Looking back on the past 12 months, has become not just a pass-time, but a necessity of mine. Until I’ve written some kind of summary of the year – what went well and what I would do differently if I had my time again – I become stuck in the old one and unable to move forward. It can be quite debilitating, let me tell you!
You see I am a planner with a capital ‘P’. I have a family calendar, personal and online diaries, journals and other useful paraphernalia which all satisfy my need to be organised. I’ve recently realised that this necessity to plan is possibly born out of an aversion to uncertainty and change. Planning helps to keep both of these creatures at bay.
This year, more than any other, I found out what happens when things do not go according to plan. This is what I will always remember about 2016….
1. I rediscovered reading.
Books have never really been a huge part of my life. I wasn’t a great reader as a child and when my own children were small, I couldn’t concentrate on anything more than a trashy celebrity magazine. Over the years, I’ve reserved most of my reading for holidays – something I’ve associated with relaxation.
2016 has been a challenging year and finding a way to escape from the every day stresses has been vital to my wellbeing. Reading is a wonderful way to lose yourself and helps to avoid that awful habit of over-thinking as soon as the lights go off. I’ve read some great books over the last 6 months or so and will continue to do so.
2. I learnt the importance of self-care.
As mums (and dads) I think we put a great deal of pressure on ourselves to be strong. More than anything, we want our children to feel safe, to know that we’ve got life under control and that they have nothing to worry about. Maybe that’s just me? Towards the end of this year, I realised that this isn’t possible unless I sometimes put myself first. We are not machines that keep going no matter what, we need to look after ourselves or we may just break down.
It also pays to show our children every now and again that we are not infallible. Bubble baths, early nights, walks in the countryside and saying ‘no’ have all been part of my learning curve this year.
3. I spent more time in therapy than watching TV!
I have many friends who have recently sought out therapy and I have been all for it. As for me? Well yes….and no. The truth is, I never thought I would be the one sitting in the therapist’s chair!
I’m not going to tell you how many hours have been spent either in a waiting room or actually sitting in the chair myself this year, but let’s just say ‘pride comes before a fall’! For the record….it’s been invaluable.
4. My daughters finally buried the hatchet.
Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my children get on. In this house, it’s a rarity which makes it even more precious. When my girls were little, they had a love/hate relationship, much like most sisters who are born so close together. As they got older, rather than seeing the competition and animosity dissipate, it seemed to get stronger, to the point that they were barely able to breathe the same air.
They say that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ and this year, watching them form a bond was my ‘silver lining’. My girls found a new connection with one another, an understanding that was never there before. Of course they still bicker over clothes being ‘borrowed’ without asking but on the whole, it’s been an absolute joy to witness spontaneous shopping trips together, joint friendships being formed and jokes (even clothes sometimes!) being shared.
5. I said goodbye to my much loved grandad.
My grandad was the ripe old age of 96 (almost 97) when he passed away in April of this year. April was probably the weirdest month of my life and his passing contributed to that. Although he had lived a marvellous life and should be very proud of the amazing age he reached, I’m not sure I was ready for him to go. Are we ever ‘ready’ to say goodbye to a loved one? What I do have is some very dear memories of him and my granny that I will hold onto forever.
6. I understood the true value of living in the moment.
There are many things that I know in my head, but so many of them I rarely put into practice. This is one of them. I know that living in the moment is important – listening intently to everything my child says (not thinking about what we are going to have for tea) or savouring every moment of our holiday (not thinking about the journey home and the busy week we have coming up) – but am I able to do it? Hmmmm.
We’ve lived a somewhat chaotic and unpredictable life this year. Not knowing what’s round the corner, has helped me to appreciate the good moments while they are there. I’ve learnt that more than ever this year and hope it’s something I will hold onto.
For me, this time of reflection is vital: good or bad, happy or sad, no year happens without a mix of both. As I started writing this post, I realised just how much I wanted to say and what a huge learning curve I’ve been on. You’ll therefore find Part 2 and the other six things I’ve learnt, on the blog next week.
In the meantime, if you want to read a little more about what happened to us this year, my daughter started writing a blog a few weeks ago.
Everything happens for a reason, right?
(You can read Part 2 and the final six things I’ve learnt here).