It started with a pledge to write a book about my experiences and life and how they have shaped me. Not on January 1st but after my annual visit to Windsor for the leadership dialogue, at the end of January. So I got down to it, found I loved committing those words to the page ..... it became a therapeutic process. Acknowledging the grieving I had done but also the joy I have experienced and what I have learned; I recommend it, I really do. Recently I joined a creative writing group and that too has enriched my life hopefully in time my writing too. So all good....until I tried to write the last chapter. Perhaps it's that phrase itself that makes it hard: the last chapter. Part of me realised then that maybe I was almost accepting that this would be MY last chapter. That second cancer diagnosis (however early and not life threatening at this point) had crept into my future and was threatening to steal it...but really only in my own head.
I'm so glad I realised it then as something powerful shifted for me. A burden lightened and my sleeves got rolled up. I have loved 2014 since then. My work is not only interesting, immensely satisfying, it's also inspiring and motivating. The Health and Social Care Academy is beginning to impact on transforming health and care, my work with the WEL is life changing, developing the coaches for person centred care too is a personal highlight. Im also looking forward to launching the findings of the Workplace of Tomorrow forOasis School of Human Relations soon, ensuring 2015 has an exciting start.I'm honoured too, to be able to work with the other organisations, supporting in their own transformation. This is such a great chapter in my life when I'm able to bring so much of my learning and experience to enable others.
But as the cartoon drawing above, which I got as a gift when I stood down as chair from the Health and Social Care Alliance (the charity I set up with others several years ago) suggests, I have been involved in other things too. The YES badge speaks volumes.
2014 was the year I found my inner politician! I have campaigned in both Westminster and Holyrood for many years,it's a crucial part of a role of leader in the third sector. And this year I used that experience to support the YES campaign.
And whilst I absolutely accept the answer at the referendum. What I also know is the very conditions that created the momentum for change have not gone. The fact that Westminster no longer works for so many remains true. A year that saw inequalities grow, heard doctors and teachers tell the tales of the impact of hunger on those they serve, of the establishment supporting its own at the expense of so many others, of trident weapons prioritised over people being having a home or enough food to eat has left me determined to whatever I can to change this.
So I have decided to stand for selection as an MP in Edinburgh for the SNP, in North and Leith and East Edinburgh. Reflecting the fabulous social and political engagement that has been a result of the referendum, many others are standing for selection too. So this may be the shortest political career on record! But after much deliberation, an occasional "am I good enough" doubt (in spite of many telling me how great I would be) what finally decided me was knowing that I could make a real difference if I was fortunate to get selected and then elected. My whole career has been about enabling others to have a voice, to be heard and I can do that in parliament, ensuring that those calls for change are acted on not just for the people of Scotland but all those across the UK who want change towards a fairer, more just and equal society. The sleeves are rolled up, the next chapter however it unfolds, is going to be good!
A good new year to you all. If you want to learn more about my campaign please follow and like my Facebook page Audrey Birt SNP.