Settling Back Into London Life and 2020 Goals
Up until 2019, I’d never really suffered a major setback before or the kind of life event that utterly shakes things up, forces you to give up control and reminds you that you never really had any to begin with. I’ve always been someone that strives for more, pushes forward and ticks’ achievements off my list with ease. But as you know, that all came to an abrupt halt last June when I had brain surgery. I had kind of thought it would be absolutely fine, that I would be absolutely fine, and that life would return to normal after a little 8-week break. But it’s been almost 7 months and, as a result of falling into that small percentage of people that suffers one of the complications, this journey is nowhere near the end.
BACK TO LONDON
Nothing could have prepared me for how long things would take to heal or the emotional upheaval of that. But I came back to London on Sunday, officially putting an end to my back and forth stint with my hometown. Whilst I initially felt that life was ready to resume, I realised it never really stopped.
When I found out I would need brain surgery, I was so fearful about what a break would do at this stage in my life; mostly to my career and personal development. I was determined not to waste my recovery months because of it and there were definitely moments where I doubted whether I was doing ‘enough.’ It’s only now whilst reflecting on last year that I realise having brain surgery wasn’t a life break at all. I did things much slower, and some not at all for a while, but in place of those that I couldn’t do, I found new things that I could.
That ‘life break’ led me to start up BITB and enabled me to start blogging about the journey I had found myself on. It led me to start selling bracelets I designed that raised an incredible amount of money for Brainstrust, meet truly inspiring people as a result, share my story in a number of interviews and speak at the Brainstrust wellness day. I also got to spend a rare, enjoyable and sometimes frustrating summer and Christmas back home, something that I know won’t come as easily again. And whilst my walking and writing still isn’t where I would like it, I had the challenge of learning to do that from the basics and the satisfaction that came along with mastering those everyday things that I had previously taken for granted.
Lately, I do find myself thinking ‘you couldn’t do that before’ or ‘you really used to struggle with that’ more than ever. I didn’t notice those changes whilst they were happening, but this year it’s those small wins I plan to celebrate, because they really do add up. It might be a coincidence that it’s January and I’m making certain changes now, but it’s not a case of “new year, new me.” Rather, I’m making changes that I would have made whenever I was properly ready to brave London life again without having my home as a security blanket. And that time is now.
I introduced a little more self-care to my life recently that I probably should have done during my recovery to be honest. But I didn’t then because I was truly frustrated with the situation. I was exhausted a lot of the time and the constant dizziness and nausea I experienced made a lot of things difficult. I felt truly bored and blamed recovery for that and yet, even though I haven’t resumed my work life just yet, these days my resting feels like a choice.
Since first moving here in 2017 I’ve journaled daily as I really wanted to remember those “little” things. I wanted somewhere I could note down the daily conversations I had with new people, the kind things they did or simply a new place I’ve tried that I will no doubt forget about. And for Christmas, a friend of mine brought me the ‘One Line a Day’ book which I LOVE because it allows me to summarise those journal entries and easily reflect back on how different my mentality will likely become, on the same date over the course of five years.
I posted on Instagram recently about how my sleep ritual includes the This Works deep sleep pillow spray and their dreamy lavender candle. Although I had the sleep spray a few months ago, I only started using it recently and it’s truly a godsend! There’s honestly nothing like it so I definitely plan to make that a staple. Admittedly before my surgery I wasn’t a bath person either but got into the habit of them as a way to unwind whilst recovering and gain a bit of ‘me’ time back. As much as moving back home was without a doubt necessary and my family were amazing at doing things for me, I began to love baths as they gave me a chance to be completely alone and undisturbed. And now that I’m much more stable and alert whilst in them, I can finally combine them with one of my 2020 goals of reading more, which isn’t always easy to do with the constant distractions in daily life.
HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
I slowly started working out again in November for the first time in 5 months but with Christmas around the corner, I wasn’t as active as I could have been, and my diet included far too much cheese and chocolate. I bought a Kobox series last summer that I didn’t get the chance to use up before my surgery but it used to be such a huge part of my life and I felt like it was the barrier between pre and post brain surgery life, being the only thing that hasn’t fully resumed. Without actually doing something, it’s impossible to know whether we can, and this thought kept playing on my mind. My fears of not keeping up or having to modify a lot went out the window when I was back in the nightclub-like room today. The energy I felt afterwards left me feeling so driven and inspired and I felt proud for actually trying it. The mental clarity I gained afterwards reminded me to embrace what workouts can do for our mind and not just aesthetics. It’s those endorphins that will keep me returning and working out with more intensity this year now that I know I’m able.
In the mornings I’ve taken to making smoothies as well as taking vitamins that are really good for brain health, including cod liver oil, turmeric and B12. I love being in the kitchen lately and another of my goals this year is to cook more from scratch and really experiment with foods. I recently learnt the benefits that a (mostly) plant-based diet can have for brain health and I’m hoping to continue cutting meat and introducing more greens and beans.
I’ve also kicked my caffeine habit because I really clung to it for the benefit it had at masking my fatigue. And although I never want to rely on it again, I am quite looking forward to my favourite Pink Coffee Cart oat milk latte when I return to work and want that first sip to be worth the wait after so long without! In place of it I’ve been drinking more herbal teas and water, both things that will become a much bigger part of 2020!
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GOALS
I’m looking forward to returning to my city job and the routine that will provide me. But despite the ups and downs last year, I’m also incredibly grateful that I had this time to do something I love. I have so many plans for BITB that fill me with such excitement when I think about them and can’t wait to get to work on those. More bracelets with new quotes are arriving in March and my goal this year is to attend more craft fairs and be inspired by more people that I get to meet. By doing so, I hope we can raise even more money for Brainstrust and continue to help them with the amazing support they provide for people affected by brain tumours.
I do also hope I make more time to travel. Life is so short and meant to be enjoyed and more than ever lately, I feel like we need to do something amazing with the one life we have.