This time last year I set myself the goal of writing a blog post every month for 2022. Well that didn’t turn out so well. As Fry so aptly notes in Futurama, the yogurt used to be milk and ‘Time makes fools of us all’.
I managed 2 posts. Dismal really. But probably reflective of how much of my attention has been absorbed by two tiny humans and an increasingly busy job. Like most parents with toddlers I get to the point where they are in bed and all good intentions hit the brick wall of mental exhaustion. I collapse on the couch.
Writing is a passion for me. A hobby that brings me a huge sense of satisfaction and gets me excited. I have always dreamed of my retirement and how I will sit in my study, surrounded by thousands of books and write story after story into old age. This year I have thought about this almost daily as the challenges of Rheumatoid Arthritis have reminded me that things often don’t turn out as you want.
This year joint pain has been a constant burden and, more than the physical discomfort, mentally it has drained me. My thoughts have turned to the likely possibility that, in old age, my ability to sit at a keyboard for hours may not be feasible. In fact all of my hobbies to some degree, other than reading, require quite a degree of finger mobility.
My miniature painting, which I have continued this year thanks to the wonderful Marvel Crisis Protocol game, required long sessions of holding tiny brushes with a steady hand. The video games I play require either constant keyboard/mouse strokes and holding and pressing buttons on a controller. Magic the Gathering, the card game that I have played passionately for over twenty years, requires shuffling, sleeving and un-sleeving cards.
You don’t realise how much you rely on the small joints in your fingers and hands until you cannot use them properly! Cutting an onion can cause your eyes to water, but usually not due to the pain in your thumbs. I have had a constant worry in the back of my mind that I will not be able to do the things I enjoy the most as each year passes by. That I will stop living the life I am currently able to.
The worry is real. It’s exhausting. It can get you really down. I empathise with anyone that suffers from depression. Without support and positives to turn your mind to you can easily spiral into a dark place. So that is what I have been doing, focussing on the good things.
In 2022, for the first time in my life, I continued to exercise for the duration of the year, including the winter period where I usually find plenty of excuses! I spent 3 months on paternity leave with my family, a time I cherished and would encourage all dads to do if possible. I found regular time to catch up with my friends to play Magic the Gathering or other games.
As a teenager one of my cousins passed away suddenly and with no warning. I grew up closely with him and I think of him often. It reminds me of how important it is to enjoy every day that you are given. Life is unpredictable. Don’t take things for granted.
I enjoy my work, but it is increasingly busy and at times takes a toll on my health, physically and mentally. As my arthritis has progressed, I have made a conscious effort to strike the right balance between work and home life. To enjoy the little things at home. Time passes too quickly to not enjoy them.
Someone asked me a few weeks ago, when I had published my books. I paused and couldn’t remember the years. I thought to myself that this was very reflective of how cluttered my mind has been this year. So in 2023 I am not going to set myself a goal of how many blog posts I am going to write. I am going to simply enjoy life.
I recently read about Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a painter who suffered from Rheumatoid arthritis, to the point where he was almost completely disabled. Despite this he never stopped painting and the quality of his paintings never faltered. He overcame his pain and physical limitations. A reminder that we adapt. And that is what I will do. Adapt. I will write those stories!
I wish you all a wonderful festive holiday and new year! Until 2023.