2018 started out tough for me. A few days after returning to work I injured my hand – although it was nothing serious at the time; in-fact it was nothing at all, apart from a small scratch against an old brick wall with zero force and a tiny cut – the after effects were extraordinary. A small piece of said old brick wall ended up getting inside my hand through the cut it had created and caused a horrible infection resulting in a swollen hand that replicates what happens when you blow up a doctor’s rubber glove, bruising that looked as though I had hit my hand repeatedly with a hammer and all the side effects that come with an infection: fever, sickness, fatigue, and this lasted for four months. Constant courses of antibiotics, doctor’s appointments and physio with nothing ever giving me relief for more than a few days.
At the same time, I started a new job. Pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, took on a more challenging role and learned new things about myself that I never thought possible. The new role, although exhausting (especially with only one hand) was exhilarating. We were just a small team of three but quickly expanded to four, five, six, even seven. Tripled our client list, was hitting our PB’s each month and literally smashing it out the park, which gave me no time at all to focus on the horrible infection vesting inside my hand.
The operation finally happened in April of 2018 – a quick in and out procedure that saw the doctors remove an extreme amount of dead infected tissue, which has left me with only 20% use of the index finger on that hand… but the infection… has gone. The swelling subsided and the constant nauseating feeling had passed.
A celebratory Birthday treat for my sister saw us jetting off to Crete for a surprise present. A full week of sunshine, sea, sangria and a free buffet. Having the ability to be able to really switch-off was more valuable than gold. We get so caught up in our day to days that we put unnecessary stress on both our bodies and minds which, if we are not careful, can be explosive. Our bodies know this; they give us warning signs that we are burning out – and if we don’t listen it can have detrimental effects on not only your life but those around you. I learnt that a lot this year – listening to my body and allowing it the time it needs to rest. Allowing myself the ability to delegate tasks and to utilise prioritising my to-do-list. Not only did it allow a clearer head and reduce my cortisol levels but also gave me back my can-do attitude and productivity was at an all-time high. I vowed from then in, that I would not only just travel more, but really switch off when I do.
Working my little ass off in-between these ‘mini-breaks’ gave me a burst of fresh energy. Ticking off projects and tasks, planning and organising ahead and always saying yes to new opportunities.
The second piece of bad news then happened. A rapidly growing lump in my breast meant another operation was imminent for 2018. Biopsies showed it was non-cancerous but the speed in which it was multiplying was worrying, including a second lump growing next to it by the time I had another scan a few months later. The consent form was signed, and the waiting game began. I was always fine with having surgery – up until that point; including the surgery earlier in the year I had hit nine in nine years, which I could deal with. But hitting the mark that took me over the edge was to say ten in nine years. To have more surgeries than the years was just something that made me overwhelmingly anxious and still does to this day.
Luckily a client trip in the midst of waiting was the perfect rescue – a fitness retreat in Ibiza. A full week, action-packed, nutritious-fuelled week created by the incredible team at KIN Retreats. With four hours of workouts a day by their talented team, incredibly nourishing and exciting food by the private in-house chef along with workshops, talks, hikes, swimming and two beach club rest days what could be better for taking your mind off, well, literally anything. The villa itself was set in the beautiful mountains of North Ibiza overlooking the salt plains and the city life. The all-white building was surrounded by lush greenery and floor to ceiling windows allowing natural light to pour in from the am to the pm. With under 20 attendees on the retreat we quickly became a #KINFAM discussing everything from partners, to pets and broken bones – yes, Amanda broke her wrist on the third day of the retreat and spent one of her rest days in a Spanish hospital with nothing but google translate to understand what was happening.
A week before the retreat, I fell. Landed on the wrist and thought nothing of it. Got it x-rayed to ensure I was fit enough to travel, and the scan came back clear. The aches and pains were still there but I powered through. During the first beach workout, the hand was fine, even removing my support to avoid getting sand in every crevice. Yoga that night was painful but enjoyable – and isn’t that what yoga is supposed to be about. A few days later, a few HIIT and Bootay workouts plus photographing with my heavy lens and body kit saw a re-swelling of the hand and incredible pain. Another x-ray showed a break hidden by the swelling in the first scan and Amanda’s fitness was put on hold. Although I was unable to work-out I was able to relax. Enjoy the company of some incredible people and bask in the glorious sunshine. Learning to see the positives with the negatives is another major life lesson 2018 taught me.
Back in the UK and a few months later, the second operation was finally here. A few hours later, a sore breast and a body full of anaesthetic – but a success – I was allowed home. The next few days I slept, until another infection hit in. The wound hadn’t closed properly and allowed for bacteria to create a home. Another course of antibiotics and more hospital visits were added to my memory list for the year.
As like with the beginning of the year, the end saw another change in career. 2018 had taught me that I was stronger than I thought – but I was also more valuable than I gave myself credit for. I decided to take the leap into the freelance world and secured myself three shiny new clients and a backlog of projects for my own personal work, such as my recipes being featured in over 10 publications which included two nationals and becoming a writer for two magazines. With the majority of the work being planned to start in the New Year, it was time to give myself a little break from the overwhelming past few months and the impending coming few. A press trip to Milan gave me the opportunity to really expand my network and connections with a new audience, plus explore the most beautiful city; one I had never thought about visiting. A planned family trip to Poland gave me the ability to spend time with my family with more than just a passing phone call or occasional dinner. Then Christmas and New Year allowed me to tick-off something that had been on my bucket list for years – seeing the pandas in Scotland.
And that was that. 2018 was over. Two operations, two new jobs, five new holidays and a whole lot of life lessons learnt. From learning to switch off, for giving myself a break (both mentally and physically) and giving myself more credit. Learning to pat myself on the back sometimes instead of playing it down to avoid seeming egotistical or ‘braggy’. 2018 saw me neglect my blog; my personal time. But I have learned from that and ensured that I have scheduled in time for both for the new year. 2019 – as cliché as it is, is a fresh start. 365 days to start again, to make some changes and to do what you love and I for one, am not going to waste a second of it.