Reflections and Lessons of The Year 2018, New Goals & Hansel
To say the least, it’s been a crazy year! I’m excited to share this post with you all and a lot of what I’ve been writing down this past year, in this blog post and future ones. One of my goals include blogging more. Well, honestly, just being brave and hitting that publish button. Trust me, I have a lot of materials. But, to say the most, well….continue reading.
Reflections & Lessons of the Year
When a friend asked me, what word comes to mind based on the past couple of months and could lead you the remaining of the year? Rest was the word. She shared she was conflicted between two words and that she may just have two this year. She was so extra! <3 We reflected on our words together and I have vigorously reflected on it regularly since February. Rest became my word of the year and to honor my friend, my word of year 2019 will be shared with you all in February (her birthday month).
The most crucial lesson about rest and the year 2018 for me is that:
Not only for recovery but for your mental and emotional health too. Those days that just turn into staying in your pj’s and reading or netflixing, that. Is. okay. That Saturday morning that is just going to shit so you lay back down and fall asleep to wake up and try again, that. Is. okay. Or what about after a long day and the moment you walk into your home, you change into your most comfortable outfit and just chill on the couch and maybe have a glass of wine, that. is. okay. Or you tell your husband you want a few hours alone. that. is okay. Really, it’s just your body and mind telling you to slow down and take a beat. Like damn girl chill. Rest. is. okay. My favorite is going to the gym and getting a good workout in, THAT’S rest for me sometimes. Lately, it’s walking around the city of my new home soaking in nature and history. Rest can be a lot of things.
I appreciate time alone for reflection, calm mornings for setting daily or even monthly intentions and the morning breeze to set me right for the day. Rest was a crucial component for me this year with taking a step back from the employment world late 2017 and pondering on where my life should be. At first, I was devastated for letting myself QUIT a job. Let’s be honest, QUIT is not even in my vocabulary. The only time I walked away from a job was because It revolved around college. I was either headed to or going back after winter break or decided to minimize work schedule during internships. To quit something meant you gave up. But the second lesson I figured out dives into this, for which you will soon read below. It was something that took a lot of reflection to get to.
Additionally, since the age of well, young, rest was not in my vocabulary either. Rest = lazy, most may say and for the longest time, I agreed! But it doesn’t always have to mean couch potato. I now say, rest = serenity (defined as, “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled”). Late 2017, going into 2018, I struggled with the term rest because the word unemployment continued to pop into my head too, along with the word failure at times. Those terms alone took a lot of reflection too.
But what was rest? I’d ask myself often. Like, who has time for resting (insert creased forehead, one raised eyebrow, eye roll here). Ever since I was a little girl, rest only came when I was sick, even then It was hardly rest, because abuse still came. Playing mother hen growing up and taking lashes from the older brother to protect siblings. I was the girl, straight up hustling since I was 10 or younger by washing neighbors’ cars or shoveling snow when winter hit. At 13, Shortly after entering the foster care system, I started my first official job at a cafe. I was always hustling and pushing obstacles to make it to my goals. Worked from dishwasher to cook and waitress, went from a victim of child and sexual abuse to a survivor because I BELIEVED I would survive and share my secret with the world to help others. Graduating high school as a foster youth (roughly only 30% of foster youth do) and even obtaining a bachelor’s degree (2.5%) as well as reaching higher and earning a masters (less that 2.5%). All of which are difficult to do with little to no support, always worrying about money and if I’ll end up homeless. Growing up I always felt behind my peers in the classroom and in college I had to work extra hard. So again, what is rest?!
But, 2018 brought it. I learned to lean into that discomfort because at times it was hard to rest, with always being on the go and pursuing something. But after so much reflection and even some happening this moment as I write, rest. was. needed. ..and i say that in my utmost exhausted tone ever.
This whole saying, “work hard and rest when you die” lingo, is absolutely just crazy. Did you know the higher the stress in your life for long periods of time, your life span literally decreases and illnesses increase? For women, your aging process quickens. So, this whole mentality of work hard, rest later is basically killing you quicker. So nip that shit in the bud because you deserve to live a long and healthy life!
Additionally, in 2018, I decided to not compete this year in fitness shows like I had been the past 2 years. The bikini shows, brought many lessons and for 2018, I needed to listen to my mind and body and let it rest. I even took time away from the gym and counting macros. It was so needed and hard at times for sure.
Remember above when I mentioned, to quit meant you gave up? if 2018 taught me anything – another lesson; it’s that it is okay to know what is not only right for you (careers, relationships, hobbies, etc.) but also what is NOT right for you. Quitting is just a stupid word to make people feel bad. I’m a data girl in my line of work, I want to know what works and what doesn’t, what provides the best results and again what doesn’t and the things that don’t work, what can be adjusted to make them work? Has everything been exhausted before declaring that something for sure just doesn’t work? How can data play a part in creativity and innovation and enhance programs and organizations.
Anyway, with all that said, this line of thinking has stuck with me in my professional and personal life. So when I decided to break away from what I was doing (quitting my job), I was 90% sure on that decision. It was a tough one, one that did not come lightly. A bittersweet feeling. One that made me cry many times coming to the conclusion of. One that made me second guess, because the child welfare world was my life and If I’m honest, will most likely be part of my life forever. I still regularly do my part whether that’s volunteering for organizations, educating others or donating. To say the very least, it was a time of defeat. Frustrations, disappointment, just complete defeat. Knowing that no matter how much passion I had or how much energy and even education, It did not matter. I saw the future of the program I was helping run and too many barriers (unnecessary restrictions, lack of knowledge, people, setbacks, etc) got in the way of the REAL changes that were needed to make a program unify and fluid while decreasing the negative outcomes youth aging out of foster care face. This area is still a passion and will continue to be. So much could be said but, circling back to the word rest, I know that I’ll be back in child welfare. For now it’s resting and resetting, self-educating, volunteering, and patiently waiting for my time again to return (especially while living in Europe) while following my curiosity, exploring, and finding new interested.
With this renewed sense of understanding (rest = serenity) it’s allowed me to cultivate stillness, to be okay with where I am in my life. It’s reminded me that we are all trying to figure out our belonging in the world and that changes con-stant-lyyyyyy. The most Important lesson in my opinion in life, is that you continue to grow and evolve. Even during those stagnant periods of life can bring so much solace and powerful lessons, if you are listening closely. 2018 was certainly an emotional one but it allowed me to slow down and really pay attention.
I often feel like this year has also been a time for resetting. It’s crazy how life works too because what says reset more than when you move your whole life across the world? But, resetting and reshaping the way I respond to things, my thoughts and actions. To ask myself during weird emotional times, “how is this making me feel?” or when something happened spending the time to really reflect. At times asking myself “what could I have done differently?”
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, self-exploring, looking further into burdens, shame and insecurities. Paying attention, tuning into the power of mindfulness and absorbing my thoughts and feelings during difficult and even good times have allowed for extreme gratitude, clarity, wisdom and even unexpected grieving, forgiveness and healing. With looking much further into Brené Brown’s work, I’m kind of thinking the year 2018 and maybe even 2019, will be my time of spiritual awakening. It’s not one experience for me, it’s the sum of many that’s brought such freedom and a new way of living. It truly was a year of the R’s. Rest. Reflect. Reset. It was a beautiful year of rest and transformation, one that will be there every step of the way going forward.
Wrap-up on lessons:
- It is okay to rest
- Rest does not equal lazy
- Rest can equal serenity
- Work to know what is right for you and what is not right for you (jobs, relationships, hobbies, etc.)
- Take time to pay attention and reflect (on moments, happy times, conversations, debates, arguments, your actions, your thoughts, etc.)
- Cultivate stillness
- Learn to be okay with where you are in life
- Continue to evolve
Each year I like to write down my goals for the year. Below I’ve shared some without going really deep into them. That’s a later post that I am currently still refining.
- Immerse myself in the German/Swiss culture
- Continue to follow curiosity and invigorating the soul
- Get back into a good healthy and fit routine
- Continue to write
My Gift to You
Hansel; defined as a gift given for good luck at the beginning of the year or to make an acquisition or the start of an enterprise. So, with the beginning of 2019, I gift you this. Make 2019 your bitch! Make it count! Push yourself towards the goals you set for yourself and fight for the life you not only want but deserve. In a bad relationship? ASK for help. Need to figure something out? Ask for help. Educated yourself. Do your research. Guarantee that whatever you are going through, someone else has too. It’s a good time to be alive with where our internet is. You can basically can find nearly anything you need when you feel stuck and don’t know what to do. It’s native to continue to think that you are alone. Please, please, remember you are not. Reclaim your life and don’t let the extra noise distract you from your goals and the life you want to live. You only go as far in life as the effort you put forward. You only grow as far as you put your mind to learning and you only live a life of joy when you set appropriate boundaries and distance yourself from negativity and anything bringing you further from the life you deserve. Feel like you don’t deserve much? Change that shit. YOU MATTER TOO!
P.S. Listen to your intuition, seek for joy and peace and learn to let go to live a better life. Don’t work against yourself.