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Braking Cycles

The year has been closing in for the past few weeks and December has brought shorter days, longer nights and some good times with friends and family. It also brings a time to look back and review where you have come from and what the road ahead looks like.

The year started with a need to change. A change in outlook, appearance, size, shape and fitness levels - all at the time spurred by the intention to win back the ruler of my heart and to make myself nice to be with again. I had no idea how unwell I was becoming

By March I'd broken down, lost the plot and finally admitted to my GP that I needed help. It took a lot to ask for support, to be open with people who I feared may pull my world from underneath me, but once the door was open I realised they had my back more than I had ever expected.

For years I have been told that I am a strong person, a strong woman. The term "strong", though intended as figure of speech to empower, was also a phrase that baffled and frustrated me for years. I have been a single parent for most of my daughters 20 years. Its a phrase that came to describe my ability to keep standing up, each time let down, or to gloss over the fact that I would get shit done, because I was able to rely on myself. Trouble is, when everyone expects you to be strong and you're the main breadwinner of the house, it's hard to admit that you are drowning and in need of a massive screaming meltdown.

I believe there comes a time in everyone's life, that feeling small, underwater and tired, overcomes our ability to keep on battling on. This year I ceased pulling over the facade and held my hand up and told close friends and family that I wasn't coping and needed some help. It went against everything I had lived by for years and despite feeling weird initially, as I have opened up, had some help and slowly come to terms with everything, I am amazed at how many others have been keen to talk. Not just to ask how I was feeling, but relieved to have another person to open up to, to admit that they also were not 100% chipper and needed help too.

The events I entered and completed, were all building blocks towards getting better. They made me feel capable of setting myself a task and becoming more able to finish each. I had complete head f**k trying to complete many of them, but I learnt to build strategies to push the 'Can't Do' noises in my head. I learnt to look at the metre ahead of my feet as I climbed hills, to ignore the noises that argued within me when running laps and to break down long runs into smaller chunks, when trying to get to the end. It's taught me some good lessons on how to set myself realistic goals and also how to listen to myself, my body and to recognise when I am blocking stuff out, to deal with it in stages.

When I painted and printed I would have hyper periods and would regularly go to the studio to print all night, or to keep making repetitive objects, telling myself that I needed to do it. Last year has been really creatively dry for me, but I have learnt to recognise when these phases are happening. It's been easier to manage it through exercise this year, but I've just come out of a period where I ended up running and cycling for 9 hours a week, into a week of doing pretty much f**k all. Both felt normal at the time, but neither are particularly good for me. The most positive thing I have learnt from this year, is that I recognise now when I am in a cycle and what is happening.

But these cycles aren't new and they will no doubt carry on. The cycles I am able to break though, are  the ones where I am in control and which I can stop. I will no longer continue to bash my head against the wall trying to rectify a relationship that has been over for many years. I am able to make decisions on what I choose to do and who I choose to spend my time with. 

So although the heart still cares deeply for the person who I believed would be with me forever, I am also learning to love me too. I am no longer waiting to be taken on adventures and wondering why I am not good enough for him to stick around for. I have planned a year of trips, challenges and new horizons to keep myself amused and to experience new things. To learn from, to enjoy and to grow on. I have no agenda other than to live, to enjoy life and to try to do the right thing by those who are close to me and who travel beside me.

It doesn't matter how long the journey, the size of the path or the length of the cycle. As long as you stay on the track, the starters gun will fire, the finish line can be crossed and there will be others in the field who are also running. Some days are sprints, where every muscle is stretched to the maximum and it feels like the world is in slow motion as you speed along. Others are slow and painful and never ending, but you can grab a friend, pass the baton, ask for help and work together to complete the task. 

We are not all elite athletes, we are runners and riders who are twisting and folding our ways through the streets, hills and mountains. 

Sometimes it's okay to apply the brakes and ask for directions xx

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