I would like to start by wishing everybody a happy New Year! Over the years I have found the Christmas holidays a great time to reflect on what happened for me in 2016 and make a bit of a map for things I want to do in 2017. This has become even more important, after the terrible year of celebrity deaths we have just left. My mum also died last year and I have spent a long time trying to straighten everything out, after a very complex legal saga. So from that perspective a very emotionally challenging time.
It is ironic that I had already selected this subject before the deaths of Rick Parfitt, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher. Many of these people were ‘taken’ relatively early, but seem to have led ‘full lives.’ Money and fame helping them do many things that we can only dream about. But as I know only too well, it is about making the most of the time you have, to do what is important to you and your loved ones. The three people I mention above were all given second chances after numerous health and abuse scares. Some of us are changed irreversibly by what has happened, but others choose to continue on exactly the same path, even pressing harder on the accelerator.
These are the choices we are given, and what makes us human is how we all choose different things. A ‘bucket list’ is something that many of us affected by cancer talk about commonly. Facing our own mortality seems to wake us up, to the fact that life is limited, and it is time where possible, to do some things we have always wanted to before our life disappears. I refer to this as a ‘list for living.’ There have always been many things I wanted to experience and achieve in my life before cancer came along, but now my health and finances have changed, I have to reassess the realities and change my priorities a little.
There is not a day goes by that I am not aware that my ‘clock’ is ticking. Of course, anything could happen to any of us, but having had those end of life conversations maybe it is something you are more focused on? Last year was an incredible one for me work wise. We launched Your simPal and I did more presentations than ever. My last two emails of the year were telling me I had been selected as a Fellow at the R.S.A (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce,) and an invitation to speak in Marseille in the New Year. From a work point of view I could not have hoped for more. Yes I can feel it taking it’s toll as I am very tired currently, but happier than I have been for some time.
This is because I can see positive results from all the work I have been doing in recent years. Doing all these things, whilst keeping my health as good as I can, is like running against Usain Bolt on one leg! My unreliable health has made things so difficult. But I have proved to myself that I can still do positive things, whilst having my health as a permanent handicap. Next year already has a busy start but I am aware that so far with my extended life I have pushed things very hard, and my next ambition is to write my book. There have been frequent requests for it, and in many ways it will be more valuable to people than my current work. It will be my legacy to others, and will hopefully show people that anything is possible if you have hope. But I will have to allow a big chunk of time for that!
Also on my ‘list for living’ I have a really crazy thing which I mentioned a few weeks ago, and that is a tattoo! I have had so much encouragement from people just telling me to go for it, but it is so out of character for me, and my wife hates the idea!! I’m wondering if this is just a mid life crisis that I missed, as I was battling to stay alive at that stage in my life. But cancer has empowered me to go outside my safe zone! I know exactly the design I want too. Living my life in this way has become fun, and I never thought I would ever say that. I have no fear of situations and what others may think. It is enabling me to achieve things I never believed I could.
At some stage empowerment took over from fear, I didn’t really notice the change but what I do know is that my list for living will not be held back by fear and caution. The events of 2016 have made me refocus on some more personal things that I need to do, whilst life is still kind to me. I will also find the right opportunity to have my tattoo done, maybe sponsored for Your simPal and possibly on TV, that will be really fun!!
We all know that our lives rarely go to a plan, but I guess you have to have a direction of travel to start with? I’m sure that 2016 has made us all think much harder about our own personal ‘list for living’ and I would love to hear how last year worked out for you, and if you have any ambitions for this coming year?