I am sitting here at my living room table, wrapped in blankets and thick slipper socks (a wonderful Christmas gift from my eldest son), sore, runny nose, headache and sore throat, feeling very sorry for myself after a day of exhausted ill-feeling. I have watched a lot of Sherlock and written a couple of pitch articles to send to some sites, but not got much else done – so much for my productive end of the year, but I have been giving my body what it clearly needed, rest and lots of Beechams!
I hate being ill, and the feeling of being unable to do what I wanted to do has really bugged me today. It got me feeling quite down, so I decided to make a list of the things I have achieved this year that have filled me with joy. It is amazing how you can go through the year not really noticing so much happening. I have done things I thought I would never be able to do this year, and writing this list has made me look forward to stretching myself more in 2018 so that next year’s list excites me even more.
Here are my highlights of the year, in no particular order…
After spending a long time watching in horror as homelessness rises, feeling my heart break for those with no where to live, and ever mindful of how vulnerable I am to the same fate, I decided to do something to attempt to raise money for Huggard, a local charity that supports homeless people in Cardiff. Together with a friend, I did a sponsored walk from the Rhondda to the Huggard Centre in Cardiff, a distance for me of just over 24 miles. Together we raised almost £1500, and I have still been promised more sponsorship so hope this will rise soon.
The start of my ‘Recovery’ tattoo sleeve
When I was about 20 I looked at the Dark Horse logo on George Harrison’s ‘all Things Must Pass’ album (and others) and declared that one day that would be a tattoo somewhere on my body. My addiction meant that saving for a tattoo was never really possible for me, and over the years I stopped playing vinyl, stopped seeing the logo, got other tattoos and it slipped my mind. A couple of years ago a friend gave me a George Harrison 12 inch single which bore the logo, and the desire for the tattoo returned.
This time I did something about it, enlisting the help of local tattoo maestro Ray Tutty
Liam, my middle son, paid for me to have the 331/3 tattoo for me as an early birthday present, and on November 29, the anniversary of George’s death, work began on the Dark Horse tattoo I had wanted for so long. I have never loved looking at my arm as much as I do now, and am now planning the next tattoo for this arm. This is becoming my ‘Recovery’ sleeve. George represents a big part of the journey I have been on for a very long time, the next tattoo will tell a fairly elaborate story that blends Queens of the Stone Age, mountains, brothers and sons into one beautiful piece of art, and I am already excited for it!
Meeting Russell Brand
When I was writing my book last year, I kept imagining giving it to Russell Brand, and sitting down to talk yoga and recovery with him over a cup of herbal tea after a yoga class somewhere. Well, maybe unsurprisingly, that hasn’t happened yet, but I did get to give him a copy of my book (my second attempt after hand delivering it to an office that may not have actually been his management by the time I went there!) when I went to see him in Bristol’s Colston Hall. I got to tell him a little about my recovery journey, and was delighted that he really seemed to be genuinely interested. I had a lovely hug with him and he posed for a couple of photos with me. I was totally thrilled when, at the end of the show, he talked about how previously people would give him phone numbers and offer him sex, but now they give him yoga books!
Becoming a World Health Hero
In July of this year, I joined ‘World Health Heroes‘, an organisation set up by Owen Morgan after he *should* have died from a catastrophic illness. Owen is on a mission to make complementary health available to all, not just those who can afford it, and he has set up World Health Heroes to bring together therapists all over the country who will be able to offer these services. Owen runs incredible events, produces a ‘Hero Chat show’ and more, and is a real inspiration to all who meet him. I have met some amazing people through this organisation, and am hugely proud to be a World Health Hero, and look forward to working with Owen to develop the network in Wales and beyond in 2018.
Speaking my truth
I have really stepped up to the plate as a speaker and a writer. My LinkedIn profile now features both descriptions of myself as I finally feel able to call myself both those things. In truth I have always known that writing in particular is part of who I am, but it has taken a while for me to be able to feel comfortable identifying as such. This year I have written lots on this blog, been accepted as a contributor for Sober Mommies, written on Thrive Global and Workit Health, The Fix and I Love Recovery Cafe,and more.
As a speaker, I have shared my story and experiences at the Business Girls Network’s International Women’s Day event, The Story Party, Zokit Zap, Zokit Powwow and the World Health Heroes conferences in Bristol and Cardiff.
I have also written a proposal for my second book, and will be fine tuning this and getting it sent off to some publishers in the New Year.
I’ve been able to secure some great media appearances this year, including teaching Zoe Williams to breathe for her ‘Fit in my 40’s‘ series in the Guardian, a great feature in the Sunday Mirror, sharing my thoughts on Yoga in Psychologies magazine and talking on the Art of Being Well show on Radio Cardiff. Every time I do this, I get messages and emails from people who tell me that my sharing my story really helps them. If I can help one person change their life, then I will continue to work to share my story.
I realised in the summer that there were so many things I wanted to do that I was holding myself back from because of fear. I set myself a bit of a project to do things that scared me, and I did lots of things I never thought I could do, such as singing in an open mic night, wearing dresses and skirts for a week instead of always wearing trousers, making a stand on behalf of my son, asking a question that scared the bejeesus out of me (I didn’t get the answer I wanted but asking it felt amazing!) and more. There are lots of things I still hold back on, but I can reason with the scared little girl inside me a lot easier now than I used to.
Some Shanti in my life
On Mother’s Day this year, a big life lesson arrived in my life in the form of a Staffy cross in need of some love. Originally named Snowflake, but very unresponsive to that name, she quickly became ‘Shanti’, meaning peace, and we welcomed her into our lives. It hasn’t been easy, she has needed some training and lots of love, and there are times when I think maybe my spontaneous dog adoption wasn’t my smartest move, but she brings us so much joy it it worth all the hassle! Shanti brings lots of fun and joy to our lives, and has taught me some valuable lessons about myself too.
My Easy Rider moment!
Ever since I watched Easy Rider back in my 20’s I have wanted to ride on a motorbike. I did ride pillion once before, on the back of the bike of someone I suspect was a local drug dealer, who I didn’t know, and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life! But I always knew that I have a biker soul, and while I cannot ride a motorbike, I did get to enjoy a day on a bike this year thanks to one of my very good friends. We went to my favourite beach, Dunraven Bay at Southerndown (Bad Wolf Bay for all you Doctor Who fans!), and apparently, all my friend could hear all the way was me giggling and whooping to myself. One of my life goals is now definitely to own and ride a motorbike of my own, and I look forward to making that a reality in the future
Knowing I am making a difference
When I share my story, talk to people one to one, teach people relaxation and stress management strategies that can help them to develop the resilience they need in life, I make a difference to their lives. I know this because they tell me. This fills me with such joy, to know that I have come from such a chaotic, self centred place of addiction to a place where my experiences can actually help others to get themselves out of addiction. It really fills me heart with joy, and makes the pain of my past so worthwhile.
Testimonials such as this lift me so much!
Through working with Esther, I was finally able to gain a new perspective on issues affecting my life. Recovery is not always about rapid progress, but having patience with the process, and this was something I had apparently overlooked before making time to talk with Esther. As a result, I now know that peace is possible.
Ready for 2018
As we move into 2018, I am making plans and thinking about where I want to be this time next year, I don’t really do resolutions, as a Rebel type I know that any attempt to make resolutions are likely to end in failure but I do have my guiding words of connection, tapas (discipline) and joy to guide my actions into the new year and beyond. My biggest task for my own growth, both personally and professionally, is to curb the self sabotaging tendencies of my Rebel personality, it will be quite a task, but I have great support and the knowledge of what I do so I can develop strategies to hold myself accountable. I am making good progress so far, this is the 2nd time I have thought about postponing my blog post for the day but managed to get myself out of resistance and into action. It feels good, and this might well become one of the things I write about in my review of 2018 – the year I train my inner rebel to do as she is told!
I’d love to know your top ten highlights of the year, do share in the comments below and let’s celebrate your epic wins together!