I’ve been thinking back recently to a call I had last summer with a friend who lives in New York.

I mentioned to her that she should think of what January 2021 might look like.

I suggested having a plan for the start of this year that was based around self care and generally how she was going to manage a Covid January.

My intuition told me January was going to be a hard month for everyone but I am sure not many of us could have predicted

what the first week would

present us with.

On a personal level, my

challenge of jumping off a cliff into the sea pales into

insignificance compared to what we face with Covid-19.

However, it remains so

important during this pandemic

that we set our own goals within the guidelines that we have to work with. No matter how small these goals or challenges may seem, we still need to find ways to live and challenge

ourselves in a good way.

I left you with a cliffhanger last week. But eventually I jumped off it and I am very happy I did. Once in the water I must have been in the sea for fully four hours altogether and was lucky enough to swim with a sea turtle for 30 minutes.

I have spoken about how

incredible water is for people with a spinal cord injury as gravity is not an issue.

The freedom I had after jumping off the cliff was even better than what I get on the bike.

Part of the reason I was

diving out for so long was I wasn’t very keen on facing the reality of how I was going to get out of the water. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay in the water forever and as I swam towards the ladder the water was starting to smash off the cliffs.

Like any situation that

causes anxiety, it is important to stay calm; however, this is not always easy, and especially

harder when you have water coming over your head.

Grabbing onto the ladder was going to be a pretty difficult task, thankfully I had some friends on hand to help drag me up once I had managed to get a hold of it.

A few cuts and bruises later I lay looking at the water

processing the experience I had just had.

It isn’t often, after all, that you swim along with a sea

turtle, sting rays and the

deadly puffer fish.

It was a very special moment and a small win for me.

But I am aware that writing from the Caribbean talking about challenges of jumping off cliffs might not come over well during a time when we face challenges that leave most struggling on levels they have never experienced before.

The prospect of a lockdown until March is something I can relate to through my times in hospital, and also around the stress of the uncertainty that we all face.

I don’t like to say “we are all in the same boat” because when I was in Stoke Mandeville we used to say that we are all in the same storm but our boats are all very different.

That was one of the best

lessons I learned in the spinal hospital, as it was easy to look at others who were moving and try to compare your injury with them. This only led to frustration and ultimately shifted your

inner narrative into a negative environment, which was not good for your mental health.

Positive psychology highlights the benefit acts of kindness can have on our overall health. This was evident on our ward daily.

One of the patients would pull me to the cafe with his electric wheelchair and I would then spoon-feed him. We saw it as both our boats helping each other through our storm of paralysis.

As I leave you this week, maybe think of your boat and the storm we are in. Consider whether you have the ability to either help others or need help yourself. And remember it is okay to ask for it.