Yep, today is my birthday. 47 years. Bloody hell, only three years until the big one. Where does the time go people?
I’ve had a good start to the day – tea in bed, a couple of lovely gifts, a breakfast with a friend, bought some craft stuff, my cleaner came to clean the house, and now I’m chatting to you. On balance, life is good.
Each year, I try to reflect on the year I have had and the year to come. Traditionally people do this at new year and I admit this year I succumbed, but my birthday is usually when the contemplation digs deep.
So, how has my year been?
Well, just before my birthday I enrolled on the Blog With Pip course. This one thing pretty much changed the trajectory of my life for the coming year and maybe even forever. Blogging is my therapy and my obsession. It has been one roller coaster, but boy have I loved it. I have enjoyed the process of building my blog, writing on it and meeting some amazing people online along the way. And you know what, I just love chatting to you!
Initially, I had no idea what I wanted to blog about. I got caught up in the idea that to blog you need a niche, and since I don’t have a particular talent per se, I thought it would be fun to talk about all my crafting fails. I started The Imperfect Crafter. However, what I found is that it came more naturally to me to talk about my feelings about life in general and that crafting really was way down the line in importance in my life, plus the pressure to actually fail at crafting became too stressful.
Evolution is the natural process of existence and so, in June, Sarah’s Heart Writes began. 114 posts in and she’s ambling along nicely. I have struggled, I’ll admit, with the message I am trying to get across. And I have wondered at times if what I am writing is just drivel spewed from the somewhat twisted regions of my brain. But then I get lovely comments about how something has resonated with someone, and like a heroin hit for the drug addict, I feel compelled to carry on.
I do have more of an idea now. I do know its purpose. I think.
It is to connect with people who are going through similar experiences to me, so that they might feel less alone, less vulnerable and less exposed. Depression, alcoholism and parenting a child on the spectrum are all isolating things to have to deal with and it is my hope that together you and I can overcome some of the challenges, both large and small, that life can throw at us.
On that note, I just want to throw this in before I move onto the next thing. I recently found myself in a couple of difficult situations and it reminded me of the importance of this:
It is really important to surround yourself with people that, whilst they may not understand you, or get you, or can truly know what you are going through, they support you. And by support I mean truly support you. And what that means is that after spending time in their company you feel don’t feel judged or inadequate in ANY way. Spending time with them should energise you, even if only a teeny tiny bit, not deflate you or make you feel bad for things you already know about yourself. Battling our affliction (depression, alcoholism and general low self esteem), is hard enough without having someone act as the proverbial “swimming against the tide” thing.
I am really lucky in that I have a handful of people besides my gorgeous husband who fit that bill for me. Even in my darkest hour, when I am truly on the edge and they are no doubt exasperated with me, I can go online or meet with them in real life, and they will sit with me, encourage me, not judge me, and most importantly just listen. They offer up no solutions because they know that there isn’t a scenario that I haven’t already considered or that a professional person is more qualified to give. They know that it is more important to leave me feeling valued at the end of our encounter rather than pointing out faults I already know about myself. And I truly hope they feel that I do the same for them.
In her book, The Gift of Imperfection, Brene Brown talks about people having to earn the right to see our vulnerability. That even though we should own it, not be ashamed of it, we should also be circumspect about who gets to see it. That way we maintain control over it, and our sense of self worth and value remains in tact.
This was a really big lesson for me this year. One that took ages for me to come to terms with. I have had to learn to set boundaries. For my own emotional self preservation I have had to do that. And, yes, occasionally that has meant blocking people on Facebook (I know!!). It is hard. And sure I feel guilty. I am the proverbial codependent people pleaser. I lose sleep over the prospect of what people might think of me. I hate that they might think I’m horrible or mean. It’s true. I’m aware of it. No need to point it out.
But here’s the thing. We won’t find our way to emotional healing if we don’t set those boundaries. If we continue to expose ourselves to people who don’t get it, who think that it is a simple matter of positive thinking (Here is a really good post on that by the way), we are self perpetuating our emotional insecurities. Let’s be honest. What we are really wanting is them to tell us we are okay. Because we seriously don’t feel good about ourselves. We are seeking their approval. But we will never get it. Because they don’t understand. Not because they are mean or horrible, far from it, they mean really well. It is purely because they simply don’t understand and so can’t have empathy for us. And so, with love in our hearts, we have to let them go, and get on with our lives, with our very necessary healing. You can do that, I know you can .
In April, I got new hair. I had been losing hair for twenty odd years and I finally decided to take the plunge, shave my head and go for a vacuum wig. I wrote about that here and here (that last one I’m particularly proud of).
Last year was a real challenge for me from a physical health point of view. I had my gall bladder removed a few years ago and since then my pancreas had not been happy. Eventually, after a few flair ups and hospitalisations it was discovered that I have Sphincter of Oddy Dysfunction. In a nutshell, the sphincter to my pancreas (oddly enough named Oddy), snapped shut and wasn’t letting the digestive juices and bile through. I became poorly and had to undergo surgery to fix it. This resulted in some complications and the discovery I had a small heart condition. I know! Bad health year.
So my mantra for 2015 has been health. It hasn’t gone all that well to be honest, although not so much illness as not shifting excess weight. But, hey, I’ve got a Fit Bit and I am using it. I’m walking a lot more. So a step in the right direction (pun intended)!
It has to be said that I have taken my friendships somewhat for granted this past year. I’ve been self absorbed in my health issues and depression. Depression especially does tend to make a narcissist out of you. Guys, if you read this, truly I know what you do for me, appreciate it so much and love you so much too. You guys rock!
My life wouldn’t even be worth reflecting on without my family, so to my husband, Mr C and two beautiful children and grandchild – no words, just love xx
My wins are small, but by reflecting on them, I can see what I did achieve and see how I can further build and improve on them.
And what about the coming year, you ask?
Well, I have a renewed zest for memory keeping. I have always enjoyed scrapbooking, but am enjoying the delights of what is called hybrid scrapbooking – combining digital and traditional techniques. I will definitely be doing a few posts about this in the coming weeks and months, but suffice it to say that I am in love with it. Another obsession perhaps?
I plan to continue on my road to health. Feeding my body with healthy food and overcoming my sugar addiction is proving a tad more challenging than I imagined, but one day at a time I will persevere and prevail. I am hopeful that come this time next year I will be considerably lighter and filled with more energy.
I plan to be more grateful. When you are in the throws of depression, it is REALLY difficult to find things to be grateful for. Your brain just refuses to let you see the good in anything. But there are some pretty powerful studies that have shown how finding something, anything, to be grateful for each day actually changes the neurones in your brain to start seeing more of the good and less of the bad. We do what we always do naturally. Our brains are hard wired to create patterns and habits and once those are formed, our brains like to stick to them. That is why change is hard. But it is possible. So gratitude it is.
I am going to try to connect in real life with the outside world. In other words, less online time, and more getting off my bum and getting “out there”. This is a biggie for me. I’m naturally reclusive. With my low self esteem, I tend to avoid people and especially crowded places. But again research has shown that connection is important. And especially so if you can throw some altruism in there too. I may even do a bit of volunteering.
I think that is about it for now. It will be interesting to see how the year unfolds. Last year we had no idea that we would encounter the challenges we did, but we survived them, and are stronger, and more determined for them which is a GREAT Thing.
Wish me luck as I embark on my year of 47 and I shall do the same for you.
How about you? Is your birthday soon (if so Happy Birthday!) and do you reflect on your year too?