I can't believe we're already half way through 2011. I don't even want to consider how fast the past six months have flown, so I won't.
After an incredibly busy and exciting 2010, my intention for 2011 was clear: to settle, take time to stop, and be kind to myself.
So far, this year has been a really hard one. I saw the year in from my sickbed with the worst illness I've had in years, and weeks after returning to work I felt slow, frumpy and unfamiliar with myself. There has been a lot of sadness and uncertainty in the air, and whistle-stop visits to be with my family have taken up many weekends. I finished my job without another role to go to after a handful of unsuccessful interviews, and I had five very scary days of joblessness before I was returned to the working world (I appreciate that five days is a blessed nothingness of unemployment, but it was very scary at the time). In March we lost someone too wonderful for words, and though grief is supposed to get easier, I can say with certainty that the past two months have only gotten more and more difficult.
But I can't possibly leave it at that; sitting here and moaning about my difficult six months is not what I want to do. As difficult and challenging as this year has been, I can't say that I'm not better off, stronger and happier for all the things I've had to face.
Somewhere along the line I've started embracing my health more than I ever have before, packing my body with great foods, treating it to a good scrub and a massage and maybe even a pedicure every once in a while. I feel stronger, fitter and more energetic than I ever have, and I'm becoming more and more at ease with myself physically. This has come from a continuing effort to be kinder to myself; to rest when I'm tired, to stretch when I've been sitting all day, to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not. Clothes that didn't fit me in January are fitting comfortably in June, and the tiny jeans that accompanied me through my skinny phase remain untouched in the drawer.
On an evening I now find myself looking forward to going to work the next day, despite the long commute. Bad luck and frustration has ended up providing me with a job that I absolutely love, that means something to me, and that brings me right up to and slightly beyond my optimum stress level before I batter it down with my skills. I am thankful every day that I didn't get any of the jobs that turned me down.
I'm not stronger for losing someone close to me too soon, but these things bring people together, shifting circles and families in ways which we never knew we might work. My 'home' family has been extended to include a few more wonderful faces, who we laugh with more often than we cry with, who we bake for and call in on whenever it takes our fancy, who know and feel exactly what we know and feel. This sadness also prompted Daniel and I to take on the challenge of a 100-mile bike race in August, when we will be raising money for a charity close to all our hearts.
So now the summer lies ahead of us and its promising to be an exciting one. Rather than leaving these difficult bits behind me, I want to carry on holding them close over the coming months, when no doubt more stumbles will occur. I feel more awake and more ready for the world then ever, and with warmer days forecast ahead (and, please, a bit less wind!), strawberries turning red in our garden and a holiday waiting at the end of June, summer is already bursting at its seams before me!