Have you ever played the game Rose and Thorns? Its where you sit with the people that have experienced the holiday/event/trip etc that you have been on, and say your best parts (Roses) and the not so great (Thorns). If you read my post on things to try to do before the end of 2017, you would have read that one of the things I aimed to do was to look back on the year and remember the things that were a blessing, and that we are grateful for. I have done this, and it inspired this post.
Im not going to focus too much on the thorns here, but they are very relevant to the year so they will be given a moment of the spotlight. Then, quite frankly, they can be filed under “No I don’t Fancy Doing That Again” and bugger the feck off!
This will be of no surprise to any of you that have been on this journey with me this year. My biggest thorn by far, has been the unexpected and shocking illness that my husband was hit with in July. It blindsided us, it changed our lives as we know it, and it left us reeling. Cancer is a bastard. However, we have to count our blessings also. Nik’s cancer, they think, had been growing silently in him for up to 2 years. It was what is known as a T4 cancer, so an aggressive fecker. Through his job, Nik has tests for bowel cancer every year. It was not picked up. This is because his cancer is a rare cancer, so dosent show up on the standard tests. If his bowel and intestine hadn’t collapsed, we would not have known it was there, and it would have continued to spread until perhaps there was no option of treatment and it was in the very advanced stages. Thank gawd for a collapsed bowel eh! We are truly grateful. Nik reckons complete, intact bowels and intestines are over-rated anyway…….haha
Despite a tough year, we have had so many good things happen to. So much so, that I would be here all day picking out good bits, so I will just give you some highlights.
One of the biggest things for me this year, was being free of something that had held me an emotional hostage for over two long years. I wont go into detail, but what happened left me broken. I could not talk about it or think about it without it causing me a physical pain, feeling like I deserved it, a tightening of my chest, a feeling of worthlessness and desperate sadness. After two long years, Iv managed to set myself free of it this year. It does not control me anymore. I began to slowly get a little self-worth back, my confidence is slowly returning. The sense of freedom of not waking up with that heaviness of heart cannot be put into words. I still have a way to go, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel. This is my brightest, fully blooming, rose.
My boys. – I am not a gushing mother on a public forum, thats just not me. I keep my family and friends pretty private. However, my boys have astounded me this year. The maturity and strength that they have shown during their Dads illness, and their own stresses, has filled my heart with so much pride. They have kept me and my husbands spirits high. They didn’t let the drama of the summer bring them down, they got busy and set themselves challenges, raising fab amounts of money, for charities close to our hearts. They have also both managed to achieve great things academically, pushing a few more steps towards their own goals. They overwhelm me with their kind hearts, positive attitudes and strength of characters, I bloody love em!
Blogging – I never knew what my blog would become to me. I have had so many wonderful moments this year with it, and met many people that I now consider friends. I have been overwhelmed that I have been featured in other bloggers posts as “one to follow” a few times, I have had fabulous discussions on my blog with all the amazing people that take the time to comment and engage with me, I have even experienced events and press days that were brilliant. It has also helped my confidence in ways that have taken me by surprise. I had to push out of my comfort zone to attend things that I was invited to, something a year ago I would never have done. I have even put a photo of me on my Instagram 28 times this year! Thats an average of 2 per month! If you knew me a while ago, you would know how far I have come. Im never going to be a selfie queen, thats just not me, but 28 photos is a miracle I can tell you, and shows me the growth I have made this year.
Getting some work/life balance back. January saw the end of an era for me. I walked away from my business that I had built for many years. It was a successful business, but was taking far to much of me. I was working far too many hours, and the stresses and strains that come with running a business and dealing with staff was taking its toll. Walking away was the best decision I made and I feel free. I have a life back. I have not had one second of regret. Thats a huge highlight for my family this year. I still haven’t got round to that baking I said I was gonna do though……….
Making our 20 year anniversary. My husband and I reached our 20 year wedding anniversary in August. You can read our story in this post here if you fancy it – Of All The Vending Machines In All The World. We didn’t get to celebrate the way that he had planned, but we will do that next year. Take a rain check for a year so to speak. Its a great anniversary to reach though, and as I always tell him, he is so lucky that living with me is like a permanent holiday for him……………
My brother set the date for his wedding, and asked my husband to be best man. This was a wonderful moment for our family, and my sister-in-law to be is an amazing lady. Nik has a trillion stories that he can tell about my brother, and I am very much looking forward to the best man speech next year………..
I completed the first year of my writing course, and re-ignited my love of writing poetry. The course really was amazing and I loved every moment of it. I have had a book in my mind that I want to write, for years. I have even got a couple of chapters formed. I was hoping that the two year course would give me a better understanding of construction of a book, and although I have had to delay my second year due to Nik being unwell, I have a far clearer idea of where Im going. Next year could be the year it gets finished………
Add these to my son passing his driving test, some fabulously drunken nights out, friendships deepening, amazing times exploring more of England, our son getting a Distinction in the first year of college, so many more beautiful moments, its had its good moments, for sure.
I feel I am ending 2017, a different person from the one I was starting 2017. When the rug is pulled out from under you, it makes you realise how fragile life is, what is important in life (and what certainly isn’t) and re-asses what it is you want. I feel this has made me grow. It became very apparent to me that you don’t know your own strength until you have no option. I was made to dig deep this year to find something extra to pull through this latest bump in the road, on top of the shit that was still troubling my mind. I don’t mind admitting that at times in the last two years, I wasn’t sure that I had it in me. I was mentally exhausted. Beaten. I thought I had nothing left in the tank. However, I found something and got through it. This has made my confidence grow, and I know that I am strong. I had moments of weakness, but I am not weak. This is a huge revelation to me, and reassuring. I forgot that I was strong for a while. Now I remember.
You certainly tested us 2017, you gave it your best shot. But, if you don’t mind, can you move on out the way now and let 2018 bring us a whole load of the good stuff! Its already shaping up well with my eldest son turning 18, my brother getting married and the end of `niks chemo all in the first part of the year. Bring. It. On
I wish you all the very best for 2018. Look back at your 2017 and remember 5 good things that happened. Its a good exercise! Id love to hear any of them.
Merry Christmas everyone. Thanks for sticking with me this, my first year of blogging xxxxx