2018 is drawing to a close and all I can say is thank goodness.
I had such high hopes for this year, so many expectations, a long list of plans.
But pretty early on, I realised that nothing was going to go to plan.
S P R I N G
The year started off good. Things were going to plan. My candles were selling well; my dad read and loved my book; I was busy editing my third draft; my sister had come to visit; I went to Wigtown for a weekend by myself.
Then my husband got ill.
On the 6th of February, he had a seizure. It was pretty out of the blue: he’d had nausea and a fever that day but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary for someone under the weather.
He spent 8 long days in hospital. He was treated for meningitis and then encephalitis before finding out he had neither of these things. We never found out what was wrong – only that he had high infection markers.
The good news was that he was okay.
The bad news was that he had a long road to recovery, he couldn’t drive for six months, he couldn’t exercise or go back to work for a while, and I had a lot of trauma to work through from witnessing the seizure and thinking the worst.
Spring revolved around Ali’s illness. He took about 8 weeks to feel like his energy levels were normal again but even to this day, he’s much weaker than he was this time last year.
I could say all the cliche stuff like it made us appreciate life more and never take any moment for granted, blah blah blah. But that would be lying.
Of course, we’re a little more aware but speaking for myself, I’ve always been aware that life is short and what we have can be taken away at any moment. Throughout my entire life, I’ve been aware of that.
So instead of this having the effect on me that I should embrace every moment and live to the full potential 100% of the time, it’s almost had an opposite effect.
I’m not a generally anxious person but I have a lot more anxieties now. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we never found out what was wrong with Ali so sometimes I wonder if it’ll return or if there are still underlying issues.
I worry when he’s late home from work or if I don’t hear he’s arrived safely somewhere.
However, I have had great support from Ali & our families. They completely understand the situation because they were there from the minute Ali got in to hospital until this day. When I talk to my family, specifically my mum, about it, I don’t have to explain myself. I just have to say how I feel and she (and the rest of them) get it.
And of course, I’m so grateful that Ali is okay. And through it all, our relationship & friendship has only strengthened.
So while I’m definitely not fully pulled through from the whole situation, I can confidently say that I am okay.
He is okay.
We are okay.
And okay is a good start.
Apart from that, spring was very busy with looking for our own flat or home. We had saved enough for a good house deposit and wanted to buy our own property.
While Ali was off work recovering, we spent all of our free time on RightMove. Then when we saw something we liked, I would go out and view it. If it was worth a second view then Ali would muster up all his strength to come and see it.
Pretty quickly, we found a flat that we loved. It was a two bedroom top floor flat in East Kilbride. It was right next to a train station, close to our new church & both our families. It had an attic, a super spacious living room, a dining/kitchen area and an en-suite.
A month before we were to move in, we got a call saying the seller had changed his mind due to “a change of circumstance”.
So, 2018 continued along with more bad news.
We were halfway between gutted and excited.
We had to start the flat hunting process over again. This time, it proved more difficult. Ali was back at work and I had to do a lot of it by myself which was discouraging and it ate into my own time to work.
Finally, though, we found a flat. We weren’t 100% convinced but it was in an area we loved and it was a good price.
Anyway, everything went along smoothly and our offer was accepted and we were ready to begin moving.
S U M M E R
Summer was hot. Stressful. Busy.
At the beginning of June, Ali, my new friends – Catherine & Lauren – and I went to London for a weekend. It was so lovely to get away and not have to think about adult things. (Until, to our luck, on the trip, we found out that I forgot to change to my married name on my Help To Buy ISA and it needed to be done before we got home or else I might not get my 25% bonus from the government. Anyway, we sorted it but it was crazy stressful.)
In London, we saw Hamilton – the greatest musical of all time.
It was the highlight of my entire year and it is what kept me going through everything that happened at the start of the year. And even through hard things that happened post-Hamilton, thinking of that show, and those words, and the music, calmed me again.
I absolutely adore Hamilton and it’s always been a sense of comfort and a safe place for me.
Seeing it live was a total blessing and joy. I hope I can go back one day!
From London, Ali and I carried on to Albania for the fourth time! It’s where we became friends so it’s a really special place to us. We got to work with our friends over there. We worked with the young people and ran a youth “camp” for a few days. By camp, I mean a very luxurious hotel with a massive swimming pool and lovely food.
Coming back from Albania, we had a few days before we got the keys to our flat. All the doubt we had around it quickly disappeared. Our neighbours are lovely; the area is quiet; the flat is spacious; it’s in a wonderful location.
The only problem was that every time we redid something in the flat, we found 5 more problems. So renovation was a full-time job for two months. In fact, we still need to repaint the kitchen, build a fuse board cover & sort out our balcony.
Ali had to work two jobs over the summer so he didn’t get to do much of the renovations with us but any free moment he had, he was there helping out! Our parents were total construction workers over the summer & I can’t thank them enough for all their help! We couldn’t have done it without them. Plus, a lot of our friends came over to help, too!
Our friend, Ben, came over from Germany for a few days. Ali got to take some time off from work & they did a lot of fun things together! Plus, we had our first house guest ever in two years of marriage!
A U T U M N
And autumn arrived & I have to say, it was the first time in months that I felt myself again. My anxiety calmed down a lot; my sister came home; we got a dog; I found my role in friendships and family life a lot more; I was really busy with work.
I’ve noticed that keeping busy really helps me but being too busy brings me down. In 2019, I really need to find the right balance!
September was probably the best month of the whole year for me. It felt like I had something really fun on every single day!
My sister came home, I went hiking, I had a whole weekend for reading, I explored my new neighbourhood, I went to the beach, I submitted my novel to an agent (got rejected lol but that’s ok), Adam came home from the army for a few days, I met Patrick Ness, I went to Largs for ice cream, Ali and I went on holiday with Milo (dog) to the Cairngorms, my sister got a puppy & we bought a ton of house plants!
It was just such a dreamy month.
And then, Echo joined the family.
Ali & I have been talking about getting a dog since before we got married and we really wanted a labradoodle. When we saw there was one for sale 25 minutes away, we couldn’t resist visiting him! On a bit of a whim, we took him home.
The first few weeks were pretty awful. We had no idea what we were doing and Echo was super clingy and needy.
But after a few puppy classes & tough love, he’s so much better. He’s okay being alone, his mouthing has calmed, he knows all his commands, he is so sweet and loyal and excited all the time. I actually love him to the moon and back.
In fact, today (December 21), he is pretty sick and I have had a wee cry because it’s so sad seeing him so low.
W I N T E R
Winter for me always revolves around Christmas. Being a Christian and being part of a church means you’re always really busy at this time of year.
My main project is working with Act of Faith Productions on a musical called Baby Boy.
I got to play a grumpy teenager (going back to my roots) so that was really fun and different for me. It was exciting to see God so faithful in our rehearsal process and in ticket sales and the nights of the shows.
Because of the puppy and the shows, Ali & I haven’t had a chance to decorate the flat for Christmas so I don’t have those special Christmas feels or lovely scents in my home. But that’s okay – because that’s not what Christmas is about.
December has been fun, too. Although super busy, there’s been lots of fun happening now, too.
I’ve caught up with good books, spent a lot of time with my puppy (he’s a bit older so he can enjoy some proper good walks now which is one of my favourite past times!), had a really good run with selling my candles, visited Winchester, sent my book to beta readers. Soon, I’ll be spending a week at my parents looking after three dogs (help) before Ali & I escape to Wales for a week to recover from the hardest, craziest, most challenging year of both our lives.
2018 – thanks for being okay. thanks for teaching me lots. thanks for introducing me to new sides of myself. you’ve been important. maybe one day, i’ll miss you, but right now, i’m thinking i’m quite happy saying goodbye.