health, mental health, wellbeing

Happy New Year?

A question mark? I’m kidding, right? Happy New Year should be met with a full stop or better still, an exclamation mark…or should it?

The festive season isn’t festive for everyone, although I hope wherever you’re reading this, you found a period of peace and time to reflect on the year.

I’ve spent a week now reflecting on 2019 and preparing for 2020. At the start of 2019 I decided to follow Bernstein’s method of manifestation for the year, scribbling in her workbook I came up with a word to guide what I did. ACTION. No idea where it came from. It found me. I went with it.

Looking back through my diary, of which I keep a colour-coded mood tracker, I can see that the first half of the year has more ‘happy’ days marked, whilst the second half was more stable with less high highs and low lows and more being strong and stable (to quote a forgotten PM) on a steady even keel.

But did I take ACTION? Did the year map out this way because I took action? I increased my knowledge base with further courses and training, had a play I wrote performed, took in concerts of my favourite artists, developed the youth club further, changed part-time jobs (and attended other interviews with confidence), designed training courses, entered more writing competitions than before, took time out for myself, and met with friends, as well as made contact with many I’ve not spoken to for a while.

This might not seem like much, some quite mundane things in there, but they are all things that I would have thought twice about, but with a whopping great sign on the back of the bedroom door that said ACTION, it’s difficult to not suspect that subliminally some great force was at play propelling me on when I was about to doubt doing something.

I’ve documented several of my exploits already on the blog, so let’s hurtle towards Christmas. December was taken up meeting with several friends for ice creams (and massive waffles!), lunches, and dinners. I saw Rhod Gilbert at the theatre. He’s not for everyone, as I found. Better on the TV. Personal opinion. I also spent much time trouble shooting projects that looked doomed, started working freelance for two new organisations, offered a special Relax Kids session, and started the hunt for a new car. Christmas Day was a real family celebration too with nearly 20 of us around the table.

Life all rosy you might think. Well, umm, sort of but not really. Christmas Day and I found a crack forming in the windscreen of the car. A real bonus halfway down the road on your long journey and it only served to get worse from that point so much so that my anxiety shot through the roof and I was rendered a mess over the turkey and tinsel. Having only just shelled out for a completely new set of tyres on my poor little car, it seems my small metal friend truly is coming to the end of his life and will be saying hello to the scrapyard in the sky sooner than I thought.

You might be thinking, well good for you. How splendid your year has been on the whole, and you know what, I can’t lie. I feel I’ve taken more control, but there are still low moments as there will continue to be (such as four days over Christmas where I wanted to just do nothing as I was struggling), but it’s how we deal with them that’s important.

Take, for example, today. I went to town for a bit of window shopping. I don’t normally but felt I just needed to get out. The sun was shining. Great walk on the back streets admiring parts of the city I’ve not noticed before. I visited the phone shop having purchased a new one a few months ago and thought how silly I’ll sound explaining to the burly man in there that I had no idea if the phone had insurance because I hadn’t listened properly before, but you know what, with some trepidation, and I don’t know why, I said ‘I have anxiety and when I bought it, I wasn’t in the best of places. I’m afraid I didn’t take it all in and can’t guarantee I will now. Hopefully you can help.’

This man was actually a true gent. He made no big fuss, invited me to a quiet corner of the store, found out the info within a few minutes, wrote down exactly what I needed to do so I’d have the reminder at home, and he sent me on my way so that I didn’t have to spend too long in the shop. He was friendly, and accepting, and I’ll admit, I could have cried when I left. It felt a relief to actually speak out, and I would urge others to do the same. We’ve a long way to go, but mental health is becoming more accepted.

So here we are. 2020. The start of something big. A new vision. How many jokes about 2020 vision will there be? The word chosen for this year is ADVENTURE. I’ve no idea where it will take me, why it was chosen, or what it means. I mean I know the official dictionary definition but it could mean anything of course. Could be a magical year.

And with a tenuous link to my final para. You can’t kid a kidder! As I headed home I walked down a cobbled street and overheard a man who seemed more of a family friend than a walking tour guide but nevertheless he was ‘having a go’. He explained to the half dozen awe-inspired folk around him how that specific lane had been used in everything from Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials to JKR’s Harry Potter. At the mention of the boy wizard, the children’s ears pricked up. ‘Which film? Which part was filmed down here?’ He faltered. Not every part of the film was made in our city. A lot was in a studio. A child with due consideration said ‘Was it part <x> where <y> and <z> do <such and such>?’ ‘Oh, yes. It could very well have been,’ came the reply.

Advice to self for the year.

  1. Enjoy the adventures.
  2. Talk more about mental health. Make it the norm.
  3. There’s only so much blagging one can do.
  4. Don’t go on a Harry Potter tour.

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