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Here's to 2019 Adventures

It’s December 26th and the Christmas festivities have come and gone. I find this is the time when you’re left with one of a few feelings – sometimes in succession, and sometimes all at once! Your head may be spinning from the whirlwind of scurrying around preparing for the holidays, and visiting with friends and family. Your cup may be full and overflowing with the love and generosity you received. You may be left feeling a little lost, a little lonely, or wondering “what next”. Or perhaps you’re charging headfirst into New Year planning, excited for your fresh start.

2018 was not the year I expected. I had lots of big plans. With only a few days left in the year, I can tell you for certain that 2018 was not the year all those plans came to life. And that’s okay. Sometimes, despite charting a clear course, you end up going down a different road and realizing new dreams along the way, or picking up something that’s necessary to continue your journey. That was 2018 for me.

I learned so much about myself. It’s possible some were things I already knew deep down, but didn’t acknowledge. But the realization gave me incredible peace of mind. For the first time in four decades, I actually listened to my mind, body and soul. And they all had a lot to say.

I have a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed in my late 20s after dealing with unexplained, widespread, chronic pain for as long as I can remember. While the news of having the condition obviously wasn’t great, knowing that I wasn’t “making this shit up” was a relief. It allowed me to understand what was happening, adjust as necessary to improve my quality of life, and move forward. For me, the person who wants to do everything perfectly, it’s a constant struggle. Just because I want to do something doesn’t mean I can – and that’s something I have to make peace with over and over again. It’s also at direct odds with my philosophy that you can do anything you put your mind to! So that means there is give and take. Pushing my limits to do something often means not being able to do something else. I can hike 10km one day, but for the next three days, I have to let my body rest. If I keep pushing myself, those three days will need to turn into a week. I’m always mentally weighing priorities. Thankfully, I have wonderful friends who understand that I’m grateful for them and the opportunities in which they invite me to participate, and that the need for me to take a pass doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to join them.

MAC Christmas Show & Sale Booth
Helen's booth at the 2018 Muskoka Arts & Crafts Christmas Show & Sale in November

Despite not going as planned, 2018 was a year of fantastic accomplishments and I’m extremely grateful for the lessons I learned and the tools I gained. They will help me immensely in 2019. My plans for next year are bigger than last and I’m so excited to see where the road will take me.

The one thing I’m taking with me into the New Year is a little flame. That flame was ignited by sparks… sparks like, “Thank you for continuing to teach me new things”, “You’ve reignited my passion for photography”, “Your fox is the reason I came to the show”, “I can’t wait until the next workshop”, “It was the best lecture regarding nature I have ever heard or seen”, and “I came out of that lesson inspired and excited to push my photography skills further”. Each and every person has moments of doubt. In my moments of doubt, I think of all the kind and thoughtful things people have taken the time to tell me, and I remember that all it takes is one small spark to add light to the darkness. Whatever I have put out has come back to me ten-fold and I am so very grateful for all of you who have shared in part of my journey this year.

As you prepare for 2019 and the road ahead, I hope you reflect on all your lessons and accomplishments – big and small – as necessary steps for your future, and treat yourself with equal parts of kindness, humour, and honesty.

Here’s to 2019 and all its adventures!

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