I am very unfit. This I realised with shock when my chest was burning from walking back to work after dropping off my car for a wash, just around the corner.
Burdened with the usual, laptop clumsily clasped under arm, camera strap slipping off the shoulder, handbag bulging with odds and sods, with the one free had, I tried to record a voice note on my cellphone.
Instead of sending it, I pressed replay and ended up listening to my weary voice delivering a very much out of breath message. I am glad I intercepted it, since the recipient would have not felt uplifted by such a dreary birthday wish.
With the finish line of 2019 in sight, my voice note doesn't seem out of place. It echoes a sentiment that 2019 was by all accounts, not a smooth run. It left many a chest burning – often from sheer input.
But like all things, it is never all bad. 2019, like other years, offered its delightful extremes. Take the defeat-ridden national rugby team for instance.
They gallantly showed the world how beauty can indeed rise from ashes.
Speaking of ashes, when a colleague or rather dear friend's property near Gouritzmond was threatened and ultimately half destroyed in a raging wild fire this week, I was reminded of experts' prediction of our world "going up in flames".
Drought is showing its barren teeth with renewed vigour, bringing the reality of more regular fires becoming the new normal, a little too close for comfort.
Photos of the destruction to my friend's property, made me sad.
Especially recalling the morning I was proudly shown the renovations made with the aim of moving away from town to seek peace and quiet on the farm. Inadvertently, the words "things we lost in the fire" sprung to mind.
Curious as to where it could have originated from, a quick Google search reveals a song by Bastille and a flick starring Halle Berry and Benicio del Toro by the same title. In both, the content deals with loss and despair.
This year, fire has wreaked havoc across the planet.
Dramatic news came from the Amazon. In August alone, satellite-based imaging instruments logged 11 516 detections of fire in the large northwestern Brazilian state of Amazonas.
Headlines on this month's fires in Australia read, "Australia fires: blazes 'too big to put out' as 140 bushfires rage in NSW and Queensland".
Before slipping into my annual gloom about what the year was and wasn't, a spark lights up.
The use of fire indeed, was one of the first major developments of human civilization. Although seen as destructive, fire is one of nature's most essential agents of change.
Fire purifies. It burns away indiscriminately - the good and the bad.
I don't know what your 2019 was like, but I would imagine that maybe you will also find solace in the words of American writer and poet, Charles Bukowski: "What matters most in the end, is how well you walk through the fire."
Maybe, before you cross the finish line this year, make that list of the things you lost in the fire and travel a little lighter into 2020.