We are in the dying days of 2016 and I felt I would take some time to unpack this past year in preparation for 2017. Like every year that has come before it, 2016 was filled with highs and lows, changes and growth. Like life, 2016 was messy. So I did what every sensible person does heading into a new year grasping at hope, change and new beginnings; I cancelled my gym membership. You read that correctly, I cancelled it. I’ve learned many lessons this past year, one of those was the reminder to invest my time as wisely as I invest my money. It just so happens that in 2017, GoodLife is not getting my time or my money.
I started my reflection of 2016 by asking myself how I want to feel in 2017. The answer? Nourished. Body. Mind. Soul. I want to do things that make me feel nourished. In order to do that, I’ve had to confront myself on many different issues. In order to feel the way I want to feel, change needs to happen. And, change is messy. So, as an ode and a farewell to 2016, let me break down a few of the many lessons I will be packing in my suitcase to carry with me into 2017.
Find the Joy in Missing Out.
We can’t do it all. We can’t be it all. We can’t have it all. And, that is okay. Accepting this is hard work but it is also very rewarding. Keeping up is what holds us back. This one is a work in progress for me as I struggle with it on an ongoing basis. In September I took a month off of Facebook (checking it and posting from it). I noticed a significant decrease in my anxiety and an increase in my productivity. I became intentional with my time. It was definitely an isolating experience but the peace within myself was worth it. There is a large movement for mindfulness and I can vouch that makes a difference. But beyond mindfulness, we need to put our phones away. Not down, away. I promise to do a better job of this in your presence, will you do the same for me?
As a chronic seeker, this is a big one for me. I have learned that swimming against the current for the sake of just swimming is counterproductive. Sometimes instead of swimming, we just need to float. We need to just be. We need to just feel. Constant movement is its own form of avoidance and numbing. Stop the hustle and just float; the current alone will propel you forward.
Gratitude (and my tribe) has kept me above water for the better part of the last year. Personally, I feel like I have been playing a large game of Whack-A-Mole: just as I managed to whack down one uncomfortable emotion another would pop up in a different place. I suck at being vulnerable, I hate asking for help and I wear my shame suit more than I would like to admit. Affirming gratitude is how I lightened the load. We all have our own battles and quite frankly, we all have our own shitstorms that life throws at us. However, we also have a lot to be grateful for. Finding this balance is where I found reprieve. Rather than whack the emotions down, I acknowledged them. I felt them. I moved through them. And many times, I thanked them. People, put the mallet away.
Ask Better Questions.
One of my favourite quotes by one of my favourite truth telling machines and authors Cheryl Strayed is “Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it.” Why is not the best question. Pro tip: Don’t ask why: Why did this happen? Why do I feel this way? Why? Because “why” is the gateway to long, dark rabbit holes. Why indicates that there is always an explanation, when often, there is not. Affirm how you feel. Change your questions into statements and then decide what you need to do about it.
Choose Love, Every Time.
As adults, we are defaulted to fear. We need to reprogram ourselves to choose love. Rarely is the right thing, the easiest thing. The same goes for love. Often we respond with fear as it is easier in the short term but we pay the price in the long term. Choosing love often includes leaning into the discomfort, having the hard conversations and using your voice when your knees are shaking. Choosing love means being an active participant in your own life. Don’t be a bystander in your own life, it really does go by in the blink of an eye.
Create Your Life. Don’t React To It.
I read the book “What Happy People Know” and it blew my mind. It affirmed many things for me and it also gave me new perspectives on many others. The power of choice is essential for feeling empowered. When we feel we do not have a choice, we either retreat (turtle) or we react and our reaction is often that of defiance or aggression. Humans do not do well when we feel trapped, nothing does. You may not have a choice in what happens to you, but we, as adults, can choose how we respond. Do not be the victim in your own life. As for those moments when we feel stuck? I encourage you to dig deep and search for other options. You just need two in order to create choice. You have the potential to be the author, the editor, the hero and yes, even the villain. Get writing, be creative.
For those of you who follow me on social media, you are inundated with photos of smiling faces, food, sunsets and filtered happiness. These aren’t lies, but they are only the highs. This year, my goal is less likes and more privacy. In order to highlight real life, I need to publicly share less. I used to love the SIMS but it isn’t so great when I have become one. My life is online and I am curious of what happens when I take it offline a little more. My hope? More personal contact and deeper connection. Nourished.
So that is a little peak into my suitcase as I make my way into 2017. Beyond these lessons I’ve made sure to save room for champagne. As you head into 2017 just remember that life is messy and that is the magic.
Happy New Year,