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Reflections on 2017

2017 has been a year full of ups and downs. Before I go on I will no doubt mention on numerous occasions:

Without further ado, lets get started…

January

My amazing friend Sabrina beat breast cancer then got married abroad, and I was lucky enough to be able to make it to her wedding reception for a couple of hours with the help of another friend. Definitely a highlight as I hadn’t seen her since I moved to Brighton six years previously.

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I also managed to make it to a tutorial for my Open University course at the London School of Economics – I finally felt like a real student!

February

The first two weeks of February were a washout with a nasty virus that wouldn’t leave me and more fatigued body alone. It was a long, horrible few days. A trip to see a friend in Midhurst was cancelled and I was pretty upset and blue.

On recovery I managed to meet Stuart in Preston Park where it snowed and we went on our first mysterious ‘assignment’. An utterly fantastic and hilarious afternoon.

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I finally got an appointment with a real medical professional who for once didn’t patronise me, tell me to join a gym or make me cry, I had some medication increased and was booked in a month later to see how I was doing.

March

My wife and I finally had a day out together and we went to Worthing. After hearing numerous horror stories I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful beach, different wildlife and lovely town centre.  It was also the first day of two solid months of heartburn.

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I wasn’t well enough to make a tutorial at Kings College London, again, but did manage to look round a few old bookshops with Stuart instead.

I went on a solo mini trip to Seaford, a local town, to sit on the beach and write. Again, I was surprised at what this small seaside town had to offer in way of views and scenery. It was also a beautifully warm spring day.

I had to give up my university studies with The Open University. I obtained a letter from my doctor supporting my decision. the university kept all my money and sent a letter saying I have to recover by November or I lose it.

April

Stuart took me to his studio before we went on an ‘Industrial Assignment’. I came home to find my wife and brother in law tucked up asleep on the sofa.

The second week of April saw Nat and I celebrate our fifth anniversary and we had a lovely little treat planned. With a cat sitter booked in, we headed off for a delightful french afternoon tea at Julian Plumart, shopping for a Pandora bracelet and then on to The Grand Hotel, a stunning luxurious Victorian hotel on the seafront where we had a suite, a queen size bed and more floorspace than we knew what to do with. Oh, and a bath – all hail the bath!

May

I joined a local gym and before working out decided to get some expert advice. I found a trainer who said his mum had fibro so thought we’d be a great match. On the day of one of my first session I was very ill after a lot of overtime at work. After emailing to cancel he replied saying lying in bed won’t cure me and I should get off of my backside. I didn’t go back.

‘Assignment Carouselfie’ with Stuart. No further words are required.

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I met dad in London for a trip on a Route Master bus and took fun photos with my polaroid camera.

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We bought Suzie Smart Car. A lifelong dream come true!

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I attended Marie Clare Future Shapers in a flash London hotel. A great but utterly exhausting day, but I met another fellow Lancashire Lass living south and we spent the day hanging out together while she looked after me.

Woo, a busy month!

June

Nat and I visited the animal rescue centre Raystede. A beautiful day and nice relaxing drive through some quiet countryside.

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I was meant to attending a blogging event – Blogtacular – but wasn’t well enough to go, as usual.

The guys from work chauffeured me and Nat in a rather posh car to One Aldwych for afternoon tea, my birthday present from Nat.

July

My parents came to stay. A lovely weekend. We took them to Julian Plumart for afternoon tea.

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I stayed with my friend for a quiet, sleepy weekend in Midhurst and went to watch her perform in her local village choir. A beautiful evening.

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August

I bought Nat horse riding lessons for us both for her birthday. Note to self, don’t learn to horse ride at 31 and definitely don’t do it with chronic pain. I actually couldn’t sit down for a week. However, riding a horse over the South Downs was an incredible, if not extremely painful, experience.

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I had lunch at The Lanesborough in London following on from a work trip. A delightful, delicious experience.

Nat and I hopped in Suzie for a spontaneous trip to a small local farm. We acted like children, got lost in a maze and attacked by the most persistent wasp ever to have existed. A jolly good day in the sunshine.

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September

I met my buddies from the ME/CFS NHS group I attended last year – the first time we’ve all been well enough to meet up together. It was so amazing to see them again.

I had a brain and head scan to see what on earth is so wrong with my painful locked jaw. I must have a huge brain as it took over an hour!

October

On a way to a local cafe to meet Stuart I fell upon a book fair. Needless to say we had the most wonderful afternoon with some excellent antique finds.

November

I didn’t recover, thus lost my university fees.

I headed for a restful weekend in favourite place on earth – St Annes on the Sea. With the help of staying in a luxury guest house a two minute walk from the seafront I had a relaxing, sleepy time and saw some of the most beautiful sunsets and chatted to some wonderfully friendly people. Lancashire is definitely my spiritual home.

Nat and I stayed in a hotel on Brighton seafront a few minutes in a taxi from our home. With a mahogany four poster bed and sea views it was a lovely treat, and dinner at Prezzo was indulgent and delicious.

I started working with Jody Shield – the healer, coach and mentor and got taken under the wing of her and her amazing team.

Nat and I went to a local Christmas Craft Fair at Brighton Open Market, a stones throw from our house.

December

Mom came to stay while Nat was at a Buffy The Vampire Slayer Convention. We had a lovely festive weekend including a buffet and Christmas song evening with Stuart.

I attended both the Advent and Carol services at my local church which is a beautiful example of architecture with stained glass windows and a stunning original organ.

Christmas (early) at my parent’s house was the most festive I’ve felt in years, with gifts, decorations and Christmas dinner it was quite perfect indeed.

Nat and I also went with Stuart to a traditional night of ghost stories as told by the Victorians in the run up to Christmas.

And so I finish writing this on the 21st December, with the real Christmas day still to go. I have of course omitted most of the parts where I have felt dreadfully unwell for most of the year, and I simply couldn’t include every wonderful lunch or tea/coffee shop visit with Nat, lunch and serious selfie dates with Stuart (or Dr Mystery as I prefer to call him) and the many wonderful times with my parents or I’d never get this post finished! I have also seldom mentioned my beloved Trinny, the fluffiest, prettiest nurse around. 2017 wouldn’t have been the same without her…

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I also haven’t written about my job. I work with an amazing group of people who I am proud to call my friends and colleagues and I am being supported in my ever changing career no end. They take me to and from work to save on energy, run my errands if I am too unwell to go out and are just an awesome bunch who look after me, so a huge thank you to everyone at Consec 🙂

I am currently working on my hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations (whatever you want to call them) for 2018. But the product of that is definitely for another blog post…

So as I bid farewell to 2017 I want to take a moment to express gratitude to the friends who have checked on me when I’m ill, not got annoyed when I cancel plans for the fifth time and bought me loads of tea!

Here’s to a fabulous 2018!

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Achievements in 2015

2015 was a tough year in a number of ways. My health deteriorated from the get go and this prevented me from doing many of the things I had planned. I didn’t get my business started, had to defer my degree, had to give up my voluntary work with FibroAction, I didn’t make it to all of the events, shows and exhibitions I had planned and I didn’t manage to keep up all of the healthy lifestyle changes I made at the beginning of the year.

But enough with the negative! Here’s what was acheived:

  1. I went to the Fibromyalgia Conference, learnt lots and made some wonderful friends.
  2. I learnt gentle basic yoga which I hope to ease back into soon.
  3. I went to The Stationery Show, my first professional event in years, and I did it with confidence!
  4. I managed to hold down my 30 hour per week job despite my health trying to tell me I couldn’t.
  5. I created a (admittedly)  basic website for my business idea. Yep, this technophobe right here!
  6. I had the courage to step down from my voluntary role before it got the better of me and my fatigue.
  7. I finally put enough pressure on my (many) GPs and got referred to pain and fatigue clinics.
  8. I learnt to control my breathing when I’m having an anxiety attack or a particularly bad pain flare.

All of these begin with ‘I’ because I want to remember that it was me who managed to do all of this, and that’s always a positive, right?!

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The list may look a little feeble, but it was a difficult twelve months, and every tiny little thing meant something to me.

What achievements have you had in the past year? Share them with me, and others, in the comments below or over on Twitter.

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I hope last year was successful for you and one to remember, and I hope that this year is brimming with achievements, happiness, good health and positivity.

Karen xx

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Goals for 2016

Social media and the internet are full of resolutions at this time of year, so I thought why not join in.

I’m working on lots of projects at the moment, personal ones and ones for my professional future, both of which interlink with one another.

So here they are, my goals for the coming 12 months and a day (it’s a leap year) of 2016:

  1. Learn to manage my pain and fatigue. It’s not going anywhere, but I know I can do more to learn to live with it.
  2. Read more books. I LOVE reading and can’t remember a time when I didn’t, but last year I only read four books. Shocking!
  3. Attend as many events as my health will allow, I’m already booked onto a networking event, into The Stationery Show and Summer In The City.
  4. Work on setting up my business. This is the big one but I know I can do it.
  5. Reduce and manage my anxiety and worrying using meditation, breathing and gentle basic yoga.
  6. Explore YouTube more. I’m serious latecomer and former YouTube hater, but I’m loving it so much already!

So I know that doesn’t look like much (I’ve just seen Hannah Witton on YouTube set ten resolutions, one of which is to read 50 books) but to me that’s enough. Each one of those is life changing for me in it’s own way. I could make a list five times as long but my body needs rest too, so that’s a priority, hence it being my first goal on the list.

Have you decided on any resolutions or goals this year that are really important to you? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.

Karen xx

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