10 things I reflected on in 2018

10 things I reflected on in 2018

02/01/2019 1 By WetandMucky

10 things I reflected on in 2018

It’s that traditional time of year when you review the past 12 months and look forward to the next 12 with a set of plans and aspirations.  In the modern world of social media this often takes the format of a drunkenly thrown together, overly emotional facebook post, Instagram montage, twitter posts, etc.  This year I thought I would take a little longer to reflect and put my musings into a blog post instead, so here is my top 10 from 2018…

Our little house

1 – Buying a House – Without doubt the most un-necessarily time consuming thing to be done in life. I can see absolutely no reason why a simple transaction should take so long.  I managed to reach the ripe old age of 42 before buying my first home, which I have done in 2018 with my partner Laura.  It was an exciting and new experience for both of us, but infuriating too.  Ours was relatively straight forward and quick as these things go, we were first time buyers, buying a house with no chain, the mortgage was arranged and deposits available so why it still takes over 3 months to complete is beyond me.  Still, we have a home and are happily settled in with a long list of tasks to complete – The main one is getting the garage built so we have storage for all our “stuff”.

2 – Skiing is a ‘fair weather’ sport – At least for me it is, I went to Tignes again this year with a bunch of friends, my third year although most of them have done it since school.  We decided to drive down a day earlier to get an extra couple of days on the slopes, we arrived in the early hours, the day before our accommodation was booked, this meant we had to spend the first few hours sleeping in the vans before our first day on the slopes.  I can whole heartedly advise that this is not a wise choice!!  After a season of bumper snow and still with plenty around the weather was cloudy and grey and after a poor nights sleep and a hurried breakfast we sorted the lift pass and headed into the white-out.  Seriously, visibility was near zero, cold, breezy and completely un-enjoyable (for me at least).  I am sure that skiing in poor visibility increases your ‘feel’ for the conditions and improves your skill-set, but I fell over multiple times, struggled to find lines, legs and ankles hurting like mad just made for a miserable day.  Unfortunately much of the week turned out like this with only 2 ‘bluebirds’ all week.  I didn’t get a whole lot of skiing done and spent a small fortune on a 7 day lift pass which only got used on two and a half days! However despite not booking up for 2019 I will go again, Tignes and Val d’isere are fantastic resorts which I would love to go back and explore further.

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3 – The internet is very complicated – I started in 2017 to look at methods of diversifying my income with a view to creating a passive income source which would require a little upkeep but which could be done remotely from anywhere with a wifi connection.  This is still an ongoing piece of work (hence WetandMucky.com) and has been a very steep and ongoing learning curve, just when I think I’m getting to grips with one area a whole new chapter comes to light, I still understand very little about SEO, page rankings, keywords, optimisation, etc… But I’m still learning.  I’m not looking for a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, although that would be nice, but for something which I enjoy doing and can make enough money to sustain a lifestyle out of.  At the moment this is strictly a spare time activity, I still have a full-time job but ultimately I would like to be able to stop “working” and do something I enjoy with the flexibility and freedom to partake in my hobbies when I want and not be regimented to every other weekend as they are now. I’m currently reading the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris which is giving me a whole heap of new ideas too.

4 – Head Games – These can and have had a massive impact, this year I have become increasingly aware of my own destructive thought processes hijacking my enjoyment of sports and life in general.  I have analysed to death the loss of friendships and past mistakes and agonised over the impact that decisions have had on myself and others.  The same processes have also talked me out of doing things I’ve wanted to achieve.  Not running a particular set of rapids* when kayaking because I spent too long ‘thinking’ about what could go wrong, not enrolling on educational courses due to ‘thinking’ about how much work they would be, being half-assed with my online business ventures as they get more complicated.  I’ve come to the conclusion that my brain is a pretty bad ‘thinker’ and that it requires effort and training to overcome it’s inadequacies.  I have collected a few books on this subject this year and am working my way through them, the most inciteful so far has been The Chimp Paradox, a simple to understand guide to your emotional behaviours and some useful exercises to help overcome some of the issues.  It has also been massively useful to understand that this is not just ME, that clearly this a relatively normal thing and that most people suffer to some degree or other.

*See my post https://wetandmucky.com/are-you-aroused/ for further reading on how this came about.

5 – Banter – The predominantly male phenomenon that is essentially used as a way of giving oneself permission to be as mean, spiteful and obnoxious as possible under the guise that it is ‘only a bit of banter’…  I have been guilty of this in the past and have relished the controversy and backlash it has produced, often doing it just to ‘play devils advocate’ and promote the debates.  However, having had this blow up in my face on more than one occasion and having dealt with the fall out and loss of a friendship over it, I have made a conscious choice to move away from that mind-set.  Something I am more determined to do in 2019, it is not always easy, I have often found myself replying to something on facebook, only to re-read it before sending and then just delete it, maybe if more people practised this self-editing behaviour the world might be a happier place.  So I make more effort to ensure that what I am putting out into the world, particularly on Social Media has more positive connotations, that it is useful, entertaining, interesting or in some way beneficial to people and not just designed to raise a laugh or for my own amusement.

6 – Friendships – I’ve given a lot of thought to this over the last year and particularly looked back at the ‘types’ of friends I have been drawn to, going right back to my school days I have noticed a similar pattern of friend ‘types’.  I have always gravitated towards the gregarious, outgoing, loud, ‘life and soul’ party types of people.  I think this fulfilled a need for me with my own lack of confidence and allowed me to be the centre of attention vicariously through these friendships, often taking the form of us being seen as a ‘double-act’. Quite often linked with the ‘Banter’ issue above, I’ve come to realise that I no longer need this, I am quite capable of being at the centre of the party if I want, however I am equally as happy sat in the corner having a quiet conversation with other interesting people.  This has been quite a revelation for me and been the result of much introspection. Above all I am grateful for the circle of friends I have and whom I choose to spend time with on trips, adventures and activities, going out and staying in.

7 – Yoga – Something I have been passively interested in for a while but without really entering into that world.  I was always put off by the thought of going to a class, being the only man in a room full of lycra wearing, uber flexible young women.  The reality I am pleased to say is far more realistic, there are a multitude of classes for all levels run at venues to suit all needs.  At my first few sessions I was relieved to find that there were more men than women and far from standing out as the fat, inflexible bloke at the back, I was more than able to join in and take an active part.  Sure some positions are easier than others, some I can flex pretty well (core twists) and some are almost non-existent (seated forward folds) however I have enjoyed the classes and got far more from Yoga than I expected.  The results in flexibility and strength have been very noticeable, even in a short space of time, but also the meditative effects I find very useful.  After a sweaty and tough 40 mins of ‘Dynamic’ yoga nothing beats being able to relax in Savasana (Corpse pose) for 10 minutes and focus on breathing, quieting the body and the mind.  However, you don’t have to go to classes to practice, Laura and I have found a very good App which you can use to practice at home with options to set your own time, difficulty and focus of practice – Check out Down Dog App

Yours truly, aged 22 (1998)

8 – Battle of the Bulge – The ongoing fight… I long for the days of my teens and early twenties when it didn’t matter what I ate and drank, I was always stick thin and always seemed to hold around 12 stone!  Sadly those days are long gone (I blame having kids…) I have yet to find the right balance, for the last several years the pattern has been very similar, make a new year resolution, be good for a few weeks, hit the gym, loose a bit then let the bad habits creep back in and put it all back on by the end of the year.  Unfortunately this year has been no different, in fact probably worse and this festive period has seen the scales nudge over 16st again, which is something I am very much ashamed of, so here we go again with a new year comes yet another new start……. Let’s see if it sticks this year!

9 – Biking – I have been back in to Mountain Bikes for a few years now, its a ‘come and go’ kind of hobby, I have a little flurry of rides then don’t bother for weeks or months on end. But in 2018 I have discovered something new – uplift days! The joy of being driven up hill with only the downhill trials to focus on. Now you may think this is cheating and not really worth the exercise to do it, however I can assure you that it is a major workout of leg and arm strength and stamina. I’ve done a few uplift days this year and thoroughly enjoyed them all and been completely exhausted at the end of each one, I would also like to think my riding has come on because of it, I certainly feel I’m jumping and cornering better, but still room for improvement. I’m thinking of doing a jumping course in 2019. Last year even brought me a new a bike (OK I bought it myself) so I’ve got even more motivation to get out, ride and improve.

Catching a little air at Bike Park Wales

10 – Family – Having children is full of trials and tribulations and 2018 has been no different.  Both of my children have thrown difficulties our way in one form or another, however I am very grateful for the support of the extended family to meet the challenges and overcome them.  I have great support from my Mom and 2 sisters which has been invaluable over the years, Laura has fitted into the mix admirably too.  It is never easy meeting a partner who has children from a previous relationship but it is something Laura seems to take in her stride.  I am lucky (although we have worked hard at it) to have a pretty amicable relationship with the children’s Mom and her new partner.  I think it is essential for the kids to see the parents sharing decisions and views and not criticising each other, it’s not the easiest of situations but I think it’s one we manage pretty well and I’m grateful for that and the support that both sides of the family give and I’m super proud of my children and watching them grow up into fine little human beings.

So what will 2019 bring, hopefully a side-line income that could one day replace my full-time job.  The freedom and flexibility to work where and how I choose, to enjoy what I do and be able to pursue my hobbies.  To spend more time with family and friends getting outdoors and active.  On the whole 2018 was a pretty good year, I would be perfectly happy if 2019 turned out the same.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2019.

Durance Gorge June 2018 – The beginning of my ‘reflection’ journey.