Sunday, January 7, 2018

So long, 2017! Onwards to 2018!

A Christmasy family portrait - taken before the virus struck
We expected to spend the final weekend of 2017 celebrating the new year with friends from Ottawa but, unfortunately, we've both been sick as dogs since Christmas with a nasty cold/flu thingy, so they sensibly opted to postpone their visit until later. We were disappointed, of course, but they made the right decision. We wouldn't have wanted them to get this nasty virus, and the truth is we wouldn't have been very good company.

Honestly, I can't remember when I was last so sick for so long. For the first three days, I barely got out of bed and felt too awful to do much of anything. Since then, I've improved marginally each day, but it's been a long, hard slog - nearly two weeks now! 

I suppose it's fitting 2017 ended with a whimper since, in many ways, it was a tough year. There weren't any major catastrophes - just a long series of  mundane challenges that left me feeling worn out and discouraged. Here's hoping the longer-than-expected break from work enables me to tackle 2018 with renewed energy and enthusiasm. 

When I wasn't sleeping over the holidays, I spent a lot of time thinking about my intentions for 2018. Intuitively, I have a sense it's going to be a big year, filled with new adventures and challenges - but perhaps that's wishful thinking. So far, there's nothing to suggest there are major changes on the horizon - though I'm keeping a sharp eye out for interesting job prospects. 

On the running front, my expectations are modest. 2017 wasn't a great running year for me. Sure, I completed a few races in the spring and fall, but I ran all of them more slowly than I hoped and never got into a good training groove, despite kicking it up a notch in the early part of the year. More discouraging, my weight, which had remained pretty constant over the past few years, crept up to the point I felt positively chubby. Added to which, constant stiffness and joint pain were making it harder to run.

Fortunately, Husband announced at the end of November that he was willing to try going on the Plan for a few weeks, which was significant because he does most of the shopping and cooking and the burden of following the prescribed menus was going to fall mostly on him. Normally, neither of us is into dieting but we'd heard about the Plan from family and friends and thought it might be worth trying. We figured it couldn't hurt because the recommended recipes were healthy and calorie-full. In the end, we found we liked the food, and it worked for us. So far, I've lost nearly 9 pounds and Husband's down nearly 6, and we're both feeling more energetic and less achy overall - or at least we were until we got sick. 

Given our success to date, we've decided to carry on "planning" for awhile longer and couple that with more regular strength-training in hopes we'll be in better shape by the time gardening season rolls around. I'm hoping carrying less weight again will make running feel easier when I get back to it, but time will tell. I'm pretty darn stiff after laying around so much the past two weeks so more yoga is in order as well.

Anyway, back to those intentions. In terms of my physical health, what I most want is to end 2018 feeling comfortable in my skin - more flexible and energetic, as well as stronger - which of course means eating well, getting enough sleep and varying my exercise regime so its not so focused on running. With relatively little effort, all that should be do-able.

Emotionally and psychologically, my intentions are more challenging. I'm not particularly happy at work these days, and the situation isn't likely to change so I need to find a way to address that. I started exploring other opportunities before the holidays but there's still plenty I can do on that front.

Most importantly this year, I want to get more serious about practicing gratitude and compassion - towards myself and others - and to be braver and more accepting of "what is".

Case in point, I learned just before Christmas that I have a tiny cancerous lesion on my cheek. It's no big deal in the sense that the doctors who've examined it all assure me it's entirely treatable. I just need to have the darn thing removed. Nonetheless, I found myself feeling dismayed last week when the surgeon advised that I'll end up with a scar about an inch long. Of course, no one wants a scar in the middle of their face but I was annoyed with myself for finding the news so unsettling. What I should have felt was happy and grateful that the lesion was identified while it's so small and that I'm able to have it removed quickly. Chances are the scar won't be that bad and, anyway, now would be a good time to get over worrying about my looks and accept that I'm aging and my face is going to reflect that.

I'd like to be braver in other ways too. Husband and I have been talking for some time now about when I'm going to "retire" - by which we mean leave my reasonably well-paid government job to pursue other paid and unpaid opportunities, do more traveling, and work with him to develop our country property - but it's hard to give up the "golden handcuffs". I can't help worrying about what will happen if one of us gets really sick and we have to hire folks to look after us for an extended period. Of course, it's sensible to consider such contingencies, but the reality is none of us knows how much time we have, and Husband and I won't be able to tackle even half the projects we have in mind if I postpone retirement too long.

My intentions around gratitude and compassion have a lot to do with not beating up on myself when I fail to meet expectations, but also about being kinder and more understanding of other people. After all, we're all going through stuff others know nothing about.

Last but not least, I'd like to spend more time reading great books, writing, knitting, painting and doing whatever else flexes my creative muscles. With everything else going on, there wasn't much time for creativity in 2017 and I found I really missed it. If I want to live more creatively in retirement, I need to stay in practice.

In summary, my intentions for 2018 are to:
  • get more comfortable in my skin
  • deal with my work situation
  • practice compassion and gratitude
  • be braver and more accepting of what is
  • spend more time doing creative activities
In addition to the above, I am of course planning to spend lots more happy times with this little guy.

What about you, gentle reader. What are your intentions for this bright new year?

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear you've been sick this time of year. That's a bummer, but then again, it gives you a good reason to avoid all the semi-obligatory social occasions that you might not want to attend.

    A scar. Only an inch long. The sooner you get the work done, preferably just before or after a vacation overseas, the sooner you can start regaling your friends with the stories about how it happened. Like fighting off pirates to save a lifeboat full of refugee children and kittens. Or the fall back, servicing what turned out to be a savage industrial bread slicing machine. (An in joke from my latest work.)

    The retirement thing is tough. Linda was there for years, because in her experience, a fixed income equaled poverty. You really don't need as much money in retirement unless you have expensive travel tastes. I've a lot of experience working where I'm not particularly happy, and there are only two solutions. Find something different to do with your time, either different work or retirement. Or figure out something that makes the current situation bearable. Do the math on it, as I'm pretty sure you've already done. Do you really need to work? Are there possibilities of picking up short term contract work?