As the year that was 2021 comes to an end, I have been reflecting on what I have achieved personal and for DDF, and well we have achieved a lot! With a year that has had such immense highs and lows, I feel somewhat exhausted emotionally and mentally. I can’t believe that in 2021 I managed to launch my first book, publish my first academic research paper with my co-authors Tanya Serry and Leila Karimi from La Trobe University, had a beautiful baby girl, all the while keeping DDF going during the pandemic. All of this would not have been possible without the amazing support of the DDF board, our volunteers, donors and sponsors and the DDF Community.  On top of all that. I have been spending as much time as possible with my wonderful mum. Every second of every day has counted, so, no wonder I’m feeling a bit worn out right now!

What I have come to learn over 2021 is how fragile life is, how in a moment it can all change, there can be such pure joy like the birth of Ava, yet such heartbreak with the diagnosis of my mum’s illness and thrown in the mix is the daily grind of life and a pandemic that just want go away.  I honestly thought 2020 was the hardest we had been through, thank God I didn’t know what 2021 was going to bring, I might never have gotten up from under my doona. But amidst the ups and downs of this year, I am still filled with such hope for the future, so much gratitude for the time I have had to be with my mum and for the ongoing support for the work of DDF, especially the DDF board who have worked tirelessly in my absences.

I’m enormously proud that over two years of a pandemic DDF has not just survived but thrived. Everything we do at DDF is for the dyslexic community and the people that work and support them. Most of the work we do including myself is unpaid and it is only through the ongoing support of our donors and sponsors that we can continue. The resources we develop are free so there are no barriers to accessing vital information for those who need it most. This has been especially important during the pandemic, where many peoples’ livelihoods and mental health and wellbeing have been impacted. The research I’m doing with La Trobe, the first of its kind, is to ensure we have an evidence-base to work from, and that adults with dyslexia in Australia are heard. For too long we have been silenced in education, in the workplace and in our community. I am so proud we are a dyslexic lead organisation, run by dyslexics, from members of our board, subcontractors, and volunteers. This is what sets us apart from other organisations and ensures we are representing those who we work to support.

I am so excited about the holidays, to spend time with my big neurodiverse/neurotypical family, valuable time that now feels so much more important than ever before. I strongly believed 2022 will have the biggest impact yet on the world of dyslexia as we continue the vital work of DDF across advocacy, research education, training, and peer support programs. But for now, I’m going to stop take a deep long breath, probably have a cry and then take some much-needed rest because this year has taught me many lessons, life is precious, so unpredictable and every moment matters.

I hope you get time to rest, recharge and reflect this holiday season. Most importantly I hope you know that you belong to a community, all though small we are growing, and you are part of something special, where you can be supported, feel connected and valued. Together we are making significant changes to ensure young people and adults with dyslexia are empowered to live their best lives.

Take care, safe travels and I will see you for an amazing 2022!