It really has been quite the year. I am not sure where 2018 has gone but I am now firmly embracing the Christmas spirit: tree is up (the earliest we have ever done it), fairy lights were hung around every surface of the flat two weeks ago and, dare I say it, I have very nearly completed shopping- who even am I?!
As much as the festive season brings me joy like no other, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on this past year and everything that I’ve achieved within it. It’s been one heck of a ride.
Way back in February, my gorgeous mother and I travelled to Berlin for three nights- #girlstrip. We had the best time; walked for miles, soaked up the history, felt cool drinking beer from steins, ate all the schnitzel we could get our mitts on and it snowed! Berlin is such an incredible city- effortlessly cool, the people are really bloody lovely and everything is so darn efficient.
Mum and I skipped around in full-on tourist mode, and loved every minute. So much has happened this year it feels like a lifetime ago but it was a trip I’ll never forget. Especially my mum having to ask a sassy pharmacist if she spoke English and the pharmacist put us in our place with the phrase “a little” and proceeded in speaking with the most wonderful English we had ever heard- what a time to be alive!
2. Friends for life
2018 has been filled with serious amounts of chortling, most due to the wonderful friendships made and consolidated for life. It’s crazy to think what makes a good friendship. You meet a new human, click with them and then decide you’re a good ‘un, I’ll hang out with you and the rest is history. I feel very lucky to be able to call my friends, my friends and this year has been a treat. It doesn’t matter how much time passes or how far away they are, as soon as we are together, everything falls back into place and all is well in the world again- when you find people like that, hold on to ‘em and squeeze tight; they really are rather special.
This year hasn’t been without its tribulations either, particularly when I had to face my fear of needles and having an unexpected little operation for the first time.
I think I really rocked the hospital gown and circulation socks. The recovery wasn’t pleasant, not in the slightest, but feel the whole process was rather life-affirming and it has made me incredibly thankful not only for the amazing, brilliant NHS but also for my health. It reminded me to never take anything for granted and sometimes you need an unexpected twist to make you re-balance everything. Also, I had to have blood tests and anaesthetic, and as a woman who hates even the thought of a vein, I naturally now feel like an absolute boss. Although if I never need gas and air because of a blood test again, I’d be a happy gal!
4. New Year, New Me
It has also been a year of change; inside and out. I started this year off feeling a bit uncomfy in my clothes and not 100% my best self. In the spring, I decided to do something about it. First, I chopped my hair off. It was incredibly liberating and really made me realise that my long hair was doing nothing for me. I’d encourage anyone thinking of taking the plunge and joining the choppy bob crew just to do it; my hair has never felt healthier and I think it really suits the woman I have become, clichéd but true!
I’ve talked a bit about my weight loss journey before so won’t harp on but I feel this year I am ending in such a better, healthier and happy place than where I started. I really don’t want to jump on the #NewYearNewMe wagon so I’ll go with Same Year, much happier, healthier, more confident, more bad-ass, more informed, and thoroughly well-rounded, Me.
2018 has not been without its blows and sadly this year we all lost our wonderful great aunt at the age of 94 years. My Auntie Beti was pretty spectacular; even as an nonagenarian she always had her hair done, nails painted, tanned moisturiser on the pins in the summer, matched jewellery with every outfit and was the proud owner of a camel coat, which was identical to mine, that she very proudly called ‘our coat.’ Auntie Bet was a star and after a short illness, someone I thought would outlive us all, decided it was her time to go. Death is hard. Really bloody hard. Particularly when it is someone you are so close to, someone who has been a constant presence, someone who everyone thought would always be there. Our comfort has come in remembering what a rich life she lived; she travelled the world, had so many friends, loved watching sport (an ever committed Welsh rugby fan who never failed in telling our boys to ‘grab them by the ankles- he can’t go anywhere then!’), read so many books- faster than we could provide them for her- and really adored her family more than anything.
We were incredibly lucky to have had her for as long we did and even though this Christmas will be odd without her, I take great comfort in knowing she’s somewhere living her best life with my late Uncle Harry, riding an exercise bike, eating ice cream with chocolate sauce and promptly making friends with everyone she meets who will all be so much better off for knowing her.
This year has consolidated for me exactly where my passions lie. I have managed to bring about a positive change, a tangible change, which I am still fighting on all fronts to ensure it is the best change it can possibly be. I will always look back at 2018, see myself in that changing room, on that red sofa, in that sound booth, speaking to those young women and think yes, I made this happen.
2018 has confirmed for me that I want and can make a difference, no matter how small and if that makes just one other woman hold her head a little higher, take a breath, and feel good about herself then that is all I could ever have hoped for. My campaigning has given me lots to think about and I am excited to see what the next year will bring- watch this space!
7. Bucket list
2018 will always be the year I ticked the number one thing off my bucket list; seeing orcas in real life, exactly where they should be seen. It’s an out of body, surreal experience living a moment you have dreamt about all your life and my goodness, it really was something. I have gone on and on about our Canadian adventure but living such a special experience with my special person was just the best. I have never felt so small and insignificant than watching those whales jump out of the water in front of us just because they wanted to.
I am already planning how we can incorporate seeing other orcas on our future trips; Scotland and Norway plans are beginning to form and I can’t wait. They will both be a long way off and it is a bit of a funny feeling after waiting for so long to do something, experiencing it so spectacularly and then the pause for reflection afterwards when you realise that’s it, bucket list point number one has been completed.
The exiting prospect is that now I get to pick another number one dream, another life goal to place firmly on my horizon. The next year is going to be an incredibly busy and exciting one- I can’t wait to see what 2019 has got planned.
If 2018 is anything to go by, it is going to a blast.
I am now going to all the mince pies I can get my hands on, blast out Cliff’s ‘Saviour’s Day’ and be thankful for it all.
Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël and Nadolig Llawen, one and all! X