If you asked me to sum up the year 2017 in one word, it would be "transformative". On the whole, 2017 was a positive year for me, but two particular events were distressing and difficult for me.

One of these events is one that I have mentioned on the blog before: my illness, hospitalisation, surgery and recovery. The second is one that only those closest to me are aware of: I lost my grandpa.

However, my experience with a sometimes fatal illness and the death of a loved one have provided me with some very valuable lessons. In 2017, I began to see the world with new eyes. I have a new found appreciation for my life and the people in it. I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences available to me. I've realised how important it is to actually do the things you want to do, rather than sitting there and dreaming about doing them someday.

For the first time in a long time, I haven't reached the end of the year feeling like a total failure. I feel like I've made pretty good use of my time and can celebrate some small personal achievements.

In April, I finally managed to get abroad for the first time since 2011 when my sister and I flew to Benidorm. In May, I had a fantastic birthday in Blackpool with two of my sisters. I've spent a lot of time with my favourite blogger babes and I paid all my debt off. I took steps to make sure that 2018 is the best year of my life by booking holidays and other experiences. I've finally got a regular exercise routine: I swim 2-3 times a week and I've managed to go from being able to swim no lengths at all, to 50 lengths, in just a matter of months.

There are a few things that didn't go quite to plan. You've probably noticed this is my first blog post since September. After a few false starts during the year, I realised I'd just lost my passion for blogging and decided to take a very long break. I also haven't really achieved my goal of eating a much healthier and more balanced diet. For once though, I don't feel like I've let myself down. I'm just really proud of the things I have done this year, despite the terrible start.

I'm entering 2018 with a positive mindset. I'm already very excited for the things I've planned and I'm looking forward to seeing what else this brand new year has in store for me.