Aaaah! *Squeal of delight* I sure have missed ya!! I'm literally sending you virtual hugs and high-fives right now! How are you doing? What's good? How's 2017 going so far? 5 days down, 360 more to go!
What a year that was - 2016 seriously needs to go back into the same dark hole from which it came. Who's with me? 2016 was BY FAR, one of the most challenging years of my life. I was forced to grow in ways I never thought possible.
2016 left me exhausted in more ways than one. I felt fatigue - you know the one you feel when you’re doing the last 10 reps of a 60 rep work out? Yep, that, times a hundred. I felt the aches and pains that come with growth, change and discipline.
In 2016, I didn't always have love and sunshine with me. I had to keep finding it, I had to keep desiring it. In fact 2016 was far from summer-y. Many times, it felt like a wintry chill. But in winter, I found wisdom:
"When winter comes to a woman's soul, she withdraws into her inner self, her deepest spaces... She may say she is resting, but she is far from resting. She is creating a new universe within herself, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, feeding in secret what needs to thrive."
"Winter women are those who bring in the next cycle what should be saved. They are deep conservators of knowledge and power. Not for nothing did ancient peoples honour the grandmother."
"In her calm, deliberateness, she winters over our truth, she freezes out false - heartedness. Look into her eyes, the winter woman. In her gray spaciousness you can see the future. Look out of your own winter eyes. You too can see the future."
~ Patricia Morgan via Amy B.
Here's what I learned in 2016:
1. You’re more prepared for life than you think
When I look back at what this year has been, I can hardly believe that I made it this far. Now I don’t know how to break this down to you. But I’ll say this: I’ve been in Australia for exactly 18 months.
Prior to my arrival, I had no working knowledge whatsoever about this country. None. Zilch. Nada. Australia was so foreign to me, it might as well have been Mongolia.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve been able to adjust to life here, get (and keep) a good job and actually live. BUT, It’s been exhausting. I’m tired beyond words. I’ve had to be alert at all times. I’ve had to learn, from scratch, how to survive in this environment. You know, where to buy everything - from toothbrushes to tomatoes, literally all on my own!
I’ve had to learn the local lingo. I’ve had to make new friends. I’ve had to wake up and show up. I didn’t know I had it within me to do this. It’s felt like the bootcamp of life. I’ve been grilled and tested by fire. And yet here I am. A little battered, a little bruised. But here I am.
Looking back now I see how my previous life experiences prepared me for this most challenging one. Going to boarding school in Kenya taught me how to plan for my personal needs and how to persevere through difficult times.
Studying in the US taught me to be open to new ideas and to adapt quickly. Living in the UK revealed what my likes and dislikes are. 2016 taught me how to push through the pain and fatigue. 2016 taught me how to keep showing up even when I thought I had not an ounce of energy left.
2. Use your struggles as an opportunity to grow in self-awareness
Even at this very moment, we don’t quite know what we don’t know. We’re human. We’re blind to our own shortcomings. Others may see them in us but it takes a lot of self-awareness to heed instruction and accept discipline. I’ve had to be very disciplined this year.
I've got my family to thank for holding my hand along the way. At the start of 2015, I’ll admit, I was a little bit of a hot-head. I was eager to chase my goals relentlessly. Being forthright and goal-oriented has opened many opportunities for me in my life. But I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it’s essential to take a staggered, non-direct approach to people and situations.
We all have a glaring blind-spot that everyone can see but us. I’ve learned to look at my behaviour and see the ways in which I have been over-bearing. I’m no perfect Jean but I am eager to grow in self-awareness. Being self-aware doesn’t only mean knowing my strengths and taking pride in who I am, but knowing the ways in which my words, actions and choices may hurt other people and how my own weaknesses hurt me too in the end.
3. Expect the unexpected, nothing in life is guaranteed
Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America. Kim Kardashian is off Social Media. A friend’s friend lost her husband a few days before the most joyous day of the year, Christmas. Startlingly strange and difficult things happened in 2016. Life switches things up on us.
Three years ago, I thought I’d be in a completely different space to that which I am right now. But here I am. Life threw some curveballs, and a few lemons my way. Life does not go as planned. Life changes the script on us all the time.
In the face of the unexpected, I’ve had to look at my foundations. Who am I? What do I stand for? Why am I here? When the storms of life have come and all that cosmetically defines us is stripped away, we are left only with our foundations. Strong foundations are what will keep us standing in the face of change.
4. You deserve everything and you deserve nothing
Everything you have is a gift, not a guarantee. With the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, I can’t help but be awakened to my own privilege. I think about the broken families, the trauma, the destruction and wonder how it must feel to live through a war.
I catch myself worrying about overgrown eyebrows and shoes that I have to have in my “collection”, while a few thousand kilometres away, another human being is facing staggering loss. In this life, I’m learning, we all deserve everything. We deserve to be brought up in stable families, to have the loves of our lives fall in love with us too.
We deserve the chance to chase our dreams, to have our parents walk us down the aisle. We all deserve the best. But life is far from fair. Those who have a lot often times have more than any one person will ever need and those who have nothing continue to wallow in poverty. Such is the paradox of life.
Sometimes we have the privilege of creating the lives we want and at others, politics, economics, -isms deny us our rights. This reality sobers and humbles me up because it makes me realise how ever so grateful I should be for the little gifts and treasures that life has given me. We deserve the best but life truly owes us nothing.
So in all gratitude and humility, here's to 2017:
Yet again, life has given us a fresh start. This is a new year. The old has gone and the new has come. We're blessed to be alive. This year, I'm trusting God for even greater abundance. I'm not only focused on keeping my bod' on fleek (yes, vanity is reallll! HAHA!) but also on working on my character.
I'm determined to keep focused on the oft-overlooked values that keep the universe in harmony: peace, growth, positive energy, creativity, gratitude, re-birth... I'm focusing my energy on living out a purposeful life that blesses all who come in contact with me.
I want to be more useful. I want to share my gifts and talents with the world. I want to heed instruction and be mentored. I really want to take time to develop my inner voice so I can stand in my own God-given light and power.
I'm ever so blessed to have you on board as I wander through and explore this journey of life. I'm ever so blessed to have over 133,000 subbies, followers, friends and curlsistas to encourage, motivate and inspire me along the way. Thank you so much for all your comments, likes, recommendations, and messages over the past two years. Your support, love and warmth has meant the world!
How are you keeping? How was 2016? What are you looking forward to learning in 2017? Leave me a note down below, I'd love to know!