I have heard a number of times amongst my family, friends and online community, and me, the words to describe twenty sixteen have been around anxiety, stress, being stretched and simply tired. It has felt like a big year and drawing to the end is leaving a trail of exhaustion, dwelling in energy that takes a little nudge to get off the ground.
2016 was even nominated for the ‘crumb’ of the year award by Matt and Alex on Triple J. It is nice to know we are not alone…
I don’t recall exactly when this happened but it was some time when the ‘A’ and ‘S’ words continued to roll up around 6pm every night. My husband, who teaches health and was at the time discussing mental health and wellness with his students gave me a little project and said to write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. He started off the pattern by texting them to me and of course, I would echo back to him. This escalated and soon I would swamp his messages daily with my grateful texts.
This exercise has continued and I (almost) religiously write down three things I am grateful for each day. I can literally feel my energy lift, become calmer and grounded when I take the time to reflect and truly feel grateful.
Today I am taking it one step further and dedicating my gratitude to twenty sixteen with six things I am grateful for in twenty sixteen.
Without filling up the first three with the obvious, my husband, my son and my family and friends who I am overwhelmingly grateful for every-single-day (and really, I have been grateful for them a little longer than twenty sixteen) I thought I would dive a little deeper into the gratitude I feel towards the lessons I have learnt (or in the process of learning).
Focus on what matters. This came to fruition early in the year when we were planning our wedding. As you can imagine, you can get caught up in buzz of it all and focus on flower arrangements, weather, hair, makeup, table decorations and garden games. It can all get a little out of hand and become a costly exercise and I did not want to over commit. We continued to remind ourselves about what matters and why we are doing this = all about marriage, our life and our family, together. And focused on how we will feel on that moment when we said our vowels. That was the magic. That is what made our day so relaxed and chilled. Exactly how we imagined.
Lesson: focus on what matters to you, and nothing else. If fairy light and tinsel don’t matter – don’t worry about it. If they do matter – focus on how you will feel when you see them light up the room.
Gratitude: be able to create such a memorable moment in time and to have the opportunity to be able to share it with our family and friends.
There is a time and place for opinions. It is coming to crunch time as I have now almost been married for a year and in that time I have been playing tug-a-war with the decision to change my name to my husband’s family name or to keep mine. This is something I have personal opinions about from each side.
It is somewhat of a touchy / controversial subject and everyone has an opinion and some are rather strong. Which lead me to my next lesson…
We offer opinions left, right and centre (me included) without actually considering how this is affecting the other person and if it is offering guidance or simply confusing or demoralising. It can leave the other person feeling judged. Sometimes they can even continue to be sitting in this cross bench not making a clear directed decision, or worse yet, that they may not actually do what they really want because they are scared of how they will be perceived.
Lesson: Think before you offer your opinion and be mindful about how your voice and feelings may affect the recipient. And, simply, sometimes your opinions don’t actually matter. I am going to make a conscious effort to do this.
Gratitude: I live in a time that I have a choice as to whether I want to change my name or not. For the record, I am changing my name – with pride.
It is all relative. A nice lead on from lesson two. As with opinions you often jump to conclusions before stopping and taking a breath and considering what may be going on in other people’s worlds. Let me explain – This lesson was brought to me when I was visiting a good friend who, at the time, was admitted to hospital on bedrest while pregnant with her second baby (disclaimer: mumma and baby are happy, healthy and striving) and I was yapping away about something that at the time must have been frustrating or annoying me. I apologised for complaining while she is stuck in a hospital bed in quite a scary situation and she said – ‘it all relative, don’t feel bad’. Incredible.
Every single situation, relationship, children, health, finances, thoughts and feelings are all relative to your own situation, so don’t feel bad about it. If you are happy, be happy and don’t feel bad because someone else is struggling, feel compassion, feel empathy, give hugs and show support knowing it is ok to be happy for yourself. Have comfort in the fact that one day the roles may be reversed and you will be surrounded by this infectious energy.
Lesson: Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel and be ok with that, nothing compares to your situation.
Gratitude: Being surrounded by people who insist you be yourself.
Lesson Four (language warning).
Does it really matter? This one is a big one and something I am having to continuously remind myself about in the effort to letting things go. And I have to give credit to my husband for this lesson as he is the ultimate teacher in ‘letting things go’.
He often asks me to consider how many ‘fucks’ I have a got to give – before you get carried away… he is referring to ‘giving a fuck’. You may have heard of the metaphor somewhere online before but I will give you an overview. When you are growing up you have a bucket load of ‘fucks to give’ and you give them away willingly. You give a fuck about your friends, your family, your pets, your favourite toy, your test results, your facebook likes, your hair colour. As you get older, the amount of fucks start to decrease and your bucket gets smaller and smaller until you only have a handful to give out. Now, you need to be selective and careful on how you distribute them.
Essentially, considering how you spend your precious time and doing things that matter to you and if not, blatantly, ‘who gives a fuck?’
Lesson: We are only one person so let’s not take everything on-board and let things go.
Gratitude: having the courage to say thanks, but no thanks.
You can control how you feel. Powerful. I am in the process of reading a book which was introduced to me by an interview I was listening to on Triple J, about a girl named Nujeen. Nujeen was born with cerebral palsy. Her and her family fled war-torn Syria in a wheelchair travelling hundreds of miles seeing some unimaginable horrific scenes, her lesson from this journey was ‘it’s ok to be happy in a horrible situation’. – Again, incredible.
I believe Nujeen chose to feel that way.
As I read this book, I am blown away with the stories she has to tell but also her personality and energy throughout her journey. She has been able to stay up beat, tell jokes and absorb culture, traditions and history along the way.
It has come to me at a convenient time when I have also been investigating the idea that you can actually change thoughts. You can change your mood, your feelings resulting in feeling a little less worried. Crazy hey.
How? I’m still learning! A good place to start is the gratitude journal or simply writing down your thoughts. You can have fun with it and be creative. Stop yourself in your tracks, when you start to stress about money, not exercising, being late or test results. Say STOP – out loud – and start to think about how you will feel once that bill is paid, or you come home from a run or you sit down for a coffee with a friend or you have your results in your hot little hand. Focus on the feeling and feeling good… because that is what it is all about.
Lesson: If you feel good, nothing else matters.
Gratitude: Having the strength and knowledge to stop myself and return to that ‘feel good’ feeling.
Everything WILL be ok. This is what it all really boils down to and if I am honest with myself this has been my biggest lesson of twenty sixteen.
If you think good thoughts, good things happen. And even crazier than that, you can change the way you view the world (manifestation baby). Have you ever thought ‘I will never get on top of my finances?’ and never ever seem too. Or that saying ‘speak of the devil’, talking about someone and then they call. Long story short – it is all about the energy you put behind it, asking for it and letting it go. It seems to come, consciously or unconsciously. It makes sense really, and simple mechanics, like attracts like.
Funny, because before I started to read about manifestation, I had stereotyped it to being a little left of centre and with a ‘hippy’ and ‘spiritual’ label – which I am quite open to but feel there is a stigma attached to it.
Until this happened…
I felt like I was in a downward spiral in regards to my career and not actually working in a role that was meaningful and passionate to me (that is a whole other story that I will explore and talk you through how I managed to change careers at a later date). My thoughts had a negative, poor me and nothing decent will coming up theme and I came to realise, by my blog and self-help obsession, that I was the one pulling myself down. Until I decided to take action on changing my thought process, nothing came up. I stopped trying to dictate my perfect role in my head and I (seriously) started to manifest. I manifested a role that I would feel excited about, energised and good at. That it would cater to family requirements and be a good balance. I got rid of the labels and trying to direct how it was going to happen and I let it go and believed everything will be ok. What do you know, something just like that came up.
Lesson: if you believe in something and it works for you, go with it and who cares how world perceives it.
Gratitude: I have been introduced to manifestation and knowing that everything will be ok.
These lessons have a bit of a theme about them… quite transparent on how my twenty sixteen has been travelling. I hope you got something out of it.
As I move through the motions of my day-to-day life and start to take the time to invest in reflection, gratitude and focusing in on the things that matter most, I can see that this ‘life’ business is all a big lesson. Moving through motherhood, career development, understanding your partner, your world – it is all part of the journey. I am grateful I have given in to lessons of life…