Global, Local, Disconnects and New Starts - Liz's 2014 Review

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Life is better when you Love it!

2014 has been one of those years for me, that you look back on and say "how on earth did you fit all that in", and to be honest when I've been reeling off what we've been upto to friends and family I haven't seen in ages, they seem to have the same vibes.

I *LOVED* so much of 2014, it saw me travelling to Brussels, Athens, Portland, New York and ending the year with a holiday in Egypt, and most of England for work, attend a new geeky event every month, reach 29th in the Top Digital Leaders 100 and a handful of personal achievements on top.

The international events focused on workers rights and I was invited to cover the UK perspective for media and entertainment workers. If you've glanced over any of my blogs in the past few years, it's been a newly found and important theme to me. It seems so simple that workers rights (and human rights) should be an important feature in any nations plans, but sadly it's really not. I joined other members of European Unions to lobby (and train on lobbying) with an MEP and attend the European Parliament and European Economic and Social Committee.
Then to follow this up with a conference in Greece which focused around how to improve the 40% youth unemployment rate in Athens and learn more about how the public broadcasting networks were liquidated overnight, I realised just how much we need to support each other, nationwide, EU-wide, globally. Blog Here

I'm happy to admit I never really realised how important the EU was for human and workers rights until I got talking to people who are part of the commissioning process. It puts (in my opinion) the worrying and misleading voice of UKIP's Nigel Farrage, and other anti-EU voices, into that of an uneducated understanding, much like most of the UK public I presume - exactly where I was at the start of this year. This points to a huge question over bias in the media portrayal of party politics, and the voices of all parties being given the equal airtime. This bias, also doesn't help, if the voices from extreme parties are giving out convincing lines that the disheartened public are buying into. A vote for the "bloke down the pub" isn't going to help us necessarily with living wage, pensions and health care improvements.

Moving away from the political side, there was also some fantastic architecture, art galleries and local food outlets to be seen on all the trips. You should have seen me running round like a crazy lady trying to find this LOVE sculpture, after seeing a copy of it in Philly!
My personal highlights included the film-famous Cafe under the bridge outside Grand Central Station in New York and the beautiful colourful fish in the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea.

With my feet firmly back home in the North West, I've also really enjoyed meeting new people and learning new stuff at the #geeksontour events I attended. The idea was I would try and attend a new geeky event each month, and I've managed it! I'll definitely attend some of the groups again! I'm going to have a go, but I'm not sure I can attend another 12 next year. What do you think?
I've really enjoyed running PlugInLancs and there's plans afoot for the new year, for something exciting in the geek events scene we are starting up - more news on that soon.
I've also enjoyed learning Python, Origami, and completed a Cyber Security course with the Open University. I *love* learning. And if the learning ends up being useful, sharing it with others!

However, with all this good stuff, there has to come a swing side too. After nearly 10 years, I've decided to part company with Manchester Girl Geeks and Preston FM, to focus on other projects that are more in line with my passions, ethics and principles. It's also sad to reflect that 2014 has brought disconnect with a handful of what I thought were close friends, seen another handful of organisations and charities close to our hearts close down, and family members spending extended time in intensive care wards.

But always trying to focus on the positive, our biggest achievement as DigiEnable this year, has to be coming 29th in the Digital Leaders 100. I'm really proud to have been able to speak at their events and share our learning. Also, coming 2nd in the SME category, when the 1st place went to a *big* name, we're really chuffed to have been acknowledged (even if tweets on the evening saw people asking who were "digi-in-able").
Then personal achievements this year have included being published in two print and online press magazines, numerous guest blogs published, invited to join a Women's Equality Committee due to the work I've been doing, I'm currently writing a chapter for a book (yeah I know right!) and I finally managed to get to the blissful Manjushri Buddhist Retreat in the Lake District.

I've already made a start on 2015, there's some big task lists in the making, some new projects in the pipeline, I re-joined the gym (don't laugh) and while in Egypt I ran through the Springboard CPD process again to re-focus myself. I'm also hoping I can learn a few more new things, start (and complete) a Photo365, present an *awesome* talk at a (top-secret atm) big tech event, and see if I can stick to my work/life balance percentages a little more. (again, don't laugh!) [If you love what you do, you can't really call it work anyway can you?]
I'm hoping I get to share some time with you this year, and if not, hopefully I can share some insights, learning or know-how with you via my blogging.
So raise a glass with me (with something healthy and fruity in it) to 2015, being the best year yet!