Dumbbells in the gym

The year of jävlaranamma

The year is coming to an end. Perhaps time for a recap?

I had ambitious but not impossible goals for this year. Fitness goals to continue building strength and muscle, continue running, eventually being able to run consistently for a few km, perhaps join the local park run or a 5k race, and I had some cool music goals too.

However, 2023 sucked

Who’s into sugar coating? Not me. This year was pure shite. If you’re a regular reader here, you know all about it.

  • I got a stress fracture in my foot and had to wait months to get a diagnosis and proper help, and in the meantime things got nasty.
  • I learned that the stress fracture happened not only because of modified running technique that likely put too much pressure on my toes but also because I had undiagnosed osteoporosis.
  • And to add some extra spice to the chaos, my cat got sick and died.

The rest of the year was mostly spent on recovering from the above.

Osteoporosis is a life-changing and quite traumatising diagnosis, especially if you’re still young and healthy and want to live an active life. But nobody really cares about it, there are no specialists, no support, too little scientific knowledge, and way too much misinformation and generic bullshit on the internet.

I spent two weeks in total misery but then decided I had to regain control over my life, think differently, focus on what I could control, learn how to help myself, take my self-confidence back and do what I needed to continue living a good life for as long as possible.

My word & concept of the year was Jävlaranamma – a Swedish word that, sort of, means GRIT. But it means a little bit more than that. Here’s what I have on my page about it:

Jävlaranamma blog

Jävlaranamma is the closest equivalent to grit in Swedish.

It’s the passion, determination, drive, inner strength, perseverance, motivation & willpower to do what it takes to do the work required to reach goals and keep going to get where you want – in life, career, sports, hardships etc.

But it also means courage, backbone, the ability to stand up for yourself.

With all the BS that happened to me this year, was it even possible to focus on my word of the year?

I’d definirely say YES.

I would never have survived this summer with my sanity still intact if it wasn’t for grit and jävlaranamma. I was determined to get my life and my self-image back, and I’ve worked hard on that.

More than ever, I’ve learned that life happens NOW and I have to live and enjoy it while I can.

I’m immensely grateful for the people who’ve supported me this year.

  • My physiotherapist in Cork – who got me back on my feet and beyond, always took the time to listen, understand how I was feeling about things and answer questions, and went the extra mile to not only help me walk and function again but also get back to being truly active again
  • My personal trainer – who helped me normalise life with this condition, helped me realise it doesn’t have to be so complicated, helped me stay strong also during the injury, and continues to challenge my muscles, bones and thinking.
  • My photography friend who was there for Signal chats, coffee, photography talk and other good things
  • My wonderful better half – for everything

As the year comes to an end I’m mostly doing well, I’m back to all the normal exercises in the gym (with very minor modifications), and I’m getting back to longer walks (as in 6-10k). I’ve given up running because the risk for another stress fracture is too high, but that’s fine. Life is more complicated but I have a lot of positives and that’s what I try to focus on.

Let’s talk about the good things of 2023

Yes, there were good things too!

So many blessings came through my physiotherapist and personal trainer when I needed it most.

The feeling when I could go for a proper walk again was incredible. I’ll never take walking for granted again.

I’m coming out of this ordeal much stronger, because I’ve never worked so much on foot & lower leg strength before. Also, I work a lot more on balance and stability.

My sister came over to visit, and it was lovely to show her around in our area, although there were a lot of things we couldn’t do because of my injury – she came over as I just started to get out of the boot.

We continued playing music in the pub every Saturday and had a few gigs in another pub just like last summer. I wasn’t able to focus much on music this year, but playing regularly made me more confident about playing for an audience. Also, during this difficult summer, the music sessions were a wonderful distraction.

Life is emptier without a cat, but we’re enjoying the freedom to travel, and in October we went to Italy again for the first time since we moved to Ireland. I enjoyed every minute of it. Look through my Weekly rundown posts from October for photos (and don’t hesitate because you aren’t into fitness posts – I took tons of photos during my walks and you’ll enjoy it)!

During the autumn I started getting back into photography again, and bought a new, shiny, fabulous Olympus/OM lens.

During much of the year, strength training was my only form of exercise and in the summer I increased from two to three sessions per week. In September we started doing proper weight-bearing exercises again, and the joy of doing squats and deadlifts again was immense! With some exercises I still feel insecure, mostly those where balance is an issue (hello Bulgarian squats and barbell lunges), but in general I’m leaving this year feeling STRONG.

I even got the confidence to do some flexing selfies, and for the first time I feel good about seeing a photo of myself. (I’ll come back to this in another post)

Do I have goals for 2024? What about a word of the year?

I’m bringing Jävlaranamma with me into 2024, but not as a word of the year. Jävlaranamma is my slogan for life now and doesn’t need special focus.

My focus for 2024 may sound lazy but it’s something I need. It’s to go with the flow and just enjoy life. The saying “it’s the little things that count the most” sounds so cliché by now but there’s still so much truth in it.

I’ll celebrate the good things in life, enjoy what there is to enjoy, and in hard times look for the positives. I guess if I’d want to collect it in one word of the year, it would be ENJOY.

Music goals. I’ll focus more on music during 2024. I’m going to get back to proper guitar practice, work more on my singing, get more active with the Artistworks lessons again, and learn new sets of tunes on the concertina.

Photography. 2023 didn’t offer a lot in terms of photography because I was disabled during the best photography season. Crawling on all fours in the grass with the macro lens got old quite soon. In 2024 I’ll continue taking photos, learning skills, exploring my gear, and doing it for me (and for you lovely blog readers).

Fitness goals. I’ll continue to kick ass in the gym, continue to work on strength, mobility, and to build muscle and confidence.

Walking goals. Life happens NOW and we gotta live it and enjoy it while we can, as I said above. I’m totally going to do it.

I have an important walking goal & challenge during 2024. My husband signed me up for the Wicklow Ecotrail in September. It’s a trail race primarily for runners but it’s permitted to walk the shorter distances if you can do it within the assigned hours. I’m going to walk 19k, and I’m REALLY looking forward to this! You can read more details here.

So obviously longer walks, more balance & stability training, single leg strength and overall leg and core strength will be important.

How has your year been? Do you have a focus for 2024? Please share in the comments!

Thanks Deb, Jo, Donna and Sue for hosting the What’s been on your calendar link-up! (And I hope to join more frequently next year)

On another note – if you used to follow this blog by e-mail, this is no longer possible. The e-mail service I used has stopped allowing this for their free accounts, and I haven’t found any decent alternative yet. Perhaps Jetpack? In the meantime you can use the RSS feed (seems to be unreliable on Feedly, but there are better feed readers!).

12 responses to “The year of jävlaranamma”

  1. Joanne Tracey avatar

    You’ve needed that word to get you through and emerge strongly. That pic of a pretty enviable bicep says it all. Thanks for linking up with us and I look forward to reading your progress next year. I’m putting together what I call my closing ceremony at the moment and contemplating both words of the year and some real goals for 2024 – you’ve inspired me.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I certainly did and I’m glad to be out “on the other side” for now. I like the concept of a closing ceremony, perhaps I have one around Christmas too but without thinking of it as such. I hope my comment on your blog made it to at least the moderation queue? It seems to have been eaten by your blog! Happy new year and I look forward to seeing what you’re up to next year.

  2. Joanne avatar

    I think that word was just what you needed to face this year! You certainly look like you are in great shape. I hope 2024 treats you much better and you continue to be strong of body and mind!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, that word was very well needed! Thanks for your well wishes and hope you’re enjoying a good New Year’s celebration.

  3. Darlene S. Cardillo avatar

    Well my year kinda sucked. Broken foot at the beginning and ending with a bad ankle sprain. My cat disappeared as well.

    But good things happened. Running racing friend getaways. Even a gym membership.

    My word for 2024 is JOY!!

    Hope we both enjoy. Life is too short to focus on the bad things.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, your 2023 both started and ended roughly. I’m so sorry to hear your cat is still missing. 😢
      But I’m glad you have also decided to focus on joy during 2024. Even when life is hard it helps to focus on the good things. You’re right – life is too short to dwell on the bad. I hope your ankle is better and that the start of 2024 will be better for you.

  4. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 avatar

    Hi Susanne, you selected a perfect word of the year in 2023 didn’t you and I love that you are making it your Slogan. I’m sorry to read about your health and injuries but look how strong you are in determination and you definitely showed true grit! You should take selfies more often to show yourself just how far you’ve come. Wishing you a healthier 2024 and I look forward to following your journey. With love and best wishes, Sue xx

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks for your lovely encouraging words, Sue! I took selfies from last January and every month to follow my strength training results but I never shared them anywhere except very sporadically here on the blog, but those were definitely not the confident kick-ass kind of picture I’ve shared above! But you are right, I should do it more and I will.
      Thanks for your well wishes and hope you’ll enjoy the start of the new year.

  5. trent avatar

    I’m glad there were positives for you in 2023. Are you thinking about a kitten in 2024? Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful 2024!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks, Trent! I’m hopeful it will be a good year. But it’s unlikely we’ll get a kitten… I adore cars but we’re enjoying the freedom (to travel etc) too much. Maybe later!

  6. Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au avatar

    Hi Susanne – I wondered why I stopped getting email notifications of your posts – and because I’m not doing link parties anymore I’ve missed catching up with you. Have you tried Mailchimp? – I have a free account with them that has been great since my old subscription service died.
    I can totally relate to your appreciation of being able to walk freely again – after all my hip issues, surgery and recovery, I still (a year later) feel gratitude when I’m striding out on my morning walks – it’s such a joy to be outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine and not limping, lurching, or in pain. I hope your recovery continues well – and you’re looking amazingly strong…. I have bicep envy (but still won’t be going to a gym because I just don’t get inside exercise). Have a very ‘enjoy’able 2024 and hopefully we’ll keep finding each other online despite the hiccups of technology. 🙂

    1. Susanne avatar

      I used Mailchimp before but now the RSS e-mail option is very hidden and only available if you have an old account, which makes me think they’re going to disable it altogether eventually so I feel there’s no point using them, in addition their interface is awful. Perhaps I should e-mail them to ask. But I signed up at Substack thinking I could use it to announce new posts since it already has a subscription feature. The downside is I have to post there as well every time I have a new post here. We’ll see what I decide, or if I come across something else. If I decide to use Substack, I’ll add a subscription form in the site footer here.

      I understand how people don’t get indoors exercise, especially living in Australia with fine weather most of the year. But it’s also a fact that we (especially women) lose muscle mass as we age which is a big reason for losing physical abilities, and only strength training can “fix” that. Also, to help improve bone density, lifting weights is the most effective form of exercise. But there’s no need to go inside a gym at least to begin with, I know people who have equipment at home and train at the patio!

      But daily walking has a lot of benefits too, of course.

      Thanks for your well wishes and yes, I’m doing very well, I’ll soon be back to 10k walks, and last year’s events led to me becoming stronger than I’ve ever been.

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