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Blog 14: 2018

It is nearly the end of another year. Normally at this time I indulge myself with a mental review of the past year and look forward optimistically to the new year- 2019. Unfortunately this time around I cannot find much optimism in the new year or a new anything given my mum's diagnosis and prognosis and how much of 2019 she will actually see. So rather than look forward I have decided to look back at the wonderful things that happened in 2018.

Being positive in times of great stress isn't easy. When getting out of bed in the morning can seem overwhelming and every effort is needed just to be - well then, say a prayer and believe that holding it all together is sometimes all you need to do.

So, here are my top 5 things I loved and embraced in 2018:

1. Family and Friends

2. Retirement

3. Summer of sport

4. Writing

5. Travels

1.Family & Friends: Don't you think family is THE most important aspect of your life? I know I feel that way. And all my life my Mum and Dad have been there; strong and supportive, caring and just simply- there. So when that very foundation of your life is shaken to the core and you suddenly realise that they are old and that they are very sick and that they will not always be there, that hurts. It takes time to assimilate and deal with. Add to that the fact that the disease they have is causing pain and suffering only adds to the toxic mix. However, on a lighter note we have had some great times together this past year. My mind is full of good memories, happy memories that I will treasure long after they have left me.

And friends just help you to get through each day. They pick up the pieces when every plate you are spinning falls and crashes to the ground. They hug you when you need hugging and stay away when it's a "don't be kind to me" kind of day.

2.Retirement:There's me thinking of all the things I can fill my time with now that I no longer have lessons to prep, papers to mark and students to mentor. Ha! But let's focus on the blessings of not having lessons to prep, papers to mark and students to mentor! What a blessing. 20 years of teaching after a career in practice and I was ready for the freedom of not having to- did I mention- preparing lessons, marking exam papers and dealing with students! I guess I did- but now I don't have to- blessings!! My glass is refilled!!!

3. Summer of sport: Just for the record and at the risk of alienating most of my female friends- I love sport! Any sport will do (watching now and no longer playing) - Olympics, gymnastics, tennis, rugby, football and even NFL- Go Packers!!! And this summer was no exception. First we have Wimbledon! I have been going to watch tennis in SW19 since I was a teenager and the excitement of the event never leaves me. I am too old now to sit in the field from 3am and queue to get in (more happy memories of long ago!) but each year I try for the ballot for tickets (and if I am unsuccessful there is aways the pre-Wimbledon event at Queens which whets the appetite.) What a joy to sit and watch tennis every day and this year the sun shone too which is a bonus. I missed Andy, but it was still a spectacle to behold.

And then there was the footy! Come on England! Summer nights, beer in hand crammed into a room watching the boys perform and didn't they do well?

And finally- who can forget the netball final and that last shot when we all screamed in excitement and ran around the room. Well done girls.

4. Writing: The blog has been so exciting to write and though, given my No.1 of my top5, I haven't had much time to write as often as I would like, I am proud of the ones I did produce! I hope you liked them too. But my real excitement this year has been writing my novel. Over the last 12 months it has grown from an outline and some scraps of paper to fully fledged chapters, 25 of them to date. My time creating the words and the characters, the story line and the events have made me laugh out loud, have made me cry and have made me wonder what the hell am I doing, this is rubbish! Frustrating and joyous in turn. But what I have enjoyed the most about the process is that it has given me space and time and peace. When I am writing I can only think about what I am doing and not about what is happening around me and that has been a life saver.

5. Travels: There have been many places me and Mr B have visited in the last 12 months- but deep in the darkest time of the year, with a grey mist covering my world (literally and metaphorically) I always hanker after the beaches of Barbados. The sunshine, the rum punch at sunset time. The heat of the day that warms the bones and eliminates the aches and pains and stresses of the world and soothes my soul. Walking along the shore listening to the waves crashing and splashing me helps to clarify matters for me and it's my favourite part of the day.

Choosing the shots to put in here brings back many memories and I will cherish them along with all the happy times we shared this past year:

- Billy Joel in Dublin.

- Saundersfoot with my darling girl Laura and her lovely husband Dave; fishing in the harbour (when clearly the sign says not to but having the delicious whitebait for supper when we got home!) having a request played by Jo and Simon on Radio 2. Such fun!

-Beautiful weddings in October.

- Friends to stay for a long weekend in July.

- Eating outside during the most glorious summer for years.

- Growing my own vegetables in the garden.

- Having my best friend to stay, to catch up, to chat and to laugh.

- Chatsworth picnic watching "The Greatest Showman."

It's been an epic year and despite all the troubles we are now facing I know that 2019 will have it's happy times and its wonderful memories. So let's try and be positive one more time and look forward to a new year with a new hope and a determination to enjoy it- no matter what.

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