22nd December 2018
As another calendar year comes to an end, I want to share some reflections and news with you. Many of you will have accompanied me this year, as well as last. You may have commented on my articles, shared or “liked” them, sent me questions, encouragement, feedback and ideas. I take none of this for granted.
While we are all unique, we are also similar in how we experience the beautiful and more challenging times in our lives.
Therefore, I am not unique and you are not alone in some of the difficult times that have been, or continue to be or are written across the horizon.
1. We are fragile. We are strong.
In my case, this year has been full of reminders of the fragility of life, which we all share.
Last year ended in hospital with chicken pox, and 2018 started with viral fatigue and me having to take 2 months off work. Then in May a local recurrence of my breast cancer from 2012 was discovered. At the same time my dog was diagnosed with mast cell cancer.
Difficult things happen to us all. It is not a competition. We all cope the best we can.
2. Things I did not talk about and why
My dog recovered well from her op. My own had to be postponed last minute. When it finally could have gone ahead, I had changed my mind and opted in favour of another cancer treatment approach. I chose not to write about that, as it was and remains a difficult and very personal decision.
Sometimes, too much talk distracts from the choices we need to make and stick to.
I am also aware of my responsibility towards others, and do not wish to unduly influence choices we all need to make for ourselves. I realised that I had to make a choice that works for me, that is about me and that is in line with who I am. To some this may sound bizarre and vague. I know. It’s a lot more complex. But I am at peace, and that’s what counts.
Your support this summer has been special. Thank you! Therefore, I would not want you to go away making assumptions about what did or did not happen. Hence my decision to say it now. No more and no less.
After 4 months on benefits, I resumed my work as a psychotherapist in October, albeit at a much reduced level.
The experience of being on the UK’s Universal Credit system this summer has been shocking, for so many reasons. Things were difficult in 2012, when I could not work for 1 year and they certainly have not improved. The financial toxicity of cancer is alive and well! I could go on, but I shan’t. Because it is too upsetting, frightening and makes me angry. Suffice it to say, paying your taxes does not mean you are financially safe, when you need to rely on benefits. Others write about it more eloquently than I could or would.
Something else I have not written much about recently is Brexit. Perhaps you expected me to. I think about it a lot and have not commented, because I am not clear about what I can add, that might help others. I find it deeply worrying and upsetting on so many levels. It is too raw, too personal. So, I shall keep my counsel.
Isn’t it odd and bizarre, how one can feel a lot more grounded and clear about one’s health predicament (cancer) and mortality than Brexit and the like.
3. Creativity continues
Despite or because 2018 has again been about health’s and life’s fragility, I felt a new resolve to crack on with some projects and ideas. I continued writing a lot and introduced Wednesday Wisdom emails to my newsletter subscribers. Audience figures to my website continue to increase. Thank you!
Earlier this year, I started recording YouTube videos. Apart from teaching myself new technology, I really had to push beyond my comfort zone. After all, I am a very private person. I would like to do more of that. But as with my writing this is deeply personal work.
I need to feel inspired and have the right energy. I cannot produce on demand or on tap.
Again, I am not unique in that.
4. Not burning the candle at both ends
I am also not unique in the need to be mindful of my limits – physically, mentally and emotionally. I am working hard at finding and sticking to the right pace, that is in line with my energies, supports my health, allows me to do the job I love, keeps me creative and earns me a living. I am not asking for much …
Like you, there is a lot I would like to do. And perhaps like you, I can’t and perhaps never will be able to – ever or again. Moments of that realisation are painful. Yet I try and keep them brief and focus on what I can do and enjoy.
For all of us, the past was then. Now is now. And that’s what counts.
5. Stepping up
You may have also seen that you can vote for me at the UK Blog Awards until the end of Christmas Eve UK time. If you read my entry, then you will see that I nominated myself, for which there was an option. It goes against the grain, because I find self publicity deeply painful (and depending on how it’s done slightly tasteless and offensive). But in this day and age, unless I want to write for myself, I have to engage in publicity. I had to overcome my discomfort and make choices. I started my website and on social media on my own and without any kind of network. In many ways this has not changed. You can vote until end 24th Dec by clicking on this link here, then scroll down to my entry and click the red heart next to it. Thank you!
6. New ideas in the pipeline
All things being equal, I will offer new services in addition to the face to face therapy I do here in London, my articles and videos. I am working on short-term online counselling and online talks. Topics will include coping with bereavement, cancer, setting up a private practice, going through change and more. These services are fee-based. I am also considering the introduction of a free agony aunt slot on my website: Karin’s couch (other naming suggestions are welcome). Another idea I am pondering is to have a section on my website, which gives some of you an opportunity to showcase your products or services. Clearly, this would need to have the right fit with my website and ethos.
7. Stay connected
If you are interested in keeping up with any of these developments, then (if you haven’t already done so) sign up to my free Newsletter here.
8. Stay strong
As I keep saying, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever has happened making peace with yourself and life is possible.
When difficult times happen, we and life just cannot carry on as before. Changes have to be made, temporarily or permanently. More often than not, there is always a period of numbness, when the pain of it all can be just too deep and all-consuming. Our world and our capacity to deal with what is happening becomes small. That can be intensely frightening.
Don’t give up!
My writing means a lot to me, and it’s difficult to single out some pieces over others. If you have not yet read the following two, then try and make time for them.
And finally …
I wish you a peaceful time, whatever you are up to, positive vibes and energy for 2019 and beyond.
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Need some advice? Submit your question to my #DearKarin advice column here. Karin Sieger BA (Hons), MA (PsychCouns), Reg. MBACP (Accred) is a therapist and writer. All rights reserved © Karin Sieger. Neither articles nor videos substitute medical advice or therapy.