No New Years Resolutions here!

It’s January and so it’s time to look back on the year that has ended, see the highs and the lows, and look forward to the new year ahead.

I turned 30 on 1st January 2018 and I wasn’t all that happy about it. Where did my 20’s go? Many years had flown by and I hadn’t felt I had much to show for it. I’d learnt a lot from my 20’s though and I was determined to make 2018, and the start of my 30’s, a year to remember. I don’t think I’ve done too badly!!!

The year started with a New Year’s Day (Birthday) paddle on the Wye with a group of friends. Until now my ‘Important Day’ activity was always horse riding. I’ve been horse riding since I was 3 years old, and the sport isn’t going anywhere, but I am embracing the new things in my life and Kayaking is becoming a second passion. Just two weeks later I was booked in to my 3* Kayak assessment in the Lakes district. It was freezing cold and snowing at Lake Windermere, and on the second day I had a huge migraine and ended the day walking off the river after being sick. However, I had done enough before that point and managed a pass!!! I’m still at odds with the idea that I’m a 3* Kayaker!

With Kayaking becoming more prominent in my life I’ve also continued to support Wyre Forest Canoe Club as a member of the committee, taken my FSRT (Foundation Safety Rescue Training), and the WWSR (Whitewater Safety and Rescue training). I’ve paddled the Wye, Tryweryn, Duddon, and the Conwy to name a few (from the UK) and my main holiday this year was a 4 week jaunt that went to Germany, Austria, Slovenia and France, all kayaking! For this trip I also purchased a new boat. My old Jackson hero had taken care of me, but as it was already welded once and leaking somewhere else (the curse of soft Jackson plastic I’m told) I wanted to be sure I had a boat I could trust to last. It turned out to be the trip of a lifetime, and I plan to do it again this year! I’m not so sure on the new boat though… I wonder if I can track down another Hero that isn’t leaking! The Lakes trip in November marked the last paddle holiday of 2018, a club trip that runs each year, and once again WFCC created a brilliant atmosphere to have a great weekend.

So with all this Kayaking going on, I wonder what time I’ve had for the horses. Alongside the work I do with horses I still have my own horse Buddy. I now ‘part loan’ him to my niece who rides him regularly. With a training session and some advice from Cheryl Buck, we’ve got Buddy loading on to a lorry again and made a few trips out for show jumping, cross country and clinics nearby. He and Freya are building an amazing partnership and I love how their relationship is growing stronger all the time. I have joked a few times that he’s not really ‘mine’ now, and actually it’s not much of a joke anymore. He’s ours. On paper, he’s mine, I own him, but that means very little to him. Freya is his ‘little person’ and no bit of paper is going to tell him otherwise. She’s growing into a real horsewoman and I’m really proud of her progress.

In my continual search to know and understand more about horses I’ve also attended an Intro to Dressage Naturally Talk (an epic long drive with road works and sat nav issues causing my journey to be 3 times longer on the way home, and getting back in the wee hours of the morning), I’ve bought and read more books and manuals through the year, been in touch with an American trainer for some help and guidance, and in September I flew out for a weeks training on the Greek Island, Skyros. The week combined Yoga with Horses and perfectly bought my year together, as I’ve also been searching for more answers about my back troubles.

For years I’ve suffered with back pain and migraines and I’ve had to keep pushing but this year it seems I’m finally getting somewhere. I had an MRI in April, I’ve seen another physio, an orthopaedic consultant and now waiting for a referral for further investigation! The Yoga in Skyros opened my eyes further to some of the limitations of my body, but also some of my strengths, I understand my body a little more now, and it has also shown me a way to quiet my mind when everything gets stressful. I’m stronger and more flexible, and coping with the painful days better.

You might think that’s a pretty full year, but there’s more. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs or know me in person you may also know that I like to bike too! That’s bicycles by the way, not motor bikes. While out in the Alps I tried a friends bike and realised that the Mountain bike I had wasn’t a good fit for me, so when we got back Keith tracked down another second hand bike that was a better fit, and I’ve been out on the trails a handful of times with that too. It’s a shame I haven’t used it that much but, Horse riding and Kayaking are my priority at the moment, and I can only do so much! The road bike (still bicycles) hasn’t been out this year at all (I don’t think) which really is a shame because I had really enjoyed being able to clock up the miles. I’m not too sad though, my time has been filled with some amazing activities and experiences, and the bike won’t hold it against me for not having any attention this year!

On top of all these great experiences, I’ve also made this year a true milestone. I bought a house with my partner Keith. That’s right, I can adult! The process of buying a house is ridiculously frustrating, even for us as First Time Buyers buying a house that had no chain involved, it was a lengthy drawn out process. But we managed our frustrations, dotted the ‘i’s crossed the ‘t’s, jumped through the hoops and got ourselves our own little house. My job as a Pet sitter means I’m not always there. For the first two months we owned it, I’d stayed there only about 4 nights, but it became my base. With a combined effort we’ve made some changes to the garden, slowly filled the rooms with our things, started to share memories together and with the kids too. I absolutely love it, and 6 months on it’s really turning into a home, OUR home.

You may have got to this point and wondered where the lows were. There have been plenty of lows. Just like anyone else I’m not perpetually in a state of joy. I’ve suffered with my ‘mind games’ in kayaking and had a swim or two (I nearly came home from the Alps trip on day 3 after I broke down in tears on the river Salza), and the Lakes trip wasn’t all roses, which kick started the mind games once more. I parted with great sums of money (Ok, that’s to get positive things but the money going out has FAR outweighed money coming in). To end the year I’ve fallen off my horse and cracked my ribs (getting a nasty cold 2 days later too) so the festive season has been painful (I spent boxing day in bed and I wish I could’ve said it was due to a hangover!). I also lost my Aunt this year, ‘Auntie Rosie’. After a long fight with cancer she passed away on Christmas eve. I know there have been others too.

The difference between my highs and lows? Well that’s what I learnt from my 20’s. Document your highs in detail. Display them, be proud of them and never feel they are small or insignificant. If it felt good to you it’s important. Learn from your lows and move on. In times of loss, grieve. Mourn that loss and then move on. When you make mistakes, take note, learn from them and MOVE ON! Your next high is on the way, if only you are ready to see it!

And so, to begin 2019 I’ve mourned a loss but I will remember Rosie for the strong, courageous and amazing Aunt that she was to me, the life of the party and the kindest soul. I am injured and ill, but I will recover and come back stronger than ever, in body and mind. I’m still searching for answers on those long term back issues, but I’m further forward than I’ve ever been, and I will keep moving forward with that. Once I’m healed I’ll be back on my horse, in my boat and on my bike. Bring on 2019, for more learning and growth, more love, more laughter, more friendships, more amazing memories!

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