Our family tradition at this time of year is to do a Bittersweet reflection together. We remember and talk about the things in the past year that have been bitter, and then do the same for the sweet memories. At times we have eaten lemon slices, and honey with breadsticks to accompany this ritual; always we give thanks for God’s presence through all that has happened. And always I am reminded how privileged we are because there are so many more sweet things than bitter. Even this year where cancer dominated the bitter conversation, there were so many sweet things to more than balance it out, not least the wonderful Florence.
We wrote our hopes and dreams for the year on paper and made them into origami birds, perhaps to encourage us to give wings to those stirrings within. I found myself hesitant to write down any big plans or ideas for the year beyond having a haircut, growing my nails long enough to have a manicure and finding a bra that fits. My plans for 2015 were cut off in their prime, but it was still a year of rich experiences and powerful relationships. I have lots of ideas of things that I could do this year; my instinct is to get stronger, get back to work and see what happens from there.
But there is one goal from 2015 that I am still pursuing. I thought about it far too late to do my 50th parkrun on my 50th birthday so instead was aiming to do my 50th while I’m still 50 – before the middle of March this year. I missed lots of Saturdays in 2015 because of chemo and surgery but just before Christmas, I worked out that it was still possible if I crammed in as many as I could. So I did Preston Park on Christmas Day, Brighton on Boxing Day, Richmond Park on New Year’s Day and Cambridge last Saturday which was number 43. I’ll be parkrunning on the next seven Saturdays and hope to do my 50th on 20 February.
It’s taken me a while to get back into running post surgery. I tried a gentle two miles round the common after six weeks when my surgeon said I could run again, but my knee was quite painful afterwards. I think I underestimated how much fitness I lost while I was recuperating and how much the tightness of my stomach was pulling me out of alignment. I’ve been doing pilates and have indulged myself with some sessions with a personal trainer to work on my core strength. I tried running again nine weeks post-op and that was ok. I’m still not running far so parkrun is an ideal distance. And I’m doing a few slow miles on my trusty bike, cycling to radiotherapy each day and enjoying the quiet roads back to Ealing along the river from Hammersmith Bridge.