These past twelve months have been a little up and down. On the positive side I’ve enjoyed not one but two fabulous, luxury holidays in the Canary Islands but I’ve also said sad farewells to a couple of very dear friends. I finished a fixed-term contract for a Social Science department, where I would have loved to have stayed, but within weeks was offered a brand new position with a massive Computer Science department on the same campus. I’ve also seen a lot more of the NHS than I anticipated, however I’m hopeful that 2018 will see a significant decrease in medical appointments.
This year I enjoyed the company of an old mate who stayed with me during the summer. It was good being able to share some quality time with her and we spent many an evening putting the world to rights. My gorgeous daughters remain, as always, my raison d’être and I’m eternally grateful for the wonderful friends who are always there when I need them.
In July I was privileged to attend one of the annual Graduation ceremonies at the university where I work, and I’ve now decided that in the summer of 2018 I will finally put on the full Harry Potter outfit and officially collect my Social Science degree on the tenth anniversary of my own graduation; which I was unable to attend back in 2008.
There’s been many highs, a few lows, but I’m extremely optimistic about the future and I’m already looking forward to whatever exciting new things the next twelve months will bring…
“And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.”
In recent months I’ve discovered a new word (well, it’s an ancient word but is new to me); hygge. Apparently, this interesting Danish word (pronounced ‘hue gar’ or thereabouts) has no English translation; the closest we get to it is ‘cosiness‘. With temperatures outside rather chilly, and no signs as yet that spring is on the horizon, it feels rather satisfying that something referring to contentment gained from simple pleasures such as snuggling beneath a blanket or embracing the warm glow of a candle is currently ‘the in thing‘.
Soothing acts of wearing fluffy socks and taking time out to mull over a cuppa are apparently all part and parcel of this phenomenon, which is a happy coincidence because they’re things I already like doing. Who knew that my regular bowl of porridge, a spoonful of honey in a warm glass of brandy and even enjoying a slice of cake are all massively positive for my mental well-being. In an uncertain world it’s good to know that little nuggets of joy can easily find their way into your life, gently calming the nerves and making you feel at peace… and it’s got a name (hygge).
It’s been a busy start to 2017 and I can’t believe that the first half of January is almost behind me. Having bid farewell to self-employment at the end of 2016, my salaried job role is taking up most of my time these days, which is really positive. There’s a massive amount to learn, and at times I feel as if my brain will burst, but along with the challenges there are more than enough rewards to make up for it, and being part of a team is a dream come true.
My shifts are longer than I’m used to, but this became a lot easier once I settled back into my new routine after the Christmas break, and the bonus is that I’m getting fitter. I’m slowly getting used to the sheer volume of business meetings I’m now attending, along with various training days, and although my schedule is filling up with work it’s also being filled with fun stuff such as the monthly team breakfasts, and will soon include an ‘away day’!
Never in a million years did I ever imagine that my life could change so quickly and dramatically, which just goes to show that you never know what’s just around the next corner. If you want to move upwards you have to move forwards…
When an email suddenly appeared in my inbox from my new boss asking me to pop along to her office, without giving away any clues as to why, I did the very British thing of assuming that I’d done something wrong. However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth because she immediately asked me if they could extend my temporary contract as she was so impressed with my work! She said she’d give me time to think about it, and half a second later I replied YES! Never in a million years did I think I could begin a brand new career aged 54, and yet here I am, doing just that!
Oh my word, I didn’t see that coming. I knew that departmental contracts were currently being discussed but there was no way I was even thinking I’d be invited to stay. Of course, this happy development means that I’ve had to make some very big decisions, and I’ll now be leaving the familiarity of the self-employed position I’ve held for the past eight years so that I can fully focus on my new and exciting future. Burning bridges can be extremely scary, however, you simply can’t move forwards if you anchor yourself to the past. At times like this you just have to take a giant leap of faith, and trust that the universe will catch you…
Just over two and a half years ago I was a size 22 and weighed 13 stones! After cutting out all the junk food, using a smaller plate and doing lots of walking I’m now a very happy and healthy size 12-14. However, despite my achievement, the NHS, (my cardiologist in particular), doesn’t share my joy and it’s all because of numbers.
Due to my height (lack of) the fact that I actually weigh 12 stones, (despite looking and feeling ‘normal’), my BMI is 30 which puts me in the ‘obese’ category! All the various weight-to-height charts suggest I should weigh 9 stones, which would technically leave me having to lose another three stones… despite the fact I’m already down to a size 12-14!!!!
Luckily, I have the common sense to be proud of what I’ve achieved, but others in a similar position might feel disheartened. This has two potential outcomes; either they’ll give up, return to an unhealthy diet and regain all the weight they lost, or they’ll develop an eating disorder.
While I realise that many people do need to lose weight in order to ease pressure on joints and bones, common sense needs to prevail, and once you are at the stage when you’re finally comfortable in your own skin then throw away the scales, stop the weekly weigh-ins, and just enjoy being fabulous!
Now… all of my friends and family members know full well that I never, ever consider holidaying in the UK. It’s entirely a personal preference, but I’d much rather spend my time, money and effort on flying somewhere fabulous with long beaches, guaranteed sunshine and plenty of palm trees, instead of wasting an entire day held hostage on a bus at the back end of some horrendous traffic jam, only to face cold, wet weather at the other end.
However… my old school chum has very kindly invited me to stay with her family over 200 miles away, and as this get-together is seriously overdue (by several decades!) I’ve decided to bite the bullet, pack a cagoule, get on a coach and head for the hills in order to spend a few fabulous days re-living my mis-spent youth.
We’ve both been trying to schedule some quality girlie time together for the past few years, but work commitments, ill health and life in general has always got in the way. I’m now happy to announce I’ve just purchased my return coach tickets and we WILL be having that long awaited reunion.
Sometimes you simply HAVE to make things happen – iechyd da…!
The sun was shining, the sky was blue, so off we went on a pre-birthday trip to the coast! As I’m an outdoorsy person there really was no better way to celebrate than to be treated to an entire day of all things boaty and watery. We laughed at novice windsurfers, ate lunch in a fancy restaurant and walked miles along the sand; discussing everything from beach hut colours to wondering what the mini-pontoons were for, while avoiding stepping on jelly-fish.
Being chauffeur driven to lovely places and spoilt rotten all day long was an exceptional treat indeed, and a happy memory I’ll always cherish. I’m so very lucky to have such wonderful friends, and it doesn’t go unappreciated. Sometimes, the best gifts don’t come wrapped in fancy paper…