2018 is over and consequentially it is time for a 2018 end of year review.

Pandora Williams 2018

2018 is over and the New Year is a time to reflect back on the year behind us. It is a time to Celebrate the things that we were able to achieve and accomplish. Additionally, it’s a chance to identity the things that we might have chosen to do differently.

This is a pretty common form of goal setting. Celebrating achievements by rewarding yourself for a job well done.  Then, moving forward to set new goals for yourself in the future.

For the first time in a long time, I find myself looking back on my year in retrospect and finding that I don’t have a lot of regrets. I don’t find myself looking back wishing I had made different choices. In fact, I think I can honestly say that 2018 is the first year of my weight loss

journey where I am perfectly content with the choices that I made and where they led. There were no epic mistakes that shook the foundation of my world.

Of course, there are a few things I wish had gone a little differently. I’ll tell you about those in a minute. But first, let’s talk about the things that made 2018 awesome.

In April of 2018, inspired by my employer, I began blogging again.

She encouraged me to do so, not because it benefited the studio much, it didn’t. If anything it took time away from the studio. But as someone who read my blog, she felt that my exodus and decision not to write was selfish. There was so much about my journey the previous year I was ashamed to write about that I had fallen into silence. Essentially, I had abandoned my readers because I didn’t want to be judged, ridiculed or looked down on.

[ See Related : If You Are Reading This – I Owe You An Apology ]

It might appear silly now, looking back on it in retrospect. As I began telling my story and allowing my voice to break through the silence, I was met with nothing but support and understanding. When people began to realize what I had been going through over the course of the last two years, my silence made sense. The Sex Love and Obesity series began sharing that part of my life with you. 20 Chapters of how my long term battle with obesity had effected my self-esteem and self-worth to a point that it effected almost every decision I made when it came to sex, love and relationships.

In May of 2018 my openness led to a second chance at a once in a lifetime opportunity.

My stay of silence wasn’t limited to words never written. In the throws of the sadness that fed the silence there was the addition of quiet footsteps as my feet ceased to hit pavement. I found myself struggling to find the motivation I once had to run again. My return to blogging and my transparent approach to sharing this truth came with it a big reward. As a result of partnering with BariLife once again, I received the chance to travel back to Paris for a chance to relive an experience that could have been awesome the first time around.

During spring and summer I was focusing on training for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. If I wasn’t training, I was focusing on helping to build GoGirl Fitness Studio. I took a trip to San Antonio in May, where I ran a vendor booth for GoGirl Fitness Studio at the WLSFA Annual Meet and Greet. My best friend joined me in San Antonia and we laid my fathers remains to rest. Something it had taken me almost 7 years to find the strength to do.

In July right after helping me move into a bigger apartment, #TheSecurityGuy and I took our first couples trip. Flying to Denver to attend the Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention. For nearly a week we took in the tourist sites of Denver, considering it a test run of how we would do on our upcoming trip to Paris.

Pandora Williams 2018

That was the trip that made me realize how special the man I was dating was. 

Why was I dating someone I didn’t already know was special in the first place? Good question. Short answer, I was experimenting and trying new things. This was the first relationship in my entire adult life that had not been established and cultivated online. Sure, we had met on match.com. But we had our first date after just a few written correspondences and from there, I was trying something new in life, developing a relationship the old fashion way.

We were actually dating. It was an interesting adventure for me. Something I’d never really done before. “We met online, we met in person, we moved in together, it didn’t work out.” That statement defines every relationships proceeding this one. Not this time though. Contrasting the past, I was making sure everything was right before making commitments and saying “I love you.”

For the first time, the man I was dating wasn’t absently supportive. He was walking alongside me. Participating in the things that were important to me. There was no jealousy or animosity, only happiness and contentment at seeing my success. There were no feelings of entrapment or resentment. Contrary to relationships where my partner was supportive but uninterested in my life, #TheSecurityGuy was holding my hand every step of the way.

Opposing my last relationship, where any stress I was experiencing was exponentiated, he was calming and soothing during moments of stress of crisis. Calming my chaos rather than amplifying it.

In the Fall of 2018 things went a little topsy-turvy.

Pandora Williams 2018

Hurricane Florence had us running away to Paris early to escape her wrath. The two weeks we spent in Paris were amazingly unforgettable. I successfully ran my 41st half marathon. Back in August, realizing that the relationship I was in had true potential for becoming something more permanent, I’d finally taken a long procrastinated leap and filed for divorce.

Content with my decision and wanting to move forward, our time in Paris offered all the romance and and adventure I was searching for. But upon returning from Paris my world spun a little upside down. Within a few weeks of our return I got word that my ex-husband had passed away very suddenly.

While I was suffering the grief of that loss, the fitness studio I work for was suffering the economic grief that Hurricane Florence left in her wake. Attendance was down and new business came to a screeching halt as the entire city was focusing on restoration and recovery.

October became November and the holidays arrived. The holidays. Notoriously the worst time of year in the fitness industry. A time of procrastination when the “after the holidays” mentality begins. The studio may have been better prepared if we had experienced the typical “Fall into Fitness” rush between September and November. Florence robbed GoGirl of that opportunity during it’s first year in business. One hurricane lead to another as the studio entered the worst season of the year already struggling financially.

In the midst of dealing with all of that, between Thanksgiving and New Year I was investing my time in what you see here today; The new site design of Desperately Seeking Slender. December was almost a completely silent month here. Some noticed, some worried. But the silence wasn’t a sign of depression or withdrawal from my readers. It was a sign of strength and courage and me attempting to tackle obstacles, resolve situations and make the future a brighter place.

Life Happens. The alternate choice is undesirable. 

Fall was full of life circumstances completely beyond my control. Nothing I did or did not do had exacting consequences or would have been change evoking.  In November, the day after Thanksgiving, my employer had no choice other than to lay me off as the General Manager and hope that with the New Year, things start to improve once more.  As a result, I was struggling to survive on a 54% pay cut.

During the holidays I found myself questioning my career choices. Wondering what the future holds and contemplating what changes I could pursue. The winter of 2018 has been a season of uncertainty.  I spent the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas continuing to work twice has hard and just as much as normal, for less than half the pay, hoping that the New Year brings better news for GoGirl and thus, my fitness career, along with it.

“When Life Hands You Lemons”

You know where this is going… you make lemonade.  You’ve got to make due with what you have. Looking back at it all in retrospect I feel like 2018 was a year of coming out of the dark, rising from the ashes, and trying to make tasty treats out of the lemons life was handing me in the end.

The year of Lemonade. That is how I will remember 2018. But, I am not sour about it at all. 2018 gifted me with love, joy, happiness and a calmness that hasn’t existed in my world in a long time. Nothing I could have done would have changed the bitterness that the end of the year came with. Acts of Mother Nature and acts of God trump any card I could have played in the big poker game of life.

Pandora Williams 2018

If the economic crisis of Hurricane Florence, the financial hurricane at GoGirl and the grief of losing someone that had been so monumental in my life are the obstacles I must overcome for a year that was full of finding myself, finding my voice and finding my heart again, so be it. I’m a resilient little shit.

Thank you 2018. I will make Lemonade

Maybe even some sugar-free lemon meringue pie, or, better yet, some salted rim lemon drop martinis. 2018 was a year of life gifting me closure. It brought new found love. The support of my friends and clients. It held the re-connection with my Mother that had been stunted since my father passed away. It brought an amazing relationship with my employer. Took me places I had never seen, allowing me to experience things some people only get to dream of.

The end of 2018 isn’t ideal. But, life rarely is ideal. If life seems perfect, someone is probably withholding a lot, embellishing a little and not being quite honest. Social media tends to make everyone else life look dynamic while making our own life tragic. That is one of the main reasons I share as openly and honestly as I do. So that you never get that impression here. My life isn’t perfect. I am not perfect.

For every sweet moment there is a bitter one. With each up there is a down. For ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Life is about balance. Apply that every day life. To how your approach fitness, nutrition or wellness. Apply it to how you live your weight loss journey. Balance. This is my goal for 2019. To find more balance in my life. Not in anything specific, but in all things.

To all of you reading this. I wish healthy, happiness and love in the New Year. But more than that, I wish you Balance. Let’s try to find more of that together in the upcoming year.

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.