I know the year can now no longer be considered new, but as this is my first blog post for 2020, I thought I might be able to get away with calling it new.
January in Australia wasn’t great … and for many people it’s still not great. The media spotlight has moved on, but that doesn’t mean those impacted by bushfires have had an end to their misery. There is still much work to be done in many communities to rebuild and rehouse and rethink decisions about how to live. And that goes for all of us, not only those directly impacted by the fires.
It felt like the longest month – January – and now I imagine the rest of the year will zip along speedily and we’ll be saying ‘Christmas carols already? How can that be?’. That’ll be April with the way things seem to go in the retail world!
But I digress.
A brave new year.
I stumbled across this (I don’t even know what it’s called – poster, meme, soundless soundbite, bit of fluff from the internet …?) a little while ago and it spoke to me. Loudly.
I desperately wanted this to be my year. I didn’t want another year like last year where it started poorly and didn’t seem to get better. The year ended, for me, with a trip to Caboolture hospital in mid-December after fainting for no reason, hitting my head on the table as I tipped off my chair, ending in an untidy heap under the table. I felt for Hunter, one of my grandsons who’d come to spend some time with us before we headed home. A fainting grandmother is not something any 10-year old needs to see.
A CT scan revealed a tonsular herniation and a brain scan when I came home revealed it was within normal limits. But that was no reason for fainting. Apparently, I just did. And apparently that’s of some concern.
I also had what will now be an annual mammogram and ultrasound and received the all clear. Yay! Things were finally looking up.
Christmas was spent in Sydney with good friends, Mum and Tim, and a few days after returning home we had the delight of having two of our grandsons come to stay for five days. Toi is 6 and Korbin is 4 and both were an absolute joy. I took an extra week off work and it was a wonderful additional break.
Then back to work … and somewhere along the way I read the words above and thought to myself “yes, I do want this to be my year”.
I determined to say yes to things, to do things I might ordinarily be cautious about doing, weighing up the risks and benefits and deciding that it was too outside my comfort zone or too expensive or of little pratical value.
And so to being brave and doing things that challenge me.
Last year sometime, I read a journal article in which the author mentioned The College of Extraordinary Experiences. I was so intrigued I looked it up. It’s a conference that happens once a year in a 13th century castle in Poland. Five days with around 80-100 people from across the globe, all from different walks of life, all learning about and engaging in designing experiences of one sort or another. Unlike a regular conference, this was one you had to apply for.
I didn’t do anything about it for months.
And then I thought ‘why not? If other people have a shot at attending, why not me? I can learn as well as anyone and even if it’s uncomfortable sometimes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.’
I had an interview.
I was accepted.
You cannot imagine how excited I was.
But then I had to see if the university would support me in attending something that is far outside the bounds of a regular conference and would have no easily communicable benefit.
I put in a proposal in which I outlined as many benefits as I could bring to mind.
Late last year we were having lunch with Alison in North Melbourne. A very cool little car pulled up out the front of the cafe and I instantly admired it. We went to a car yard and sat in one and kicked the tyres. We talked about why we might buy a second car but none of the arguments were compelling enough to convince me. We didn’t do anything about it.
But then Tim said something that provoked me to think differently. He does that a lot.
And so I bought a car.
Well, not bought, but leased.
Not the kind of car I had originally admired outside the cafe, but one that had a much better safety rating and more of the features I was used to.
Two years ago, Tim (husband) gifted me a photography workshop in Sydney with two fabulous photographers. I learnt a lot and it changed the direction of my photography from that weekend on.
Last week, Tim (one of the photographers who facilitated the workshop), wrote to me saying that he’d watched my progress with interest over the intervening two years. He then invited me to a 5-day photography retreat in New Zealand in late April. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have even responded, but the words ‘be brave’ were still thumping around in my head, and so I said ‘yes, I’d love to attend’. And so I’m heading to NZ in late April to learn more about photography from two very experienced photographers. I know it’ll be a challenging five days, but one that’ll be filled with learning and opportunities to develop my photography skills some more.
I am getting off the couch.
I decided I needed to move more, regain some fitness, lose some weight, get stronger and so I signed up for a weekly Friday morning physio rehab session. Rob, my physio, said it would be challenging.
I went to the first one last Friday. It was challenging, but I’m already beginning to feel better.
I asked Tom, my trainer, if we can get back to doing deadlifts – something I’d had to stop last year when I was told to do gentle exercises only. Deadlifts are not a gentle exercise. I deadlifted 45kgs on Monday and am keen to become strong enough to lift my body weight. Of course, that’ll be easier if I weigh less!
My manager called late on Monday afternoon.
She’s accepted my proposal and so I’m off to Poland in September to participate in The College of Extraordinary Experiences.
I am beyond excited.
I’m not sitting on the couch. I’m not waiting for things to happen. I’m making them happen. I’m saying yes more. I’m more positive. I’m extremely grateful that I have opportunities and the means to make the most of them. I’m making changes.
It’s going to be my year.
What does your year hold?