My 2018

Happy New Year all.
It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here (gosh I start every post like that) and I wanted to share some photos and some thoughts that I had. If you don’t care much for my thoughts scroll past, because I promise the photos are pretty.

 

New years generally means a time to reflect on life and, it’s one of my favorite times of year because I love improving myself and to prove that I can exceed expectations. (Also it’s my birthday in January so…)
To me, running numbers in my head of what I’ve achieved and what I will achieve is like a drug. I love it. I love looking at my old to do lists and picking apart what I managed to do. I love setting goals and achieving them, year after year.

 

And so, despite the fact that I’m not a mathematician, numbers are constantly running through my head, and this year those numbers look to me like this…

  • 19 years old.
  • 1st year of university
  • 2 years of chronic pain
  • 4 new goals.

I’d like to get into each of these topics a little for this post, so sorry if this is a long post, I’ll try not to digress (for the sake of everyone scrolling past to the pretty photos)

 

19 years old.

I liked being 18, it’s the final teenage number- at least in my head. Now that I’m 19 I’m stepping out of the comfort zone that is teenage-hood and into adulthood. My teenage years weren’t very comfortable, to be honest. I felt like I was just jumping from one life crisis to the next, but still, it was familiar and in a way, I knew what I expected of myself.

Now I’m 19 and it’ll be different.

I don’t know how yet exactly, and that scares me cause it means I can’t plan. I do know though, that my room will no longer be the only important room in my life. I’m so comfortable hiding away in my room that the thought of building a life outside of it, scares me. A little pathetic I know, you’ll have to forgive me but it’s true.

Even throughout my travels last year, I missed my room and the comfort it provides to my soul.

So I’m 19 now, and that means life will look different. Honestly, I have so much hope for this year, but at the same time, I’m paralyzed with fear. The only thing I can do is move forward and pray that good things are on the way.

 

 

1st year of university

I’m studying psychology this year (it took me 4 tries to spell) and that’s really exciting.

I have been homeschooled for years so this will be the first time since I was a kid that I would be in a class setting for a long period of time. I’ll get to meet new people and hopefully make some new friends. I’m really looking forward to it.

My dad always tells me that university is the perfect time to start your life as who you want to be. The introvert can decide to be social. The nerd can be popular. And of course, the Jock can be smart.

When you start out, you start anonymous and you get to choose what to write on your own blank slate.

This is something right up my alley, and I absolutely love this idea.

So being me, I have a whole new wardrobe and I’m doing my hair this week.
But here the fear comes in because unfortunately, I can’t get a new spine to go with my attitude.
If you don’t know me yet, let me clarify I’m talking about my literal spine. My back which hurts every day for at least a couple of minutes and keeps me from being as strong I want to be.
I’m not going to go into it now because it’s the next topic and deserves its own spot, but I want to talk here about the fact that I already know that my back will influence people’s first impression of me. You see, I will have to tell the head of my sorority that I can’t participate in all the activities because of it.

My old instinct is to ignore my back and just pressure though, but I’ve learned that forcing my body to do what I want it to will only make my situation worse. So this is one setback I have to settle for.
So despite my wardrobe and my haircut, to at least one person I will still be the girl who uses her back as an excuse. The girl everyone else has to make accommodations for…
On this sour note, I think it’s time to move on to the next topic.

 

 

2 years of chronic pain.

At the end of January 2017 I got really stressed, fell behind on homework and like a champion decided I’ll put my butt in a chair until my work was done.

Five hours later I got up and my back spasmed, and I thought nothing of it. Two weeks later, the pain was still there.

See here I go with the numbers again. The irony is of course that I can’t remember if it was declared Chronic pain by a doctor at 3 weeks or 3 months.

Those first days all melded together.
My instinct when talking about my back is to explain everything, to overshare because I feel I need to prove to people that I’m not making it up. It’s not just an excuse to skip piano lessons. It’s not just an excuse to ditch church early. It’s not just an excuse to not clean my room.
You see at my worst everything hurt. I couldn’t be upright for 20+ minutes. My legs and arms were going numb, and I had migraines all the time. These were just the side effects that accompanied the burning spot that felt like a hole in my spine.

Then I got better, through dry needling and some exercise.

It’s still not gone though. And even though you see me moving around and smiling today, every night my body aches and every morning getting up feels like an Olympic sport.

It hurts, and I’m tired all the time and I can feel myself dipping into depression from time to time – as if it’s a pool and I want my feet to cool off on a hot day.
So you see January 2017 was 2 years ago.

And when I talk about my back I feel like I’m complaining. Like I’m whining and as if I’m being judged for not overcoming this.

There goes Enette, carrying her pain on her sleeve for attention and as an excuse…

Yes, parents and friends I know I’m the only one judging me this harshly. It’s just such a big part of my life now (it’s rather hard to ignore something that’s always there) and I find it frustrating how I can’t seem to get rid of it.

 

 

4 new goals.

I normally make five goals, but this year I could only think of four. Each one of them carries a hope I have for this year and something for me to strive for.

 
Finish the rough draft of WIP before NaNoWriMo

(this project is personal and something I’m passionate about, so excuse me for not sharing more. It’s still just a baby idea)

 
Blog once a week? Month?

This goal seems a little far-fetched for me, but I miss blogging and really want to get back to it.

 
Exercise for 1 hour every week.

This is of course part of the project “heal my back”

In theory, if I do all the right exercises my back should get better. It’ll take some effort but I want to start this change.

 
Attend all lectures and finish all assignments handed to me

Aka: work hard and get good grades, because this is something I want in life. I’m really passionate about helping people and I feel like studying psychology will give me the skill set to do so.

 
Now that I’m done with my ramblings, some of which are depressing, some of which are not, it’s time I truly reflect on 2018.

 

2018 was a good year.

  • It started strong with a great birthday party and some ease in my back pain.
  • My family helped me overcome adversity and I finished school six months ahead of time thanks to their support. This means despite falling a year behind in 2017 I still finished school ahead of my age group, which was something I never even aimed for.
  • I got to travel… a lot.
  • I had two weeks of doing a real job for someone, and I got to intern at a magazine for a couple of days.
  • I traveled on a bus for the first time and then continued to do it many more times.
  • I hung out with my grandma a lot. With old friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. I got to know one of my cousins that I never see. And all of it was great.
  • I was at the southernmost point of South Africa and I got to go motor boating on a river.
  • I sang with family members that I had never met before and learned lots of history of small towns.
  • I saw the ocean and roller-skated on ramps for the first time.
  • I watched a movie at some completely random person’s house – who I will probably never see again, but with whom my heart fell in love with for half an hour.
  • I hiked up a mountain (nearly dying at the top) and went canoeing in the rain.

 

And It was all good.
Even though, I drank a lot of pain meds and I limped off of every bus I went on – 2018 was still good.

 
And thus concludes a post of ramblings and as promised here are pretty photos.

I hope you have a great 2019 and this year brings you lots of new joys.

 

Turning a life around

how to

I’m not going to write some big dramatic intro that explains that my back has been sore since February.

But to get you on the same page as me I’ll tell you that my back has been sore since February and that this has totally mucked up how I saw my next few years going. I’ve really been struggling with motivation lately and I had a couple of rough days these past couple of weeks when it seemed like my condition was getting worse again.

 

 

So there was a point a little more than a week ago when I was in a really bad place and I just didn’t want to deal with the pain any more – I basically just wanted to sleep and be left alone. But then my mum took me out of the house and we went for hot chocolate – which I have an obsession over.

I felt like I was breathing again and it just separated me from the pain and the struggle for a little bit  so when we go home I was in a much better mood. I was sitting in my parent’s room next to their bookshelf with all our Christian books in. I picked up a book called ‘Communion with God’ and I started reading it.

The book is like a guide to praying (and I definitely recommend it) and I started applying it to my life.

That next weekend I basically just prayed for three days long all the way from Friday morning to Sunday night. I got a chance to talk to God and listen to Him and it healed a lot of my frustrations and made me peaceful again.

 

 

Now I’ve been planning to change my life in a major way but I just haven’t had the strength to do it. And every time I tried to make major changes in my life, I would just get exhausted and fall back into the pattern that my pain created. I would wake up and push myself out of bed despite being cold and sore. I’d drink water and look over my homework. I’d feel exhausted and overwhelmed and then just get back to bed.

 

It seemed really pathetic to me because I use to be, and still am, the kind of person who simply doesn’t stop working. My old mindset was that I can use sheer will power to get through anything but these days if I sit longer than say an hour my back starts to hurt very intensely and I can barely do anything except lie down.

So how I explain this to myself now is that life is like a video game where I get a certain number of energy points at the beginning of each day. Normally I could use these energy points on things such as school work and my job and my writing and then still have a little bit of energy points left at the end of the day.

Now those same amounts of energy points have to be distributed between more things. Now I get to spend some energy points on my school work but while I’m doing that I also use energy points to fight the pain. So throughout the day simply dealing with the pain steals a lot of my energy points.

So I can no longer do everything that I use to do because my energy points run out before the end of the day. Make sense?

 

 

Now back to me changing my life in a major way.

So after I realised that my old mindset and habits won’t be able to get me out of the pain I realized that I need to shift priorities.

I used to have writing as my top priority and then school and then my job and then my Christian walk and then my relationships and then at the complete bottom of the list my physical health and mental well being.

You’d think I’d change all that early after hurting my back but of course as a human I strongly protest against any change.

 

So here I am after a weekend of intense praying and I realise that my priorities need to look different.

Number one should be my relationship with God, and then number two should be my physical health.

The rest of the stuff is important too. But they can no longer come first because if I put all the work first then there will be no energy points left to keep my body and my mind intact. And if I don’t take care of my body, my condition will get worse.

 

 

Once I changed my priorities I also acknowledged that I can’t make any massive changes right now. As much as I would love to wake up tomorrow with a different body that doesn’t hurt and a set of life goals that I can work towards without a problem – that’s not my reality right now.

Right now I’ve got a sore body and a messed up head. I have a job and homework that I’m really far behind on and I’ve got three half finished writing ideas.

So if I can’t make that huge change in my life overnight I guess I’ll have to start with small changes.

 

Which is why on Monday night I drafted up a 30 minute routine that I decided will be the base of my life from here off on. It’s not something that will use a ton of my energy points but it consists out of things that will give me more energy points and ultimately have a real impact on my life.

 

I have an alarm that goes off on my phone and when I hear it I go to drink all my medications. I put on pyjamas, wash my face, make myself hot chocolate and a hot water bottle (a must for anyone struggling with pain) then get into bed and read bible.

All this takes me between half an hour and an hour, depending on what bible verses I’m reading. But at the end of it I’ve wholly relaxed myself and then I get a good night’s sleep before I get up in the morning to do some light exercise.

 

It’s a very simple thing to arrange a 30 minute routine but since I started doing this I’ve been waking up better. I’ve felt happier again. I’ve felt more connected to God and I pray a lot more now.

The biggest thing though is that when I shifted my priorities I stopped beating myself up for any work that I couldn’t finish. I decided to work slowly and to take proper breaks so I don’t strain myself. And this nightly routine is the perfect time for me to accept what I’ve accomplished during the day and to celebrate it – while also letting go of the negative feelings I have over what I didn’t accomplish.

 

I’m more relaxed and at ease and I honestly feel like even though I can’t make any big changes any more, that this small step is a major victory for me.

 

 

That’s my life right now. I’ll tell more another time but for this moment I can simply finish off by saying I’m feeling positive and I hope you are too – in whatever it is you’re busy dealing with.

I wrote a post that is a guide for creating a short routine, so you can go take a look at that and maybe implement the idea into your own life.

So keep moving forward and I’ll write to you again on Friday.