You Are What You Drink

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I started my 2nd 21-Day Personal Challenge, which is drinking only water, 11 days ago. Here’s what’s new in the land of liquid.

Now, I hope those of you who are following along with this series don’t mind, but I changed the rules a little. Instead of drinking only water, I decided to drink only vodka because they’re the same color.

Seriously though, after the first week of withdrawal from caffeine, juice, and aspartame, I’m truly LOVING this water only deal. Here’s why:

Less Decision-Making

Man, who knew that we actually think and make decisions about what we drink? It makes things so much  easier to drink only water. At a restaurant I don’t have to mull over what to order to go with my meal, and my husband doesn’t even have to ask what I would like to wash down the dinner he just made me ;) !

Less Food Cravings

Here’s something else I’ve discovered these past 11 days. Drinking only water lessens my food cravings. You see, I use to unwittingly associate food and drink with each other when deciding what to eat. For example, I don’t really want cookies anymore because without milk, what’s the point? Also, what good is it to sit down with a bowl of cookie batter (I know, I know…) if I don’t have a fizzing cold can of diet pop to accompany it?

It’s Cheaper

Let’s face it, groceries aren’t getting any cheaper these days and not having the extra body drinking milk and juice in the house saves a few bucks. To top it all off, I was the only one drinking diet pop (3-4 a day) in the family and now we don’t have to buy it at all.

It’s Natural

As you may already know, up to 70% of the human body is made up of water. It’s seems only natural then, to replenish our fluids with nature’s own.

I don’t drink bottled water (not good for the environment) or tap water (tastes awful with all the chemicals) . I drink filtered water straight from the fridge. So good!

Everything Tastes Better

Another unexpected benefit of drinking only water. Without the additional tongue clutter dulling my taste buds, my mouth is free to fully appreciate what I’m eating.

More Pleasant Surprises

When I pulled this “water only” challenge out of my hat my heart sank as I thought of all I’d have to give up. But as it turns out, I don’t feel deprived in any way.

For example, I didn’t really have to give up any breakfast item because I don’t usually eat cold cereal (which obviously needs milk). I’m an oatmeal person. And when I say that, I mean it quite literally – I’m actually made out of oatmeal. It makes driving a car really difficult – and messy.

And like I mentioned earlier, I had only about 7 days of withdrawal symptoms, and now I don’t miss a thing.

My Plans for the Next 10 Days of the Challenge

I have to admit I’m feeling rather guilty and somewhat antsy. Guilty because it no longer really seems like a challenge to drink only water, and antsy because I’m super keen to start a new trial. But, my next challenge will just have to wait until the end of this one.

And by the way, I’ll fill you in on my long-term “drinking” plans next week.

What do you think, do the benefits I’ve outlined here tempt you to give the challenge a try?

Go green, you’ll feel better!

I read somewhere that starting the morning by doing a noble deed creates positive vibes and helps you feel good. So, I thought why not contribute towards reducing carbon footprints and wake up on the greener side of the bed. Exercise and healthy eating is a part of that process. There are some simple tips that you can incorporate every morning to make it green and eco-friendly.

Incorporate some organic and environment friendly products in your everyday routine. Here are some choices that you can check out-

1. Green travel mug

Say no to disposable coffee and tea cups. Always carry a green travel mug with you. Fill it with organic beverages. It helps to save on costs, is eco-friendly and healthy too. The washable mug comes with a handle to prevent the fingers from getting burnt.

2. Organic life vitamins

If you depend on capsules for your daily dose of vitamins, then why not try the organic option. These healthier alternatives don’t contain any harmful chemicals or drugs. You will get your share of daily multi vitamins from natural products like Aloe Vera, blue-green algae, etc. Enjoy the power packed blend of nutrition from food based ingredients.

3. Organic face wash

Get rid of toxins and pollutants on your skin with organic face washes. The Cucumber & Watercress face wash replenishes minerals and vitamins even as it cleanses. The mild and moisturizing wash is made from vegetable oils. It keeps the skin soft and free from any harsh chemicals. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about chemicals polluting the environment as the foam goes down the drain.

Start healthy and stay healthy throughout the day

One of the first ways to start healthy and green is with food, but when you’re walking down the aisle at the supermarket, healthy and unhealthy foods seem to merge, even at the veggie aisle. Consider your individual needs before making the right choice between convenient fruit snacks and healthy fruit with this questionnaire.

At the supermarket, the first and easiest choice to make before you embark on your aisle roaming is to grab a couple reusable produce bags. Reusable produce bags are higher quality than environmentally-unsafe plastic bags, so it’s easier to carry more groceries with fewer bags. You can slip them onto your shoulders rather than cramp up your hands carrying a bunch of precariously-stuffed plastic bags. Of course, it’s greener to use reusable bags too.

Now that you have reusable produce bags by your side, what do you pick? Between veggies and meats or tofu for cooking, of course you need to grab something delicious and sweet, namely fruit (or at least something fruity).

  • Do you frequently forget about food in the fridge? Maybe you should stick to the pre-packaged variety of fruit. It lasts longer and it’s vaguely related to fruit. Also consider vitamin supplements with your fruit snack so you can retain plenty of nutritional value while taking the fruit-free route.
  • Trying to cut down on trash? Definitely stick to compost-friendly 100% fruits. Pop some fruit in your lunch bag purse and take your healthy lunch to work!
  • Looking for something filling to get by between meals? Fruit all the way!
  • Always in a hurry? Fruit or fruit snacks can hit the sweet spot. Fruit snacks are generally fans of on-the-go lifestyles, but fruits such as apples, bananas, grapes or pears are great too. Try to jazz it up a bit with left-of-center knife-free fruits such as Asian pears, fruit hybrids such as pluots or grapples, or any variety of berries.
  • Needing a sugar high? Fruits are sweet but fruit snacks are concentrated sugar, often listed before fruit on the ingredients list. For that fast-acting buzz, go for a fruit snack. (Quick pointer: Ingredients are listed in order of largest quantity to least.)

In either case, fruit is an important and yet easily neglected part of your diet that ought to be re-examined with enthusiasm. Shop around for your week’s food at the supermarket and don’t forget the basics; buy a Sigg lifestyle water bottle to bring to work each day to keep water conveniently in your vicinity. With fruit and water as part of your daily diet, you’re on your way to being a better you!

Travelling can play havoc with your skin

Traveling can take a toll on your skin. Most of your facial care products are left behind because of their huge sizes. You use just any soap to wash your face and the sunscreen is forgotten.

If you have a hectic travel schedule, I suggest that you carry a facial care travel kit in your handbag. What is a travel kit? Just miniatures of face washes, scrubs, moisturizers and wipes. Most brands have a line of travel skin-care with kit-bags for different skin types. Wash and scrub your face when you are in the air to save time.

If you travel a lot, then keep a complete range of hair and skin products handy. The Anthony Logistics Grab & Go Travel Kit offers a line of airline approved 2-ounce size of essential facial care. It comprises of-

  • Glycolic facial cleanser
  • Facial scrub
  • Astringent
  • Coconut shampoo
  • Cleansing Gel

And all of these come in a quart size clear zip top plastic bag.

If you are traveling in a car or bus, then keep face-cleansing wipes handy. Dove facial cleansing cloths are easy to use and compact enough to be stored in your purse. Wipe your face to get visibly radiant and cleaner skin. Dispose off the wipe after use.

To look fresh and lively after a hectic day of meetings and agendas, use a moisturizing spray. The Clinique face spray hydrates and replenishes the skin instantly. The skin-friendly product is tested for allergies and is mild enough to be used anytime your skin is thirsty for moisture.

Sleeping over is more fun

If you are planning to sleep over at a friend’s place whom you have known since you were in your diapers, it would hardly matter what you wear. However, if you have just made new friends, for example at college or at office, and have been invited to a girly sleepover- what should you wear? You would obviously want to make a good impression. Here are some tips to help you sleep over in style.

Wear sleepwear that you will feel comfy in. Pretty pajamas that match your personality are the safest bet. For example, if you want to look cute and girly, opt for pajamas sets with details like lace trims, floral patterns and in attractive pastel colors such as baby pink or aqua blue. For an elegant, sophisticated look, wear dark colors and feminine silhouettes.

Capri pajamas are in vogue, so for a chic trendy image, wear a set with bold colors and prints. Mandarin collars and kimono sleeves give an oriental flavor to your pjs. For a sexier look, wear satin pajamas. Want to create a dramatic effect – how about wearing an animal print sleepwear?

Do not forget to take into consideration the weather. If the sleepover is in spring or summer, choose cotton or linen pajamas. For colder nights, opt for flannel or cashmere pants and sleepshirts.

Now that you have an idea of how to look chic at a sleepover, have a blast without being obvious!

Riding camels in Morocco

Traveling to Africa might not be a welcome idea for some people. But for someone like me who embraces any kind of adventure (or misadventure), it’s a magical place. One of the most memorable countries I’ve been to is Morocco. It’s located in North Africa and remains the only African state not to be a member of the African Union. Morocco has always been known for its Islamic liberalism and openness towards the Western world. The weather is very dry and it’s extremely warm during the summer. Movie buffs would definitely know Morocco as the setting of the popular movie, Casablanca.

Boyf and I had a really grand time when we were there specifically in Tangier, a city so rich in culture and history. Boyf hired a tour guide to take us to the historic sites like Grotte D’Hircules, Mediterranean Sea, and some run down places. We also tried a couple of Moroccon dish and bought 3 kinds of curry that can only be bought from Morocco, Africa.

I had fun the most when I rode a camel. I never rode a horse before so riding a camel is quite an adventure. I was very hesitant at first but boyf convinced me that we’d be fine. Good thing the camel handlers were very professional and the camel was gentle. Mounting a
camel was quite hard and scary. When the camel began to raise its derriere, I thought I was going to slide off head first. The trick was to lean forward until the camel has completely risen. I noticed that the baby camels were loud while the older ones are quiet. Once you’ve settled comfortably, you’d realize that it’s the best way to view the red and dusty landscapes. We were laughing because at first the camel tour was just circling around one place. But when we got the hang of it, everything went smoothly.

Watch out for my other features of our trip to Africa. I have more info to dish and story to tell. Until next time. xx

Fuerteventura – All about our holidays

In 2009, the beautiful island of Fuerteventura was given the UNESCO status of Biosphere Reserve, not only for its unique setting and wildlife conservation projects, but also for its rich architectural history. Other Biosphere Reserves around the world are characterised by their sustainable development programs across the local regions, so it’s no wonder why the island of Fuerteventura remains one of the most inhabitable places for wildlife in the Mediterranean.

Fuerteventura Beach

From its long beaches to its low cliffs, this island is a haven for vast numbers of exotic birds, as well as rare plants and insects. On the west on the island, the coast line stretches for over one hundred kilometres, offering crystal blue waters and landscapes of untouched natural beauty. Birds such as the Egyptian vulture have found sanctuary on Fuerteventura, and hopefully over the next few decades, so will many other animals.

The Mammals of Fuerteventura
Truth be told, when it comes to the island’s mammals, there isn’t actually supposed to be any! Most of the mammals on the island have been accidentally introduced into the ecosystem, and from goats to donkeys, and even camels, the island isn’t their natural habitat. Over hundreds of years, farmers, shepherds, and a variety of other locals have introduced these mammals to Fuerteventura, with a view to creating a sustainable food source.

When visiting the island, don’t be surprised if you see lots of shepherds with their flock of goats seamlessly roaming the island. In some parts, they actually take priority on the roads over motor vehicles! Thanks to these animals’ bi-products – namely excrement – the land is extremely fertile, and the grass and trees continue to sustain the vibrant bird population.

Protected Wildlife Parks
There are many areas of the island that are protected from poachers, including 13 sanctuary parks. Over 50 per cent of Fuerteventura has been given conservation status, and this allows the animal environment to flourish, which is very beneficial for tourism. Furthermore, there are plans to build a national park on the island, with a view to provide more protection to the leatherback and loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs on the shoreline.

The island’s wildlife agency, that receives funding from the mainland, has outlined plans to increase the numbers of these turtles along the west coast. From artificial nesting grounds to mating pools, the aim is to install trust into the female turtles, to encourage them to continue coming back to the island. If you’re thinking about travelling to Fuerteventura, be sure to check cheap flights to get the best deals on Fuerteventura flights.

The Ocean
Did you know that the ocean just of the island’s shoreline is nearly one kilometre deep? When it comes to measurements, this is pretty shallow compared to the rest of the ocean, allowing a variety of marine life to call the coastline home. The rich currents are full of nutrients, which attract many different species of tropical fish. Sperm whales and pods of dolphins are regularly seen just of the coast, and the wildlife agency also wants to increase poacher patrols around these areas to protect such amazing sea life.

Hotels to choose from in Fuerteventura

Blue Sea Dunas Caleta Club, Corralejo
Like all the hotels here, the Blue Sea Dunas Club is close to a stunning beach. Accommodation is apartment style and each has a balcony or terrace. Within the complex are a swimming pool, sun terrace, children’s pool and playground, buffet restaurant and sauna. It is a great base from which to explore the island.

Barcell Fuerteventura Thalasso Spa, Costa Caleto This is a luxurious choice, with its own thalassotherapy centre, two swimming pools, a sun terrace, two restaurants, a bar, tennis court and paddle tennis court. All rooms have a balcony or terrace and the superior rooms offer extra luxuries and a sea view. For families, there is a hotel-run kids club and a children’s pool and play area.

Barcell Jandia Club Premium, Jandia
For adults only, this complex is set on the hillside within the lush gardens of the Barcell Jandia Playa Hotel. It is the perfect place for couples who are happy not to share the gorgeous spa, circular pool and whirlpool or the evening lounge bar with rowdy youngsters. Rooms are tranquil with balconies or terraces. The beautiful Jandia beach is only a few hundred metres away. Going in for these hotels can drive up the cost of your holiday and it often works in your favour to try and save as much as possible on your flights to Fuerteventura by using online comparison sites.

The Hotel Costa Caleta
The only hotel here to offer all inclusive deals, this hotel has a stunning rooftop pool and two other larger pools, a pleasant decking area and bright, comfortable rooms. The beach is only 400m away.

Elba Carlota, Costa Caleta
One of two Elba hotels to make it to this list, this one is opposite a white sandy beach with wonderful sea views and a gorgeous pool. It is also next to an 18-hole golf course.

Elba Castillo San Jorge and Antigua
Another Elba hotel and also in Costa Caleta, this one is in a quieter spot, overlooking the bay of Calete da Fuste, a great location for water sports. Self-catering apartments and full board are both available.

Aparthotel Broncemar Beach, Costa Caleta A village-style complex of large self-catering apartments is a popular choice for both families and couples. It is only 300m from the beach and has two swimming pools, a sun terrace, poolside snack bar and buffet restaurant with two themed evenings per week.

Oasis Village, Correlajo
This is a complex of apartments in a quiet location. The rooms are modern and comfortable and you can enjoy lots of organised events for both children and adults, such as a weekly barbecue evening as well as the two swimming pools and great poolside bar.

Suite Hotel Atlantis Fuerteventura Resort, Corralejo Set in a quiet location, this hotel complex has a village feel and is another ideal resort for active adults and families. It has a number of swimming pools, with one for adults only. Activities include volleyball and basketball. There is even an indoor theatre here.

R2 Rio Calma, Costa Calma
The R2 Rio Calma nestles amongst beautiful botanical gardens and has a spectacular sea view. A two-tiered infinity pool gives you the illusion of swimming in the Atlantic. Try the impressive Roman style spa with hydro massage pool, whirlpool, Turkish baths, saunas and massage and beauty treatments. Choose from the main buffet restaurant or the a la carte restaurant for classic Canarian dishes.

Why I don’t like transfer deadline day

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I’m not (usually) one to moan, but January 31 is just a run-of-the-mill day on any given year. Its main significance for most of the population is merely that it signifies the end of a dour month of just about coming to terms with January and then general depression because of failed New Year’s resolutions. However, Sky Sports News has somehow made us believe that January 31 is one of the key dates in the calendar, a day – “Transfer Deadline Day” – which we cannot live without, during which the most monumental transfers take place. After a few years of believing this trash, mainly because being a Chelsea fan means you see significant transfer activity, I am now at a place where I barely pay attention to the fanfare, silently hoping for an end to the farcical newspaper speculation.

For football clubs, January is a month of fear and panic – even if you’re doing well. Clubs (or any Harry Redknapp managed club) who are suffering injuries seem to believe that they need a further 20 players to get them through to May! Then there are those clubs who have benefitted from the form of a star player who is now on the radar of bigger clubs eager to get their claws into him. Then there are other clubs who do all they can to dig themselves further into debt by simply buying any player who is available just because everyone else seems to be doing it.

January being a month of panic is a fairly new phenomenon in modern football. Usually, clubs would prudently go about their business over the summer so that they could see themselves through the season. When it came to January, clubs would have to suck it up if they needed players. Those clubs with top players would at least get through to the end of the season with their prized assets. Now, something called a transfer window is arbitrarily opened during the month of January and clubs can’t seem to control themselves with some of the most absurd transfers that you’ll ever see. January signings are rarely successful and are nearly always made out of panic. There are only a handful of January signings which have been successful and for every successful signing there is usually 50 terrible signings.

Let’s take the farcical example the Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll deadline day deals. Chelsea got excited because they believed a player who was once the best striker in the world was available. They didn’t need him, yet they believed that just by buying him it would solve all their problems. Within months they were sorely mistaken and they’re still paying the price – literally. Andy Carroll, a player who had performed well for over just half of a Premier League season was seen as a replacement for Torres because he was big and strong. The cruel twist to the tale was that Carroll was English and Newcastle are not mugs. If you’re after a player in January you better prepare to pay a painful premium. If you’re after an English player prepare to pay a further 30%. For all of these reasons, Newcastle somehow got £35m for him. Situations like this are common (albeit on a lesser financial scale) during the January transfer window and make it intolerable.

This begs the question, what is the point of the transfer window? It has become a disruptive nuisance. Sky Sports News try and make mediocre signings seem like game changers. The truth is nobody cares where Gary Hooper or Danny Graham end up. Nobody cares if Luciano Becchio puts in a transfer request. But, Sky Sports News will have you believe, with all of their glitz, that the world does care. Even the fun of the occasion is seeping out because of the mindless build up and that fucking massive touchscreen they have in the Sky Sports News studio. You can only laugh at Harry Redknapp talking about someone else’s player from his car for so long. At first it was fun to look at the local chavs surrounding an awkward looking reporter outside Stoke who would confirm a deadline day signing. Now, it’s just sad.

Deadline day and the transfer window should be scrapped. One solution is simply to have a strict window over the summer. However, as a modern freedom of trade supporter I can’t get behind that. Therefore, all that is left is to just open the transfer window for 12 months, so that: there is no more transfer window! At least that way Jim White can get on with presenting news rather than pretending to be excited about Celtic’s latest signing and then trying embarrassingly to convince us of its significance. Tonight, I will glance at Sky Sports News, but I’d rather watch my West Wing DVD. Believe me, there is more drama in that!

Why I’m a Chelsea fan

Supporting a team when you are a football fan is perhaps the most rewarding thing you can do. It significantly adds to the meaning and enjoyment of the sport. It also provides you with a focal point – something which is needed in a sport which is simply too vast to spread that same level of love and interest across more than one or two teams.

Choosing your team as a kid is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It is one of your first “love” relationships. When you pick that team, that’s (usually) it. You stick with that team through thick and thin. You will cry for that team; you will get beaten up for that team; you will endure misinformed statistical arguments from idiots at work for that team; you will cheer for that team; and you will sacrifice work and play for that team.

Unconditional love is an absolute necessity when you are a football supporter. Your team lets you down more than anything in your life. However, if you lose to your main rival or even when you get relegated, as a football fan, for that next game, once you rid yourself of that protective pessimism, there is inherent optimism and belief which keeps you coming back. Above all else, when it’s all said and done, being a football fan is supposed to be enjoyable. However, as a Chelsea fan this season, I am struggling to identify a period previously where my love for the club has being tested on an almost daily basis.

From the high of winning the Champions League for the first time in their history, Chelsea have come crashing back down to earth and are now buried in shit. Already this season, the club have been involved in controversies to last a lifetime. The shameful episodes are well known and I won’t recite them in detail here. Personally, the John Terry race row and the Mark Clattenburg – whatever it was – have been the most humiliating for me as a fan. This was a club who made an unsubstantiated complaint against a referee and then refused to apologise when they were mistaken. The fact the club made a complaint wasn’t the error – not at all. It was their conduct during the saga and when making the complaint itself. The staggering sanctimonious arrogance was not needed especially when a referee’s career was under threat. What added insult to injury was Chelsea’s embarrassing attempt to be the face of football’s fight against racism when only weeks previously they refused to adequately punish their captain who actually admitted calling a fellow professional a “black cunt”. How can such a club be taken seriously?

And there’s the Di Matteo saga, which was just absolutely pathetic. The man was too classy for Chelsea anyway. Di Matteo fell on his sword because of a few bad results, when what seemed to be forgotten was that he was trying to implement the changes so badly sought after by Roman Abramovich. People at the top simply do not understand football it seems. When you change your team’s tactics overnight to all out attack, you are going to be vulnerable at the back. When you persist which an absolutely garbage £50 million striker, despite having some of the best creative players behind him, the goals will just not come. Why is Roman surprised by this? And why the fuck does he think Rafa is the answer? He has actually made things worse!

The Chelsea fans continue to embarrass themselves. The 16th minute applause for Di Matteo in the first game after his sacking against Man City was touching and rather classy. However, 2 games later it becomes irresponsible. To boo Rafael Benitez (a man I respect although deeply dislike) is simply daft. Like it or not, he is the manager of the team right now and he has to be supported. Booing him is booing the team and it’s undermining and poisoning the club. It amazes me to see how stupid some fans are when they can’t see how this is damaging the team as a whole. This all has to be halted before the damage becomes irreparable.

My current relationship with Chelsea Football Club is like that you have with that racist uncle everyone hates. You tolerate him because he is family, but when he says he can’t come to Christmas dinner this year you silently rejoice. He is that guy who embarrasses you when you are seen with him or when you say you know him. Chelsea at times this season are just like that uncle: embarrassing, occasionally racist, unlovable, but I still find myself going back for more. When does the cost of being a fan become too great? Is it when I find that I no longer enjoy watching games? Is it when watching games becomes an obligation rather than a consciously selected pastime? Over the last month, I have actually disliked watching Chelsea games to the point of deep resentment. I’m increasingly asking myself why I’m continually spending my time and money on this club in the face of the shame, terrible leadership, poor performances and Neanderthal fans. Whenever I ask myself this question, the answer I get is the same: I love Chelsea. It’s that simple and this is why I’ll be there in the cold on Wednesday watching us become (potentially) the first holders of the Champions League to be knocked out at the Group Stages. But, is it costing me too much when I don’t enjoy it anymore?

Hello 2013

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Astonishingly, it’s nearly February 2013 and yet only now do I have a moment to sit down to reflect on what was an eventful 2012! I’m aware that with it being almost a whole month into 2013, any reflection of 2012 is fast losing its relevance. However, this was something I had planned to write in December and so owe it to myself to try and bash something out to give tribute to what was one of the best years of my life.

2012 started with me moving out of home into a flat to live on my own – the beginning of a new era it seemed. This was a monumental event as it suddenly transformed my relatively stress free life into one of overwhelming amounts of “admin”. I was constantly on the phone to sky to sort out my sports subscription (a priority); I would have endless and mundane conversations with uninterested civil servants regarding council tax; and worst of all I had to sort out my bills by giving out the exact same information to numerous companies! After this passed, I found that moving into a new build did not mean that I wouldn’t encounter problems. My shower blurted out cold water, my heating didn’t work and I couldn’t work out how to use the oven. My “problems” were compounded after being terribly broke after the payment of my first month’s rent.

Was this moving out thing really worth it? Well, it’s taken me a year to finally accept that it kind of is. Coming home to watch and eat what you want, playing music and dancing half naked without judgment are just some of the perks. Overall, just having my own place is perhaps the most liberating thing that could have happened to me as a young adult.

As early 2012 progressed, I encountered my first set back: a break up. As far as break up’s go, it was as amicable as it could be and in all of the circumstances it was the absolute right decision. Despite that, it was a difficult and challenging period which I wasn’t at all ready to deal with. With break ups, as with all seemingly “bad” experiences, there comes a time when things “click” and rather than wallowing in what appears to be a real depression, you wake up and look at the experience as something you are meant to go through – almost a blessing. During that “depression” stage, staggeringly frequent mistakes are made – and believe me I made many of them. This is the worst stage, but this is where you realise just how lucky you are. Your family get you through. Your real friends come out of the woodwork to make you laugh and give some good and sometimes frankly appalling advice. Ironically, during a period of apparent loss, you remember that you haven’t actually lost anything. The overused cliché of “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” began to resonate with me after two decades.

When that “click” happens, everything shifts and you start to see the gift in the “bad” situation rather than being a victim. You end up being grateful for the experience and to the person at the heart of it and wish them well for their positive role in your life. This overall experience also led me on a path of trying to understand myself and others a bit more after realising that I didn’t really know much at all! This all led to me reading many inspirational and spiritual texts from brilliant writers like Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle on what now seem like basic common sense concepts like “let the past go” “change the way you look at things and the things you look at change”.

Once you absorb such life changing wisdom you can’t really go back. It’s like learning to drive. Once you acquire that knowledge, you cannot forget it – it seeps into your subconscious. I wouldn’t say that I have completely changed, but I approach life and look at all situations with a different perspective. One concept that is life changing – but so basic that it is astonishing how you can get through life without being aware of it – is that the present moment is all there ever is. When you think about it, a light bulb switches on in your brain. The past is gone, even 2 seconds ago. It is gone and is not coming back. The future is not here, you can only change it with action NOW. What we tend to do is dwell endlessly on the past and wish it was different. We feel guilty, we suffer, but it’s all pointless because nothing in the past can change. We fear the future and that can make us anxious now. We create mind projections of what ‘could’ happen in the future and that creates fear. But, when you take it apart, you fear a mind projection. The anxious feeling does not relate to anything based in reality. And when the event you fear finally comes round, don’t you always find that it’s never ever THAT bad? Therefore, all we can do is deal with the present moment and do the very best we can during it.

Intellectual understanding of these concepts is one thing – a good thing. However, practise is how things actually change. If you take the example of first aid, I could read all the books on first aid and know conceptually what to do. But, reading the material will not enable me to perform first aid. It would help merely being aware of the concepts, but I need to go out there and do it! This is how we ought to approach new information.

I applied this new information to my next setback: my appendicitis. Although I was in the hospital, I looked at it as a blessing rather than feeling sorry for myself. I made new friends, I got better, I newly appreciated the NHS and most importantly, I got to spend quality time with my family. At the time, I couldn’t see how I was going to get time off work. I was (and still am) embroiled in a major case at work that booked me up for a year. And then the appendicitis came to the rescue! I know it seems a little warped, but I feel that this illness was a blessing of sorts! I even lost a little bit a weight which nearly always helps!

Externally, other amazing things were happening in 2012. Chelsea somehow (and I’m still working out how) won the Champions’ League. Events this season have emphasised just how fortuitous and Liverpool 2005-esque this win really was. There was the Euro’s with Spain showing how great they were despite the presence of a worn down Fernando Torres. We also had the amazing Olympics which I actually got to watch most of from my hospital bed. I found new love for obscure sports like Handball and I truly got into the Team GB buzz throughout. The Queen’s jubilee was a bit meh, but the sense of community and pride we had as a nation will stay with me for life. And how can we forget Barack Obama beautifully winning a historical second term in office, batting off Mitt in the process.

What a year 2012 was. I feel more confident, fitter, learned and optimistic and it looks like 2013 will be another big year. Everything that has happened was for a reason and just embracing it and making it a friend has ensured that I am the best that I can be for myself and all those who are special to me in my life. This is not to say that I’m blissfully happy as I’m more than aware that shit could change at any minute. We should be as happy and content as can be, but this not time for complacency or it is a time for fear, dread or victimhood – let’s get out there and enjoy life and not let it bitch-slap you around. We will deal with the troubles and challenges only as and when they arise.

As the years go by I find that I do not care that much about the thoughts and opinion of others. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or maybe because of this new wisdom? Approval is nice, but I do not need it. This attitude, one of independence, is incredibly liberating and what follows is an awareness that whenever we feel bad, it’s usually because of what someone else MAY think rather than the reality. We shouldn’t make assumptions, because that is the fast track to needlessly feeling crap.

Goodbye 2012! You’ll be missed! Happy 2013 to all!