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How would you sum up 2020?

I mean, really sum it up..... if you had to put everything, and I mean everything into the equation.

Don't just react, think about it before answering.

If I was to find 1 word to sum it all up, ................. would be ACCEPTANCE!

But me being me, I don't conform, so I'm going to choose 2 words,



OK, I seen way too much as have so many now and for prolonged periods in the hospitals sadly.

I try hard not to imagine what so many have been involved in and taken on board, this saddens me greatly for I know how much I could take and how close I came to saturation point.

Fortunately for me, I can balance the scales of what some have lost and what I have got.

And being "an open book" not afraid to show my emotions.

How blessed am I being open to see the little things we some times take for granted and for these simplicities of life.

With life's challenges for me here in Pyrenees France, what so many see as "Living the Dream " lifestyle, trust me it's been incredibly hard work here. To then have the added restrictions of covid 19 whacked us all but also forced me to take a real look at my life and health. For there first time really I had time to look and deal with what I needed, maybe it was time to rescue me!

By being still for the first time possibly ever in my 53 years of a hectic life. This was scary, no more distractions or jobs to be getting on with. I had time to ponder and a lot of stuff I pushed way down was now finding its way to the surface.

Being a sports-mad and accident-prone kid, well being competitive really, there's always a risk of injuries, to then joining the Fire Service at ripe young age of 21, promoted at 25, to being a father at 28 and facing not only my world but also absorbing someone else's when they needed help.

You go on holiday, you take photos and its captured in your memories. Well, it's exactly the same. A mind is an incredible tool, I can recall sights sounds and smells, maybe just by dates, locations and any other small trigger that can set things off. How we react depends on many things.

It's amazing what we take in subconsciously and how it can come back when you least expect it.

All the trauma and stress and injuries and deaths have been adding up but consciously I've been stuffing them down or just ignoring. I still see this now in my mates unfortunately, and it would be the same for all the Hospital staff, as did I have this, "I'm just too busy to notice" mentality.

And I totally get it, whilst I was in the job, I just got on with it. Professional and had a job to do.

Doesn't mean I was a superhero or insensitive, I had tasks to do and crew and public and family to look after.

But here I was now being forced to be still and my mind was now allowed to be more active.

It's only when you allow yourself to be still does the reality truly show itself.

My exercise and mediation, nothing whacky, just sit still and breathe. Let thoughts come and go.

But this time I was acknowledging them, sitting with them for a while and processing.

Reframing and changing my outlook. Accepting emotions if they arose, this is healthy.

Recognising what was a healthy or not so healthy response.

If you cry because of grieving then this is a healthy response. No shame in this.

So grounding myself with exercise, namely Karate as we couldn't go anywhere for 104 days, (yes I was counting,) was what helped me deal with a lot. This gave me something to focus on, both mentally and physically. I'd not trained for over 7 years so yes it was a serious wake up call on joints, and almost every other day, ( like I used to when younger,) allowed me to feel more centred and more relaxed.

Life changes need work and regularly. Nothing is a quick fix and 1 off.

I started to accept that I wasn't as good as I was when younger and it was ok to feel the way I did and that I couldn't have done more in the job or as a parent, and that it was the right thing for me to leave the Service and move to new Country for my health and well being.

A new environment to fill my head with good photos. Healing cannot happen in the same place that is dragging you down.

But like wise it was acceptance of not being able to return and visit family.

Acceptance that the wifi was turned off for 5 months during this difficult time, so connecting to family was horrendous.

Oct 2019 was the last time I hugged my Dad and family/friends and especially my 3 amazing kids.

Acceptance that my grounding to mother nature through my birds of prey that I have had for 14 years ( acting as my counter therapy to Service life) was now gone too. A daily reminder as I watched wild Birds of Prey over head was like twisting the knife.

It takes courage to face inner demons and answer those difficult questions.

Acceptance of not being able to be in control of everything, but most of all.....

Acceptance of my thoughts and responses.

I choose how I react. With this comes GRATITUDE.

Gratitude for so much, my health and well being. My connections with so many incredible people in the world.

My house and surroundings that we'd worked so hard for and the view I'd always dreamed of with my birds. My ability to have choices, although very restricted and my choices to look for the good in the situation we all found ourselves in, and sadly still are!!

But Gratitude in my LIFE.

For what I've done and achieved, for those I have helped and worked with, for that I will continue to help others.

For the simplicities of LIFE itself.

To Breathe, to Smile, and to be Happy.

(All this is free, they haven't taxed us yet for breathing!! lol)

To Smile and be Happy emits Hope and Joy.

This is infectious too in a positive way.

So my drive is to keep inspiring others and this inspires me to be a better person and to continue helping others as best I can.

Stay positive and hopeful and keep talking, don't bottle things up.

We are in its together and here for each other when needed.

For the positive feed back from people, thank you I'm glad it helps. It certainly has helped me.



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