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Can the worst of times bring out the best in us?

I’ve heard a recurring message from friends and family throughout my life – slow down, watch TV,
do less exercise. And of one in every hundred of those comments, I thought – yes, that’s exactly
what I need to do. But after a week, it would feel too uncomfortable. and I’d soar back to
my go-go-goal-driven self.

Last year, however, my body fought back. When I didn’t listen to the signs to take it easy, it simply
shut down. By being forced to stop being active, I’ve been challenged to the extreme. My body
insisted I take life gently, and that enabled me to do many things I never allowed time for before.

To kick off the year, I picked up a parasite – giardia. This gave me stomach cramps, nausea,
dizziness and constipation. Food became my enemy. After taking two months to diagnose, and
two courses of wipe-out-everything-in-your-gut antibiotics, I got rid of it. But, hell, it drained me
and left no energy for tolerance. Moving through those ghastly four months enabled me to see
that I was in a parasitic relationship and give me the wisdom to end it.

When my tum showed the first signs of feeling better I jumped back into sport – yay, I thought.
I’m back to my former self! My body, however, quickly told me it still had healing to do. Within a
couple of weeks I put my back out and damaged ligaments in my ankle. These injuries corked my
swimming, yoga, cycling, hiking and surfing – the tools I used to find happiness, connection and
fulfilment.

And, so I started channelling much more energy into my work. I spent more time in the office,
built better relationships with colleagues, gave myself the freedom to think creatively and build
my team. At the beginning of last year my skills had little recognition where I work. By the end of
the year my team was enormously valued. Using my energy in a different way enabled me to
realise things I never had professionally. Now I feel more empowered than I ever have. And, for
the first time, I know I’m good at my job and offer real value to my employer.

I also started Pilates where I learned that I was using a fraction of the muscles and strength I
could. There was so much more strength inside me to realise!

It seemed, however, my gut problems weren’t over. I still had lessons to learn. A bacterial
overgrowth took over my system in the middle of the year forcing me to change my diet and go
on a two-month course of antibiotics. I had no choice but to stop consuming the things I filled
myself with each day – fruit, fermented foods and wine. Sugar was damaging me.

And, so I learned how to eat a much healthier diet – more protein, more low-sugar veg, occasional
fruit. I still enjoy a drink but it’s usually gin with still water and a slice of lime. My tum loves me for
these changes, I feel stronger and don’t get the heady, sketchy, uncomfortable stomach
hangovers I used to.

Things started to get better… until I picked up worms towards the end of the year. That was
terrible. A feeling of never being full, stomach swelling, nausea, constipation. Oh my, would my
gut every work? I went back to the doctor, to be given more remedies to expel the blighters. But
there were learnings here too. I’d slipped back into doing too much, being super active, drinking
wine, eating bread and high-sugar fruit. I’d lost focus on what my body needed and what
nourished me.

I look back now and realise I was a pretty miserable friend for a large chunk of last year. I couldn’t
see the joy in life, and a couple of friends couldn’t take that. They slipped by and have shut the
door on our friendship. While that makes me sad, it’s opened up the door for two beautiful new
friends – both of whom have an uncanny ability to be active, enjoy the outdoors, and also kick
back on the sofa for a whole day taking it easy.

Reflecting on the year I see what ties all the challenges together – relationship. My relationship
with food, sport, work, and people. I imagine that’s why I started going to a meditation group –
the foundation I needed to meet the man that’s rocked my world. His compassion and
understanding have helped me nourish myself, find balance, and give more to the people around
me. I could never have achieved so much without him holding me up.

So, here’s to a 2018 where I live in a whole new way – where I practise what I’ve learned and strike
a better balance. Where I foster healthy relationships and give more to myself and those around
me. Where I enjoy life for more than adrenalin and achievement. The year I slow down, watch TV
and do less exercise.

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A playful story seeker, Pip helps businesses communicate better.

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