2018 was a mixed bag for me. I successfully achieved a year of no alcohol in 2017, which was a massive achievement in itself. I had undertaken an incredible journey of self-discovery, in large due to the support of One Year no Beer. I was immensely proud to have achieved, at long last, a new year’s resolution that I had set out to achieve in 2017. In 2017, I also set myself a goal of a “medal a month”. I am not incredibly fit, in fact weight and fitness is a goal I still struggle with today. I did however, in 2017, through not drinking and being incredibly stubborn, complete a series of marathons, half marathons, 10 and 5kms. I’m not a runner, held back my own self-limiting beliefs of “I can’t run”, but I walked, often achieving the unenviable position of coming stone last. I didn’t mind though. The sense of achievement at completing these events while raising money for my favourite charities was enough for me. I ended 2017, with a sense of pride in achieving what I had set out to do at the start of the year.
I rushed headfirst into 2018 with a renewed sense of motivation and focus on my wellbeing. My health got the better of me however and I ended 2018, fatter and less fit than when I started the year. I have been an asthma suffer for almost 20 years and in 2018, I struggled to control it. I was caught in a vicious circle of knowing that exercise strengthens my lungs, but also not having the energy (or oxygen) to do the exercise my body needed. 2018 also proved to be one of the most stressful at work, sadly in large due to a very serious illness suffered by a work colleague, resulting in extreme extra work load me as I was the only other person qualified to undertake his role, together with my own. I am pleased to say he is now on the mend and back at work in 2019. Watching his struggle in the last year however was also a stark reminder our mortality. All the more reason to live life to it’s absolute fullest.
I worked crazy hours in 2018, struggling with my own health, which with hindsight I can now see was exasperated by the immense stress I was under at work. I ended 2018, feeling somewhat of a failure, having not undertaken many events and my deteriorating health and fitness. It was time to take stock and look back at the positives of 2018, rather than focusing on what I hadn’t achieved. I think we are all sometimes guilty of this; we do not celebrate the wins as much as should, instead focusing on the things we did not achieve or have not achieved yet. So I took stock.
These are the things I achieved in 2018.
I commenced a certificate in counselling skills, one night a week at college. I honestly believe that everyone should take this course. I was once sceptical of talk therapy and how it could benefit anyone to talk about personal matters to a stranger, still I valued my ability to listen and emphasise with others and felt that I should explore this option as career prospect in the future. I have always had a strong interest in psychology and the workings of the human mind. The course for me has been eye opening; not only do I know have a new found appreciation of talking therapy, I also realise that I have many skeletons in my own closet that are worth exploring, some of which may explain my self-limiting beliefs, I have had for years. I am very early on in this path of self-discovery, but I am a little excited, yet also filled with trepidation about where my journey of self-discovery may take me.
For years, I have suffered with a bad back, in part due a very silly incident when I was 20 years old and thought it may be fun to slide down an escalator. Escalator 1, Lou 0. I invested 4 months of my time attending an intensive course treatment at a chiropractor, where I learned that nothing in my back was aligned. My hips were at different heights and my spine looked more like a banana than a ruler in the X-ray. I attended twice a week for 4 weeks and then once a week for a further 12. Together with the commute to get there, this proved to be a massive investment of time and money, which was worth every minute and penny.
In April, I was nominated for a local award “Heart of Gold” by a friend I had helped. I didn’t believe my small actions were worthy of such recognition, but I was honoured and accepted my nomination with grace, attending a glitzy awards ceremony. I didn’t win, however I didn’t mind at all as I was honoured to be there (and the winner donated a kidney to her toddler nephew, it was tough competition).
In May, I completed by usual annual Moonwalk Marathon in London, which is a 26.2 mile power walk through the streets of London, in a bra, overnight. 2018 was also my 10th anniversary of taking part in this event. While I had undertaken the training and had a decent level of fitness at the time, I really struggled with this one. I finished in tears with a vow of “never, ever again” to which most who knew me laughed. They had heard this many times before.
In 2018, I also commenced and completed a course in “Understanding Autism”. When I registered for this course, I must admit, I underestimated the amount of work that would be require to attain my qualification, or I would not perhaps have signed up at the same time as commencing the first year of BSc Psychology with counselling through the Open University.
In September, I was honoured to be nominated by a colleague at work for a “Making a Difference” Award, to acknowledge my years of Moonwalking and raising awareness and funds for Breast cancer. I’m still blown away by this memory, especially as Nina Barough (founder of the Breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk) had recorded a video message for me.
In October, I passed my first University module with distinction, however despite all this, I ended the year feeling disappointed in myself. Time to give my self a swift boot up the backside. The reason I am writing about my 2018 achievements is not to sound boastful or big headed, so please forgive me if it comes across like this. I am writing this, so that I can take stock of my personal achievements and feel proud. I have always suffered from being too self-critical and one of newest resolutions is to practice self-love. I am good enough.
In 2018, my health suffered, perhaps I was doing too much in an attempt to feel I was achieving. I was stressed, unhappy, my asthma deteriorated, so much so that despite my achievements, I spent far too much time on the couch. Perhaps why I felt like a failure was because of what I was not doing, I wasn’t taking care of my health, I wasn’t climbing mountains and I missed out on far too many sunrises and sunsets. I needed to find balance.
In April, I spent an afternoon in hospital after experiencing chest pain, the result of a spirometry test were less than favourable. With hindsight it was no wonder, I felt I did not have the energy to do anything physical, preferring Netflix and chocolate during my downtime, instead of walking and embracing the nature on my doorstep.
I have worn a 24 ECG halter monitor to try and establish the cause of my fluctuating heart beat. I had DXA scan which revealed I have osteopenia, the pre-cursor to osteoporosis. There is a genetic link to this (thanks Mum) but there are also many positive things I can do to prevent acquiring full blown osteoporosis in the years to come.
In October, I lost a very close friend who had been battling mental health demons for many years, to suicide. This event left me reeling and more determined to make the most of the time I have left.
2018 was definitely a mix bag….
In 2019, I know I need to take further steps to improving my health. I am overweight, I need to take steps to reduce stress, improve my lung function and improve my bone density. The first step to acknowledging the high and lows of 2018 and to look forward to 2019 is writing this blog.