April Update

As we’re in the final days of April, how am I doing now?

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: April has been a real struggle to keep in the healthy-eating lane.  So I’ve stayed in my points but I’ve really not been great about the choices I’m making within the points – chips, doughnuts, and biscuits…

I know I can do better even if some of this is driven by fatigue, headaches and time.

Reading what I put in March, I think pretty much holds true.  I need to be kind to myself when I am making non-healthy choices for those reasons but I also need to balance the non-healthy decisions with better eating when I can.

Regular exercise: April was better than March but admittedly there have been days when I have fatigue and headaches where if I can get a taxi sooner on Oxford Road, I don’t make the whole walk.  That does make sense when I am fatigued – it’s a quicker journey home – but not great then for exercise.  Normal housework is also not cutting it from an additional exercise perspective so I do need to look in May for something I can do regularly.  This may also balance out the times when I’m not making good food choices.

Good sleep routine: I am consciously making choices about my sleep hours which is good but I could do with establishing a better routine that’s true and aiming for an 11pm lights out.

Balanced Work/Life: I’ve done better here than at other times but I do have a capacity issue from a work perspective which I’m addressing.  I think Life suffers when I am fatigued because I save my energy for work – have to pay the bills, after all.  That’s when I get into poor sleep habits because as soon as I feel a little better in the evening I’ll stay up then to take advantage of that to have some ‘life’ stuff.  It’s a vicious cycle and I need to stop it.

Positive thinking: I’m trying but fatigue is a bummer.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: And ditto on this one.

Overall, I think I’ve treaded water during April; no real slide back but no progression either.  Something to aim for in May.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

Didn’t happen.  To be fair, one of the reschedules was not down to me although I was grateful it happened.  All is rescheduled for May so hopefully those will go ahead.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

I’m pushing forward on getting settled into my new job – and I now feel that I’m really beginning to understand the landscape, and I’m beginning to make a difference.  There’s some politics and manoeuvrings which are always fun but overall things are beginning to take shape.

I now feel I can start making plans for the future which is a good thing and that will be the aim in May to come out of May with that plan.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

Challenge went well and I actually completed the word count in early April.  I’m still writing that so I can get as much done and completed on that before I move onto something else.

Overall, I think the sense of inertia is probably right; I’ve moved forward a little with some goals, treaded water in others, have concerns about others.  I’m not beating myself up too much but I think a renewed effort on some of the goals is required without losing the progress I’ve made elsewhere.

Advertisements

March Update

Well, almost at the end of March so I thought I’d do another check-in.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: Well, I’m still on WeightWatchers and I’m still making decisions while keeping in mind my points.  I always intended in March to shift from the very strict adherence I had in January and February (when I wasn’t in Mauritius) to settle into eating my full points for the day while keeping my weekly points for a treat/night out.

What I have found difficult is when I’m very tired and not really interested in cooking, it’s difficult to stay in the lane of ‘healthy eating’.  I’ve been exhausted from travelling to Mauritius and a very intense period of time when I came back at work, and so haven’t been well at all through March.  This week, I went back to work after some sick leave and it was really difficult to come home and cook.  I resorted to take-away and now I’m looking at a weekend of keeping to my daily points because I have used all my weekly to get me over the hump of exhaustion.

And even though I am still within my points, I am feeling disappointed that I had take-away three times within 7 days.

So.  I have to give myself a break and accept that it happened and not be too down on myself for it.  Yes, maybe there are ways of planning better when I know I’m tired so I don’t give in to sliding back to take-aways.  But maybe I also need to recognise that it’s OK for me to do this when I’m really fatigued so long as I don’t use it as an excuse to stop eating healthier in the main.

Regular exercise: Flare-ups and illness have meant that this has taken a back step.  I have walked as I intend up Oxford Road a couple of times this week.  I need to increase that next week and also start tackling the housework again in a meaningful way as it is a good active use of body.  I’ll look beyond that when I get myself back to the point I was before Mauritius.

Good sleep routine: Yep.  This hasn’t really gone anywhere beyond my ensuring I get 6 hours of sleep during a work night.  I need to do better here and implement a routine I will stick to.

Balanced Work/Life: Definitely still an area for improvement.  I do work a lot and when I’m ill this just means the life part of the equation suffers. It also means I get stubborn about going to sleep because it feels like I’ve had no time to have ‘life’ between getting home, having dinner and bedtime.

Positive thinking: It’s so more difficult when ill.  And that’s all I’m going to say.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: And ditto on this one.

Overall, I won’t say I haven’t lost any ground but while I don’t think I’ve moved forward this month, I don’t think I’ve taken more than a step back.  I just need to draw a line and start stepping forward again.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

Tired and ill.

I did manage to see Kate but cancelled on two other social engagements in March.  I rearranged them and I need to push on a couple of others.  I do have something arranged to see my sister on Sunday so that will be good.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

Financial review is done and I’m going to make some changes to increase my financial sustainability.

It has been difficult at work while I’ve been exhausted.  Things have slipped and so I’m disappointed for that reason.  What has been good is that I do think I’m making a difference and I’ve been comforted knowing that nobody has thrown a guilt trip at me for being ill which has happened in my working past.  I’m extending my ‘settling in’ to April to account for the slippage.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

So I picked up a work in progress while I was off ill and managed to get it written, and I’ve signed up to a new challenge in April so now I’m back in the groove so to speak.

I am still making good progress.  I just need to hold on to that and forgive myself for being tired and not feeling great, and the choices I make while I am ill.  I do what I need to do to get back to a stable position and that’s OK.

February Update

Mid-way through February so I thought I would do another check-in on my goals.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: So, still doing weight watchers although the holiday to Mauritius did make for a challenging time.  A couple of good learning points:

(1) Alcohol was where I ended up spending a lot of my points – which fair enough, we’re on holiday and I like wine and champagne and cocktails.  But if I have alcohol my ability to be disciplined with my food choices is very, very reduced – I need to watch for this in the future

(2) Travel and food was where the real challenge came in – not a great deal of choice even in business class – if I go on holiday again (thinking of a cruise with Dad in June) then I’ll need to plan better to take care of this

While I am certain I have blown my weekly targets for last week and this (although discipline is back on the books for the next three days of this week), I don’t think that I’ve put all the weight I lost before the holiday back on (still fitting reasonably comfortably into my size 12s) although I am certain I’ve put on a few pounds.

I’m intending to be very disciplined this week (even with a visit from Kate on Friday) and the following but resume a more relaxed approach in March.

Regular exercise: I’m in a lot of pain today so not the best time to think about this as I feel barely able to walk.  Travel is exhausting and physically stressful on my body, and I did push it a little yesterday as I went out to drop in my repeat prescription request, cleaned the bathrooms the cat sitters used, and then I did lots of laundry to try and get everything ship-shape again.

So, I plan to rest as much as possible this weekend and keep the physical to a minimum.  Next week, I’ll resume my walking up Oxford Rd regime.  I’ve got a spa day on Sunday at the Midland so I may investigate joining the gym there…and investigating overall what is the best approach.  The additional housework/cleaning I did to sort everything out before Mauritius has given my limbs some tone and I’m keen not to lose that.

Good sleep routine: Haven’t really done very much with this so this will be another ‘to-do’ over the next month as I try to implement a routine – mainly lights out time to start as this is my major failing point.  If I don’t give myself the opportunity for 7-8 hours of sleep I’m on a losing streak immediately.  And let’s not speak of the disturbed/unrestful issues that come with CFS and fibromyalgia.

Balanced Work/Life: This went out of the window in the run-up to hols as I was desperately trying to get everything done before I left.  Again, something I need to work on when I am back in the office next Monday.

Positive thinking: Much, much better than I have been for a long time.  I have a lot of good things in my life right now so keeping positive is not difficult.  I just need to keep focused on the positive and not let the negative creep in.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: This is something I’m adding to the goal because this is about every-day looking after myself not just the specific objectives I’ve listed out – yes, a good diet, regular exercise, etc. are part of good maintenance but this is wider.  It’s having care each day about the basics – taking time to mentally balance myself, moisturise my skin, clean my teeth properly, shave my legs…it’s taking the time to do my nails and wear jewellery and feel good about myself.  I’m better at doing some of this when I’m on holiday (sun-cream and taking care of my skin is very important) but I could do better at home too.  But I really need to think about what this particular objective is about and create a plan of action from that.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

I feel like I’m doing well with this one so far this year.  Had a great dinner with Kath before the holiday (with another pencilled in), seeing Kate on Friday, still have my lunch date with Carl arranged and I have another few socials to get in the diary now I’m back in the country.

Sheila, Dad and I have just spent a holiday together so we’re probably overloaded on spending time with each other!  I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the last twenty-four hours of just me and the cat.  It was a good holiday.  Lots of sea and sun mainly with a few lunches and dinners with family crammed in.  It is challenging being in Mauritius – the climate, the mosquitoes, the language and the different culture all make it challenging.  But it was right to go and celebrate Dad’s birthday with him and I’m pleased we went.

All in all, I don’t think I need to do anything more than what I am already doing here.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

I said last time I’m focusing on getting settled in my new job at least until March and that’s what I’m doing.  I actually do love it and believe I can make a difference – I am making a difference.  I may change my mind when I go back into the fray next week but right now, this feels like it was a good move for me.

What I do need to do is a complete financial review sooner rather than later, and I can start ruminating on ‘future career.’

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

I haven’t done anything.  Not too surprising because my available energy has gone to cleaning the house, doing my diet and working my tail off to get everything in a place where I could go on holiday.  The plan to restart writing Aftershocks crumbled in the face of those priority calls.

The holiday didn’t really allow for much writing time and what there was I used to read and relax – to restore energy.  I believe it was the right decision but it nags at me that I’m a month and a half into the year and haven’t made any progress on any of my writing projects.

I’m planning on spending some of today and tomorrow doing some writing.  It’s important to me and I need to get back on the horse so to speak.

Overall then, I’m making good progress – I don’t feel stalled as I did in previous years and there is a lot to feel good about as I read back through this review.  I just need to keep it up!

Where am I with my 2018 goals?

I thought I’d take stock of where I am on 2018 goals.  Not sure how often I’ll be doing this but taking regular review is probably a good thing.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life and positive thinking. 

Weirdly, I have made progress!  Let’s break it down.

Good diet: Since my Dad left, I’ve been doing Weight Watchers – completely online.  I have a few observations which I’m going to share.

Weighing & Measuring:

I guessed at my starting weight, basing it on the last time I weighed myself and the clothes size I now fit into.  I’m never keen on weighing myself because I think psychologically I get hung up on the number and that can demotivate me if the scales don’t show progress.  I can’t remember where I got it from but I remember someone once saying on a talk show or diet programme or something where they suggested your clothes and how you felt about yourself should be your measure.  I really like this approach and it’s working for me.  At some point when I’m ‘happy,’ I’ll weigh myself and see if this actually matches what I think I should be (which is based on medical height/weight ratios for ‘normal’ and a BMI of 20).  Until then, a couple of days ago my clothes started feeling looser – just marginally, a small amount – but looser.  I was able to fit into a pair of trousers which are designed to be close-fit without feeling I had to do the dance of ‘breathe in and wriggle.’

How Weight Watchers is helping:

So I’m not one for diets.  I have tried a couple in the past – mainly low carbs, or cutting out chocolate/crisps and trying to eat healthy, and I did try weight watchers a couple of years back but felt it was too restrictive.  Anyway, with the Mauritius trip looming, I talked myself back into joining because regardless that I think I know what diet will help me lose the weight, I believe I need help in identifying recipes and keeping track of what I am eating.  And – I’m really pleased.

What was eye opening was I accidentally joined a couple of days before my Dad left so for the first few days I simply tracked what I was eating and taking note of how many points I was actually racking up ‘normally.’  It was no surprise I was over the daily allowance of points and then in short order the weekly.  So with the evidence I am effectively eating too much of the wrong things, I actually sat down to plan the first week of meals, checking back in weight watchers online for recipes and to understand the points of the meals and to ensure I was always under.

It’s not difficult to realise that prepping your own food rather than using convenience is less points.  Vegetables and fruit generally are zero point so a large salad with a little dribble of balsamic vinegar and some kind of lean protein (fish, chicken, boiled egg) can make up at least one of the meals leaving lots of points available for the second.  Again, bulking a meal up with vegetables also makes sense.  It’s also probably no surprise that the carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice and potatoes) carry high points so inevitably you eat less of them – although you don’t have to cut them out completely or eliminate them.

This first week has worked.  I’ve reduced the ‘high points’ foods I’m eating and I’m eating more of ‘low or zero points.’  I’ve got a better understanding now of the value of the foods I’m eating and it means I can make better informed decisions about my food and what I eat.  Plus the fact that I give myself a choice psychologically works better than the sense I’m denying myself something.  Yes, I’m not having a vinaigrette on my salad but I am having potatoes in my stew.

Planning & Preparation: I’m not sure why planning and preparing being the key to success was such a surprise to me since I’m a project manager and the last time I looked, plans and prep are the key to any successful project, but wow does planning and preparation count here.

There’s two parts to that – one is planning the food for the week.  I sat down and worked out a food plan – breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even snacks.  In fact, given I usually have the same breakfast that was easy – cereal and milk.  Determining the snack was easy too; I have a current favourite cereal snack bar and so that was the choice.  Once those points are subtracted I’m left with 60% of my points to divide between lunch and dinner.  So I plan it out with the aim to remain within my daily target or lower, and not to use the weekly target which is there to help handle a meal out or I guess a cheat day.

That’s not to say I’m not flexible; firstly, as I do most of my shop online I do have to live with the sell-by dates on the food and so I had to revise the second week plan a lot yesterday once the shop arrived.  Secondly, I’m being kind to myself so if I don’t fancy the meal I planned when the day arrives, I simply search online for something on the day which works with what I have in the fridge and is within my daily points allowance.

Preparation is also key and not just ensuring I’ve bought the food ahead of time.  While I’ve always known making my own lunch and taking it in is much better than buying something in a café or from a shop, I’ve usually failed a lot of the time to make something and take it in.  Last week, I pushed myself to ensure I did prep the night before so I could have the lunch I planned.

Risks: There are a couple of risks.  Firstly, it is all a little too easy just to eat all my daily points, as in ‘I have 3 points left – fantastic I can have 3 rich tea biscuits with my last cup of tea.’ I’m thinking maybe I need to come up with a ‘points jar’ and for every point I save daily put a pound towards something nice for myself.

Secondly, there is a lot of work involved and I know when I’m very tired (and let’s face it tiredness is not unusual for me since I have CFS) the urge to simply get a take away rather than facing cooking is huge.  Until I go to Mauritius, I know the thought of what my aunts will say about my weight gain since the last time I was there is kind of keeping me determined not to fall into old habits but I probably need to think up mitigations here too.

All in all though, I’m on track with the better diet goal this year than I have been at this stage in previous years so I’m pleased.

Regular exercise: This can be a real stumbling block for me as I have a chronic condition which doesn’t really like exercise and punishes me with a lot of pain and stiffness in the aftermath.  That said, I decided to make my evening walk up to the taxi rank to get home my regular exercise.  Again, I’m not pushing myself to do every day if I’m in a lot of pain.  But I am again forcing myself to really make the choice every day.

I’m not unaware though that the walk is not enough to really make a difference – it’s low intensity and while beneficial on some level is only probably 25% of the exercise I should do.  Equally while weight watchers allows me to count the house-keeping towards ‘fit points’, I really do need to think about what other exercise I can incorporate going forward.

Balanced Work/Life: Yeah, this is my big stumbling block.  New job with a LOT to do.  It’s inevitable I’m struggling to get the balance right once more.  However, I have managed so far to avoid working during the weekends.  I need to focus on this more.

Positive thinking: I’m pulling myself up every time my thoughts drift in a negative direction.  However, I feel so much better mentally than I did before starting my new job last year.  Back then I felt stalked by the black dog of depression; it loomed over me, stood waiting at the door.  Now, I feel it’s a good distance away; not out of sight completely – it hasn’t quite left town, but maybe it’s more than a few streets away.

I think the other thing that helped here last weekend was actually spring cleaning the kitchen.  It began because I wanted to clear out the fridge, freezer and pantry before I embarked on my better diet but once I’d begun it seemed mad not to carry on with the rest of the kitchen.  I’m keen to keep up the momentum, but trying to do anything in a work evening is difficult due to my fatigue, so it looks like my weekends are the best opportunity; tackling the conservatory tomorrow.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

I feel like I am doing OK on this one too.  Friends-wise, I had to cancel a meal out with Kath just before New Year but we have another planned for the end of the month.  I already have a visit from Kate in the diary for February and a lunch date with Carl in March.  I’ve reached out to have a coffee with an old colleague from Guinness but haven’t heard back, and I’m intending to reach out to a few more people over the next week to make arrangements for coffee, lunch or dinner.

Family-wise, while New Year was a wash with both Sheila and I sick, we enjoyed a meal with Dad the night before he headed back to Mauritius and obviously we’re going to see him in February.

The risk here is will my health allow me to follow through on all these arrangements?  That’s the tough question.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

So, right now and probably for the next three months, I’m focusing on getting settled in my new job.  There are a lot of positives; the team is lovely, the work is interesting but very doable, and I feel at home.  My boss is a good man.  There is no anxiety attached beyond the normal desire to make sure I do a good job and don’t do anything to risk passing my probation.  As a way to earn a living, it’s good.

That said, the fatigue is a constant factor which makes it difficult for work to be completely and totally enjoyable.  I’m tired – a left over from the overwork and anxiety of the previous years.  Most of the time I want to stay in bed rather than drag myself to work – any work.  But I can see that I could achieve a work/life balance in the future here so I know I need to stick with this, keep trying to balance everything so I’m not exhausted, and allow myself to recover.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

This is probably the one which I haven’t spent any real time actively doing.  This blog is the first real writing I’ve done this year.  Some of that is the job; some of it was my health over New Year; some of it is that I’m prepping for beginning to finish my Aftershocks series so have yet to put text to document as I wanted to (a) watch at least the season I’m writing about (and today I realised I probably need to watch the subsequent seasons too) and (b) read the series from the beginning again so I can pick up the threads I had laid down.

Also, one of my old articles will be published in an actual book soon so while I haven’t written anything new I’m thrilled with the idea of being published in a book!

Overall, I’m really happy with the year so far (all thirteen days), and I’m hopeful about the rest of the year.  Until next time.

2017 in review and 2018 goals

It seems like every year goes that much faster than the one before.  I can hardly believe we’re reviewing the year again.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life and positive thinking.

So.

Yeah.

That didn’t happen.

It’s not that I didn’t try because I definitely tried.  I started out with the best of intentions.  But sometimes it feels like the universe just conspires against you.

Work/life balance isn’t ever going to be achievable if you’re trying to do four roles, each almost a full time proposition itself, in a highly pressurised environment with insane and unachievable deadlines and workload.

For a healthy person, that’s challenging.

For a person with chronic conditions, it’s like trying to climb a mountain after swimming an ocean and trekking across a desert.

Life becomes trying to find the energy to go back to work rather than actually living.  And anything that might take time or energy in the life part, such as making a dinner instead of getting a take away, or getting some exercise rather than simply reading through the latest online stories…well…let’s just say it’s not a supportive environment to doing the right things.

Given all of that, you won’t be surprised that this year has been hellish from a health point of view.  Achieving a ‘I can work but that’s about it’ status has been really the best I’ve gotten my health to be during the last twelve months.  In the interim, I’ve had to deal with severe migraines, tachycardia, dizziness and severe pain just from the chronic conditions.  So unsurprisingly I also had to deal with depression.

Even now I’m recovering from a chest infection because my sister turned up with a cough at Christmas and my immune system is totally compromised and in no shape to fight off any kind of attack.

Hopefully 2018 will be better.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

I have managed this in parts.

I’ve generally managed to meet up at least once with key friends.  I had a lovely day out with Carl at the beginning of the year, a nice lunch with Kath, another lunch with Al.  Kate and I have managed a couple of evenings of catch-up, our usual trip to cinema and lunch for Christmas,  and a nice spa day with David with us too as a celebration of us knowing each other for a scary 25 years now.

Family wise, Sheila and I managed to get together for key dates around birthdays, and to take in a couple of films.  Dad and I headed to Italy for a tour in August and spent quality time together seeing the sights of Venice, Verona, Florence and Rome, and which included Dad throwing up on a bus.  As a family, we’ve gotten together for Christmas and it’s comfortable now.

But because my health is always a bit dodgy, I’ve had to cancel plans with both friends and family at times.  I really, really need to get the health side of the equation under control so I can spend the time I want with friends and family.

Decide what I really want in the work part of my life and make it happen; really determine my future work, plan for it and start to work the plan.

I end the year in a very different place work-wise than I started.  I’ve changed jobs and organisations and I’m in a good place now.  I’ve started working at a University, still doing a programme management role, but with a great team and it feels right.  It’s still a lot of work and I can tell I’m going to do a lot of prioritisation and juggling but for the first time I feel this is where I want to be.

 

It was a wrench leaving my old place, because I did love the team I had built, and the people I worked with.  But it was a struggle there for many reasons and I feel so much better out of the organisation.

Long term, I still probably do need to work out what I want versus what is achievable given my health conditions.  So next year I’m going to need to map that out more.

Write what makes me happy; I love writing and I just need to write what makes me happy and stop obsessing over unfinished projects or worrying I’m never going to get that original fiction written and published.

This really ended up with my writing almost nothing.  I have written some things but I’ve struggled to find the time and energy.  Something to correct in the New Year.

2018 Goals

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life and positive thinking. 

I’m not going to make a change to this goal.  This ultimately has to be the priority.  If I’m as healthy as I can be given the chronic conditions, then the rest of my goals will at least not have to get through the hurdle of my not being well enough to make them happen.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

Unsurprisingly, I’m not changing this goal either.  Spending time with the people you love is what life should be about.  And as much as I’m an introvert, I know time with loved ones is something to cherish.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

I am separating this out into two parts.  For the first half of the year, I want to settle into my new job, and ensure it has a solid foundation to make it through (a) the probation period and (b) the immediate next 3-5 years.

In the second half of the year, I want to spend some time working out longer term where I want to go and do some planning to get me onto the right pathway to make that happen.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

I’ve hardly written anything this year.  I want to ensure I’m writing again in 2018.

And that’s it – for another year.  Let’s all have a good 2018.

2016 in review and 2017 goals

So the annual review is upon me!  Let’s see how I went…

Enjoy time with Family & Friends: Quality not quantity but making time to keep up the relationships in my life is important to me.

Highlights of this year definitely include a holiday to Niagara Falls with Dad, resuming a close relationship with my sister in the wake of her marriage break-up, and spending time at Christmas and New Year with both.

Niagara Falls was great.  It was a hectic but lovely week.  The Falls themselves are breath-taking.  The moment when we were on the boat and stood beneath them, water falling all around us, spray everywhere, the sound of thunder in our ears…there is nothing like nature to really gain perspective of our place in the universe.

It was a tough beginning to the year when my sister decided to leave her relationship and begin anew.  It was good to be able to provide her with a shoulder and a safe place to turn.  It was sad to say goodbye to her partner who has been a part of the family for so long.  In some ways the nature of the split lessens that as undoubtedly I’m biased to my sister’s point of view, but still the ending of something is always sad.  It’s been nice though to welcome my sister’s new love interest and be supportive of their relationship.

So, it was nice to end this year with time with family.

On the friends front, I still enjoy weekends with my best friend, with our mutual Uni friend; still managed a lunch with an old school friend and to meet up for dinner with my old work friend.  However, admittedly friendship time has been sacrificed because of my health once more so that’s something to improve on next year.

Be creative: Spend time on my writing projects

On the positive side, I was able to finally finish the epic Harry Potter fanfiction I was writing.  It ended up being a colossal 800,000+ words.  Eep!  No wonder I’ve barely been able to write anything else in the interim.

I also managed to write a 60,000+ word fanfiction novella for a challenge back in November.  It proved that I can if I put my mind to it write a good story in a short space of time – and helped cement my ability to write original characters (even if they were surrounding a canon Stargate character).  Of course, I managed to do this while I was off sick from work so…I need to find a way to do this and work.

The other two projects I wanted to work on – finishing off a second part to a previous fanfiction, and resuming my Aftershocks series did not progress as planned.  But I am hopeful to make headway in the New Year.

Think long term: Make a step towards my future and don’t just focus on paying the bills today

This goal I think went really nowhere this year bar a couple of applications to Universities which were not successful.  I need to put some time and energy into this next year.

What I think this year has shown me workwise is that I have no long term future with the place I currently work at.  It’s a great organisation; good people; very supportive of my health issues but…I cannot see a future for me there – not long term.

Improve my health: Better diet, more exercise and keep on with the positive thinking

This did not go well.  I’ve struggled health-wise and continue as we close the year to struggle.

A large part of that can be put down to the fact that I think I’m in perimenopause and pretty much getting hit with every single negative symptom from hot flushes to dizziness, from increased severe headaches to poor sleep, from mood swings to cramping.  And what I have only just realised in the last few months is the impact this condition is having on my chronic conditions; poor sleep and headaches increase my fatigue while mood swings trigger my fibromyalgia.  Joy.  I’m only just learning patterns and need to get a better grip on managing the perimenopause before it floors me completely.  My mum once told me when Nana went through an early menopause Nana took to her bed for 3 years; quite honestly I wish I could.

Some of it though can be put down to my own continuing poor habits; too much work, exercise-shyness, not going to sleep in a regular way, and sliding into poor eating when I’m tired.  There are things I can do to improve my health despite my chronic conditions.

2017 Goals

  1. Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life and positive thinking.
  2. Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!
  3. Decide what I really want in the work part of my life and make it happen; really determine my future work, plan for it and start to work the plan.
  4. Write what makes me happy; I love writing and I just need to write what makes me happy and stop obsessing over unfinished projects or worrying I’m never going to get that original fiction written and published.

 

 

Women to Admire – the U.S Election

I’ve spent the last six weeks basically at home trying to recover from my latest run in with my chronic conditions and a new condition (because physically my body hates me) which has left me with an enormous amount of time on my hands.  Rather than waste it watching UK daytime TV, I decided to watch the unfolding drama of the 2016 U.S Election via YouTube.

It’s a historic election with the first female presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on one hand, and Donald Trump on the other.  And there is probably a hundred blog posts which detail the twists and turns of this election with its scandals and its stresses already so that really isn’t my focus of this post.

What is my focus is the women who I have noticed and admired during this election campaign.

Michelle Obama: The current First Lady of America.  Intelligent, warm, funny and stylish.  She is a class act.  In every speech I have seen President Obama give where he mentions her, his respect and love for her is visibly apparent.  And when she speaks, she demonstrates a poise, a way to comport yourself as a woman, as a strong woman which is admirable and aspirational.

In all honesty I have no idea what her contributions have been during her time as First Lady.  What I do know is that the speech she gave in response to the revelation of Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood video (where he was recorded talking about immediately beginning to kiss women, about getting away with it because he was a star, about grabbing a woman’s body)…that speech was nothing short of epic.

Most women at some point encounter the disrespectful man who stares a little too long at her breasts, or legs, or bum.  They encounter men who won’t take no for an answer in a bar, a club or at an office party.  They encounter men who think they are entitled to take what they want from a woman without consent because they believe there is a power differential which allows them to take what they want; to use women, to consider them as less than a man and therefore free game.

And Michelle Obama’s speech captured exactly what I felt about the video, about the predatory behaviour women deal with and reminded us all very sharply about why it is not OK.

Ana Navarro: American Republican strategist and contributor on CNN panels.  Feisty, fierce and formidable.  Her biting wit and wonderfully tell-it-how-it-is bluntness have been a real highlight for me.  I think we’d disagree about a great deal of policy but I admire how she has handled herself in some of the most contentious panel discussions where Trump surrogates have attempted the most bizarre justifications and spin for his behaviour and actions.

Samantha Bee: Host of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of the commentary from the comedy/talk shows arena (Seth Meyers, John Oliver, James Corden and Stephen Colbert) but she holds her own amongst the crowd.  For me she picked up one of the stand-out moments in the third debate by pointing out Hillary’s authenticity and sincerity at making the statement that government has absolutely no place in telling a woman what they can do with their bodies.

Jedediah Bila: One of the hosts of American TV show The View.  Again, politically we’re probably on opposite sides of a lot of policy, but I find she talks a lot of just plain old common sense; her arguments are well-constructed; they’re practical; she shows a great moral core – she comes across as someone who lives her values.   Outside of the political discussions, she just comes across as someone who would be a fun friend, a great person to share a drink at a bar and talk about the world with.

Megyn Kelly: Host of The Kelly File.  Another person with whom I probably don’t share much political agreement but I admire her journalism.  Regardless of network, she has been fair in her coverage; poised, sensible and intelligent in her commentary.  Her response to Newt Gingrich remains one of my favourite moments of the campaign.

Hillary Clinton:  She’s not perfect but actually she’s more admirable because of that.  If society and women’s equality had moved faster, she would have been and arguably should have already been president instead of her husband back in the ’90s.  I hope the U.S. gives the chance to become their first female President.  I admire her on many levels; I admire her service, her intelligence, and I admire her fortitude.  She has continued despite the haters and the misogyny; despite the double standards which have meant like many women she has had to achieve twice as much and demonstrate over and above the required skillset to gain her place and make her case.  Whether she wins or not, she deserves plaudits for making the attempt and making it possible for the next woman to stand up and be counted.

So, that’s my list of admirable women.  If I had a dinner party and could invite who I wanted right now, this would be my dream guest-list.