycket jul nästa år, om jag kan.)

Innan vi blev sjuka hann jag åka in till stan och köpa några julklappar. På väg hem gick Ringlinien alldeles gratis precis den väg jag ändå skulle åka. Så mysigt att sitta där på knirkande, stoppade säten och småprata med en strålande glad konduktör. Jag gick av på ändhållplatsen Sankt Sigfrids Plan och promenerade hem därifrån, det var perfekt.

Sedan blev vi sjuka båda två och jag gjorde inte särskilt mycket mer de få dagarna som var kvar innan jul än att koka chokladkola ...

... och klä granen (i år blev det vitt, rött och rosa).

Här är vår nyaste julgransprydnad med brysselkålen <3

Kvällen före julafton satt vi i soffan med en chokladask från England och mös åt att allt var färdigt och juligt. Vi var ju inte jättesjuka, bara hostiga och snörvliga, så det gick ingen nöd på oss.

Julaftonsfrukost! Med päronlemonad.

Mitt på dagen kom mina gulliga föräldrar över med julmat åt oss! <3 Vi skulle ju firat med dem egentligen, men det kändes onödigt att smitta dem. Mamma hade gjort Janssons frestelse som Liam älskar, och dessutom hade hon packat ned västerbottenspaj och hembakta schackrutor och allt möjligt annat gott. Det var så snällt.

Julbord för två!

Det är så fint hemma hos oss på jul så jag orkar nästan inte. Hur får man HA det såhär fint hemma hos sig? Otroligt. Otroligt!

God jul från familjen Craddock/ Ladström!

Sedan öppnade vi paket. Jag fick en buff i merinoull! Som jag inte ens önskat mig aktivt men råkat säga någon gång att jag borde skaffa. Svinbra! Liam fick en potatispress med små hål, för det hade han letat efter men inte hittat. På den nivån är våra julklappar ungefär :)

Julnattsfikat blev florentinerna jag köpte på Fortnum & Mason. Så oerhört gott. Går de ens att köpa i Sverige? Borde inte vara omöjligt att göra egna. (Med det menar jag "borde inte vara omöjligt att önska sig av någon vän som är huslig".) Nästa jul!

På juldagen gjorde vi nästan ingenting förutom att städa (det behövdes), och så ugnstorkade jag apelsiner (de var till nyårsdekorationerna - mer om det snart).

På annandagen hade vi tillfrisknat! Liam åkte till Snowball (som är ett dansevent i Stockholm) och jag hängde med familjen (vi hade redan bestämt att han skulle åka innan av den enkla anledningen att han ville ha fem kvällar där och jag fyra. Inte för att han hatar min familj eller så). Lisa, Henrik och Eyvind kom ned för att fira mini-jul och jag fick umgås med dem hela dagen. <3

Och på kvällen åt vi middag med mamma och pappa ...

... och sedan satt vi i soffan och pratade om allt möjligt, till exempel vilka färger det varit på familjens olika bilar de senaste 40 åren och annat sånt viktigt (det gick så långt att vi var tvungen att kolla upp en färg i fordonsregistret och bara en i familjen höll med om färgen som stod där ("den var ju ABSOLUT inte ljusblå, den var ju SILVER!") - haha!).

Och det var den julen - en väldigt lågintensiv och mysig sort. Hoppas ni också hade en fin jul!

Gregory Porter | Everything's Not Lost