Happy New Year!
There has been a lot to reflect on this past year…
the challenges, the hard work, the lessons learned and the abundance of things we have to be grateful for.
As my beloved CALM app reminded me there have been…
“8.5 million breaths, 365 nights, 52 Saturdays, 13 full moons and one big chapter in your story”
What has this year meant to you?
What were your greatest accomplishments?
Your biggest setbacks?
What is in store for you this year?
This year was one of immense growth for me, having gotten rid of most of my possessions, moved from Canada to Korea and adjusted to a whole new life away from my family and friends in a substantially different time zone.
Here are 5 big lessons I have learned this year:
1. ACCEPTANCE + TRUSTING IN THE PROCESS
When I was packing up, donating, selling, giving away and getting rid of all of my stuff last January, I had to ACCEPT and TRUST my decisions to let stuff go—- despite the urges I had to resist. It was an uphill battle against anxiety, nostalgia and continuous internal sunken cost fallacy debates. Once I accepted what I had to do, it got easier… and the more and more stuff I got rid of, the easier it became.
Then came the day, when everything was done, all our stuff was gone or packed safely away— we were free and unbound— it was time to go!
2. RELEASING CONTROL + EXPECTATIONS
When I arrived in Asia, I had a picture in mind of how things would be.. and surprise, surprise… they weren’t exactly like what I had pictured. To be honest, it was pretty tough for me getting settled here. When I look back on the times when I struggled, I can see how my expectations (and my stubbornness to try to CONTROL things to help them fit into those expectations) hindered my fun and prolonged my adjustment period. If I could, i’d go back and tell my past self to relax a bit, to be more flexible and just ride the waves as they come… like I mentioned above in point number one, “accept and trust in the process, girl!”
3. SETTING BOUNDARIES
Another big lesson came in CONTROLLING my energy expenditure and I did this by SETTING BOUNDARIES. I’m a people pleaser by nature, it doesn’t come easy for me to say no and it’s been easy for me to stretch myself too thin at times.. hence my own struggles with adrenal and hormonal issues. Getting up early, staying up late and working through my weekends were sacrifices I was happy to make, but in order to show up and do my best work— setting boundaries became really important for me.
Here are a few things I have used to help with this:
turning off notifications from social media on my devices
spent time each week organizing and prioritizing tasks, setting time in my schedule accordingly.
scheduling time for self-care
self-awareness around my energy reserves
embracing saying NO more often
giving myself permission to say no and to take breaks more regularly
establishing clear boundaries with clients and work
got a coach— someone to help me prioritize, organize, hold me accountable and help keep me on track. This was SUCH a game changer for me .
4. GRATITUDE PRACTICE
Another big lesson and one that I am consistently working on, is my gratitude practice.
Your brain fires based on how it’s wired, so if you are constantly firing off thoughts of discontent, complaints, negativity or not enough, you will habitually continue to do so because you have wired your brain to look for the negative stuff to complain or worry about. Of course, this affects our mood and overall happiness! So, the natural correction to this is to do the opposite— the more we force ourselves to think about the things we are grateful for the easier it becomes to do so. You’ll find with practice, your brain will start actively seeking these things instead of the opposite and this has scientifically been proven to make you happier. Try this for 21 days, it takes time to “rewire” old habits, but it can be done!
I mentioned earlier the struggle I had when we were packing up our house before our move to Seoul. I mentioned the challenge (and discontent) I created for myself when I was always struggling to make things fit into the expectations I had in my head. It’s easy to summarize and breeze through these lessons in words, but living them was much bigger— it was messy, painful and upsetting and hard at times. When I take time to reflect on these things, I can look back with gratitude for the freedom and sense of peace I am feeling as I welcome 2019.
We spent this Christmas on a little Island in the Philippines.. on an insanely gorgeous island called Boracay. We spent Christmas drinking mango smoothies, getting massages, eating coconut ice cream, singing Zack Brown Band and enjoying cold beers on an absolutely stunning sunset cruise around the island. It was an “experience gift” and the only gift we bought this year. It was perfect — aside from the fact that we were so far away from all our cherished friends and family back home.
On Boracay, we got to bear witness to the Ati people, the original inhabitants of the island we were on. We caught a glimpse of how they live and we saw the excitement on the children’s faces when they received small gifts like pencils, chocolates, and cash in the equivalent value of .50 cents CAD. They were over the moon, so excited and their happy Christmas songs floated through the streets and right into our hearts where we were being humbled in an unforgettable and unchangeable way. We again realized the excess of consumerism that we can so easily fall into, using it as an external means to our happiness and validations of our self-worth. I couldn’t help but reflect on where I had been at this point last year, struggling to detach myself from all those things back in our Toronto home and in this moment, I easily felt foolish about it. As we drank our coffee in the morning sun and watched the Ati children get their Christmas presents and sing their songs, we were the ones walking away with the biggest gift. We have so damn much to be grateful for.
We’ve all faced challenges this year, and we will every year. Some days, months, years are harder than others but we can always find things to be grateful for— big things like our health, our families and friends, a safe place to sleep, access to clean food and water, cool experiences… and all the little day to day things too— good coffee, farmers who grow and harvest your food, 10 minutes of quiet before the kids wake up, a funny joke, an amazing song, a cute animal, the weekend, and so on an so forth.
This year, I’m simply resolving more gratitude, more surfing of the waves (figuratively..and maybe literally too!), less worrying about the stuff I can’t control and lots of self-compassion! <3
Cheers to 2019, cheers to a healthy, happy and light year ahead for us all.