It seems like everyone was relieved to see the end of 2016, but that wasn't necessarily the case for me. Undoubtedly, it was an awesome year for me, and my family, as we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. However, it was also a great year as it taught me so much - about myself, who I am, my family, my friends, and life in general. Even 'bad years' can have their positives. So, for me, I wouldn't say I was glad it was over but, rather, glad it happened. I am a better person for the life lessons that came out of 2016.

So here we are, in 2017. Another year! I don't really like the phrase "New Year, New Me' or 'New Year's Resolutions' - if you wanted to change then why wait? There's no time like the present! However, after hearing something said at church, it spurred me on to change one thing, to overcome and win a battle I've been fighting for a long time. Anxiety.

Bet you think it sounds so cliché don't you? 'I suffer with anxiety'. I understand that, at some point in life, everyone suffers with aspects of anxiety. But for some of us, the feelings don't stop. There's so many forms of anxiety, and so many signs and symptoms (I suffer with so many that I won't bore you with them!) that a cure or treatment is hard to find for each individual. I was offered medication not long after Emilia was born as I had suffered bad panic attacks, but I refused and told the Doctor that I wanted to do it on my own. I wanted to cure it, not mask it with tablets. He supported that and let me try! And I'm still trying now. I'm fighting a constant battle with it.

So, I prayed and asked God to help me through 2017 with a positive mindset, to know he was always watching over me and to help me conquer my fears and anxieties. To coincide with that prayer came our first holiday of 2017 and our first holiday abroad with Emilia. We were off to Mexico - 10 hour flight with an 8 month old baby, to spend time with 100+ people I've never met, in a country were I can only speak basic aspects of their language, knowing Phil would be working large parts of the day. There's at least 3 things I was terrified of! [Airports/Flying, People I don't know, being alone in a foreign country]. But I wanted to overcome it!

I'll keep it short, for fear of boring you, but the holiday was a great success! I got through Manchester Airport in one piece (after scaring Phil with a panic attack on the way to the airport and through security), the flight was great, I picked up a lot of the language and managed to speak in Spanish when needed, the GitLab team were amazing [shout out to Kirsten, Executive Assistant, who made me feel so welcome & helped with anything I needed!], I survived being alone and Emilia seemed to really enjoy herself! For me, this is so many steps forward! I think Emilia will be one well travelled little lady from now on, if trips go as well as this did!

What I really want to say to you, is this - Mental Health is just as important as physical health. Having spoken with a family friend, Lynn, who is training as a nurse, she made me realise how if we looked after our Mental Health as much as we did our Physical Health, it wouldn't be such a taboo subject and people wouldn't suffer as much. Please please please talk about it! Don't  be ashamed! People want to help! I want to help! You can overcome it. It takes time, and maybe even 'professional help', but it's possible. You just have to take control of the problem and not let the problem take hold of you!

I am still a Work In Progress, and yes I'll still jump at airport security, and yes I still struggle meeting new people, and I'll stumble over my words when talking to people who I care about... But that's me. And we're all still a work in progress. Phil bought me a book in the airport, before we boarded the plane, called 'Get Your Sh*t together' - I intend to read it and put it into practice by the end of the year!

King of My Heart - Sarah McMillan [This is my song for this year - give it a listen, it is such a powerful song and prayer!]

[I will leave you with a few pictures of Mexico, to show it was a success and the reasons as to why I have returned much more positive... It was such a beautiful place! And because I am biased & think my daughter is beautiful!]