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What can you do to thrive

Wow, what a rollercoaster of a year… If ever there was a way to pack a year with so many challenges and overwhelm, 2021 was the year. Which is why we have to make a serious effort to sit down and think about what positive bits we can pull from this past year as this really helps us move forward this year in a more positive light.

Sometimes we do have to walk through the “mud”, the stress, the hardships, the pain, to then see some light at the other end of the tunnel. It is difficult making those steps in the middle of all of it when you can’t see the light, but we have to remember and remind ourselves each step of the way that it’ll all be worth it in the end, continually taking those positive steps even though they may seem tiny and insignificant at the time, and absorb those lessons we have learned from our experience and even more importantly, our achievements in the process, the moments we can celebrate ourselves.

Not enough time is being spent on actually looking at ourselves and thinking about what we can actually celebrate about ourselves instead of focusing on all the negative stuff.

I realised once I wrote my last blog, crikey I haven’t written a blog since the New Year’s Eve of 2020!! Time passed so quickly with all the overwhelm of 2021 without even realising… If you haven’t read my last blog, this what I am referring to! So, without too much thought, I automatically started to delve into the negative, judging myself for it all. However, when I caught my breath for a moment, I remembered that although the second part of the year was consumed with moving house, the first part was in fact consumed with completing my Copywriting Diploma, an online course run by the College of Media and Publishing), which I did and got a distinction in! All of which felt really good, and validated my passion in writing and made it feel like it’s all been for a worthwhile cause, restoring my faith and belief in myself. This was a big achievement at the time as I did this course during the last lockdown, around all the chaos with the kids which wasn’t easy at all. If you have experienced lockdown as parent, you know what I am talking about…!

Another big transition we got through last year aside from getting through the lockdowns, was getting hearing aids finally for my son who struggled with moderate hearing loss throughout the whole of Reception last year (and with a whole load of wax stuck in his ear, the hearing loss did become quite severe).

This academic year, we “pressed rewind” and he repeated Reception so that with the hearing aids, he would get the full benefit of all the learning that he missed out on last year, including of course the phonics which is the main part of his learning, all of which had such an impact on his speech, language and social skills. It was amazing how even over the summer, his language skills improved after lots of time to chill at home with family and time at day camp, but even more so since he’s been wearing his new hearing aids. He finally got them late August after a long, tedious journey getting him tested and wax finally out of his ears (it’ll be a story to tell him when he is older!). Now, he’s a totally different child at school compared to how he was last year. So much more confident, his social skills are so much better, and he’s keeping up with the learning this year. Such a hard decision keeping him back a year, moving class and out of his comfort zone, but it was the best decision made. A decision that will really impact his whole experience at primary school, and beyond, that will enable him to be happy and not always be struggling and falling behind.

That is a lesson in itself, making that decision for him not to struggle, and instead focus on him thriving and being instead a happy and confident child. Though it is easy for us to forget our own needs for happiness and to thrive in life, adults and parents can learn from this too…

“You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness” (Diane Von Furstenberg)

Getting my breath back

Moving house has been quite an ordeal for me over the past couple of months. Finally, I am starting to feel more settled thankfully, but it has been really tough and taken a toll on my health especially. It really did turn mine and my family’s life upside down, especially at the beginning… all the decluttering before we left, packing up our old house, and then unpacking boxes at the other end.

It hasn’t been an easy year at all, 2021 was very intense, stressful, a rollercoaster of emotions and has really tested my resilience in so many ways, but at long last, I’ve made it through to the end… I am well and truly done with 2021 and ready to start this new year afresh!

When we sold our house, we only knew about two weeks before we completed our house sale where we were going to rent. Diving into the unknown is really scary…. We took a big risk and moved to a rental for 6 months, hoping this move was the right one to help us progress forwards and find the right house for our family, our “dream house”, without all the pressure of selling our house. Finally, once we signed the rental contract, there was some relief through knowing we had a house to move to, instead of having to stay in a hotel for an unknown amount of time. We are also walking distance from my daughter’s new school which meant one less school run to worry about, and my daughter could start to develop her independence. Living in the same house for 16 years, and with 3 kids, we accumulated a lot of stuff! We left home much lighter thankfully. The decluttering of course still continues…

Now, I am on a mission to regain my health and get my energy and strength back especially as a lot of my old healthy self-care habits just seemed to fall apart, and some of them disappeared in the midst of packing up the old house, which took over my life, my time, and consumed my energy. The hope is that this experience has made me stronger to be able to face the challenges that next come our way the second time we move house.

Even though I did still keep up the healthy eating as best as I could, I stopped playing either of my two flutes (Sparrowhawk and silver flute), I stopped reading books, and writing. I was missing all the creative stuff and just creating that quiet time that I love and need to energise my mind and body. It’s only in the last month, I have started to pick up my flute again, and I immediately remembered how good it feels to play it again… It feels like a bit of a jigsaw puzzle as I try to piece together some of the old habits I used to love and enjoy doing as part of my everyday life. Remembering the old me bit by bit, and making it a bigger part of my routine, and then having the motivation and drive to stick to it, which I know can be difficult once you start building a new habit.

I also did push myself too hard, way beyond my limits, on top of all the other usual family “responsibilities”, to get stuff done in preparation for the move, decluttering beforehand, packing up boxes, and general rushing around throughout the day and staying up late to get everything done with less sleep than I usually get. It was exhausting!

I am still standing now though which is a real achievement, but I am also now learning to navigate my way to healing the tendonitis I have developed in my left foot since the move, all with a lot of patience, forgiveness, kindness to myself, and really taking the time to slow down and do less whilst it heals slowly.

Stress levels and overwhelm were extremely high – lots of things were thrown at me and my family all at once, lots of time pressure. There was little time to think and care for myself properly in the way I needed. Over time, I find I do have to keep reminding myself that there was only so much within my control.

I’ve really had to re-adjust as I was becoming well aware of the fact that if I don’t S-L-O-W right down and create that breathing space for myself, my pain won’t get better and heal properly. Pain can be really stubborn to get rid of!  I also need to rebuild my strength for the move second time around and really develop a “kick ass” routine that will stick even through the next move – I don’t want to get myself in this sticky position again! Every step of the house hunting and moving house process has been a learning experience…

Just to give you some insight, at the beginning when the pain was really intense, I did get easily annoyed with myself and blamed myself for over doing it and letting the pain get this bad, but truth be told, I was just doing the best I could. So over the past month, I have been focusing on keeping the pain down and increasing my energy as much as possible, and as part of my plan to reduce stress, introduced lots of calming Epsom salt baths into my daily routine, reintroduced my love of music into my life, playing my flute, meditation and pilates. Slowly, slowly, I’m rebuilding my old habits and the pain has decreased thankfully to a more manageable level. However, I do look forward to the physio sessions I will be starting in the new year which will help me to increase the strength in my foot (and my leg too which got weaker over time) which will help me to enjoy walking for longer. Foot pain is difficult because as a Mum or busy person, we are always on our feet, plus it takes a lot of time to heal. Patience is a real virtue.

So as we start 2022, I thought I would share the key lessons I’ve learned from all my experiences this past year in the hope I might enlighten you in some way:

  • Prioritise your own wellness, don’t put it on the side lines. Pay attention and listen to your body. It’s ok to slow down and do less.
  • Look after and care for your body as much as you can now, otherwise you might pay the price later. Our bodies take more time to heal as we get older… We also just don’t know how long good health will last so we should enjoy and respect our bodies as much as we can. You are worth feeling good now!
  • Live your life as best as you can. Be happy and fill your cup of “life” with joy as much as and whenever possible.
  • Don’t take your loved ones for granted. Appreciate their best qualities. Cherish those positive memories. You never know how long you will be able to enjoy them – don’t wait until they are gone.
  • Life is full of rollercoaster rides – there is so much “stuff” that is out of our control, we must do our best to survive and thrive, loving ourselves in the process, embracing the highs and lows, like waves in an ocean.
  • Focus as much as you can on the things you can control. This is the only way we can be the best person we can be and feel comfortable in ourselves within. Self-compassion is the only way to get through the lows, and at the same time, doing what we can to appreciate all the love and beauty that is around us everyday, and doing all that we love too to keep us inspired and fulfilled.

On this note, wishing you all an amazing 2022 filled with peace, good health, happiness, fun and inspiration!