Year In Review 2022

Any last words?

It is the question I usually ask myself at the end of each year. I am commited to reflecting on the year that was and the end of 2022 is no different. In my mind I had somewhat reflected but both my usual end of year and year ahead posts have been MIA. Despite its tardiness, a reflection is still in order even a quarter into the new year.

Who touched my life in 2022?

I would like to express my gratitude to all my close friends that have walked alongside me in my own struggles and celebrations throughout the year, and have equally shared theirs with me. It is this mutual sharing that builds a level of trust that fortifies strong and respectful relationships that stand the test of time. In particular my friends and their families back home in Australia that have been present and engaged in our life and have worked to maintain our close relationships and especially include Barb, Sandy, Kerry, Shelley, JD, Lyn, Sue, and of course my mother and my daughter. They have been the constants in our life and have let us share in their journeys during the time we have been on the other side of the world, and this two-way relationship is crucial for friendships and relationships like these for longevity. There are a few other special people that have been particularly special this year for various reasons, and they have been particularly special to me.

I want to shout out a colleague (privacy maintained) who has really touched my life this year just by being themselves. Their ability to be authentic, raw, and transparent has given me permission to do the same and it has genuinely been a freeing experience especially in a career that has such responsibility and accountability attached. It is understandable that some people compartmentalise their work and home life so they can show up to work, shut off at the end of a shift and go home. That just isn’t how I am wired with much of my identity coming from my career as a nurse, and I see that same level of passion and drive in this very valued colleague. It has been refreshing to work alongside this person and they provide a listening ear, non-judgement, and build me up when I am feeling stuck – the difference is that they allow me to be the same for them.

I want to share gratitude I have for one of my dearest friends (privacy maintained) who lives oceans away from me and still manages to be so influential in my life. We both work in industries that require a significant level of self awareness, professionalism, and the ability to care for others and this type of work can often lead to overtly busy lives and the tendency to prioritise others over yourslves. I am so grateful that I have this friendship and for the beautiful lessons that come out of our general virtual catchups. Their experiential wisdom has allowed me to reflect on how I look at life and work resulting in greater self belief and less self judgement.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the beautiful Nisbett Family for the kindness and care they have shown us during our time here in the UK. It’s evident how much we will miss them when we move back to Australia. Together we have had so many adventures both locally and abroad, and we feel genuine connection between both us and our children and they have become a very special part of our lives. This past few years would have been quite difficult without the blessing of having them in our lives and we are grateful for a relationship that feels like family.

What did I read, watch and listen to?

I love a good book and reading has always been a passion of mine, however since moving to the UK it has taken a definite backseat to life in general. Much of that is from the absolute exhaustion I have felt since arriving here for various reasons, but probably also because there really isn’t much space here to hide away with a good book. In this past year I have also had the additional need for reading content relating to teaching modules both for the workplace and the university because I value being up to date and informed, and my “Covid/Peri-Menopause” brain fog requires some additional support these days. I tried reading “Braving The Wilderness” from Brene Brown but however much I try I just cant get into it. I did feel similar when I first read “Daring Greatly” and it just wasn’t the right time first off for that so I think I am going to put it away and stop obsessing over finishing every single book I start.

I have really enjoyed some of the things I watched throughout the year in 2022, but do feel that my time could be used better at times to achieve some of the bigger goals I have. We decided to watch Greys Anatomy from start to finish (all 19 seasons) with Kenze joining in too and that was so addictive! We also really enjoyed watching all the Marvel movies in chronological order which has helped me to understand what Kenze is on about and has helped me to connect with her over things she is interested in. Of course I now blame her that I am just a tad addicted to the Marvel series. Of course watch lists wouldn’t be complete without multiple rewatches of Kath and Kim, or Miranda! Such fun!

I have been somewhat disappointed this year to have lost access to Australian radio through Radio Garden, and cannot figure a way to get it back which has led to me having to create loads of Australian playlists on Spotify. I was listening to the podcast “Happier By Gretchin Reubin” however I have switched over to a fantastic Australian podcast called “Wild And Finally F*ckin Free” and I have been grateful for the stories of tenacious women who are rocking perimenopause as a way of reimagining themselves without all the crap we hold on to throughout our earlier years.

Where did we go?

2022 turned out to be our most active travel year likely owing to easing of restrictions and travel mostly returning to normal again in many places. Our adventures were more aligned to the expectations we had of what our time living in England would be like before C19 evolved, and we feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to explore more of this side of the world. I will share greater details on each of these trips soon but for now I will share an overview of the trips we did have.

In February half-term holidays we booked a week in Barmouth, Wales right when the “beast of the east” hit which made for an interesting adventure and managed to enjoy some places along the way including Iron Bridge. Our week in Barmouth saw us explore parts of Snowdonia including some snow-capped mountains, and ended with dinner and hot tub under the stars with the Nisbetts to celebrate Annas birthday.

In May/June we went on a trip to Levanto, Italy joined by my niece Tarryn and our dear friends the Nisbetts. Air travel was much more normal and we arrived in Pisa to beautiful warm weather and plenty of great places to explore. We spent our first and last night in Pisa enjoying the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the best meal ever at one of Pisas hidden gems. The rest of our time was spent with beautiful ocean views in a lovely little town called Levanto that was closely linked to the Cinque Terre. We managed to explore the Cinque Terre via foot, boat and train along with a beautiful bike ride along the coast line in the other direction – definitnely worthwhile and the highlight of our trip.

In August summer holidays we spent a few days in Bournemouth with the Nisbetts enjoying what felt like a little piece of home with the swimmable water, proper sandy beaches and beach side lifestyle complete with delicious healthy places to eat out. We were blessed to have been there during festival time so was able to enjoy the fireworks and stalls that were set up beachside, and the ability to have a bbq on the beach was not lost to us (we used disposable on this occassion but they do have the stainless steel electric ones similar to Australia). During our time there we visted New Forest to see the wild ponies and braved the incline walk down to Durdle Door.

In December we took the ferry over to Dunkirk and had a whistlestop Christmas tour for the weekend with the Nisbetts and took my nieces Mia and Tarryn. We started by driving up to Sluis in the Netherlands for lunch, checked into our hotel near Brugge and went the the Ghent Christmas markets. We then enjoyed Bruges Christmas markets the following day. It certainly would have been nicer having a longer time there but it was enjoyable all the same.

We enjoyed some day trips throughout the year also to places like Colchester Zoo, Leeds Castle, Bewl Water, Folkestone, Margate, Brighton, Hastings, Camber Sands, London, Kearsney Abbey, and an adults only weekend in London with our friends Anna and Eril (aka the Nisbetts). It certainly has been a year or travel and adventure, and goes a little way in making up for what we lost during C19.

Why was 2022 a year of growth?

I have learnt a lot of really tough lessons this year not only about myself as a mother, wife, friend, daughter, and nurse but also about the nursing profession, organisational challenges, and life in general.

What I have learnt about myself is that I have spent my whole life in the pursuit of serving others which on the surface seems like a really noble thing to do, but when it results in me feeling like my life isn’t my own anymore and I am disregarding my own needs then it becomes something else. We never really know how long we have on this earth and I dont want to get to the end with regrets, so I have learnt that I need to put boundaries in place for what I will and will not be available for without feeling guilty for doing so.

It is no secret that I am in that mid-life period now and despite all the horrid stuff that comes with that (TMI so I wont share), it also comes with a realisation. I realise that instead of this transition being negative, it is a period of time that should be embraced. Midlife brings with it a questioning, a curiosity and a drive to pull apart the current perception of ourselves to reveal who we really are and what is important to us. I find I am increasingly less concerned with what others percieve of me (although this is definitely a work in progress), and I am more concerned with finding peace by aligning my life with my own values.

I feel like my role as a mother has shifted this year particularly with the codependence that my daughter Lauren and I both felt we had with each other. I can use hindsight to look at where that originated from including the relationships I had growing up but also the 5 years she and I spent together just her and I. That codependence kept us going during that time. Now that she and I are both a lot more grown (I was a mere 20yo messed up young woman when I had her), we talk about this stuff quite a bit and we both understand the journey we had to get here. I have managed to start letting go of her and not feeling like I have to step in to save her at the slightest hint of challenge, because by doing that I would be robbing her of the experiences and hardships that will shape her as an adult to build her character.

I have also begun to embrace the fact that I dont always have the repsonsibility, accountability and authority to change certain things in life that I would like to. What I mean by that is that I often take everything on myself to fix or solve, whereas I really need to hand over certain things to those who have the level of authority/ownership to deal with those things. An example of this is someone close to us with whom we have had a very long standing conflict with. This conflict has seeped into almost every part of our lives and almost caused the break up of our marraige. For the longest time I have beaten myself up for not being able to fix this area in our lives even though I can only be responsible and accountable for my own part in the situation. In this past couple of years I have learnt the value of being able to forgive whilst also maintaining my boundaries in what I will and will not be available for. It’s been liberating for sure and of course I wont know exactly how this will effect our lives moving forward but it has allowed me to be sure about my boundaries whilst providing the space for others to own their part (without being broken if they dont).

When was I at my happiest and saddest?

My saddest moments in 2022 had to be seeing my mum struggle with the ongoing court case surrounding my brothers murder back in 2020, and it looks like it still isnt over with us awaiting the trial in the Surpreme Court later in 2023. My eldest daughter Lauren has been supporting her although I think my not being home in Australia has taken its toll on her also. She has been trying to navigate adult life and make decisions for her life and future without the presence of her Mama. I know I didn’t have my life together when I was 22, and its hard to see your child struggle knowing its not our job as parents to fix everything but to support their growth.

My happiest moments in 2022 had to be seeing some success in my work as a clinical nurse educator especially with the completion of an online training course I developed in partnership with one of my incredible colleagues. My other happiest moments had to also be on our holidays enjoying that sense of exploration again. Ultimately though it is the countdown to moving home and the relief I have felt about making that decision a final.

How will 2022 shape the year ahead?

I think 2022 has been a significant year of growth that has helped me really figure out not so much what I really want but it has clarified what I dont want and what I am no longer available for.

I want my health to improve in 2023 and although that is still a work in progress, I am hopeful because I am finally being seen by a respiratory therapist and found an incredible naturopath Lucy Foreman.

I would like to have good boundaries in my relationships this coming year to ensure that I am participating in those that have equal investment – time and effort from me and time and effort from others – because I am just no longer available for half *ssed relationships. Of course I know life gets busy and I don’t expect to have contact every moment with people, but I also dont want to feel like I am an option rather that a priority.

Travel does feel like a priority this coming year however in a different sense really, especially as we are travelling home to Australia permanently. Our goal is to have some travel here in Europe in the first part of the year and already we have been to Paris, and if our finances permit we would like to have have one more trip to somewhere we have never been, but also some weekend and day trips to places here in the UK. When we return home that travel bug will still be there I am sure, and our priority trips for the rest of the year will be driving the east coast from Victoria to Queensland stopping to visit family and friends on the way, and a trip to New Zealand to visit our family there.

My career has developed significantly since I have been in the UK and am so grateful for that, so I do need to explore what I want to do when I return to Australia. I have refused a few job offers since being here because the timing was wrong, and I am now beginning that period where I am open to discussions about potential opportunities for when I return. My overall goal is to support nurses in there career from pre-registration to post-registration from the perspective of clinical supervision, career planning, nursing leadership and organisational culture change. However I will likely work clinically for a little while to regain my bearings in Australian nursing since I have been out of the county for the past 4 years.

If you’re still around thank you for sticking with me, and I hope this has prompted you to perhaps reflected on your own 2022 also. Check back in or subscribe to check out what 2023 has in store for our little family as we set our intentions for the year – I will share this plan in the coming days.

Cheers From Kent, Tams

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