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2020 Review

As we head towards the end of 2020 and into 2021 I wanted to take the time to do a little message for everyone and review 2020.

This year has been full of ups and downs - it started with being presented with the Freedom of the City and has ended with winning two awards and getting a new job ! In between those times it has been tough, as it has for all of you too and I send my love and hugs to you all.

I never thought I would be back at the University of Chester studying but I am so proud that I am on the first year of the MA in Counselling and although it is all currently online and I have not met any of my classmates in person it is going really well. I have realised studying from home takes away some of my anxieties about meeting new people and going to new places, so when we do meet I will definitely feel more comfortable.

Most of the rest of my usual work is cancelled which led me to seek extra work - and I am excited to be starting a new part time role as a Mental Health Crisis worker at the end of January. (I will post more about this once I start the role)

Luckily, myself and Karen have stayed well and we have pottered along doing house jobs and playing countless games of Rummikub !! along with refurbishing my Dad's house ready for the new tenants who moved in yesterday. I am so glad to get that done and am pleased Dad is safe and happy in his residential home.

I started volunteering with the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in May 2019 as part of the Bereavement Team and it has been a real honour this year to be able to provide telephone support to people who have been bereaved and also to help run online bereavement help points. This has been invaluable experience for me moving forward with my Counselling training and I thank the Family Support Team for the opportunity.

The one thing I have missed most of all is my coaching - our Cheshire Phoenix and Angel's players are like a family to me and to see them struggling with not being able to train since March has been heartbreaking. However I have been really impressed with their attitude and wanting to keep each other safe. I have loved the Zoom calls and the laughs and giggles we have had will always stay with me. I have really missed all the kids I usually see in Schools and look forward to the day I can go back and tell my story again.

June 2020 brought along my Autism diagnosis - This has truly been life changing. I now look at myself in a totally different way and am much kinder to myself, each day I learn more about how Autism effects me and I am honoured that my journey is helping others. This is just the beginning of my Autism journey and I am excited to see what comes next. Thankyou to everyone who has helped me with this journey. I am honoured to be a Patron of Cheshire Autism Support (CHAPs) and I would like to thank all the staff for their support for me too.

I have always been open on here about my mental health as I know it helps others. Over the last few years some things started to raise their ugly heads so I had Counselling on and off. In March I went back to my lovely Counsellor to carry on working through some issues that were causing me ongoing problems. We have worked together for the last 3 years and I am in such a different place now compared to when I first met her. I was in full on anger mode towards myself when I first met her, I was alternating between fight and flight mode and just did not know how to stop. She has helped me learn new skills and gain new knowledge which has really changed me for the better. Nobody used to see that battle on the outside, it was a private battle I fought but I feel I can embrace it now and can show the vulnerable side of me without thinking people are going to take advantage and hurt me - in fact it has had the opposite effect of creating opportunities for me !

I also knew that going back to Uni to carry on with my counselling training meant I needed to get a handle on these things to be the best counsellor I could be and although it has been really tough I am much further on now and have the courage to face and tame my demons rather than run from them.

The lockdowns have given me chance to stop and look at my life and work on me - rather than constantly focusing on everyone else.

I have read lots and spent time walking the dog - but most of all I have really got in touch with my thoughts and feelings. I feel a sense of calm at the moment which is due to a combination of things I think; my autism diagnosis has helped me understand me better, the counselling sessions have given me space to explore who I really am in a non-judgemental space and learning more about Counselling in College and now at Uni has given me so much clarity on things from my past and I am now able to face those things rather than keep running.

I have worked hard on just being me and realising I am enough and everyday I am more comfortable with me and more proud of my achievements. I have new versions of my motivational talks now and have been invited to talk at a Suicide Awareness conference next year which is really exciting. I always wanted my talks to be about more than Sport but now I have the confidence to show the vulnerable side of me and that is resulting in some exciting new opportunities.

I am not sure what 2021 will hold for me but I know it will be full of learning and developing and hopefully helping others learn and develop.

Thankyou to everyone who has been a part of my journey and I wish you all the best for the New Year.

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