Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My 2018: A year of leaning into the suck.

With Christmas around the proverbial corner I have my usual moment of reflection of the current year and thoughts, hopes and dreams for the New Year.  I always maintain no year is good or bad in its entirety.  People often say it was the worst year ever and they look forward to the next one like somehow all the hard and painful times are past, and the new year promises to be better, happier, easier.

The secret to a better, happier year lies in our ability to deal with the challenges, our mindfulness and gratitude for the good sweet bits in between and our reaction to events, which is all we have control of.   Shit happens, it just does.

One of the things I learned this year is instead of saying I am sorry all the time, we say thank you.  Like if a running group has to wait because you can’t keep up you don’t apologize for being slow, you thank them for waiting.  It is very hard to do and remember and I was habitually about to apologize right now, but instead I will say thank you.

Last New Years Eve I was not at a party drinking champagne and counting down and being festive.   I sat at the dining room table with my mother and 2 sisters playing rummikub waiting and willing for my father to die.  At that point he was no longer conscious or aware.  I have never felt more desperate begging God to take him.  Angry at everyone and everything for the extent of his suffering and by default, ours too.   On the 1st I woke up and he was still here.   He told us January and the stubborn old bugger, being a man of his word, departed on the memorable day of January 1st at 6:10 that evening.   He was 68 years old and he had believed he would beat his cancer and live till he was a very old man.   As most of you know, on January the 1st the previous year was the day I heard Natey had drowned.   (I was out of cell phone reception the evening he died)   On the 5th of January 2017 I attended Natey’s beautiful memorial service and on the 5th of January 2018, I attended my fathers’.  It is the day Mia drowned over 10 years ago.  It is the day I was supposed to get married 22 years ago.   The 1st and the 5th will forever be significant days for me.

So to my friends and family, thank you for excusing me this year and extending grace.  I have been absent, isolated, withdrawn, a little depressed and have not engaged very much.  Thank you to my friends who have not ignored me for the whole year and loved me anyway.  For not giving up on me even though I took some of your energy and did not always return it.  I am well aware my introverted nature means I will never be the life and soul of any party.  The fact I hardly drink alcohol means I will not be dancing on your table or be loud or that fun party animal.  My usual reserved self was especially quiet this year and I lived on planet grief thinking, thinking, thinking all the time.   As I approach the 1st anniversary of my father’s death I take note of the new me, the new normal of our family.

Not working or studying this year exacerbated the sense of isolation.  Moving to a new tightly knit town even more so.  I cannot NOT work.  It is just too depressing and demotivating.  I crave that sense of purpose and meaning.  I am excited to start my new job on January 7th.  I have no idea where it will go and what it will develop into but I am keeping an open mind and taking a leap of faith. 
So what have I actually achieved in 2018?
I spoke at my father’s service and stayed strong and worthy of our name.  We did him proud.
I did the Warm Water Weekend triathlon with my mates.
I cycled The Argus 109km cycle race along with 30 000 other people and hit my goal time.
I ran two oceans half marathon and many other races
I went back to Holland on holiday with my mother to see my fab aunt and her family
I moved house after 16 years in the same home
I tried very hard to integrate into my new town
I raced Ironman 70.3 very untrained and not very fit.  It was damn hard.
I graduated my degree cum laude after 6 years of studying.  (Not practicing as a social worker is a bummer but I still hope to do that some day.)
I went back to Skiathos in Greece after 17 years with Gary and my daughters and renewed my vows.  We had an incredible holiday.
I ran my very first marathon after swearing I would never do more than a half.
I found a job which I am excited about.
I grieved for my father and the family structure that was no longer.  I was able to talk and share and feel and ‘embrace the suck’ as Sheryl Sandberg so eloquently puts it.
I mothered my 3 kids helping them navigate their individual challenges.
Unfortunately an injury means I haven’t run for months which is a big deal for me but I hope to get strong and get back to running and training.
I survived 2018 even if I did not exactly thrive. 

And next year?   I will start the year camping in Beaverlac where I will honour my father on the 1st of January in a place he loved.  I will plan and document my hopes and dreams for 2019 and get myself together ready to face the challenges a new year brings.  I will be a working woman earning a salary and learning a whole new skill set.  My word for 2018 was SYNCHRONICITY.  My phrase for 2019 is LEAP OF FAITH.   Ready, Steady, GO!

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