July Update on Resilience, my Word of the Year

Cloudy beach on the Gold Coast

Resilience is my Word of the Year 2021.  I chose this word because last year I had complications from surgery that meant that I couldn’t work.  I was needing every bit of courage, inner strength and persistence to work towards that goal, after suffering many setbacks.  Now that it is six months into the year, I thought I would revisit my word of the year to see how I was progressing.

Gaining Strength and Cardiovascular Fitness

I reached my goal of returning to work in early April.  To be able to return to work I had to be 100% capable of fulfilling my duties as a Registered Nurse.  I had been seeing an Exercise Physiologist weekly since November in order to build up my upper body strength.  My progress was slow because of the pain.  I was deconditioned from not being able to exercise for six months so it took a long time to build my strength back up again.

I’m proud to say I have kept up my exercise program, by doing the regime three times a week.  There is no way I want to lose my fitness after working so hard to achieve it.  I do two different programmes which take an hour each.  On the third workout I do yoga or another low impact routine.  I also walk my dog for 3km per day.

Working on my strength and cardiovascular fitness has had many benefits including being able to work without lower back pain.  This has meant that my job doesn’t cause pain, and is easier to do.  The lower back pain I lived with for years is so much better now.  

Returning to Work – Goal Met!

I started back just doing two shifts per week.  At first I was really tired but my stamina has improved greatly.  Next week I’m increasing my shifts to five per fortnight.  Previously I did seven shifts per fortnight but I doubt if I’ll ever get back to that.  I used to be permanently exhausted and get a lot of migraines, and my insomnia was terrible.  I work all shifts and it changes week to week so the lack of consistency has always played havoc with my sleeping patterns.  While I was off work I was in a regular sleeping pattern but that’s gone out the window now.  

I’m very mindful of the need to have a better work-life balance.  I don’t want my job to impact my life like it used to.  The best lesson I had while I was not working was that I don’t want to work like that anymore. I may increase to six shifts per fortnight, but no more than that.  I learned to be much more careful with my money so I know I can live off less income.

I am absolutely loving being back at work.  I did not realise it meant so much to me until I couldn’t do it!  Being a nurse is part of my DNA!  It’s all I know after doing it for 35 years, with only a few months off to have my sons.  I’m loving the mental stimulation, the sense of purpose, and the satisfaction I get from helping people.  I hope I have another 10 or so years left in me until I’m retirement age!

Inspiration - I prioritise what is important to me, and let the rest go
Inspiration – I prioritise what is important to me, and let the rest go

Starting my Podcast

You may have noticed my blog posts have had a theme this year.  I have had an inner drive to make my podcast about BRCA Gene Mutations and Cancer Awareness.  I have been enjoying the challenge of trying something new.  I have another three episodes left that I want to make then I’ll probably give myself a break from it.  I have always wanted to write interlinked posts about cancer awareness as it is something I’m passionate about.  The audio quality of the podcast is not that great.  I’m more interested in getting my message out there than perfecting the quality.  

One thing I find difficult is all the technical side of having a website.  It’s getting neglected now that I have even less time to spend on it.  I don’t have time to promote it on social media anymore so I’m not growing my audience.  I would rather have an audience of regular readers even if it is low in numbers.  Blogging has always been about writing, and the community of bloggers.  That is why I keep finding time for it in my busy schedule.  I prioritise what is important to me, and let the rest go.

Overlooking the Gold Coast beach that holds a lot of significance for my husband
Overlooking the Gold Coast beach that holds a lot of significance for my husband

The Importance of Family

My mother-in-law passed away at the beginning of May.  I’m no stranger to grieving, having lost both parents and my sister, but my husband had never been through it.  The family has united in our support for each other.  We make sure my 90 year old father-in-law has regular visits to check in on him.  We all have our bad days but that’s to be expected.  Overall we’re doing fine.

My husband and I had a short staycation last weekend because we felt like we needed time to reconnect.  We spent time visiting the area that he grew up in.  Nearly every photo of him when he was a boy was at the beach so I wanted to see where his mum took him.  We are planning to spread her ashes in the ocean close to there when the time is right.  We shed  a few tears and really felt her presence that day.

The pandemic has once again stuffed up travel plans.  An outbreak caused lock-downs and forced my in-laws to cancel their holiday.  One of my nieces is stuck in Sydney, unable to return to Queensland.  It’s a reminder that this is not over yet.  Life won’t be back to normal for a long time.

Inspiration - If I Set My Mind to Something, I Can Do It
Inspiration – If I Set My Mind to Something, I Can Do It

Improving my Mental Health

Last year I began seeing a psychologist to help me to deal with the emotions that came from coping with my health issues.  I have continued to see her because I find my mental fortitude is so much better due to it.  I have definitely needed it for grief counseling this year.

To summarise, I feel that resilience was a very good choice for my Word of the Year.  I have needed resilience to cope with returning to work and grieving my mother-in-law.  Resilience has helped me maintain my fitness by exercising even when I don’t feel like it.  And resilience has helped me to deal with all the negative emotions I had during my recovery – self doubt, low confidence and self pity.

I have a lot more confidence now that I have achieved my goal.  I feel that if I set my mind to something, I can do it.  I can see how far I have come since this time last year.  I definitely don’t take things for granted like good health, my job, and my family.  I’m so much happier for it too.

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Shared on Life This Week Linkup on Denyse Whelan’s blog

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Women of Courage Guest Post

Some time ago I was asked by Denyse Whelan to write a guest post for her Women of Courage series. I’ve been following her series every week and have been inspired by all the other guests so it was an honour to be included. Denyse is someone I admire because she has had her own battles with cancer. I look after people going through this type of cancer after they have surgery and it’s a huge deal – head and neck cancer is incredibly challenging but Denyse survived this and has gone on to write very inspirational blogs about this and many other subjects.

Since I wrote this guest post, I have had four surgeries – two planned and two unplanned. I had the surgeries with the intention of removing the organs that were targets for cancer – my ovaries and breasts. I have BRCA2 gene mutation which gives me a very high chance of breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer, and melanoma. Previous posts were written about it here, and about my surgeries here.

The link to my guest post on Denyse’s blog is here. Please read it and some of Denyse’s other blogs. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this guest post for the Women of Courage Series.

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